After suffering a bad loss at home to the Radford Highlanders last week and then righting the ship against the William & Mary Tribe on Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team continues its season-opening home-stand against the Duquesne Dukes tonight as the Gotham Classic wraps up with its “Showcase Game.”
The Dukes come into this one sporting a 3-0 record that includes wins over 3 of Notre Dame’s 4 first opponents — they’ve topped William & Mary, UIC, and most recently, Radford.
Now, the Irish hope to use some positive momentum from Saturday to take down probably the best team in the Gotham Classic. After the rough loss to Radford, the Irish bounced back against William & Mary thanks to strong contributions from a few veterans (FINALLY), as TJ Gibbs scored 18, DJ Harvey dropped in 15, and John Mooney added 13 to power a 2nd half 17-6 run that put enough distance between the two teams to clinch it.
Now, the Irish hope to build on that and see continued strong play from their vets, while also getting help from young players like Prentiss Hubb, who scored 11 and flashed some real potential on Saturday.
Let’s dive into the matchup and the opponent to see what may happen in this one.
- The Irish and Dukes will be meeting for the 8th time, with Duquesne leading the all-time series 5-2. The two teams haven’t met since a 77-62 Notre Dame win in Purcell on February 8, 1995 (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
- Duquesne finished 17-19 in last year under first-year coach Keith Dambrot
- Dambrot helped develop Akron into one of the top programs in the MAC before moving to Duquesne, and before Akron he was was the coach at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary from 1998-2001, helping develop LeBron James during his prep career (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Duquesne is named after the 18th-century governor of New France, Michel-Ange Duquesne de Menneville (the first to bring Catholic observances to the Pittsburgh area) (per Alan Wasielewski)
- 63 of Notre Dame’s 73 points against William & Mary were scored by the Irish starters in the game (Gibbs, Mooney, Harvey, Hubb, and Rex Pflueger). No bench player saw more than 14 minutes of action
Where: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Indiana
When: Tuesday, November 20th at 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- Live Stream: ACC Network Extra
- Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app)
Duquesne Dukes (3-0)
As stated above, the Dukes come into this one playing good basketball, having won all of their first 3 matchups in the Gotham Classic, looking like a strong contender from the A-10 conference after a losing season in 2017-2018.
The team is led by sophomore guard Eric Williams Jr., who is a tough guy to guard at 6’6”. He’s essentially averaging a double-double on the season through 4 games (16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds), and is a good three-point shooter, knocking down 40% of the 20 threes he’s taken to-date.
He’s joined in the backcourt by Sincere Carry, a freshman point guard with an unbelievable name and with the all-around skills to score (14 ppg), distribute (7.3 apg), and defend (2.7 spg). Carry can knock it down from deep as well, shooting 44% from long range so far this year.
After Williams Jr. and Carry, the Dukes have a smattering of guys who contribute on the scoreboard and on the glass. Providing the heft down low are 6’8” C Michael Hughes (9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg), 6’10” F Austin Rotroff (6.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg), and 6’5” F Marcus Weathers (8 ppg, 6 rpg), while guards Mike Lewis II and Frankie Hughes (combined 16 ppg, Hughes shoots 45% from 3) provide some more firepower on the perimeter.
Overall, this should be a tough, balanced test for the Irish, as the Dukes have talent on the inside and the outside and have shown they can win high-scoring affairs (beat UIC 89-88, scored 84 vs. UIC) as well as more defensive-minded efforts (69-64 win over Radford).
Duke to Watch
Eric Williams Jr., Guard, Sophomore
At 6’6” and shooting 40% from deep, Williams Jr. is a tough guy to guard because of his size/rebounding ability and scoring skills from all over the floor. It will be a TALL task (pun intended) for the Irish wings (Pflueger, Harvey, Carmody/Goodwin) to try to guard this guy tonight, as he is dangerous and can beat you in a lot of different ways.
Rex Pflueger, Guard, Senior
Rex Pflueger has struggled early this season, but as a guy who is still the best defender on the team, he has a chance to truly shine tonight in focusing on shutting down Williams Jr. as much as he possibly can.
Hopefully Mike Brey drives home with Pflueger the idea of being the defensive stopper tonight and not trying to do much on offense, allowing more capable guys to make plays on that end while Rex focuses on doing what he does best.
I’m not ready to write this Notre Dame team off this early in the season, especially because of their youth. I think the Radford loss reset expectations for the year (and rightfully so — this team just isn’t an NCAA Tourney team right now), but I also believe they have enough talent to beat a team like Duquesne and now finally have some positive momentum driven by experienced veterans that the team can feed off of and build on going forward.
I think Notre Dame edges the Dukes out in this one 82-76.