Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2016 Issue

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

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Page 101 of 133

MEN'S BASKETBALL BY JORDAN WELLS A fter a season for the ages, dur- ing which Notre Dame racked up a school-record 32 wins, won the ACC championship and came within a missed three- pointer of reaching the Final Four, the 2015-16 Irish had a tough act to follow. However, they produced a nice encore, displaying the same toughness that was evident during that memorable 2014-15 campaign. A 20-10 regular-season record doesn't jump off the page, but it was scattered with a number of heart- pumping victories. One win in the ACC Tournament doesn't necessarily stand out either, unless you note the Irish erased a 16-point second-half deficit to defeat Duke. In the NCAA Tournament, the Irish (24-12 overall, 11-7 ACC) didn't re- cord a victory versus a team seeded higher than No. 7, but reeled off three wins — each marked with its own cherished shining moment — to notch a second consecutive appear- ance in the Elite Eight. "When you feel you got the most out of your group, that's really re- warding for me and my staff," head coach Mike Brey said after his team fell 88-74 to North Carolina in the Elite Eight March 27. "Two years in a row, we feel we really got the most out of our group. "You've got a lot of guys coming back that know what that feels like." Looking ahead to next year, two key departures in point guard Deme- trius Jackson and forward Zach Au- guste could prove difficult to replace. Before that, though, we'd be remiss if we didn't reflect back on the year that was. LEAVING A MARK All offseason following last year's run to the Elite Eight, the Irish play- ers had to listen to the same narrative over and over. "There's no way to replace Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton." And, of course, that line of thinking was fair — to an extent. Grant and TOUGH OUT Notre Dame's run to a second consecutive Elite Eight was highlighted by clutch play and dramatic wins

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