After a lackluster first half, Notre Dame was unable to dig out of the hole as the Irish fell to Duke at home Monday night.
Despite struggling on both ends of the floor, the Irish were only down five with 90 seconds remaining in the first half. It was then that Duke finished the half with flurry and increased their lead to 12 at the break.
The Irish came out of the locker room with more energy, but every time they made a run, Duke had an answer. The Irish got as close as two points, but was unable to sustain any momentum down the stretch.
Duke’s No. 21 ranking is a little misleading. They may have more talent than anyone in the country and Blue Devils are starting to put it together after some early season struggles and scrutiny.
This is by no means a bad loss for the Irish, but the effort was poor. When the Irish needed a defensive stop, there was a mental error. When ND needed to block out, they gave up an easy put back. And when Notre Dame was scratching their way back into the game, they would miss critical free throws.
These types of mental errors were nowhere to be found for most of the first two months of the season. If the Irish are to reestablish momentum and put themselves back into the conversation among the ACC’s elite, they need to regain the good habits that made them a top-10 team two weeks ago.
– Beachem was probably the highlight on the offensive end with 20 points, but was very quiet in the last 10 minutes and had more than a few defensive lapses.
– I have no idea what is wrong with Vasturia, but it is reminiscent of his poor play at the end of last season. It could be fatigue, it could be a simple shooting slump, but 2-16 in his last two games is unbelievable, especially after the form he demonstrated early in the conference schedule.
– As inexplicable as Vasturia’s play has been, ND’s performance at the free throw line is equally as baffling. The Irish were talking about setting a new NCCAA record for season free throw percentage, now they are struggling to crack 70%. ND went 19-28 Monday after going 18-28 in the previous two games.
– Bonzie Colson, who was over 90% early in ACC play, has been 6-13 in the last three games.
– As mentioned in the preview, the Irish don’t need to to anything extraordinary to buck this losing trend, they just have to do the small things better. Rebounding was going to be a bugaboo with the lack of size, but free throws and turnovers have to be improved. That is not something I ever thought I would say this year considering being successful in those categories is such staples of the program.
– For as bad as the Irish have been in the last three games, if Vasturia makes a few more shots and if ND is simply competent at the line, the Irish walk away with at least two wins. I know if the queen had balls, she’d be king, but the point is still valid.
– All this panic among ND fans is justified, but with the difficult early ACC schedule, if you would have told me that they would be 6-4 after ten games, I would have taken it.
– Now at UNC Saturday. Hardly and easy ask, but each time the Irish have played at the Tar Heels, they have more than held their own. In March 2014, the Irish lost by two despite being undermanned and ND won in January of 2015 in their last visit to Chapel Hill.
– After Saturday, the schedule lightens up for ND. Obviously, there are no gimmies in the ACC, but the latter half of the conference schedule is comprised of a lot of Wake Forests, Boston Colleges, and a rematch with Georgia Tech at home. Nothing’s guaranteed, but definitely a bit of a respite of their latest stretch.
– FYI, for those of you attending The Otter Room meet a greet at Mulligan’s next Saturday, limited tickets are still available. The game time has been moved to 6 p.m., which gives us more time to establish a home court advantage. Also, if the losing continues, that means we have to drink that much more to assure the best possible atmosphere for the game. The more we drink, the better the odds of Vasturia breaking out of his slump.
– Also, there will be $2 Sorin Specials available at the Mulligan’s extravaganza, so we got that going for us, which is nice.