Has Notre Dame’s Mike Brey Done It Again?

Posted by Mick McDonald on December 1st, 2016

We are now just a few weeks into the season and only two ACC teams remain undefeated. Virginia has been as good as expected, with the Cavaliers handling the unexpected loss of Austin Nichols by using a committee-like approach we laid out when the news broke. The other unbeaten team, Notre Dame, may surprise many who haven’t paid attention to teams outside the Top 25. The Irish have played seven games to this point, four against low-major competition (Bryant, Seattle, Loyola (MD) and Chicago State) — which they have won by an average of 33.5 points per game — and three against middling high-majors. There are a pair of neutral court victories over KenPom top 60 teams Colorado and Northwestern, and an ACC/Big Ten Challenge home win over Iowa. All three of those wins figure to be solid top 100 wins for head coach Mike Brey‘s team come Selection Sunday.

The Notre Dame faithful is trusting that Mike Brey's system will prevail this season. (AP)

The Notre Dame faithful is trusting that Mike Brey’s system will prevail this season. (AP)

Most pundits figured that, after an outstanding two-year run punctuated by back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, Notre Dame was due for a fall thanks to the losses of star guard Demetrius Jackson and dependable forward Zach Auguste. It’s no easy task to replace a tandem that produced nearly 30 points, 14 rebounds and six assists per game, but it’s not like Brey’s teams haven’t done this before. Just last year, Notre Dame entered the season having lost stars Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. The lesson is to never underestimate Brey’s ability to develop the next man up, and it appears that many observers may have made that same mistake again this season. Junior Bonzie Colson has led the way for this year’s version, averaging 17.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has become Brey’s go-to offensive player, using nearly 27 percent of the team’s possessions as he has blossomed into a terrific scorer.
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ACC Burning Questions: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Posted by Matt Patton on November 7th, 2016

This team preview is part of the RTC ACC microsite’s preseason coverage.

Burning Question: How far do the Irish slide? (a.k.a. How good are Bonzie Colson and TJ Gibbs?)

Notre Dame probably won’t be as good as it was last year and the Irish definitely won’t be as good as they were two years ago. So where does that leave us? Mike Brey lost his two best players — Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste — and both are going to be nearly impossible to replace, especially defensively. The two most important returnees to watch are junior Bonzie Colson and freshman TJ Gibbs. Colson is an incredibly efficient offensive player already accustomed to high usage (albeit on limited minutes), which makes him a surefire success in many ways. The challenge for Brey will be finding a way for Colson’s increased minutes to not kill the Irish on the glass. Auguste was one of the best defensive rebounders in the country, whereas Colson is merely a good rebounder. Despite Auguste’s proficiency, Notre Dame was still an atrocious defensive rebounding team, so his loss doesn’t help a middling defense unless Colson improves or John Mooney turns out to be ACC-ready faster than expected.

VJ Beachem has the spotlight now, but Bonzie Colson has bigger shoes to fill. (Photo Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

VJ Beachem has the spotlight now, but Bonzie Colson has bigger shoes to fill. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Gibbs is less known. He’s a consensus top-100, four-star recruit, but he’ll be called upon to replace a former McDonald’s All-American. Point guards tend to translate quickly to the college game, but Gibbs may be a season away from the helm. He’ll likely start the season spelling junior Matt Farrell. Farrell has always proven to be a competent college player, but he is probably best suited for an important supporting role. He could make a quantum leap this season, but neither the eye test nor his statistics point in that direction. Colson and Farrell are joined by seniors VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia. Beachem is most likely the best pure shooter in the ACC. He’s got fringe NBA talent but will need to show he is capable of handling a larger share of the offense this year.

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NCAA Regional Reset: East Region

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 21st, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion.

New Favorite: #1 North Carolina. What do you mean, ‘new favorite?’ The Tar Heels enter the Sweet Sixteen as they began the Tournament, the heavy favorite in this region. Roy Williams’ team dispatched Florida Gulf Coast before turning on the afterburners in the second half against a good Providence squad to break open what was a close game. In a region with the #5-#7 seeds all still alive, North Carolina is an even heavier favorite to make an appearance in Houston on April 2.

Roy has to be pretty happy with how things are working out in the East Region

Horse of Darkness: #6 Notre Dame. It may have taken a little luck of the Irish to get by Stephen F. Austin in the Second Round, but Notre Dame survived and showed it is capable of a deep run in two games in Brooklyn. Against Michigan the Irish locked down defensively in the second half and they responded well in the face of a Cinderella in the game against the Lumberjacks. Defense is still a concern here but you cannot ignore this team’s ability to put points on the board. Mike Brey is an underrated coach and had his team in a regional final last year too. You never know what can happen in a single elimination situation and the Irish already have a win over North Carolina to their credit this season.

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Notre Dame Upends Duke; Tobacco Road Rematch Denied

Posted by Matt Patton on March 10th, 2016

Midway through the second half of Thursday afternoon’s second ACC quarterfinal, a Duke-UNC rematch looked like destiny. Duke led Notre Dame by 16 with 11 minutes to play. To that point, the game had strongly resembled North Carolina’s earlier win over Pittsburgh: Notre Dame and Duke were matched in strengths (offense); Duke struggled out of the gate but Grayson Allen kept the game close; and a second half Fighting Irish drought looked fatal. And then the Blue Devils ran out of gas.

Zach Auguste got the better of his matchup with Marshall Plumlee in Notre Dame's win over Duke. (photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

Zach Auguste got the better of his matchup with Marshall Plumlee in Notre Dame’s win over Duke. (photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

The Notre Dame comeback began in earnest with just under eight minutes left when Notre Dame grabbed three straight offensive boards before scoring. Soon after VJ Beachem rediscovered his shooting stroke, while Zach Auguste continued his relentless assault of the backboards. Auguste would finished with 22 rebounds on an afternoon when he was easily the best player on the floor.

Make no mistake about it: The story here is Notre Dame, not Duke. The Blue Devils are very much who we thought they were — a flawed but extremely capable offensive team who will have a chance to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. But on the other side, this game was a reminder that Notre Dame is still built around the foundation of last year’s ACC title squad that almost knocked off Kentucky in the Elite Eight. It’s a team with veterans like Auguste, Demetrius Jackson (who struggled en route to a 13 point, four assist afternoon) and Steve Vasturia (12 points, six assists) who are ready for another shot at an ACC title. Despite wins over North Carolina, Duke (now twice), and Louisville, the Fighting Irish are still looking for national respect. The guy at the helm certainly has a good deal of that, as Mike Brey is now 5-1 in his last six games against Duke and his mentor, Mike Krzyzewski.

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Three Takeaways as Notre Dame Rallies Past Miami

Posted by Walker Carey on January 17th, 2015

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Miami (FL) and Notre Dame in South Bend.

There are very few teams in the country that have the backcourt talent and depth of Notre Dame. That was illustrated again on Saturday afternoon as Irish coach Mike Brey relied on small ball to secure a 75-70 come-from-behind victory over Miami (FL). With his team trailing 40-31 at the 15:32 mark of the second half, Brey inserted a five-guard lineup featuring seniors Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton along with sophomores V.J. Beachem, Demetrius Jackson, and Steve Vasturia. The perimeter-oriented lineup played the balance of the game and it outscored the Hurricanes 44-30 while it was on the court. Saturday’s victory concluded another successful week for the Irish, as they moved to 17-2 overall and 5-1 in ACC play. The following are three takeaways from Saturday’s action.

Notre Dame is Playing Together (USA Today Images)

Notre Dame is Playing Together (USA Today Images)

  1. Jerian Grant broke out of his mini-slump in impressive fashion. In each of Notre Dame’s last three games (wins over North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and a loss to Virginia), Grant was held below his season average of 16.3 points per game. That trend changed in the victory over Miami today, as Grant was without question the best player on the floor for the duration of the afternoon. He finished the game with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with eight assists. None of those 23 points were more impressive than the three he got from hitting a ridiculous step-back three-pointer at the 6:19 mark of the second half. That three put Notre Dame up 61-58 and it did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. The Irish trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but it was the steadiness and leadership of Grant that kept the Irish in the game and eventually earned his team the victory. Great players make big plays in winning time, and that was exactly what Grant did for Notre Dame on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
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Around The Blogosphere: July 21, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions torushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Was Anthony Hubbard forced out?: “So it appears we may have gotten some illumination on the Hubbard story: via Mike Hlas (who has a very good column on the subject), a report from a website called MetroSportsReport.com that Hubbard was kicked off the team for violation of a strict “zero tolerance policy”, and did not willingly transfer as suggested by the official Iowa press release. ” (Black Heart Gold Pants)
  • First Half Of Boost Mobile Elite Rosters Released: “I don’t know if releasing rosters is something that can create a significant amount of buzz, but the people at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game are trying to do that today, releasing the roster in two pieces. The first half was just released and you might recognize a few important names, including Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett, who will square off in the dunk contest. The event will be held August 26-27 in Los Angeles and is where Kyle Wiltjer surprised us all with his commitment last year.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Wayne Blackshear should be in Louisville in two weeks: “A story in this morning’s Chicago Tribune confirms that Blackshear is in summer school in Chicago satisfying a core requirement in order to qualify academically. Fear not, however, as Blackshear’s high school coach Nick Irvin says the McDonald’s All-American will be on campus shortly.” (Card Chronicle)
  • Manhattan, Albany & Brown Join Syracuse In Carrier Dome For 2011 NIT Season Tip-Off: “So let me get this straight… Syracuse, which is located in New York, is playing Manhattan, which is located in New York City, in Syracuse, NY for the right to play in a tournament in New York City? And the Orange might also have to beat Albany, another school located in New York to get there?” (Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician)
  • Hokies NIT Pod Set: “We’ve known for a while that Virginia Tech would be participating in the Preseason NIT (otherwise known now as the Preseason Virginia Tech Invitational).  We’ve known George Mason would be in the pod (East Regional), led by their new coach and TechHoops.com favorite, Paul Hewitt.  We’ve known it would be played at the Cassell.  And now we know who the Hokies will play in the first round and who the other two teams are.” (Tech Hoops)
  • Louisville pulls out of 2012 Maui Invitational: “It appears Cardinal fans who had been planning on a November, 2012 getaway to the island of Maui are out of luck. Louisville has pulled out of the 2012 Maui Invitational Tournament and has already been replaced by Marquette. U of L was also scheduled to participate in the event in 2009, but instead worked out a deal to push their participation back three years.” (Card Chronicle)
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Around The Blogosphere: July 13, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 13th, 2011

 

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Syracuse Basketball Exhibition Slate Includes Cal-State Los Angeles, College Of St. Rose: “The Orange will begin the 2011-2012 season with their usual two exhibition games in the Dome and they’ll playing two familiar exhibition foes, Cal-State Los Angeles and College of St. Rose. The Orange and the CSULA Golden Eagles will square off on Tuesday, November 1, and SU will host the CoSR Golden Knights on Tuesday, November 8.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)

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Around The Blogosphere: July 11, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 11th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • 2011 recruits on campus; Norvel Pelle in summer classes to reach eligibility: “St. John’s banner class is coming to Queens, New York, home of Union Turnpike and a short F-train ride to the bright lights of Manhattan. There’s more excitement for this banner class to hit campus than any other recent season of St. John’s basketball. Most of the players are flying in from their home cities to begin the grind of the Big East… but will all of them suit up in the red and white this fall?” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • Kentucky To Wear LeBron James Brand Next Season: “According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Kentucky will be joining Miami University and Ohio State University as the three teams that will be wearing LeBron James branded Nike jerseys next season.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Kenner League in Review: Recapping the action from the summer league featuring several Georgetown players. (Casual Hoya: Day 3 and Day 4)
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