petFor the second time in the past month, I was able to catch a Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball game first hand from press row in Purcell Pavilion. ND played its first home game against a major conference opponent and looked polished and near-unstoppable offensively at times in a 92-78 win.
Here’s my recap of the game, along with a lot of very useful and important observations.
Before the game began, I was getting situated in my seat when I noticed who the man sitting in the row in front of me was as he turned around to scan the crowd. Digger Phelps, 75 years young, was directly in front of me. More importantly, Digger was sporting a t-shirt that had listed on the back of it the entire cast of a 2015 production of the Nutcracker at Southold Dance Theater. So, feel proud, everyone who made that event possible - Digger is reppin’ you hard when he’s out on the town.
Soon the ND basketball team was preparing to come out of the tunnel and onto the court at game time, and so the speakers at Purcell Pavilion naturally began blaring “Bring ‘Em Out” by T.I., and everyone (including myself) got very very excited. But as the team ran onto the floor, the adrenaline-pumping beat of T.I. was drowned out by the band playing the dumb old fight song again. Hey guys, please from now on just let T.I. play through so we can all get hype, thanks.
Anyway, so then after a lovely national anthem and the dynamic duo of Cathy Richardson and the Dropkick Murphys, the two teams’ starters took the floor for the tip-off. Here are those starters and a blurb about each:
- #3 Jordan “Wisconsin” Bohannon, G - If there were one team that wasn’t Wisconsin to have a white guy named Bohannon, it’d be Iowa. He even shoots three pointers extremely well! This guy is Bo Ryan’s dream point guard
- #4 Isaiah “Missed Dunk” Moss, G - I have very little recollection of Moss contributing much besides the 5 points and 5 assists the box score says he collected, but I do recall him missing a dunk that could have been pretty damn impressive, so that will stick with me as his reputation from now on
- #14 Peter Jok “Jams”, G - Jok came into this averaging 25 points per game and everyone expected him to carry the load for Iowa and give the Irish major problems. He didn’t and that’s a huge testament to Steve Vasturia and Rex Pflueger’s defense
- #35 Cordell “Screenshots Snapchats” Pemsl, F - Wasn’t a huge fan of this guy, and neither was the student section. He wore basically every sort of compression sleeve and sweat band available to man on all his appendages and head, except for his left arm, which he kept completely clean (probably, to paraphrase Nick Young, for buckets).
No tats on the right arm Strictly for buckets— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) August 15, 2014
Also Cordell’s nickname comes directly from a dry erase board that a student in the student section was writing insults on - I think all of them directed at Cordell. If he actually screenshots Snapchats, then shame on him. That’s not cool, man
- #51 Nicholas “Panda” Baer, F - I nicknamed him “Panda” because for a
bearBaer he was pretty nonthreatening, and a bunch of humans basically sat there and watched him do very little except be tall and grab the ball when it bounced to him for his 12 rebounds
Notre Dame Starters:
- #23 Martinas “Coming Out Party” Geben, F - Mike Brey said this was Marty’s coming out party, and I couldn’t agree more. The man tossed his body around, grabbed emphatic rebounds, dove onto the floor for loose balls, dunked it once or twice, almost got an electrifying (for him) put-back dunk, and fouled out in only 11 minutes of play. Welcome to the big time, Bird Whisperer!
Casually being at the zoo and becoming the bird whisperer! pic.twitter.com/5w1NI0Azdw— Martinas Geben (@Martin_Geben) July 24, 2015
- #5 Matt “Will Make Bill Raftery Say ‘Onions!’ At Least Once This Season“ Farrell, G - Count me among the many haters who figured Farrell’s ceiling was as a placeholder until TJ Gibbs was ready. He is anything but.
- #3 VJ “Showed Some Fire Today“ Beachem, F - VJ Beachem always stays very calm and cool and collected on the court, and never looks bothered by any adversity he experiences in game play. But sometimes, when he’s really feeling it like he was at one point tonight, Beachem lets us know by just barely exuding some Bonzie Colson-esque passion. I’m excited to see that a lot more this year
- #32 Steve “White Boy Steve” Vasturia, G - Steve was consistent and great, per usual. His nickname comes from the below tweet from a couple years ago and needs no further explanation:
WHITE BOY STEVE COMING IN THE CLUTCH!!!— Torii Hunter Jr. (@THunterJr) January 29, 2015
- #35 Bonzie “Motherfucking“ Colson, F - Pardon my French, but Bonzie is the absolute man and he doesn’t take flak from anyone. Iowa tried to get under his skin, and like various past victims (looking at you, Duke), Bonzie simply obliterated them on his way to 24 points and 17 rebounds
The first couple possessions were eventless, with Iowa and ND trading a couple misses while Matty Farrell did that thing where he dribbles through his legs and behind his back a lot at the top of the key.
However, White Boy Steve decided to put his senior leadership on display, draining a 3-ball that caused the heavens to open up and beautiful newspaper confetti snow to descend upon the student section.
The teams proceeded to trade some buckets back and forth in fairly boring fashion, but then on one fast break Peter “Yung” Jok decided it was Goin’ Down and went to the hoop for the easy finish at the rim. Unfortunately, he forgot that Matty Farrell has transformed into Russell Westbrook Light, and Farrell legitimately blocked the 6’6” Jok’s shot. This made the fans fairly audible, I’d say.
As the half progressed, a few things became very evident.
Jordan Bohannon can make three pointers. He hit 4/9 in the first half and finished 7/15 for the game. Dude can make it rain.
Matt Farrell looks like a bonafide ACC point guard, and I am officially jumping on the Matty F. train. His first step is very fast, he’s playing with a lot of confidence and even a little swagger, and he’s fearless taking the ball to the hoop. I am all-in on this guy and am so excited about it.
Mike Brey isn’t afraid to play all sorts of interesting lineups, made evident by a group that consisted of Matt Ryan, VJ Beachem, Steve Vasturia, Rex Pflueger, and Matt Farrell. That’s a small group in terms of height/girth, but also one that could absolutely destroy people on offense and that has the the length to make things interesting on defense.
Peter Jok scoring a ton and Jordan Bohannon shooting threes cannot be the only sources of offense for Iowa, or it’ll be a long season for them. The Irish did an awesome job shutting down Jok, as he had 2 points until the 1:07 mark and only made it to 9 by halftime via a 13-0 run by Iowa while the ND offense sputtered.
This ND team is great at getting to the foul line, and even better at converting free throws. Iowa had only two more fouls than ND at the half, but ND already had an 11-free-throw-attempt advantage and made 15 out of 16 in the first half. They would go on to make 30 of 33 as a team. Holy shit.
Fran McCaffery likes to yell and sometimes that’s not a good thing for his team but it’s always a good thing for me because I think he’s funny to watch scream. He got a technical foul this evening.
The student section/fans in general really like dabbing. The Dance Cam was utilized during a timeout (featuring that Justin Timberlake song about trolls or whatever) and there was a kid in a leprechaun hat who kept dabbing and everyone went nuts. Then, a little girl came on and she dabbed, and the crowd cheered again. Later, two youths were featured not dabbing and I think the crowd booed. So, note to self and to everyone reading this - make sure you dab on the Dance Cam if you want people to like you.
As a halftime show connoisseur, it is my duty to rate each game’s halftime show on a scale of 1 to Red Panda.
Tonight, the halftime entertainment was a special video presentation by the Monogram Club, presenting the first ever Jesse Harper Award to a man named Jim Gibbons for his years of service to the university.
The video featured several people talking about Gibbons, including former Monogram Club President Dick Nussbaum (amazing name, wore two quarter-zip sweaters at the same time during his interview), former Indiana governor and ND alum Joe Kernan, my former management professor Bill Sexton (showed us clips from Remember the Titans in class so he will always be a favorite), and Digger Phelps, who provided me with the rare opportunity to watch Digger Phelps watch Digger Phelps talk. It was exactly as you’d imagine it.
It was a very nice, touching video about Gibbons and he appeared to be an awesome and very gracious award recipient in his portion of the video. Digger sums him up well at one point, saying Gibbons is “one of the silent legends of Notre Dame.”
Overall, this was great and I’m glad this guy got this award, but it wasn’t that entertaining and obviously was nowhere close to Red Panda. I give it a 3.
Note: After the video presentation, the video board advertised for the halftime entertainment at the Fort Wayne game on December 6th, and I think it will be good enough for a 9 on the Red Panda scale, although I will not be there to confirm.
Well, just a pajama party with free milk and cookies!!!
I have no idea what exactly that means in this context, but it sounds unreal and I might buy a ticket to the Fort Wayne game just to see what this is all about (and get free milk and cookies).
The second half saw Iowa briefly take the lead more than once, including going up 52-50 on a Cordell Pemsl layup. Pemsl also took an opportunity early in the second half to get in Bonzie’s grill after scoring on him, which is a huge no-no because Bonzie “MFing” Colson will never ever ever ever stand for that and will absolutely punish you.
Bonzie started by getting right back in Pemsl’s face, and this warranted a double technical for the two, which was good because Brey then took Bonzie and his porous defense out for a stretch (he was getting abused down low for a stretch of play).
Side note: what kind of last name is Pemsl? The back-to-back-to-back m-s-l combination is utterly insane and I will not stand for it.
Another side note: during the next timeout, the Notre Dame pom squad danced to a dance-y version of the Chainsmokers’ “All We Know” and I was digging it. Then, they tossed their pom poms asunder, and the crowd made some noise in response. At first I thought everyone was excited, but then I realized that it’s more likely that everyone was concerned for the pom squad. If they don’t have pom poms, who even are they? Are they a pom squad? Are they now just a squad? The answer was never given to the crowd, as the game had to start up again.
So the Fighting Irish decided it was about time to start trying, and kicked it into high gear to the tune of a 10-0 run to open up an 8-point lead. Marty Geben pulled down some strong rebounds and got the student section ear-splittingly loud when he dove on the floor for a loose ball and managed to call timeout before he could register a travel or lose the ball to one of the Hawkeyes trying to bully him from above. Geben is a majestic young man.
Later on, Geben nearly got a monstrous put-back slam but got fouled and missed, getting everyone out of their seats and groaning with moderate disappointment. I would have wept happy tears if Marty had gotten that dunk to fall.
Iowa chipped away at the score and got it to 67-60 with about 8 minutes left, but then VJ Beachem reminded the entire Iowa roster that he’s much better than them at sports by dropping a three-ball in, and then as the teams headed to the other end of the floor, he pounded his chest and screamed to his bench full of teammates, which is very non-VJ-like. So, because it was so non-VJ-like, it was AWESOME and I now will willingly follow VJ Beachem to the end of the earth. He is a warrior.
That shot sparked a 7-0 run that pushed the Irish lead to 14 with 6 minutes remaining in the game, and from there it was a flurry of White Boy Steve, Farrell and Beachem three pointers, Bonzie Colson drop-step buckets, and Marty Geben leaving the game with a stat line of 2 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 fouls. PERFECTION.
As the clock wound down in the final minutes, we saw the One Foot Down Play of the Game (unofficially sponsored by Hamm’s Premium), where White Boy Steve was backpedaling across half-court to get back on defense and fell over backwards, of his own volition, into a classic butt slide that carried him at least a few feet. White Boy Steve calmly picked himself up off the floor like nothing happened, but all of us fans who were still paying attention know exactly what White Boy Steve just did. It was so gracefully ungraceful that it needs to be rewarded. Congrats White Boy Steve!
Notre Dame finished the game ahead 92-78, with Bonzie leading the way with his 24 and 17 (his 4th straight double-double), Farrell adding a stellar 16 points and 7 assists, Vasturia chipping in 22 points and 9 rebounds, and Beachem compiling a quiet stat line of 16 points and 5 boards.
- That “Let’s Get Ridiculous” song was played during a timeout and the student section, predictably, tried to “get ridiculous” and dance like wild people. However, the guy who seems to always be in the student section dressed as Gumby was not getting ridiculous. At all. He was just nodding his head and I am very upset with him about this. Consider this a call-out, dude. Be more ridiculous if you’re gonna be dressed as Gumby. Do not besmirch his legacy
- Purcell Pavilion put its “Noise Meter” on the big screen various times during the game to measure how loud the crowd was getting, so I figured I would keep you all posted: tonight we got to “Roaring” but definitely didn’t reach the “Cranked” or “Full Domer” levels. I’ll update you on future games’ loudness as more information becomes available
- The all-green jerseys are basically the basketball version of the 2015 Shamrock Series football jerseys, but for some reason they look much better as basketball jerseys. I hope they wear these more often - they look especially awesome because of the student section wearing all green and will come in handy whenever fans are told it’s a “Green Out”
- Seriously, Matt Farrell has been fantastic so far. I can’t stop talking about him. He will certainly make a few mistakes and probably cool off a bit at times as the season moves along, but I never ever saw him being a major contributor on this team. At all. I am so pumped to see how he continues to develop this season
- All the starters have a handshake with Rex Pflueger as they get introduced before the game. Matt Farrell’s handshake with him is just heartily shaking hands like they just completed some sort of business transaction. I love this
- I tried to keep track of as many songs the band played as possible, and although I am bad at focusing, here are the ones I remember and what I would rate the fact that they played each one:
“Mr. Brightside” by the Killers (10/10)
“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World (8/10)
“Break Free” by Ariana Grande (7/10)
“Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard (11/10)*
“Notre Dame Victory March” by the Notre Dame Band (2/10 because it cut off “Bring ‘Em Out”)
*DISCLAIMER: I think I heard this but it might have just popped into my head after a timeout and made me think the band played it. Either way, shout out to my friend Andy, who is from the OC and loves Yellowcard and “Ocean Avenue” with all of his heart
Well folks, that’s all I’ve got for this game. Hope that was comprehensive and insightful enough for you!