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What We Learned: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest

The Fighting Irish snapped a 4-game losing streak to beat Wake Forest 88-81. What can we learn from this?!?!?

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It might not be a marquee, resume-building win, but after the past three weeks of Notre Dame basketball, Fighting Irish fans have to be breathing a huge sigh of relief with the team’s 88-81 come-from-behind win over Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

The Irish got big-time performances from their four best players simultaneously (27 from COLSON, 19 from Beachem, 17 from Vasturia, and 16 from Farrell) - something that hasn’t happened much this season - and overcame another size and rebounding deficit to stop the losing streak and get some positive momentum before a huge home game against #14 Florida State this Saturday.

But considering Wake Forest is now just 14-10 and sitting at 10th in the ACC, what all could we ND fans have learned from a 7-point victory over the middling Demon Deacons at home?

Notre Dame didn’t forget how to shoot after all

During Notre Dame’s 4-game losing streak, the Irish shot 42% from the field, 32% from 3-point range, and 71% from the free throw line.

Against Wake Forest on Tuesday, the Irish shot 49% from the field, 48% from 3-point range, and 81% from the charity stripe. ND was especially lethal shooting the ball in the 2nd half, where they nailed 9 of 14 three-balls and managed to put up 52 total points in the half.

Also, Steve “White Steve” Vasturia, who had been slumping to the tune of 28% shooting overall and 17% from 3-point range in the past 5 games, finally broke out of his slump, scoring 17 points on 57% shooting and hitting 3-of-5 shots from long range.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish might not have been overly impressive in this 7-point win over a bottom-5 team in the ACC (although Wake Forest is actually being discussed as a potential tourney team still at 14-10), but they were hitting shots again, and that will be crucial down the stretch of ACC play and as they enter the postseason.

BONZIE COLSON is a god, and without him Notre Dame basketball would have a rebounding margin of -1000000000

Before I jump into this, here’s a quick message I want to convey to BONZIE ALEXANDER COLSON II:

The man is 6’5”, 225 pounds, and due to the roster’s complete lack of competent and “game-ready” big men (“game-ready” is in quotes because I cannot fathom why John Mooney and Elijah Burns aren’t considered “game-ready” based on what we are seeing from Marty Geben and Austin Torres out there), he has to play center and guard the other team’s center the vast majority of the 35+ minutes he plays every game.

So, to see him pick up his 15th double-double of the season while accumulating 27 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 blocks is really something else. He’s a finalist for the Karl Malone Award for the best power forward in the country, and yet I still think he’s under-appreciated both on a national scale and by Notre Dame basketball fans.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame had 28 defensive rebounds against Wake Forest. BONZIE HAD HALF OF THEM. And he had nearly half of the 35 total team rebounds as well. If anyone at all helped the poor guy rebound the ball, ND wouldn’t have to shoot nearly 50% from 3-point range to win games.

With him hitting the boards like a menace, Notre Dame still lost the rebounding battle 43-35. Without him, and with people like Geben and Torres in his place, I think the Irish might average a rebounding margin of about -1,000,000,000 per game.*

*Rough estimate

So, ND fans need to cherish the rest of this year and his senior season next year, because BONZIE COLSON is an honest-to-goodness NBA-level player and will leave a humongous, badass void when he finally departs the program.

With John Collins only a sophomore, Wake Forest could be a team to watch the next two seasons

Nearly matching BONZIE the entire game was Demon Deacon sophomore forward John Collins, who scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds. At 6’10” and 235 pounds, the kid has shown incredible talent already this year in averaging 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.

He’s averaging 23 points over his last seven contests, and with his size and youth, should be a fantastic cornerstone for Danny Manning to build his roster around for the next two seasons.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know if Wake Forest will be able to bring in enough talent to surround him with in order to be any sort of championship contender, but with a team that’s already a nuisance to some of the best teams in the conference this year, a matured, experienced, more developed John Collins could lead the Demon Deacons to some successful postseasons in the near future.

The ESPN News production team for this game was certainly not ESPN’s A-team

I want to talk about a graphic that was shown in the second half of this game.

It started off with a complete groaner of a joke, and as someone who absolutely LOVES dad jokes and really lame puns, I really appreciated it. ESPN News showed a bunch of pictures of Mike Brey and his main players, making it look like the opening sequence to The Brady Bunch.

Get it, the Brey-dy Bunch? LOL

Would love to hear the story how these guys became the Brey-dy Bunch

Then, they added a title to the graphic, which was different than what I expected but seemed fine at the time because it implied they would be talking about the team’s defense.

“It fits,” I said to myself.

This could work...let’s talk defense!

However, what followed the graphic was a montage of the Notre Dame basketball team playing OFFENSE. All of the highlights shown were of the offensive variety, which made me shout out loud at the TV, to the delight of my roommate, who loves seeing me act like an idiot.

Why did they call out the ‘D’ in the title???

Neither of us had an answer. They easily could have made it say “The Brey-dy Bunch” if they weren’t going to talk about defense, and it would still have been stupid and fantastic, but would have also made logical sense. Instead, by just using the letter ‘D,’ the production team completely ruined it and just made themselves look silly.

I’m probably the only person who cares about this, but ESPN News team, please learn from this glaring mistake and make your stupendous puns at least make sense in future broadcasts.

God bless, and thank you for trying, at least.

Red Panda has generously lifted her curse just in time for the final stretch of ACC play

It became quite clear over the past few weeks that Red Panda, our one true goddess of Notre Dame basketball, had placed the team under a curse due to some unknown sin we all committed as ND fans.

However, as the 4-game losing streak was snapped and the Irish found their winning ways again last night, it became clear that Red Panda had officially lifted the curse and blessed Notre Dame, enabling the team to get back to out-shooting its opponents.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thus, I’m calling it now - Florida State is going down on Saturday.

Red Panda has spoken.

Bonus Content:

I figured I would do ESPN News a solid for future broadcasts and give the commentators something to sing next time they use that extremely misleading graphic. I’ll leave you with that:

Here's the story

Of a lovely lady

Who was flipping up five bowls onto her head

She put a curse on the team

While on her unicycle

That crazy Panda, Red


It's the story

Of a man named Brey-dy

Who was busy with fourteen boys on his team

They were losing

5 of 6 games

Yet they still chased their dream


'Til the one night when the BONZIE dominated

And White Steve finally shot the ball well

They then knew that Red Panda’s curse had lifted

Wake Forest, go to hell


The Brey-dy bunch, the Brey-dy bunch

That's the way they became the Brey-dy bunch