Over the past few seasons, Mike Brey’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish teams have time and again shown a knack for responding to adversity with some fantastic basketball performances.
Yesterday, in the team’s 84-72 victory over the 14th-ranked Florida State Seminoles, the Irish displayed that same propensity for coming up big when everyone else had begun doubting how good they were.
ND put on an offensive clinic against a team built exactly how you’d build a team to beat the Irish. The Seminoles roster is loaded with ridiculous athletes, and every single player on the team except G CJ Walker is at least 6’4”. BONZIE COLSON, who is essentially playing center in Brey’s offense, is just 6’5”, and thus he spent last night’s game going toe-to-toe with the likes of 7’1” Michael Ojo and 6’10” Jonathan Isaac, among others.
Too bad for FSU coach Leonard Hamilton and his team that BONZIE COLSON doesn’t care how big you are or how high you’re projected to be drafted this summer - he’s going to absolutely own you either way.
Because I could absolutely write a book about BONZIE taking the Seminoles to school, I’m going to stop there and just jump straight into my recap of the evening’s festivities.
I got to my seat in the press box about 45 minutes before tip-off. There wasn’t much to see for about 15 minutes or so, besides the student section being nearly full already and the two teams leisurely warming up.
Then, at 5:32 PM, it happened. A man wearing a Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey walked in and sat down in the lower level in front of the press box. I began to wonder to myself why people choose to wear completely irrelevant jerseys/sports gear to sporting events, and remembered the time I saw a guy in a Joe Flacco AFC Pro Bowl jersey at a Pacers-Heat playoff game in Indy.
Not 3 minutes later, though, I was graced with yet another irrelevant sports team sighting. A man wearing an AMAZING Buffalo Bills Starter jacket walked in and proceeded to sit down RIGHT NEXT TO THE TOM BRADY GUY. When he sat down, I noticed he was also sporting a mullet, and that neither guy was really talking to each other. So, these are either friends who are men of few words, or two random strangers who happened to wear apparel of NFL divisional rivals and sit next to each other at a college basketball game in northern Indiana. Either way, I can dig it.
As time continued to tick down to tip-off, the video board began showing Q&As they had done with ND players so that we can get to know them better. My favorite was TJ Gibbs’ feature, because he said his “thing I most miss about home” is hugging his mom and dad (AWWWWWWWWWWW) and that the most embarrassing song on his playlist is Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.”
TJ, let me be the first to tell you that that is not at all embarrassing. For some of us, “Party in the USA” was our freshman year dorm party anthem and thus it is always acceptable. Never be afraid to party, TJ. Always remember that.
The rest of the time pre-tip was fairly uneventful. TJ Gibbs was announced a starter, and when they introduced him they said he lives in Zahm Hall.
I’m very sorry, TJ. I had no idea.
Florida State Starters: G Terance Mann, G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, G Dwayne Bacon, F Jonathan Isaac, C Michael Ojo
Notre Dame Starters: G Matt Farrell, G Steve “Skywalker” Vasturia, G TJ Gibbs, F VJ Beachem, and F BONZIE COLSON
Before we jump into the game summary, let me say right now that BONZIE COLSON’s play last night has earned him higher status than simply having his name in CAPS LOCK. I’m talking about the R-rated version (you’re welcome, Mom, for not typing the word in this article) of what Tom Noie called him:
He’s just an absolute animal and the bedrock of this basketball team, and it cannot be emphasized enough.
So anyway, the Seminoles won the tip and immediately got a Terance Mann bucket to take an early lead. However, BONZIE F. COLSON drained a jumper soon after that, bringing the confetti rain down upon the students.
After Michael Ojo showed how useful being 7 feet tall and weighing 300 pounds can be in sports, White Steve stole the ball and attempted to go behind his back in transition in order to burn his defender and get the ball to the hoop. However, basic laws of nature would not allow Steve to complete such a perfect move, and he turned it over instead, leading to an FSU layup.
Farrell hit a 3-ball, and thus it was 7-6 in favor of the Irish at the under-16 timeout. During said timeout, I pondered the name Dwayne Bacon and decided it is a top-tier name, without a doubt. I’m a big fan.
Also during that timeout, the video board featured a new game called “Who Tweeted It?” and showed various tweets while fans were supposed to guess the player who authored them. It was game over once they showed this tweet, because who else but Rex would have posted it?
Fresh cuts, gotta love fresh cuts— Rex Pflueger (@rexpflueger_1) September 13, 2016
After a Beachem 3 with about 14:41 to go in the half, ND led 10-6 and looked more or less in control. However, FSU came back with a couple buckets to tie it at 10.
Notre Dame responded swiftly, with a bucket and then a Matty F three in transition that made it 15-10. Right after Farrell drained the shot, he turned to the crowd and just stared at us with fire in his eyes and his tongue sticking out as he jogged back down the floor. This was when I started to have a feeling ND was going to win this thing.
At this point, the crowd was going bananas, but as typically happens, the Irish proceeded to immediately give up a layup that quieted the crowd and killed a lot of the momentum they had just built up.
During the next timeout, they had the ND men’s lacrosse team come onto the court to help throw t-shirts to fans. Many of them brought their lacrosse sticks onto the court, which would have made sense if they used them to toss the t-shirts.
By and large, the team did not do so, instead just choosing to fire them into the stands with their arms. This was disappointing and also made them look pretty dumb, what with carrying around lacrosse sticks for no reason.
During that t-shirt toss, a middle aged woman right in front of the press box stood up with both arms in the air, hollering for one of the lax-ers to toss her a shirt. Then, when she realized she wouldn’t be getting one, she looked dejectedly at whoever she was sitting with and sat back down. I really felt for her.
Once the basketball action returned, the fans were treated to a Rex Pflueger dunk, and I was treated to that same middle aged woman who wanted a t-shirt now loudly telling someone next to her “she has got the major giggles.” Not sure who she was talking about, but whoever it was must have heard something very funny.
About 10 minutes into the game, Notre Dame led 17-12. Xavier Rathan-Mayes then proceeded to do Xavier Rathan-Mayes things, hitting a few mid-range jumpers to keep FSU in it as ND continued to find ways to score and to force Seminoles turnovers.
At one point, the team on the floor for ND consisted of guys named Temple, BONZIE, Rex, Victor (VJ), and Steve. I found that to be humorous, what with 4 very unique names, and then Steve.
Heading into a timeout later on, the video board showed a replay of one of the lacrosse players throwing a t-shirt into the stands using his lacrosse stick, so I guess at least one of them did use it during t-shirt toss time. But even after seeing that replay, my mind was not at ease, as at that point I became very concerned with why they showed us a replay of t-shirt toss time...
As Dwayne Bacon went to the line to shoot free throws once play resumed, the student section began chanting “OH FOR THREE-EE!” over and over, as the Seminoles had missed their first 3 foul shots. He hit his free throw to make the score 22-17 Notre Dame, but this chant was important, as it set the stage for successive chants all game belittling Florida State’s awful free throw shooting (they were 7-of-22 overall). This was just another fantastic move by the student section, as they’ve been on-point and very creative all year long.
After a bucket from BONZIE and an and-one by White Steve, the Irish led 27-17 with about 6 minutes in the half. A couple FSU baskets and another BONZIE bucket later and the Irish held a 29-22 advantage.
At this point, Austin Torres subbed into the game for the first time, and was met with a huge ovation from the fans. Torres seems to have become a fan-favorite, which I love considering he’s a senior and from the area and has worked very hard in his bench energy guy role. Now if only he could develop some sort of offensive ability...
After a turnover led to a Florida State basket that cut the lead to 3 at 29-26, Matt Farrell dropped another big 3 on ‘em to make it 32-26. FSU then drew another foul, and once again the students chanted, this time shouting “1 FOR 6! 1 FOR 6!” at the shooter. He missed, and White Steve capitalized on the next possession, this time completing his behind-the-back move to get to the bucket and make it 34-26.
As FSU once again went to the line for free throws, the students chanted “1 FOR SEVEN! 1 FOR SEVEN!” and it led to another miss from the Seminoles. Beachem got an impressive offensive rebound and bucket on the other end, but FSU quickly got a layup in transition to quiet the crowd a bit and make it 36-29. Nevertheless, the impact the students were having on the free throw game cannot be understated here. Those chants were crucial.
Pflueger knocked down a pull-up jumper to make it 38-29, and then BONZIE got fouled while coming up with a nice defensive rebound, making the crowd crazy loud once again. He hit both free throws to make it 40-29 with a minute left in the half.
But, again, Rathan-Mayes hit a jumper to quiet the crowd, and the two teams entered the half with a 40-31 lead favoring Notre Dame.
FSU Halftime Stats: Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 10, Trent Forrest had 8, Terance Mann had 6, and Jonathan Isaac had 0. The Seminoles shot 48.3% from the field, 16.7% from 3, and made 2-of-9 from the free throw line
ND Halftime Stats: BONZIE F. COLSON had 13 points and 5 rebounds, Matt Farrel had 11 points, Steve had 7, and VJ had 5...The Irish shot 47.1% from the field, 33.3% from 3, and made 4/4 from the charity stripe
Per usual, it’s time to rate the halftime entertainment on a scale of 1 to Red Panda.
For as awesome as this game was, the halftime entertainment was not that.
They started by awarding another Fan of the Game, which is fine and I commend Ron Silverman on earning it, considering he’s a 40+ year season ticket holder. It was a nice moment for him and his wife Pam.
But then after that, they played a special feature video on the big screen and it was essentially an advertisement for Notre Dame, talking about all the success the school has in terms of both athletics and academics. The main message was thanking donors for their contributions, and then after the video was done they brought out 20 families who had established endowments for student athletes and honored them.
Each of the families was accompanied by a current ND student-athlete while on the court, and that was kind of funny considering a lot of them definitely didn’t look like they wanted to be out there. There was a funny moment, though, as the announcer mispronounced Alizé Jones’ name, causing Alizé to giggle as the camera panned over him. This was the only enjoyable moment of the halftime show.
And that was it for halftime, so I give it a 1 on the Red Panda scale. Just nothing to it, unfortunately, and it reminded me of all the dumb honorees they bring out at timeouts of football games. Just unnecessary and annoying. Can’t believe that’s what they booked for a Saturday evening game against a top-15 team.
The rest of halftime was actually better than the entertainment, as the band played Jason Derulo’s “Want to Want Me,” which rocked. Additionally, the video board decided to show us some very advanced stats, telling us that since White Steve had 195 assists and 1,285 points in his career, he needed 5 more assists and 15 more points to get to 200 and 1,300 in those categories. Thank goodness for those advanced analytics!
As the second half was about to start, the video board played that dumb video where the players tell the fans to get loud. This made me laugh out loud, as White Steve and VJ were both incredibly unconvincing in their urging of the crowd to stand and be heard.
It worked somewhat, though, as the Noise Meter showed the crowd at “Roaring” level as play resumed. That quickly died down a bit, though, as Jonathan Isaac finally got on the board by making a layup.
White Steve responded in kind, though, with a nice running finger roll of his own to make it 42-33.
Soon after, Terance Mann found himself back at the free throw line, and stared down a student section chanting “TWO FOR NINE! TWO FOR NINE!” He missed one of two. The student section’s dominance continued.
After a Pflueger three made it 46-34, Isaac and BONZIE traded buckets. Then on the ensuing FSU possession, Pflueger was called for a foul while blocking an FSU player’s shot, and as he stood over/near the FSU player who was on the ground, Seminoles players took offense to Rex’s existence and started a bit of a scuffle with him.
6’6” Rex Pflueger vs. 7’0” Michael Ojo is a fight I would pay to see, but alas, everything calmed down before we got to see any fireworks.
Rathan-Mayes went to the line to shoot for the foul, and as the students chanted “THREE FOR ELEVEN! THREE FOR ELEVEN!” he missed both, spurring the students to begin to yell about 3 for 13. I can’t stress enough how great the students have been in these games.
Later on, BONZIE had the ball out on the perimeter while being guarded in a mismatch by Rathan-Mayes. Rathan-Mayes took a couple swipes at the ball while BONZIE considered what to do with it, and this made BONZIE decide to just completely humiliate the guard off the dribble. BONZIE burned him, got fouled, and made an and-one bucket on top of it all. His free throw made it 51-36, and the crowd was a-buzzin’.
ND got a stop on the next possession, and pushed the ball in transition to White Steve, who took a corner three that would have gotten the crowd LIT, but he missed. However, the disappointment of the crowd lasted for just a fleeting moment, as BONZIE came flying in to make an unbelievable one-handed tip put-back to extend the Irish lead to 17. This was probably the loudest it got in there all night, and potentially all season, as the crowd had to have been at “Full Domer” level at this point.
That tip-in also put BONZIE over 1,000 career points, meaning all three ND captains surpassed the 1,000-point mark this season (which is pretty neat).
After a small run from FSU, VJ Beachem stepped up and drained a 3 to make it 58-42 with about 12 minutes left in the game, and the crowd roared back to life.
FSU cut the deficit to 12 and brought the crowd down a bit, but then a BONZIE bucket in transition and a gliding Matty Farrell layup through a hapless FSU defense made it 64-48 with 9 minutes left to play and brought the crowd once more to their feet.
Then, BONZIE stole the ball and took off toward the hoop, and with the entire crowd ready to go nuts, BONZIE got hacked on his way up and the refs blew the whistle.
However, they weren’t blowing the whistle on FSU, but rather on BONZIE, for...getting fouled? The replay showed he did absolutely nothing wrong on the play, but nevertheless FSU got the call. It was a very strange moment, and you gotta assume the refs thought BONZIE pushed off or something. He did not do that.
During the under-8 timeout, the student section pulled out their newfound tradition of chanting “MIKE! BREY! MIKE! BREY!” and it was as good as ever, just FYI.
Coming out of the timeout, FSU got an alley-oop to make it 67-55, but a couple more BONZIE buckets pushed the lead to 71-55, forcing a Seminoles timeout as the crowd went nuts. That timeout was immediately used by the Purcell DJ to play “Sandstorm,” and the effect was utter madness in that arena.
After another beautiful feed from Farrell to BONZIE for a basket, the Irish led 73-55. A missed FSU free throw led to the student section chanting “5 FOR 18! 5 FOR 18!” over and over, and it was nice to see them stick with that chant, considering how well it was working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?
With the score at 75-58, BONZIE decided that he was tired of dominating the Seminoles down low and instead drained a 3-pointer to make it 78-58. This immediately caused the entire arena to break into a “BONZIE COLSON!” chant, and boy was it a loud one.
FSU proceeded to go on a 6-0 run to make it a 14-point game with just over 2 minutes to play, but then BONZIE drew another foul and hit both shots, giving him a career-high of 33 points on the game.
At this point, everyone knew the game was over, and so the student section decided to shoot its shot and pulled out some power moves. First, in the best thing they’ve done all year and potentially in a very long time, they began doing the Seminole war chant and tomahawk chop while the Seminoles were shooting more free throws. It made them miss one of two, because of course it did.
After a couple TJ Gibbs free throws and a rousing “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” song from the student section, the entire night was capped off with what I can only describe as the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on a basketball court.
White Steve managed to steal the ball from FSU, and with open court and two teammates in front of him, Steve decided he was gonna do this himself. Except, unlike ALWAYS when Steve would just calmly lay the ball in with perfect fundamentals, Steve got excited as he approached the hoop. He was finally going to do this.
What he did will go down in Irish basketball lore as the most fantastic display of freak athleticism that this program has ever witnessed.
White Steve jumped basically from the free throw line and dunked the ball. HE DUNKED THE BALL. He essentially shattered the backboard and more or less brought the crowd to their knees in reverence of his newfound leaping ability.
As you can imagine, this hadn’t happened before, and everyone was a bit shocked.
Steve Vasturia confirms that yes, this was the first time he's ever dunked in a game. Yesterday was his birthday so why not?— Laken Litman (@LakenLitman) February 12, 2017
The bench went nuts, the crowd went nuts, and BONZIE began gesturing to the crowd to get even rowdier than the “Full Domer” crescendo it had already reached. White Steve dunking the ball was just perfect, and it is a moment I will cherish forever, alongside Tom Kopko’s legendary “shot heard ‘round the world” from 2011:
As the final seconds began to tick away, the students chanted “WE ARE! ND!” and it was fantastic. The Leprechaun Legion constantly chanted that at the wrong time when I was in school, so it was very refreshing to see them not use it at a time when the opponent is on a 15-2 run, but instead when the Irish just completely out-played and dominated a top-15 opponent. That’s what being ND is all about, folks.
To close such a fantastic game, ND dusted off an old Mike Brey classic, intentionally picking up a shot clock violation on their last possession and leaving about 4 seconds on the clock for FSU to have to run off. Taking the shot clock violation is an extremely humble and classy action, but also a major power move, so that was a fun way to put the nail in the coffin against the top team in the ACC standings.
FSU Final Stats: Terance Mann had 15 points, Dwayne Bacon and Trent Forrest each had 12, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 11. JONATHAN ISAAC, FUTURE LOTTERY PICK, HAD 4 FREAKIN’ POINTS. The Seminoles shot 47% from the field, 20% from 3-point range, and 31.8% from the free throw line (LOL)
ND Final Stats: BONZIE F. COLSON finished with 33 and 13, Matt Farrell added 15 points and 9 assists, White Steve had 15 points as well to go along with 7 rebounds, and VJ tossed in 9 points of his own. The Irish shot 49% from the field, 32% from 3, and 90.5% from the foul line (19-of-21 total)
As the alma mater began to play, Mike Brey ran over to the student section, where he was mobbed by students and they all celebrated together and sang the alma mater together in an awesome moment for Irish fans.
This team may have hit a bad patch for the past couple weeks, but they never lost their charm or fire to compete. Gotta love them, and gotta love their chances against anyone with the toughness they keep showing.
All hail Mike Brey and his constant ability to pull the right strings with these college kids. It’s unbelievable, and I will not be surprised AT ALL if this team hits its stride now and enters the postseason firing on all cylinders.
- FSU coach Leonard Hamilton was effusive in his praise of the Irish in his post game presser, as he said they were “flawless in their execution” and kept coming back to how well ND game-planned and executed in this one
- During One Foot Down’s Facebook Live video of Brey’s presser, someone commented on the video under the guise of “Octavious Bugosh.” I’m skeptical that’s a real name, but if it is, then I’d like to personally thank Octavious Bugosh for having a dynamite name, and I appreciate his assessment of “good win” in his pithy, all-encompassing comment
- The team is now 18-5 when wearing the gold jerseys. KEEP WEARING THEM YOU GUYS
- I think BONZIE COLSON has officially moved into the #1 spot for my favorite all-time Notre Dame players. He’s just now edging out Pat Connaughton, Demetrius Jackson, White Steve, and Jerian Grant. Also, it’s very telling that all of my favorite ND players of all-time have come from the last few years. I’ve loved guys like Tim Abromaitis and Tory Jackson and Chris Thomas and Jack Cooley, but what Mike Brey has been able to do recently cannot be over-praised. He is crushing it right now in churning out NBA-level players
- Matt Farrell’s ability to make plays needs to be appreciated. I know he’s received some criticism recently for being a little wild or erratic at times (warranted), but he stirs the pot for this team. He makes things happen, and his 9 assists last night were huge as he constantly set up his teammates (namely BONZIE) for high-percentage shots. He played a great game last night
- Best Tweets of the evening with the #IrishVision hashtag (buckle up, there are quite a few):
These tweets from my (actual) good friends Katie and Jimmy:
This kid is the future
Everything is happening in this photo
Perd Hapley in the house
The hell is wrong with you people?
I mean it. Answer the question.
No seriously, what is WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
The Dab Squad
This inside joke that only Alex Mascoli will get
This plea for a kiss cam featuring Thomas Kevin Rees
This trend of kids calling their friends their children
This kid eats bacon for breakfast (as does 95% of America)
Nicholas Cage getting involved
Whole squad out here:
You heard it here first
Okay, that’s all I have for now, guys. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, God bless BONZIE FUCKING COLSON (sorry Mom), God bless White Steve’s ferocious dunking abilities, and God bless Mike Brey, the loosest coach in America, for pulling this team out of their funk to get a massive win for his tournament resume.