Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Sluggish Out of the Gate

Two weeks into the 2018-19 basketball season, the Notre Dame men’s team has yet to play any substantive teams during their first four games of the year. While in recent years, that might have resulted in four wins to start the campaign, the Irish do have one blot on their record among that quartet of contests.

The fact that the Irish entered this year in a rebuilding mode means that managing to navigate the early going was not going to always be a smooth process. Two double-digit wins to get the season started offered a positive beginning, but that was dulled by a split of the next two clashes, with Notre Dame still not having left South Bend to face an opponent.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

In the 84-67 season-opening win over Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 6, the Irish took care of matters early by taking an early 16-6 lead. They managed to head into halftime holding a 46-23 lead, largely on their aggressive play that saw them hit half of those points at the foul line. No comeback came, thanks to Notre Dame going on a 30-17 run to start the second half.

Two nights later, the Irish held a slim 40-35 lead over Chicago State, but again settled issue by coming out of halftime and unleashing a 43-16 surge against their opponents. When the final horn sounded, Notre Dame had an 89-62 win.

Last Wednesday, it was visiting Radford that delivered after the break by outscoring the Irish 31-19 in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Notre Dame was unable to mount their comeback and sustained their first defeat of the year in the 63-60 loss.

On Saturday, some first-half jitters resulted in the Irish trailing William & Mary 28-27 at the half. Things remained close until the latter part of the half, when Notre Dame used a 14-2 run to fuel their 73-64 victory.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

As the chief big man in the paint for the Irish this season, Mooney needs to deliver strong play on the glass as well as delivering in the scoring department. During the first two games of the year, the results were mixed, with a near double-double of 10 points and eight boards following by lower numbers against Chicago State.

While Notre Dame ended up on the short of the scoreboard against Radford, Mooney did his part during the game with a 24-point, 12-rebound performance. He followed that up with another double-double against William & Mary by tossing in 13 points and hauling down 11 rebounds.

T.J Gibbs

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Beginning his season with a rough night against Illinois-Chicago, Gibbs managed to score nine points, collect four rebounds and dish out a trio of assists. The problem was that he was 2-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-8 from long range during the contest.

The shooting for Gibbs was slightly better in the Chicago State clash, managing 10 points, before then tallying 11 in the Radford defeat. However, he led the Irish in scoring against William & Mary by picking up 18 while still struggling with his outside shot. Half of his points on the afternoon came at the line.

D.J. Harvey

Reaching double-figures on three occasions, Harvey began the year with 10-point, six-rebound effort in the opener, hitting all six of his free throw attempts. He then followed it up with 11 points and seven boards in 19 minutes during the Chicago State game.

Limited to just 20 minutes on the court during the Radford loss, he finished with just seven points on five shot attempts. In the William & Mary game, Harvey connected three times from downtown and ended his day with 15 points, along with a pair of boards.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Thanksgiving week schedule has the Irish staying at home for two more games, sandwiching them around the holiday. On Tuesday, they host the Duquesne Dukes, a school they haven’t played since 1995 and one in which the Dukes hold a 5-2 advantage in their meetings that only date back to the 1969-70 season.

After dining on turkey, Notre Dame will then take on the DePaul Blue Demons in a resumption of this rivalry between the two nearby foes. This series dates back to 1950, but the Irish have dominated in recent years and hope to extend their 10-game winning steak in this matchup.

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4 comments

  1. Greg Kelly 3 weeks ago

    Let’s talk before the league starts. Meaningless games, this preseason. The wins still didn’t qualify for NCAA.

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    1. Damian 3 weeks ago

      They don’t count toward their ACC record, but it does count towards their overall record. Only the 1st game, the exhibition game doesn’t count.

      The main thing the loss to Radford could affect is if they are on the bubble for an NCAA bid, it could be used against them.

      But my main concern with the team right now is if they don’t right the ship, we may be looking at a lot of losses when the ACC schedule does get going. It’s concerning when they struggle against a school like William & Mary, even if for just a half.

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  2. martin 3 weeks ago

    I’m sure he’s a nice kid and he works hard but Pfleugar ‘s should be coming off the bench. His game just hasn’t developed. He’s a non factor on the offensive end and his defense isn’t good enough to justify his minutes. It was a problem last year and will be an even bigger problem this year.

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  3. Damian 3 weeks ago

    The loss against Radford was shocking. Even in bad years the Irish under Brey don’t typically lose these tune-up games. Despite the rebuild this year, I still had some hopes for a good Irish season. I had thought they still had a good enough core of players that they should have a decent season. Radford and then the rough first half against William & Mary have caused me to downgrade my expectations a bit more for this season. Brey all but acknowledged they’re not playing good basketball right now, though there are some good individual efforts.

    I’m not sure about Duquesne but I’d keep an eye on DePaul. They had hopes of knocking off the Irish last year I remember. I’m not sure they have the firepower this year either to compete with the Irish, but if there was a year they could knock them off this would be it. If William & Mary caught ND flatfooted (even if for a half) then anything is possible.

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