1. Rebounding is Atrocious
This was pretty much common knowledge going into the matchup, as the Irish were 268th in defensive rebounding %, and similar to the Ball State game it was one of the deciding factors in the game. Notre Dame got outworked on the boards on Saturday, and that was without IU’s Deron Davis playing most of the game. On the deciding play of the game, former walk-on Zach McRoberts skied over Bonzie Colson for the board and was able to find Juwan Morgan for the game winner.
This is an area that the Irish desperately need to improve at before conference play starts or they’re going to have no shot when they go up against the likes of Duke and North Carolina, who undoubtedly have more size and length than Indiana did.
2. T.J Gibbs
Gibbs has taken a huge step forward this season after being more or a less a bench player last year as a freshman. That said, it’d be great to see him take it even one step further and become the second scoring option behind Colson, instead of point guard Matt Farrell. Farrell thrived last year with guys like Colson, Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem in front of him as scoring options. Gibbs is one of the few guys on the team that can take his man off the dribble and get to the rack, and his jump shot is leaps and bounds better than it was last year. He quietly had 17 points on 5-8 shooting on Saturday. I’d love to see him be integrated even more into the office.
3. Questionable Decisions
Mike Brey is one of the best coaches in the country. I love him just as much as any other Irish fan does. That being said, even the best coaches make questionable calls sometimes. There were two calls at the end of the game I question Brey on. First, bringing in Austin Torres to guard Juwan Morgan one-on-one made very little sense. Torres had played about a minute all game, and they decide to put him in crunch time to guard IU’s best player? Second, even after they decided to put Torres in that situation, they should have called a timeout to get him off the floor for the offensive possession. If Geben or Mooney is on the floor for that final possession and they get fouled, you have 100% more confidence in them to make a free-throw than Torres.
Overall, it shouldn’t have even got to that point. The Irish need to learn to close out games when they have leads. It’s no time to panic though. If we’ve learned anything over the past four to five seasons, the Irish get better as the year progresses.