It’s still ridiculously early in the season, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are off to a good start with a 2-0 record after beating the Chicago State Cougars. So, what can we take away from this game — and did we learn anything?
Before the season began, Elijah Burns was more of an afterthought. With all the fancy freshmen, T.J. Gibbs, Rex Plueger, and all that... who was talking about Elijah Burns? Well, people are talking about him now. In 17 minutes he racked up 15 points and 5 rebounds, and those stats really don’t measure up to the athleticism and energy he brought to the court.
This will be an interestiung season, and onr that will have a few surprises. At least for now — we got one.
Notre Dame has been infamously shallow on their bench in recent years. Whether by design, or just because of injuries, Mike Brey doesn’t go too deep down the roster. There seems to be a shift with this team. Maybe it’s because of the youth movement, and maybe it’s just because Notre Dame played Chicago State and UIC, but the Irish are going deep on the bench and getting really nice results.
The bench scored 44 of the 89 points, and of those 44, 25 points were from the freshmen (Robby Carmody started and scores 8 points). It’s just a different world in this regard as compared to some past years.
These games aren’t scheduled to really offer a challenge. They’re scheduled as “wins” and as warm-ups to prepare for the season — especially ACC play. Still, the Irish found themselves in a bit of a battle at the end of the first half. It’s not like they had to come back from a deficit on the road or anything, but being able to come out of the half in an unexpected tight game, and pick up their level of play says something. It might be small — but small is something and it’s a start.