Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

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

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Page 40 of 47 JANUARY 2021 41 MEN'S BASKETBALL BY TODD D. BURLAGE F amiliar answers followed familiar results as Notre Dame continued to stay competitive against its better opponents, but found little consola- tion as the rugged December sched- ule mercifully came to an end. Notre Dame's 66-57 home loss to No. 23 Virginia Dec. 30 marked the 25th consecutive defeat for the Irish to a ranked team. A last-second 66-65 defeat at North Carolina Jan. 2 dropped Notre Dame to 1-6 against Power Five opponents this season. "The teams we played, we're not as good as them, and much work [is needed] to get better," Brey conceded after the Virginia loss, a game his team never led. "There's time to do that." When pressed on why a team featuring seven players with full- time starting experience can't find much rhythm, or a big win, or even a true identity so far this season, Brey offered, "We don't quite have that mindset to get over that hump against really good teams," and "I almost expect it a little bit still." STRANGE BUT TRUE So while Notre Dame has remained consistent in a pattern of losing to ranked teams, all else remains un- predictable game to game during this strange season. In an 81-70 win over Bellarmine Dec. 23, the three starting Irish ju- nior guards, Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb and Cormac Ryan, combined for 52 of the team's 81 points (64.2 percent). Goodwin tied his career high with 27 points on 8-of-10 shoot- ing from the field and an 11-of-11 effort at the free throw line. A game later in the Virginia loss, this threesome combined for only nine of Notre Dame's 57 points (15.8 percent) on 3-of-20 shooting. Good- win scored five points against the Cavaliers on 2-of-8 shooting. MAKING THE JUMP Brey has built a career by turning players considered marginal through their freshman and sophomore sea- sons into stars as juniors and seniors — John Mooney immediately comes to mind — and 6-10 Irish junior for- ward Nate Laszewski is taking a sim- ilar track so far this season. Steadily improving every game, Laszewski recorded 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting against Bellarmine, went for a career-high 28 points on 8-of-11 shooting against Virginia, and then tallied 25 points and nine boards while making 7 of 11 threes at UNC. Through nine games, Laszewski led the Irish in scoring (17.2 points per game) and rebounding (8.2 car- oms per contest), and was third in the nation in three-point shooting (59.0 percent, 23 of 39). MORE ADJUSTMENTS After scoring a game-high 27 points against Purdue Dec. 19 in only his sec- ond game as an active Irish player and his first as a starter, junior guard Trey Wertz injured his ankle in the first half against Virginia and will miss "one or two weeks," according to Brey. If there is any silver lining, senior Irish forward Juwan Durham re- corded extended minutes in Wertz's absence against Virginia and scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. To better illustrate Durham's con- tributions against the Cavaliers, he and Laszewski combined for 47 of Notre Dame's 57 points in the defeat. "I loved the way our big guys played, maybe we are starting to figure something out," Brey said in anticipation of Wertz's temporary absence. OUT OF CHARACTER As one of the best teams in the country in three-point shooting (31st, 38.9 percent) and foul shooting (13th, 79.3 percent), much remains the same in many ways for the Irish. One area does not. Traditionally one of the top three teams in the country in assist-to- turnover ratio, Notre Dame was ranked only No. 48 nationally (1.32) in that category as of Jan. 3, perhaps a glimpse into why it struggles to beat good teams and finish close games. After the North Carolina loss, the Irish had 131 total assists and 99 turnovers while their first nine op- ponents remarkably had both more assists (143) and fewer turnovers (72) in those games. ✦ During Notre Dame's 3-6 start, junior forward Nate Laszewski paced the team in both scoring (17.2 points per game) and rebounding (8.2 caroms per contest) while shooting 59.0 percent (23 of 39) from three-point range. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Fighting Irish Have Work To Do 2020-21 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 28 at Michigan State L, 80-70 Dec. 6 Detroit Mercy W, 78-70 Dec. 8 Ohio State# L, 90-85 Dec. 12 at Kentucky W, 64-63 Dec. 16 Duke* L, 75-65 Dec. 19 vs. Purdue^ L, 88-78 Dec. 23 Bellarmine W, 81-70 Dec. 30 Virginia* L, 66-57 Jan. 2 at North Carolina* L, 66-65 Jan. 6 Georgia Tech* (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Virginia Tech* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at Virginia* (ACCN) 8:30 p.m. Jan. 16 Boston College* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Jan. 18 at Howard TBA Jan. 24 at Miami* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 27 Virginia Tech* (RSN) 7 p.m. Feb. 2 Wake Forest* (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at Georgia Tech* (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 9 at Duke* (ESPN/2) 9 p.m. Feb. 14 Miami* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Feb. 17 Clemson* (RSN) 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at Louisville* (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at Boston College* (ACCN) 2 p.m. Mar. 3 NC State* (ACCN) 7 p.m. Mar. 6 Florida State* (ESPN/2) TBA Mar. 9-13 ACC Tournament$ # ACC/Big Ten Challenge; * ACC game; ^ Cross- roads Classic at Indianapolis; $ at Greensboro, N.C.; games at Syracuse (Dec. 22) and at Pitts- burgh (Jan. 2) were postponed, and have yet to be rescheduled

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