Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 48 of 63 MAY 2017 49 MEN'S BASKETBALL Season Recap Unlike the 2015-16 season in which the Irish suffered bad losses at the hands of Monmouth and Alabama, Notre Dame's 2016-17 season largely went according to plan. Notre Dame began the season 9-0 — the pro- gram's best start in head coach Mike Brey's 17 seasons — before losing back-to-back non- conference games to No. 1 Villanova and No. 15 Purdue. Those defeats did not slow down the Irish, who went on to win their first five ACC games, marking the best league start in program his- tory, regardless of affiliation. Only a four-game losing streak to Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina — by far the team's tough- est stretch in league play — slowed the Irish down, before they rebounded and won six in a row to vault themselves back into a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament. Notre Dame was then able to take advantage of the friendly confines at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the home of the league tour- nament and a site where the Irish have been successful. Notre Dame won both its NCAA Tournament games at the arena in 2016 and beat Colo- rado and Northwestern to win the Legends Classic in November 2016. That success continued with a pair of wins over Virginia (71-58) and Florida State (77-73) in the ACC Tournament, while the third-seeded Irish boosted their résumé. Their magical run and a shot at two ACC Tour- nament titles in three years was derailed by Duke, which topped Notre Dame 75-69 in the tournament final. "What a great final. It was a great college game," said Brey, who got 29 points from junior forward Bonzie Colson in the loss. "I'm re- ally proud of our group. You've got to give Duke credit. They made some big shots and big plays." Notre Dame subsequently received a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and matched up against No. 12 seed Princeton in the first round in Buffalo, N.Y. The Tigers, champions of the Ivy League, nearly pulled the upset. Mishawaka, Ind., native Devin Cannady missed a three-pointer in the final seconds for Princeton which would have won the game, and the Irish escaped with a 60-58 victory. "We gave everybody a show, right?" Brey said. "We escaped. We've been in a lot of games like that where game situations need a big defensive stop. We've been there. I'm proud we're still alive." Notre Dame's luck did not carry over to its second-round game against No. 4 seed West Virginia. The up-tempo, full-court press of the Mountaineers disrupted the Irish, who committed 10 first-half turnovers in an 83-71 loss. Colson scored 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting against WVU, but seniors Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem struggled. Beachem scored just nine points on 2-of-14 shooting. "It's horrible," Colson said of the loss, which ended Notre Dame's bid for a third straight Elite Eight appearance. "It's frustrating when you try to play your tail off and play with everything you have and just leave everything out there." — Matt Jones NOTABLE 2016-17 STATISTICS Notable facts and figures from Notre Dame's 2016-17 season: • Steve Vasturia is just the second player in Notre Dame history to score at least 1,000 points, dish out 300 assists and shoot better than 85.0 from the free throw line. Chris Thomas (2001-05) also achieved that feat. • Vasturia finished his Irish career ranked second in free throw percentage (85.3), third in consecutive starts (117), 10th in three-point field goals attempted (521), 14th in steals (128), 18th in assists (331) and 22nd in scoring (1,400 points). • V.J. Beachem finished his career at Notre Dame ranked sixth in games played (132), eighth in three-point field goal attempts (582), 14th in blocked shots (78), 16th in three-point field goal percentage (39.2) and 39th in scoring (1,215 points). • Notre Dame finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country for assist-to-turnover ratio (1.66). Only UCLA (1.91) was better. • The following players won awards at the team's end of the year awards banquet: Matt Farrell, Most Outstand- ing Playmaker; Austin Torres, Rockne Award Student-Ath- lete; Rex Pflueger, Defensive Player of the Year; T.J. Gibbs, Newcomer of the Year; V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia, Captain Award for Leadership; and Bonzie Colson, Mono- gram Club MVP. Senior Steve Vasturia became just the second player in Notre Dame history to score at least 1,000 points (1,400), dish out at least 300 assists (331) and shoot better than 85.0 percent (85.3) from the free throw line. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - May 2017 Issue