Blue and Gold Illustrated

Dec 19, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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46 DEC. 19, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED MEN'S BASKETBALL BY PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame went into its Dec. 6 meeting with Detroit Mercy — a thrice-altered date for the home opener — needing a game as much as it needed a win. The Fighting Irish were eight days removed from an opening-night 80-70 loss to Michigan State, their season defined by the deletion of three games due to opponents' ros- ter availability issues more than their size and athleticism shortcomings against the Spartans. By Dec. 5, Notre Dame was sup- posed to have played two home games, one against Western Michi- gan and another against Tennessee. Those were canceled. The last-min- ute addition of a game against Pur- due Fort Wayne came and went in the span of about 48 hours. Head coach Mike Brey lined up the game with Detroit Mercy to avoid a 10-day stretch where his team had scrim- maged only against itself. "We had to get a game in," Brey said after Notre Dame beat Detroit Mercy 78-70 on Dec. 6. "Thankfully, Detroit was in the same boat when Purdue Fort Wayne called us [to cancel]." The week leading to it was a roller coaster of near-daily changes, with games flying on and off Notre Dame's slate and the schedules of teams across the country. College basketball has stayed afloat in its first two weeks despite cancellations and other COVID-19 news that has grabbed attention as much as any specific on-court event. Following the stream of changes is nauseating. The only certainty is uncertainty, a reality that can be mentally taxing. "Coach Brey always says, 'Let's be tougher than the year,'" junior for- ward Nate Laszewski said. "There will be ups and downs. If a game gets canceled, we just come in and we practice. We do our job, go to work." That'll be the mindset needed for the entire season. So far, Notre Dame seems strong with it. Give them a time and place for a game, and they'll be there. If a game's off, back to the lab for more fine-tuning. The worry of slumbering into a game because of a dip in edge is enough motivation to stay standing with each haymaker COVID-19 lands on the schedule. "They just roll with it," Brey said. "I probably got more anxious than them when we kept losing opportu- nities. They just come in and we tell them, 'Here's the deal.' That's going to serve us well. We're mature, we get it, we get the big picture and we know we're living day to day." Added junior guard Dane Good- win: "Our normalcy is coming to practice and being ready to play. We're going to have things happen here and there, and we're not exactly going to know what's going on at all times. Our upperclassmen need to carry that on with the rest of the team and being ready, new oppo- nents, new games." As of now, the meat of the daunting non-conference schedule Brey assem- bled remains intact. Tennessee, a pre- season top-15 team that did not play through Dec. 7, is the only casualty of particular consequence so far. Notre Dame began a stretch of challenging games when it hosted No. 22 Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 8. Following it are games at Kentucky Dec. 12, versus No. 10 Duke Dec. 16, versus Purdue in Indianapo- lis Dec. 19, at Syracuse Dec. 22 and versus No. 18 Virginia Dec. 30. "We hadn't played a different op- ponent for months," Laszewski said. "Hopefully those games stay." The CDC's decision to take four Staying the CourSe Notre Dame is doing its best to be unflappable amid steady change Junior guard Dane Goodwin scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Notre Dame's 78-70 win over Detroit Mercy Dec. 6. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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