The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers 83-71 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish couldn’t break through as the Mountaineers had a steady lead all game after jumping off to a 10-0 to start the game. The closest the Irish would get is down to three points. They never got over the hump and WVU eventually pulled away late. This is what we learned.
Irish Haven’t Seen Pressure Like That
There really is not another team in the country that pressures the ball like West Virginia. Notre Dame averaged only 9.3 turnovers per game this season but they did not see a full court press like this all year and ended up turning it over 14 times. Notre Dame wins game by making foul shots and taking care of the ball. West Virginia was able to take the Irish out of their game.
Team In Good Hands
How good was Bonzie Colson yesterday? He played virtually the whole second half in foul trouble and still played fantastic on both ends. He finished the game with 27 points and 8 rebounds. With Bonzie set to return for his senior year, the Irish are already set up for another successful season next year. With him and Matt Farrell leading the team next year, I expect Notre Dame to be back in the NCAA tournament in 2018.
Seniors Changed Culture
VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia did not play their best against West Virginia, but that does not change the fact they overhauled the Irish basketball program. Notre Dame basketball is in a great place and it is thanks to these two seniors. The Irish are now proven to be a top team in the ACC. They also have 7 NCAA tournament wins in the last three years. I now believe in Notre Dame basketball in the postseason. Before this class of seniors came through, Notre Dame was known for early exits in the NCAA tournament. The whole culture and stigma surrounding Notre Dame basketball has changed.
Notre Dame finished the season 26-10. Mike Brey has this program on the up and up. Next year should be promising as well. It was a great season that ended a bit too soon but this team was fun to watch all year.