After starting the season 1-0, Notre Dame basketball quickly turns its attention to Chicago State on Thursday.
It will be a quick turn around for both teams. Notre Dame basketball defeated UIC Tuesday night and Chicago State was apart of a one-sided affair at Indiana.
It’s not the first quick turn around the Cougars have had to deal with already this season. After eight seasons of not finding success, Chicago State fired Tracy Dildy last spring. It was not until August 7th that Lance Irvin was handed over the reins.
To put it into perspective, while Notre Dame was in the Bahamas on their foreign tour growing as a team, Chicago State had just named a head coach.
Last season, the Cougars went 3-29 including a 105-66 loss to Notre Dame in November. It’s going to be a long road for Irvin to get Chicago State back to relevance — even in the WAC.
Anthony Harris is the top returning player for the Cougars. He led his squad with 14-points vs. Indiana. Outside of that, there are a lot of new faces expected to step up after losing their top four scorers. Delshon Strickland and Rob Shaw will be relied on for heavy minutes this season.
Notre Dame and their youth made a huge jump from their exhibition game to the season opener.
It was clear all night long that Brey was using the game against UIC to experiment with everything. Different line-ups, substitution patterns, defenses. From the 2-3 zone that we saw last year to a press added into it, Brey tried it all.
Against Chicago State that will likely hold true once again.
If one thing from past Notre Dame teams has rolled into this season, it’s free throw shooting. It was an incredible night for the Irish at the line, finishing with a 36-for-38 free throw performance.
Another trend that we will likely see roll over into this game will be the pace. Notre Dame and UIC both tried to push the tempo at many points in the opener. Chicago State likes to play the same way.
One thing to keep an eye out in this one is if Brey puts any extra influence into improving three-point shooting and limiting turnovers. Those two areas were the only ones that Notre Dame really struggled with Tuesday night.
Chicago State likes to get after the ball, so don’t be surprised if the Irish end up seeing little improvement protecting their possession.
Depending on Notre Dame’s confidence level now that the young core of players has its feet wet, a slow start is the only way you will see this one being close — for even a slight period of time.