Notre Dame Survives Dartmouth: What the Hell is Going On?

Despite the offense finally catching fire, Notre Dame needed every ounce of energy to put away Dartmouth 97-87.

Bonzie Colson led the way for the Irish with a career-high 37 points, while Matt Farrell provided 22 points in the winning effort.

Rex Pflueger and Martin Geben added 13 points each, while T.J. Gibbs was the only starter who didn’t crack double-digits scoring as the sophomore tallied just nine points.

The problem? That was nearly the entire extent of the Irish scoring. The only scoring ND received from the bench was three points from D.J. Harvey. In fact, Harvey’s five shots were the only shot attempts from the Irish bench.

The Big Green’s bench outscored the Irish 32-3.

Thoughts:

– Dartmouth deserves some credit in keeping it close to the Irish. The Big Green was on fire from the outside as Dartmouth drained 15 three-pointers, which is the most three-pointers made against a Mike Brey ND team.

– You know things are bad when I’m conceding Dartmouth had a hot-shooting night, so it’s hard the defend a hot team. Even if Dartmouth is hitting their shots, there is no reason why a team that will finish in the bottom half of the Ancient Eight should stay within 25 of the Irish. The Big Green fell to UIC 76-60, but managed to be trailing by just three points with four minutes remaining.

– While the Irish put up a season-high 97 points, the Irish committed an uncharacteristic 15 turnovers, including six turnovers from Farrell.

– Colson made the winning plays when it mattered, but at the rate the Irish starters are playing, ND will be worn out halfway through the ACC schedule.

– Brey is the master of reinventing his teams strategy when the status quo isn’t getting the job done and he will have to do the same here in the next month

– The Irish have seen players emerge from obscurity in the middle of the season (see: Colson 2015) and the Irish will need that type of reinforcement and emergence if they are going to be the team we thought they were after Maui.

– Who will emerge? I’d like to see Nik Djogo gets some more minutes. The redshirt freshman is an athletic ball-handler who has the ability to make open shots.

– Brey mentioned in the postgame press conference that his team is “high strung.” Colson and Farrell are strong leaders, but they are emotional. When they are rolling, they are great, but when things go awry, they don’t have the patience or poise to turn the tide. The Irish are missing the stead influence of leaders like Steve Vasturia.

– That emotion is evident when the Irish continue to build big leads only to have them dwindle down the stretch.

– The Irish are clearly far from a finished product, but Brey has shown an ability to develop some reliability off the bench and continue to progress as the ACC season matures.

– It is clear that the Irish are mired in a slump and if they aren’t careful, this season could go the way of other lost campaigns when the Irish came into the season with high expectations.

– The bad taste from the IU loss was made worse when the Hoosiers fell to Fort Wayne by 20 at home Monday. It was a classic case of a young team getting carried away after a big win, but IU’s big losses to Indiana State and Fort Wayne at home are much more of an indication of the Hoosiers ability than what they showed vs. the Irish.

– Notre Dame faces Southeast Louisiana before kicking off the ACC schedule with a pair of home games against Georgia Tech and N.C. State. If the Irish are to make a serious run in the ACC, they can’t afford to lose any of those games.

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