Notre Dame Loses Heartbreaker to #1 Kentucky

ACC Digital Network host Jeff Fischel and analyst Jason Capel break down Notre Dame’s heartbreaking loss to top seed Kentucky in the Elite 8, 68-66. The guys discuss just how close the Fighting Irish came to pulling off the upset and Zach Auguste’s terrific 20-point and 9-rebound effort.

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  1. I disagree with Ron. I think Brey might be building a program based on experience. 3 Starters should be back next year along with Colson and Beachem who had a decent amount of playing time.

    I think they got a taste of success this year and I think they will want more. Someone will need to step up to the plate as a leader. I think Jackson and maybe Vasturia could step into that role. Perhaps Auguste too, though he sometimes lets his emotions get the better of him. He’ll need to settle down a bit.

    And ND has made the tournament numerous times in the last 10 to 15 years–they’be been in the NCAA a lot more than the NIT. It’s about making tourney runs that ND has had problems with.

  2. I cannot, in my lifetime as an ND fan remember, a greater example of leadership and drive, than Pat Connaughton. I feel singling out anyone on this years team in most difficult as I have written here earlier, it is a supreme and wonderful example of “TEAM”. Pat’s drive and commitment was remarkable and overshadowed his sizeable skill set. He WILL ALWAYS BE the standard bearer for me as a captain at ND.

    Any one care to speculate on next years edition of the IRISH bb team

  3. The thing that hurts the most is the fact that we won’t get to watch these 7 student-athletes play basketball together again. This was the most fun ND team to watch in my time. It was awesome seeing 5 players in double figures almost every game. They played the game as a team better than anyone in the nation. Sure, Grant is probably going to be a pro but past him, everyone was just a role player who was maximized by a great coach. These kids all had heart and determination and believed in each other which always seemed to allow them to prevail. I wish we had one more year to watch this same group together. Losing Pat and Jerian are two key pieces of leadership and skill that I’m not sure ND has to replace them with what they currently have. I’m definitely going to miss watching this team play together.

    As far as the game breakdown:

    – KY didn’t miss a field goal in the last 11 minutes of the game or something….unbelieveable
    – Auguste missing his free throw on the and-1 after the TV timeout and Grant’s missed free throw which were both late in the game hurt
    – The call on Jackson at the end could have gone either way but was probably the right call as he was not completely set
    – Would have liked to have seen one of the guards come in and swipe at the ball more often when Towns had it
    – KY’s NBA loaded talent simply took over and won them the game

  4. Ron, ND beat Duke two out of 3 times, including the critical ACC semifinal.

    I’m not saying ND should have been a 1 seed. But Duke, seriously. I hate to break it to you but there is some bias toward some teams in the committee. Duke will always get the benefit of the doubt because of their history. But that does not mean they deserved a 1 seed this year.

  5. Get over whining about the seeding. Duke beat 2 teams in the final four including one on the road. They also won at Louisville, at Virginia, at UNC and beat ND.

  6. We were given an outstanding, never-to-be forgotten example of where a “TEAM” can go together. I’m very proud of Coach Brey and his Men of Notre Dame!!

  7. David, I do agree there. ND may not be a 1 seed, but I did have issues with Duke being a 1 seed being that they neither won the ACC regular title or the ACC championship (and in fact were dispatched by ND in the semis). No disrespect for Duke, but I believe you should have to win SOMETHING to be a 1 seed. When it counted most, Duke came up short.

    I can’t shake the feeling, though, had ND gotten over the UK hump, 2 weeks from now we’d still be celebrating ND’s first Men’s BB Championship. I think we would have matched favorably with Wisconsin to get to the NC and then any other team in the final 4. That’s what drives me the most crazy.

    Be sure to cheer the Lady Irish tonight though against Baylor. Unfortunately, it does look like UConn is on cruise control for another NC (which admittedly makes the women’s tourney less riveting to watch). Unlike men’s BB it seems women’s college BB is much more predictable (or at least the end result).

  8. The committee screwed up seeding ND a 3 (while auto-dialing Duke as a 1). That game last night should have been a Final Four game, which it would have been, Instead, the best game of this entire tourney is an E8 game, gets played on a Saturday night on TBS instead of CBS.
    You screwed up, money counters. You screwed up.

  9. I have to admit, I have been a critic of Brey in the past. It would be frustrating that so many times they’d make the tournament only to make a quick exit, many times to teams they should not have lost too. But I can’t complain this year. I really can’t see anything he should have done differently. He carefully molded this team into success, and what was really impressive is any of the 5 starters could be the Star of the game. That made it extremely to defend. Who would step up. Even in the tournament. Jackson was the star against Wichita State. Auguste was the star before that, and kudos to him for stepping up last night when he team needed their biggest player to shine. Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton have been there all year. Even on nights when the shots weren’t dropping, they still contributed as leaders and making sure the rest of the team had the tools to succeed.

    Grant and Connaughton will be missed. But I think Jackson, Vasturia and Auguste are ready to step in as leaders. The future is bright, though I’m sure the team is still smarting right now thinking of what could have been, and really, who could blame them?

  10. Great post, Damian. You hit on so many key points to remember.
    Kentucky maximized its stockpiled talent with a determination to win despite a yeoman effort by ND.
    But some of Kentucky players still don’t get it, not yet recognizing that they “didn’t play that well” because of the opponent’s play. Tough for student-athletes to beat a team with semi-pro athletes who are there only to be future NBA players who don’t miss any of its shots the last 11 minutes of the game, including two critical threes. Also tough to overcome a team that has such an incredible size and depth advantage as was the case last night, despite Auguste and Colson’s noteworthy efforts. The ND seven are winners and warriors. Jerian Grant immortalized his place in ND basketball lore with his incredible comeback season, and we’ll be seeing him in the NBA for many years. Connaughton’s leadership and rebounding, despite giving up a huge size difference, will forever be remembered. And with five of the seven returning, and their tenacity and clutch performances, ND’s basketball cred has been established. Finally, kudos to Coach Brey, too long dismissed and demeaned by too many ND fans but by no one among coaches and those he competes against, for providing not only expertise strategy, but also the positive cool demeanor and player support that all coaches both within and outside of ND coaching ranks could learn from and use as a model for how to get the most from your student-athletes.

  11. Heartbreaking is the right word. I was tempted to say disappointing, but that’s not the right word. ND did almost everything right. Were there a few missed shots here and there, sure, but ND was very efficient on offense and no team, not even the best NBA team, makes every shot. They were as good on defense as possible against the size they were faced with. And I have to say, he team needed Auguste to step up since he was one of the only Irish players that matched Kentucky’s size, and he did in a big way. Colson did a great job when he had to step in, and frankly so did the rest of the team. They did everything they could and almost, almost pulled out the upset. They were frustrating UK all night long. If I had one complaint it might be that I wish Brey had held that last timeout until ND had the last possession. With UK’s phenomenal defense in clutch situations, and there being just 6 seconds left, it may not have made a difference, but they might have been able to settle down for a moment.

    But all in all, pretty much a flawless game plan. Brey and the team knew what they had to do to win, they executed, it just turned out UK was slightly better last night.

    In a way, these types of losses hurt more than a 10+ point loss. ND came literally inches away from the upset. The entire team is probably thinking, just one more basket somewhere in the game. That’s got to be worse. One play away from a win. And I really thought, win this game and their first national championship may have been within reach.

    But the future is bright. Auguste, Jackson and Vasturia are back next year hopefully, Colson has great playmaking ability, and their are still some great players on the bench that have yet to see a lot of playing time. And Brey could use this near upset in recruiting. They may never get the players who are only interested in playing in the NBA, but there are still great players out there who want a meaningful college education. The team got a taste of success, Brey and his team have shown that pressure is irrelevant to them, and I think they are going to want to come back for more.

    And hopefully the powers that be and the ND faithful will see that ND can have a great basketball AND a great football program. It’s all within reach.

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