When I watch Notre Dame basketball, I am reminded of one of the more memorable parts of Godfather Part III when Michael Coreleone says, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Year after year, it seems like Notre Dame’s basketball season is on life support then it miraculously returns to life. When the Irish dropped 3 of 4 games following a 66-60 victory against Cincinnati on the night of the National Title Game, it seemed like this year’s Notre Dame was destined for the NIT.
Tonight, Notre Dame and Mike Brey put their season back on track with a 65-60 victory over the Wildcats of Villanova. What was most encouraging about the game was that the contributions that lead to Notre Dame’s victory came from individuals who were not expected to contribute.
Cameron Biedscheid had lost his stroke in the last few games. Perhaps, his Freshman legs were not ready for the rigors of Big East basketball. However, he can up huge on Tuesday night with 18 points to lead all Notre Dame scorers. Most of his damage was done behind the 3-point line where he was 5 for 8.
Also, seeing playing time on Wednesday was Freshman Zac Auguste. He only played 6 minutes but he made his presence felt, scoring 4 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. He demonstrated his excellent ability to finish around the rim and it was clear that his excellent length was making it difficult for the Wildcats on the Offensive end.
Freshman accounted for 33.8% of the points against Villanova, which really helped the Irish on the Offensive End of the floor when Atkins and Grant struggled. Point Guard Eric Atkins only had 4 points in the contests. His backcourt mate Jerian Grant had 12 points and 10 assists.
Despite needing help from the Freshman class, the Irish did what they usually do on the Offensive End, create assists and do not commit turnovers. The Irish had 20 assists to 6 turnovers in the victory. Their leading scorer Jack Cooley added 17 points and 16 rebounds. Notre Dame moves on to face DePaul on Saturday.