Notre Dame basketball started its 2018-2019 campaign Tuesday night with a route of the UIC Flames 84-67 at Purcell Pavilion.
When it comes to college basketball there are a couple things I believe: Point guard play drives championship teams and freshman don’t play defense. In taking a look at the Notre Dame basketball, I was 1-2 on opening night.
It was not surprising to see a freshman in the starting lineup this evening. However, it was surprising which freshman received the starting nod. Robby Carmody started alongside John Mooney, DJ Harvey, Rex Pflueger and Temple Gibbs. The reason for Carmody getting the start was obvious very quickly: he is a plus defender.
The Irish held the Flames to only one shot on the offensive end early in the game, as they jumped out to an early lead at 20-8 and really never looked back. The freshman quartet of Carmody, Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb and Nate Laszewski combined to score 23 points in the first half. The Irish led the Flames 46-23 at the break. Coach Mike Brey used his bench as expected, playing 9 guys in the first 12 minutes. By the end of the first half, he had 10 players in the score book.
The Irish perimeter defense held UIC to 1-of-11 shooting to start the game from deep. The Flames high scoring backcourt of Marcus Ottey, Tarkus Ferguson and Godwin Boahen were held in check all evening. The trio combined to go 13-34 from the field, including 4-19 from deep.
The second half was more of the same: Irish dominance. Transfer big man Juwan Durham lived up to the hype, blocking 5 shots in the second half. The freshmen continued to impress after the break as well, logging 15 more combined points.
Sophomore DJ Harvey looked healthy in his return, scoring 10 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. He had a scary moment in the second half as he went after an offensive rebound he hit the ground hard. He immediately grabbed his leg and left the game. He returned a few minutes later, so everything appears to be fine.
Robbie Carmody also left the game at the 3:53 mark and immediately went to the locker room. It appeared to be a non-contact injury and he looked to be in a good bit of pain. This will be something we have to monitor.
At one point, the Irish were up by around 30, so the final score is not indicative of how this game actually went. UIC heated up a little bit from deep late in the game to make it look respectable.
The Irish finished up with five players in double digits and ten players scoring. As a team they shot 36-38 from the stripe. Nate Laszewski led the way with 12 points and 9 rebounds, both of which were team highs.
As dominant as Notre Dame was in this game, there are still things to work on. They shot 18% from three and had six more turnovers than assists. They also committed 21 fouls.
Another interesting thing to see was coach Mike Brey deploying a full court press that fell back into a 2-3 zone. In this game Brey deployed multiple defenses to keep UIC confused and uncomfortable and it seemed to work beautifully as Notre Dame built its lead.
This is a very encouraging start to the season for the Golden Domers. The spread at tip was -14.5. I predicted a 12-15 point win in the preview last week. It’s safe to say the good guys exceeded everyone’s expectations tonight.