Without stars Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, Notre Dame basketball dropped their first ACC game of the season to Georgia Tech.
After the Notre Dame basketball team beat Georgia Tech a few games ago, the Irish saw many of the same tendencies the Yellow Jackets used the first time around, such as a 1-3-1 zone.
But this is a completely different Notre Dame team. Playing short-handed without Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, the Irish couldn’t find a way to get past Georgia Tech. Here’s the good and the bad from Wednesday’s game at Georgia Tech.
The Good: Rebounding has continued to improve
Notre Dame’s chip in their armor has been rebounding this season. Even with Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, the Irish could never outrebound their opponents. That unfortunately has resulted in some unnecessary losses this season.
But somehow the Irish have changed that. Notre Dame came up with some solid offensive rebounds to give the Irish many second-chance opportunities. Head coach Mike Brey has been forced to move to a bigger lineup and they are crashing the boards.
Wednesday night at Georgia Tech was no different. Martinas Geben has turned into a different animal as he pulled down seven rebounds in the first half. It didn’t take long in the second half for Geben to turn that into scoring opportunities.
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The Bad: Lack of aggression
Early on in this one, Notre Dame found themselves getting to the rack often. But as they were, they approach the situation poorly. Countless times the Irish would get to the rim and force a poor shot. The focus of the plays seemed to be trying to dodge the defense and hope for an easy basket. That was not the case.
This is where the lack of Colson and Farrell come in big. Notre Dame was in need of someone who would aggressively take it to the rim looking for a foul. While seeking the easier shot, the Irish lost many opportunities to get to the free-throw line.
The Good: The Gibbs/Geben Show can prosper
The two players that have to step up right now are Temple Gibbs and Martinas Geben. It wasn’t quite where Mike Brey needed it to be at Georgia Tech but still turned out to be a strong performance by the two.
Although Geben’s rebounding party slowed down in the second half, he made up for it with a career night in points. The big man took control of the paint and finished the night with 16-points. He would be one rebound shy of a double-double.
On the other hand, Gibbs didn’t perform quite as well as he had the last two times out. With only 11-points the ACC player of the week got it done with seven assists. It was a slow start for Gibbs, but he made some big shots to keep the Irish within striking distance.
If this combo can continue to click, it will be a huge relief for when Farrell makes his return.
The Bad: Can’t find the offense without Colson and Farrell
Just as it was at Syracuse, Notre Dame could not find their offense in the first half once again. The Irish shot 26% and were 0-for-9 from three-point range heading into the locker room. That trend, while being better late in the game, never got to where it needed to be in the second half. The Irish can not afford to continue shooting 35.5% from the field in the ACC.
In just a seven-point loss, the Irish needed a slightly stronger performance from a couple of players.
D.J. Harvey was one of those who didn’t answer the call. The freshman had a stretch shooting 1-18 dating back to Syracuse. He finally broke that streak hitting two huge threes late in the game. Once again, stepping up, but the Irish are in need of that performance throughout the game. The longer Notre Dame takes to get their offense rolling, the least likely they are to come out with a win.
Another poor offensive performance tonight was from the new captain, Rex Pflueger. It was a night where Pflueger never sent the ball through the net. Zero points for the guard, but he did come away with six assists.
After the game, we learned that Pflueger was battling the flu.
The Irish faithful have to appreciate him fighting through and playing but unfortunately can’t have that type of performance in the ACC.
Notre Dame drops to 13-4 on the season and 3-1 in the ACC. Their toughest challenge lies ahead with North Carolina this Saturday.