Despite sleepwalking through much of the first half, Notre Dame was able to battle back and make just enough plays to escape with a win Saturday vs. Clemson.
The victory moves the Irish to 3-0 in ACC play and marks just the second time in school history that ND has gotten off to a 3-0 start in conference (The Irish didn’t play in a conference until the mid-90s).
Brey conceded in the postgame press conference that fatigue played a part in ND’s slow start and defensive lapses. Matt Farrell started off slow and was a defensive liability through much of the game, but made the plays when he had to in the closing minutes.
– V.J. Beachem broke out of his scoring slump (good call Otter Room preview article), but he is still not as aggressive on the offensive end as he should be. He’s a great shooter and will hit open looks more often than not, but what made him so dynamic last March was his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays driving to the rim.
– Matt Farrell continues to demonstrate that he is Ben Hansbrough reincarnated. Even with an off game, he is the toughest player on the floor and his will to win is contagious.
– Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Brey juggles the front court’s rotation. What Geben lacks on offense, he makes up for with slid post defense. Colson get plenty of rebounds through hustle, but his lack of height greatly affects his post defense
– Because of ND’s lack of size besides Geben, I would love to see Brey find some time for John Mooney or Elijah Burns. They don’t need to be significant contributors, but they both offer a big body and a physical presence.
– We mentioned this in the Louisville recap and Brey made note of it Saturday, but how the Irish hold up physically will parallel how successful they can be. Both Colson and Farrell are playing amazing basketball right now, but they are also playing more minutes than they ever have in their careers. Avoiding fatigue and injuries is critical for the Irish.
– It’ll be interesting to see if Matt Ryan gets more playing time in the next five to seven games. Ryan hit a three Saturday and might be the best pure shooter on the team, but what else can he bring to the table?
– The Irish have held serve at home, but can they steal a game or two in this three game road trip. The Irish have struggled playing at Miami and Florida State since joining the ACC and Virginia Tech has one of the more underrated home court advantages in the country.
– If the Irish can go 2-1 on this road trip that would be a success. Florida State will be the biggest test. The Seminoles are the only other ACC team without a loss and are expected to be in the top-10 when the new AP poll comes out Monday.
– The biggest question heading into the ACC slate was if the Irish were tough enough to close out games? They have answered that question with a resounding yes in the first three games. This upcoming three game stretch will show how tough they really are and if they can take their good play on the road.