Lost in the shuffle of the Notre Dame basketball team thumping Maryland-Eastern Shore on Wednesday was the return of Kebba Nnjie for the first time.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally rolled a team from start to finish. There were all kinds of heroes and reasons why they did it.
Certainly Notre Dame basketball fans are happy to see the team finally starting to look like a team. They’re finally looking like a team that might not settle for single digit wins.
If the Irish do have a better season than first expected, the return of one of their most important pieces could be a big reason why. Kebba Njie has been out since the basketball season started. He was a surprise scratch for Micah Shrewsberry’s squad just ahead of their game against Niagara.
Considering he’s a 6-foot-10 forward who can both score and play defense, his head coach was obviously glad to see him back in the lineup. Even if he eased his way back in with just 15 minutes against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Shrewberry especially loves that Njie is back because he’s one of the only guys on the Notre Dame basketball team who is truly comfortable with both the offensive and defensive calls. That’s something people forget at times. This team is not only unfamiliar with each other, but they’re unfamiliar with their head coach.
“You don’t get big guys that communicate the way he does defensively,” Shrewsberry said after the game. “Now, he played for me last year, so he’s a step ahead defensively than the other big guys, because he knows what to anticipate, what’s coming and call it out.”
Notre Dame basketball easing Kebba Njie back in
Kebba Njie averaged just 14.3 minutes and 3.4 points a game last year with Penn State. However, he’s expected to be a big contributor for the Fighting Irish.
On Wednesday, in his first game back from a hand injury, he showed the Notre Dame basketball team that he can be a help even if he doesn’t get a ton of playing time. He finished his first game of the year with seven points and four rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting from the field.