I think if you made a record of the Miami game and played it in reverse, it might look like Saturday's Notre Dame basketball game at Virginia. Rule 5, Section 6, Article 1 of the NCAA basketball rule book (pg 61) states:
Playing time for varsity games shall consist of two halves of 20 minutes each with a halftime intermission of 15 minutes. Extra periods shall be five minutes each in length with a one-minute intermission before each.
Mike Brey and his staff may want to brush up on this one. Despite feeling like they were playing 5-on-8, Notre Dame managed to rattle the 14th ranked Cavaliers, getting into the halftime break tied at 30 after a ridiculously bad display of ACC officiating. In the sequence to close the half, Brey (justifiably) makes a scene after Eric Atkins was obviously fouled, then in an "I'll show you who's boss" moment, Demetrius Jackson was called for a push off on the ensuing inbounds situation. The Irish are consistently on the wrong end of calls in this league. I'm shocked Brey only has the 2 T's so far. I'd call that restrained, given how bad it has been.
Even with all that, ND managed to crawl out of an early 12 point hole with contributions from a lot of guys. Steve Vasturia cans a 3, Austin Burgett takes it strong to the rim, Zach Auguste gets a good look from Demetrius Jackson and Pat Connaughton knocks down a 3. A few Garrick Sherman post moves, and a V.J. Beachem 3 off of a great offensive rebound by DJ cut that lead to three, and then Demetrius Jackson drilled a pull-up trey to tie the game with 1:22 in the half. Notre Dame went in to the locker room fired up after erasing a 12 point deficit and overcoming crappy officiating. Mike Brey and his staff also had to be thrilled that they made that move with Atkins on the bench for some of that stretch and with contributions from a ton of different guys.
The second half started with great promise. Atkins scores on a gorgeous back door from Sherman, and then ND gets points from Burgett Sherman, Auguste, and Connaughton. I remember thinking to myself, "Where has this been all year?" as Notre Dame repeatedly moved the ball and and themselves against one of the best defensive teams in the ACC. The Irish managed to get to the under-12 media timeout in the 2nd half tied at 41, then Sherman scored to re-tie the game at 43. Virginia's Joe Harris canned a 3 with 11:07 on the clock, and the rout was on. Virginia exploited the lack of Notre Dame interior defense and put up an astounding 25 straight points before Demetrius Jackson finally made a layup with 2:31 remaining. Giving up 25 points over eight and a half minutes is inexcusable. The only shot Virginia missed in that run was a single Akil Mitchell missed FT. It might has well been the warm-up lay-up line for Tony Bennett's squad.
On the other end, the Irish went ice cold. It is almost impossible for any team to survive an 8:30 scoring drought, but when you defend as poorly as this Notre Dame team does, it is a certainty you're going to get beat, and the Irish were beat soundly. Despite being tied at that 11:06 mark, the Irish end up in a laugher with Virginia emptying their bench to the delight of their home crowd.
Statistically, there's not a ton to say. Virginia shot 72% eFG from the floor, and Notre Dame 44%. Do you need to know more? Believe it or not, the Irish put up 10 more shots than Virginia, due to Notre Dame being +7 on the offensive boards and -2 on turnover differential. Adding insult to injury was a stellar 2-7 night from the line for a scorching 29% that doesn't account for a missed front end of a 1-and-1. It doesn't take a stats major to smell a beat down in this box score.
Qualatatively, let's think about the patent-pending 4pointshooter GPA analysis:
- Eric Atkins: 2-8 from the floor, 0-1 from the line, 2 boards (both offensive) and a single assist. (C-)
- Pat Connaughton - 4-11 from the floor (2-6 from deep), 3 boards, 2 assists, 2 turnovers (C)
- Garrick Sherman - 4-12 from the floor, 0-1 from the line, 5 boards, 1 assist, 0 turnovers (I think ESPN got that wrong on their box score, I distinctly remember 1 in the first half on a slow developing, over-dribbled post move), 3 fouls. (D+)
So the guys ND needs to put up at least a 3.0 put in a stunning 1.67. Is that still academic probation in DuLac? Scores like that explain getting more than doubled up in the second half.
My wife says I can't be negative all the time, so let me see if I can find something. Well, first off, the Irish played 29'ish great minutes of basketball against a truly good team. The young guys got a lesson in defensive intensity and execution from one of the better defending teams in the league. The younger guys also found ways to contribute. Austin Burgett looked lively and made both his FG attempts. Demetrius Jackson showed some aggression and hustle and finished 50% from the floor with 2 boards in 21 minutes. V.J. Beachem played with confidence and appeared to move well at the top of the 2-3. Auguste showed some range on his J, although that blocked dunk was a huge spark for the Cavaliers.
All is not lost. Well, ok it is for this season, but there is a future out there. I like what Jackson and Burgett are showing, and I'm praying that Auguste learns how to get more intense and physical in the year ahead. Vasturia continues to look seasoned and polished and is getting 20+ minutes of experience every night. Connaughton is a great floor player and a guy you can be successful with. If Grant returns and returns humble, hungry, and eager to lead and defend, there's light at the end of this dark tunnel.