Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2024

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM FEBRUARY 2024 41 MEN'S BASKETBALL BY JACK SOBLE N otre Dame took a 41-24 lead into the second half against Virginia Dec. 30, but the game was far from over. The Cavaliers proved that when they went on a 7-0 run to pull within 10, and at that point, one of Irish head coach Mi- cah Shrewsberry's key points from after the 65-45 loss to The Citadel Dec. 19 could have reared its ugly head. His team's response to adversity, Shrewsberry explained that night, was atrocious. When faced with adversity, they collapsed. But against the Cavaliers, Notre Dame had other plans. After Virginia's 7-0 spurt and a second run — the Irish didn't score for a full 4 minutes, thanks to Virginia's stifling defense — Shrews- berry's team emerged stronger. Notre Dame went on a 21-6 run for the next six minutes, ending the game. That was the biggest sign of progress in an afternoon full of them, ending in a win against a team that would be No. 30 in the Associated Press poll if the rankings extended that far: The Irish didn't fold. "I think we never panicked," Shrews- berry said after the game. "It would have been easy to panic. They came right out of halftime with a quick run. And we sat down, we took a breath and we came back out and we answered it. "That's part of growth as a group, when it could really flip sideways and had a chance to flip sideways." Fre s h m a n fo rwa rd C a rey Bo o t h scored 14 of the 21 Notre Dame points in that second-half run, finishing with 17 points and 9 rebounds. When the going got tough, the freshman who went more than a month between games with dou- ble-digit points was unconscious from the field and ferocious on the glass. "We knew Virginia was a really good team, so we couldn't really let up, be- cause we knew they always have the op- portunity to come back," Booth said. "Just had to be locked in, be in the right spots, make my own shots, rebound. That's what I did." The way the game started was just as impressive. The Irish could have let the incoming marathon of ACC games, the reputation of a team like Virginia and the stigma of a 5-7 record get in their heads. A 60-56 win over Marist Dec. 22 did little to erase the sour taste of The Citadel game. But instead, Shrewsberry explained, after Christmas the team came back for practice and prepared with the same en- ergy as it played with. And it played with a ton of energy, right from the opening tip. It was night and day from 11 days earlier. "Everyone just had to be honest with themselves," junior guard J.R. Konieczny said. "Everyone had to open up and give a little bit of themselves up for the sake of the team and the sake of this program. "Everyone had to just work their butts off in practice again and come prepared." Konieczny was the driving force be- hind Notre Dame's torrid start, draining a trio of three-pointers in a row, includ- ing a last-second heave at the end of the shot clock. He joked that because the Irish have had a difficult relationship with the shot clock all season, he just fired up a prayer and hoped it would hit the rim. Instead, it banked in off the backboard. "The young man J.R., he just kind of put his shoulder down and bullied us," longtime Virginia head coach Tony Ben- nett said. "He hit some tough shots. … They run good stuff. "They played hard, and they're really trying to get some stuff established." As it tries to get its program established, there's no overstating the importance of this win to Notre Dame. It should give this team confidence that it can beat the top teams in the ACC, and it showed — as several other games have — that Booth, Konieczny and freshman guard Markus Burton (15 points and a career-high 8 as- sists against Virginia) can be legitimate building blocks for a future NCAA team. Burton was named ACC Rookie of the Week for his effort against UVA, earning the first weekly honor of his young Notre Dame career. It likely won't be his last. The win also gave the Irish some fuel for their "no one believes in us" fire. The team was mocked on social media after the loss to The Citadel, and Ken- predicted Notre Dame would go winless in ACC play. "I'm big into analytics, but analyt- ics doesn't know what's inside of us," Shrewsberry said. "It doesn't know what kind of heart we've got." ✦ Notre Dame Shows Progress, Shocks Virginia 2023-24 NOTRE DAME MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Time/Result Nov. 6 Niagara W, 70-63 Nov. 11 Western Carolina L, 71-61 Nov. 16 vs. Auburn# L, 83-59 Nov. 17 vs. Oklahoma State# W, 66-64 (OT) Nov. 22 Maryland Eastern Shore W, 75-55 Nov. 28 at South Carolina% L, 65-53 Dec. 2 at Miami* L, 62-49 Dec. 5 Western Michigan W, 86-65 Dec. 9 at Marquette L, 78-59 Dec. 16 Georgetown L, 72-68 (OT) Dec. 19 The Citadel L, 65-45 Dec. 22 Marist W, 60-56 Dec. 30 Virginia* W, 76-54 Jan. 3 NC State* L, 54-52 Jan. 6 Duke* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 9 at Georgia Tech* (ACCN) 9 p.m. Jan. 13 Florida State* (CW) 2:15 p.m. Jan. 15 at Boston College* (ESPNU) 7 p.m. Jan. 24 Miami* (ESPN/2/U) 7 p.m. Jan. 27 Boston College* (ESPN/2/U) 12 p.m. Jan. 31 at Virginia* (ESPN/2/U) 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at Pitt* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Duke* (ACCN) 9 p.m. Feb. 10 Virginia Tech* (CW) 6 p.m. Feb. 14 Georgia Tech* (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Louisville* (ESPN/2/U) 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Syracuse* (ESPN/2) 12 p.m. Feb. 27 Wake Forest (ACCN) 9 p.m. Mar. 2 Clemson* (CW) 7:45 p.m. Mar. 5 at North Carolina* (ACCN) 7 p.m. Mar. 9 at Virginia Tech* (ESPNEWS) 2 p.m. Mar. 12-16 ACC Tournament$ TBA # Legend's Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.; * ACC game; % ACC/SEC Challenge; $ at Washington, D.C. Freshman forward Carey Booth tallied 17 points and 9 rebounds to help the Fighting Irish defeat Virginia 76-54, their biggest margin of victory versus the Cavaliers in program history. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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