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Irish Hoops: JJ Starling leads ND to 5-0 behind 23 point performance

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

By Mike Stacey

Credit: Notre Dame Men's Basketball Twitter

So far Notre Dame basketball has started the season out to a precarious 4-0 record which improved to 5-0 after another odd victory over Bowling Green this evening at Purcell

Pavillion. (In front of dozens of fans :eye roll:) Going into this game, Notre Dame had 5 players averaging double digits in points led by Super Senior Nate Laszewski with 19.0 Points Per Game. In their first 4 games, the Fighting Irish have scored 79, 88, 82, and 66 respectively. Their offense has picked up where it left off at the end of last season. A season which saw them pull off two wins in the big dance including a notable upset over Alabama. (I would love to say that just once in football, but I digress...) This team, which returns the above pictured and mentioned Nate Laszewski, in addition to Dane Goodwin, Cormac Ryan, and Trey Wertz has all of the makings of a Mike Brey dynamic offense. They move the ball effortlessly with incredible selflessness and discipline. Each possession looks like it was stolen straight out of a 1980's "How to play offense" training video. The only difference is stand out freshmen JJ Starling and Ven-Allen Lubin add some style points. I watch this offense and I can't help to think to myself, "Wow, this is the kind of offense that can do some real damage in the tournament."


Then, I watch the defense...In true Shakespearian fashion the defense has been nothing short of a tragedy to begin this season. Where the offense is a training video of what to do, the defense has been a video of what not to do. To compare to the offense, the defense has given up 76, 81, 70, and 65 points going into this evenings contest. Also, Notre Dame has yet to play a ranked opponent. Let me rephrase that. Notre Dame has yet to play an ACC opponent. Let me rephrase that one more time. Notre Dame has yet to play a power 5 opponent! Yes, those gaudy numbers are being put up by the likes of Radford, Youngstown State, a directional Indiana school and the Lipscomb Bison which could be from any of the 50 states as far as I know. Needless to say, the defense has not exactly complimented the offense very well.


Tonight's game was eerily similar to the previous four. Once again, the offense looked fantastic. They had four players score in double figures, shot 55% from the field, 81% from the line, and had 16 assists compared to only 4 turnovers. On defense? Well, at least in the first half it was more of the same, with their man to man and zone defense equally looking like Swiss Cheese. At times it looked as though the Irish thought they were in a pick up game and not a D-1 college contest. Bowling Green basically got whatever they want, particularly in the paint, where Rashaun Agee looked like a man playing amongst boys. At half, Bowling Green had 40 points and the Irish were in route to another nail biting game that would likely come down to a final possession finish. But it didn't.


The Irish did enough in the second half to hold the Falcons to 26 points. Thanks to this, the Irish were able to pull away late and make what was mostly a close game turned into a 16 point win. Now, I understand that holding a struggling Bowling Green offense to 26 points in a half at home is hardly something to celebrate, but I will anyway. The Irish need to build off something, and right now they have back to back games where they have held their opponents to 66 and 65 points. Aside from having some faith in Brey and his group of super seniors to get it figured out, the Irish will also get some depth in the near future. Transfer guard Marcus Hammond will hopefully be back with the team sometime next week. Right now, the Irish are playing a mostly 6 man rotation. Adding another key contributor to their lineup should help freshen the Irish legs and give them some more durability on the defensive side of the ball. Not to mention, Hammond was the leading scorer for his team at Niagra last year. Adding another offensive weapon can only help defeat their opponents spirit which in turn can lead to some mistakes on the offensive end. (Saying confidently to convince myself)


Up next for the Irish are the now 3-2 St. Bonaventure Bonnies (Really mailed in that nickname) who have scored at least 80 points in their previous two games. After that, the real test comes when they face the 12th ranked Michigan State Spartans (Much better nickname). The Spartans have owned Notre Dame in recent matchups, winning 4 of the previous 5 which includes last year's 10 point victory for Sparty. This game should give us a much better idea of where the Irish are as a unit. Can their offense continue to put up big numbers against a premier opponent? Will their defense rise to the occasion? If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Mike Brey getting the job done. But only time will tell.


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