It’s February, I’ve recently started a new job that has made me once again a week late to these pages, and your Notre Dame Fighting Irish still haven’t won a game since the last time we talked. Let’s go over what’s happened in the last couple weeks and try to pull some interesting observations from this depressing series of defeats.
Miami Hurricanes 73, Notre Dame 61
The Irish fought hard but were powerless against the scoring prowess of Norchad Omier, who put up 33 points on 12-of-14 shooting - including six dunks - against an otherwise stout defensive effort. The Irish stayed in the game largely due to an impressive 11-2 run to open the second half, and actually led 52-49 with under ten minutes to play before allowing a final, back-breaking run. Ball control was a big problem here as the Irish racked up 15 turnovers to create extra scoring opportunities for the ‘Canes.
Boston College Eagles 61, Notre Dame 58
An embarrassing second consecutive season-series sweep by the Eagles was completed after a total system failure in the final minutes of a very winnable game in South Bend. Notre Dame and BC had stayed close all night and the Irish pulled within two with 1:21 left on a Markus Burton jumper, and then proceeded to do every single possible thing wrong in a final-minute situation and ended up down six before a meaningless three-pointer finalized the scoring. This game did feature a cool 8-0 run by J.R. Konieczny, which helped the Irish keep pace with a BC team that shot 61% in the second half.
Virginia Cavaliers 65, Notre Dame 53
Credit Notre Dame with never giving up here as they went into halftime down 15 on the road and only ended up losing by 8. In a familiar pattern this season, the Irish mostly held their own on defense against a formidable opponent but suffered from acute offensive deficiencies that led to only two players (Burton and Braeden Shrewsberry) scoring more than five points. The Irish actually did not shoot too badly in this game (46.5% from the field) but short-circuited many of their possessions with turnovers (18 on the day).
Pittsburgh Panthers 70, Notre Dame 60
The Irish got off to a good start in this one, leading for most of the first half before the Panthers started draining threes and went on a 16-3 run to lead 28-22 at the break. Pitt then went on a 19-4 run in the first half of the second period and from then on it was a battle to keep the game within single digits. Although they were a good-not-great 10-for-25 from three on the night, Pitt seemed to hit from distance at the most crucial moments and that separated them from the Irish.
Micah Shrewsberry continues the search for his second win of 2024 on Wednesday evening. In the meantime, a few observations from this slate:
- Markus Burton continues to be Notre Dame’s only consistent offensive producer and is having himself a very nice freshman season, averaging 16.0 PPG.
- On the other hand, the lack of a veteran distributor in Burton’s role is clearly weighing on this team (Burton averages only 4.3 assists per game), which is increasingly turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
- Shrewsberry and Konieczny continue to flash scoring ability at the other guard spots and give the Irish a promising young nucleus at the guard spots. On the other hand, the lack of a consistent scoring threat down low leaves the Irish very one-dimensional on offense and reliant on hot streaks from guys that are still finding themselves in the college game.
- The numbers on defense for this team don’t lie - if there is one positive thing to take from this season it is that Shrewsberry has his team playing excellent team defense, closing to force tough shots and giving this team every chance it could hope for to win against all odds.
I’ll hope to be more regular in updating this in the future - let’s hope I have a win to write about next week!