Assuming the Irish are done scrubbing their hands clean of the painful loss to Radford at Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday night, there is a game to play this Saturday afternoon. The Irish tip off against the William and Mary Tribe at noon back at the Joyce Center, which actually works out perfect for Irish fans. A noon tipoff means roughly a 2pm finish, which is just enough time to mentally switch to football mode, order some more food, and watch Notre Dame look to stay undefeated against Syracuse at 2:30. Yay, sports!
Back to basketball, the Irish suffered their worst loss since last year’s flop against Ball State. Sure, that loss was a little different considering the diminished expectations this year, but simply put, the Irish need to shoot better and have more controlled drives to the basket. Can that ship begin to right its course against 1-2 William and Mary?
Mike Brey continues to tinker with his lineup to try and find the best rotations, and that will likely carry over into Saturday afternoon. Juwan Durham rode the bench on Wednesday night after logging 12 minutes against Chicago State, and Brey’s reliable guard T.J. Gibbs saw his playing time jump up to 39 minutes, as the Irish were locked in an unexpected close game. Expect to see plenty of Gibbs and John Mooney, while keeping an eye on the freshman quartet, specifically Nate Laszewski and Robby Carmody.
- William and Mary has dropped two straight after a win in its season opener. Their most recent loss came in overtime against UIC (who the Irish handled in their season opener).
- The young Irish struggling from the floor against Radford (the freshman shot 4-for-15), so we’ll see how much that plays into Brey’s decision making in terms of playing time on Saturday.
- This will be the second time the Irish have faced the Tribe in their history, with the first matchup coming back in 1982, which the Irish won easily 83-60 (according to Sports Reference).
- Yes, this game is still part of the Gotham Classic
Where: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Indiana
When: Saturday, November 17th at 12:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- Live Stream: ACC Network Extra
- Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app)
William and Mary Tribe (1-2)
Not only does this team like to score, but they like to let other teams score. Last year, the Tribe finished tops in the CAA in points per game, but second to last in points allowed. Judging by their 100-95 loss on Thursday, albeit in overtime, that trend doesn’t seem to have changed much.
The bulk of their scoring is handled my Matt Milon (17.7 ppg), Justin Pierce (22.3 ppg) and Nathan Knight (15 ppg). Luke Loewe and L.J. Owens round out the usual starting five, but the Tribe have been running with a deep rotation so far this season, much like the Irish. The Tribe saw 10 different players log minutes in Thursday night’s loss, though that could have been slightly inflated due to Knight fouling out of the overtime battle.
Tribe to watch
Matt Milon, Guard, Junior
The Irish can’t allow an opposing shooter to catch fire from the perimeter, which showed in the loss to Radford when Caleb Tanner shot 6-9 from three to thwart any possibility of an Irish comeback. They’ll have to keep a special eye on Milon, who nailed eight of his 15 threes against UIC on Thursday night.
The Tribe as a whole shot 15-34 from downtown, so the Irish will have to have active hands around the arc, to avoid William and Mary scoring in bunches.
Irish X-Factor: John Mooney
I know, it’s the easy pick, but it’s for good reason. Mooney is coming off a career night and is going to be expected to handle a lot more of the scoring this season, with Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell out of the mix.
Also, his presence should be felt on the boards. William and Mary ranked last in their conference in offensive boards last season, while Mooney grabbed 12 rebounds on Thursday. Expect his size to help the Irish control the glass and eliminate second chances for a William and Mary team that likes to shoot.
The Irish are still on their home floor, and coming off a loss that had to leave a bad taste in their mouths. The perfect cure for a poor shooting night from their youngsters is to match up against a defense that gives up plenty of points. This is good news for the Irish.
Common opponent shows the Irish have the advantage, even though they’re still trying to find their identity and optimum rotations. This is the kind of opponent to keep experimenting and find a rhythm, while coming away with a win.
The Irish get back in the win column with an 89-73 victory.