After a complete performance against Boston College on Saturday, Notre Dame basketball was unable to use that momentum against Miami Wednesday.
To put it mildly, the Notre Dame basketball team failed to live up to expectations on Wednesday night in Miami. The Irish failed to get anything going offensively and they combined poor shooting with lackluster effort in what turned out to be one of the ugliest losses in recent memory.
Notre Dame’s shooting was largely ice cold, despite a quick start that saw the Irish make 5 of their first 6 shots to rush out to a 13-4 lead at the first media timeout. That, unfortunately, was the lone bright spot for the Irish. On the night, the Irish were only able to connect on 18 of 56 shots from the field for an ice-cold 32%. They made just 4 three-pointers in 28 attempts. Three of those three-pointers came in the game’s first 3 minutes.
It was all down hill from there, as the Irish eventually lost the game 62-47. It was a rough game on the floor for the Irish.
But Notre Dame’s struggles went past the hardwood. The Irish struggled to score, but most of all, they struggled with effort and intensity, which is not something one can typically say about a Mike Brey-led team. Some might characterize Notre Dame’s apathetic performance as one of the worst performances of Brey’s tenure in South Bend.
Maybe this is a knee-jerk reaction to a bad game that will prove to be an anomaly. Maybe, despite Brey constantly proving himself as one of the best leaders in college basketball, there is something off with this Irish team. Whatever the case, the Irish were putrid on Wednesday night.
Coming off a win at Boston College, it looked like Notre Dame was posed for a run in what was supposed to be the easier part of its schedule. Against Boston College, the Irish delivered a well-rounded offensive performance that saw Nikola Djogo, TJ Gibbs, Prentiss Hubb, and John Mooney all score 15 or more points. In that game, the Irish shared the ball, while Djogo and Gibbs took turns shouldering the load, while Mooney and Hubb were solid throughout. Gibbs, Djogo, and Hubb were a miserable 4-for-22 from the floor and combined for 9 points.
On Wednesday, though, no Irish players reached that mark, as DJ Harvey only managed 14 points while Mooney added 11.
But perhaps the most concerning part of Notre Dame’s loss was an obvious lack of on-court leadership. The young Irish lack a driving force, a go-to guy, an officer of accountability. That lack of on-court accountability reared its ugly head and it’s something that Notre Dame needs to use as a wake-up call for the rest of the season. Despite a 12-11 overall record and a 2-8 record in conference play, the Irish still have plenty to play for this season as they continue to develop. But efforts like Wednesday night’s aren’t going to benefit anyone.
Losing Rex Pflueger hasn’t helped the situation. Neither has the infusion of 3 (and now 4, with Chris Doherty’s insertion into the rotation) freshmen. Neither has the reliance upon a transfer to play big minutes. But those reasons aren’t an excuse for the level of apathy the Irish displayed in Miami on Wednesday night.