Notre Dame Basketball: Takeaways from huge loss to Duke Blue Devils

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame basketball is in a tailspin thanks to a bevy of injuries, and the Duke Blue Devils took advantage of that fact against the Irish.

There was little speculation of an upset as Notre Dame basketball traveled to Duke for an ESPN Big Monday contest. Those who did believe in an upset were disappointed. Duke ran away in the second half to defeat the Irish 88-66. Notre Dame now falls to 13-9 and 3-6 in the ACC after suffering their sixth straight loss. Here’s the bad and the good from Monday’s matchup.

The Bad: 2-3 zone

For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame’s 2-3 zone has been horrendous. Duke had no problem getting the ball into the middle of the paint or getting behind the zone. Just like against Virginia Tech, the Irish were giving up uncontested threes way too often.

To help compensate for Martinas Geben, who had another slow performance, and the other bigs, the top of the zone would be forced to collapse on the bottom. When they did, Duke’s sharpshooters made the Irish pay from beyond the arc. On the other hand, if Notre Dame kept the focus on the perimeter, Duke’s bigs easily were able to get around the defense.

It was a lose-lose situation for Notre Dame’s 2-3 zone.

The Good: Coaching

It’s been incredible to say the least. With all this team has had to overcome and the constant injuries, it’s incredible that head coach Mike Brey still has been able to put together a team that can run with even the likes of No.4 Duke. Down to just eight scholarship players and a seven-man rotation, this is not where the Irish envisioned themselves going into ACC play.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball /

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball

Yet, we have seen players step up. From John Mooney to Nikola Djogo and Austin Torres on the defensive end. Some of these players might not have the strongest performance, but they weren’t supposed to be in this position. Brey has accepted the cards he’s been dealt and is working on making the most of his hand.

The Bad: Momentum killers

Ever since the Irish have been plagued with injuries there hasn’t been a game that they haven’t had a chance to win. You have to give Notre Dame credit for how well they have faced adversity. Unfortunately, they just haven’t been able to get it done in crunch time.

At Duke, while the final score wouldn’t indicate it, they had their chances. Obviously those chances game earlier in the game. Notre Dame would make a huge play to help spark the Irish bench and close Dukes lead to as little as five. The next possession normally followed with an unforced turnover of some kind. Duke would make them pay with a transition three.

With 12:19 left Temple Gibbs closed Dukes’ lead with a pair of free throws to make it 52-58. The Blue Devils answered with a 28-4 run ending any chance of Notre Dame making this a game.

The Good: Temple Gibbs and John Mooney tandem

If there is one positive you can pull from Notre Dame’s current situation with all the injuries, it’s the elevated play of both Temple Gibbs and John Mooney. Both players looked great individually. Mooney had a tremendous first half and was the main reason Notre Dame remained in the game.

Highlighted on every teams scouting report from now on will be to guard Mooney on the arc. He was a killer shooting four-of-six from downtown. He’s solid performance was cut short due to fouling out, but game after game he continues to get better.

Gibbs also had his second consecutive game with 20 plus points. While he never became an aerial threat, he was aggressive. The guard loved to drive to the lane seeking a foul. Nine-of-ten from the free throw line was consistency that Notre Dame needed throughout the game.

With these two stepping up you could only wonder how good the Irish would be at full strength.

Must Read: Notre Dame Basketball: Temple Gibbs can be future for the Irish

Up Next:

Notre Dame will again take the rest of the week off before heading to Raleigh North Carolina this Saturday. With a noon tip-off, the Irish will look to bounce back against North Carolina State.