Notre Dame (14-3, 2-2) simply cannot beat St. John's in Madison Square Garden. They ran their losing streak in such affairs to five (!) games dating back to 2004, and that includes some pretty bad St. John's teams. Well, this one is right up there, as the 10-7 Johnnies took down the Irish in the final couple of minutes.
After a second half run that saw their deficit grow to double digits, the Irish came storming back behind their backcourt tandem of Eric Atkins (21 pts, 4 ast, 6 stl) and Jerian Grant (14 pts). It was a bizarre sequence, as it looked like they were going to lose by a million, and then seemingly in an instant, they looked like they were gonna cruise into the final minutes with an easy victory.
But give the Red Storm credit; they scrapped it out despite relinquishing a huge lead late. St. John's was led by Jakarr Sampson (17 pts) and a whole lot of balance elsewhere. They got out-shot, out-rebounded, and out-assisted and still managed to find a way to win. They needed a victory like this, and it's unfortunate that the Irish were the ones to give it to them.
There is not a whole lot to say about the last two games for the Irish. They have been in position to win, but have not looked like themselves. They have been uncharacteristically disorganized and have not gotten the frontcourt production they need to win games like that. As awesome as he has been, Eric Atkins can't do this alone.
What can I say? This is college basketball. Teams are inconsistent and look uncharacteristically bad sometimes, even for multiple games in a row. Mike Brey has to get it corrected quickly, because the Big East schedule can be very unforgiving.
I will also say, and I don't have data to back this up, but this should be expected of a team that played as bad of a non-conference schedule as Notre Dame did. I think it's unsurprising to see them struggle early in Big East play, but I sure hope they turn it around soon.
Notre Dame has serious March potential this season, and the roster for the future is looking as bright as ever. Now, it's about time they start acting like it. Hopefully that starts Saturday night against Rutgers at the Purcell Pavilion.