It was definitely not the cleanest game that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have played all year. They dropped their 3rd game in a row, losing to the Duke Blue Devils 84-74. The Irish scored just 25 points in the first half and had a really tough time finding any open shots against the Duke defense. They made a strong comeback in the second half though, pulling the game to within one. Notre Dame had possession of the ball down 63-62 but ultimately Duke pulled away to drop Notre Dame to 6-4 in ACC play. This is what we learned.
Duke Has The NBA Talent
There were 35 NBA scouts from 21 different teams in attendance to last night’s game. It was apparent from the tip that they were there for the Duke players. Notre Dame has some nice pieces but wow, Duke has the NBA size and athleticism. I know Luke Kennard does not get the publicity that Grayson Allen gets, but he is a pure shooter and has gotten a lot better at driving to the hoop this year. I think he is Duke’s best player at this point in the season. And last night was Jayson Tatum’s coming out party. He came in as a prized recruit and an early season injury slowed him down. Tatum is a great athlete and Notre Dame had no answer for him inside. He finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds
Free Shooting Matters More To ND
So far this season, Notre Dame has made up for their lack of a post presence by taking care of the basketball and making their foul shots. During the early season success Notre Dame was near the top in the country when it came to free throw percentage. Yesterday they went 19-28 from the line which is 68%. This will not get it done against good basketball teams. One easy step for the Irish to get back on the winning ways is to get back to being one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country.
Too Many Fouls Called...
This goes for both teams. It is one of my biggest pet peeves that I have about college basketball. There were a total of 48 fouls called last night. Notre Dame is a better team when the game flows back and forth. There was a stretch in the second half where it seemed like there was a whistle blown on every possession. I am a fan of letting the players play. The whole rhythm of the game gets disrupted too often nowadays in college basketball and the game turns into a free throw contest. Notre Dame is better suited in an up and down style of game, not taking the ball out of bounds every possession.
Notre Dame is now 17-6 overall and headed to Chapel Hill on Saturday. They will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels who are in first place in the ACC. Put simply, it is not ideal to be going on the road to the first place team in the conference while riding a 3 game losing streak. It will take a much better offensive performance from Matt Farrell, Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem, and Bonzie Colson. These four are heavily relied on against the elite competition.