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Where Does Notre Dame Basketball Stand at the Mid-Season Mark?

Written by Jhett Garrett ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter/X: @JhettGarrettIT

Photo by Notre Dame Athletics


We have reached the mid-season point of Year one of the Micah Shrewsberry era at Notre Dame. Coming into the year, the Irish had low expectations for how this season would go, with most publications expecting them to be ranked at the very bottom of the ACC. This was no surprise however, as they lost all five starters, as well as their top seven scorers who either graduated or went elsewhere in the transfer portal. But sitting at 7-11 (2-5 in ACC play), how have the Irish looked through the first 18 games?





There can be an argument made that Notre Dame could have a slightly better record thus far. There have been multiple times when the Irish let games get away from them late and took their foot off the gas. Looking back at losses against Georgetown in overtime, NC State, and the most recent game against Boston College, Notre Dame let those games get away from them in the second half. In those three games alone, the Irish turned the ball over an average of 13 times per game. Notre Dame being at 10-8 (4-4) at this point in the season is not unrealistic, and it shows that the Irish can put themselves in games they aren’t supposed to be in. They have done this multiple times already this year, and it can be expected that they will do it again at some point in the next two months.


On the other end of this, Notre Dame has had some impressive performances through the first 18 games. Coming off a tough loss against Auburn, the Irish went to overtime and beat Oklahoma State back in November. They’ve gone on the road and put up a competitive performance against South Carolina, as well as Duke at home, and of course the 22-point win against Virginia - which is by far the best win for the Irish at this point in the year. They’ve been forced to play some high quality opponents such as Auburn, South Carolina, Virginia, and Duke who I’ve already mentioned, but also Miami, Marquette, NC State, and Florida State. For a team that is young and rebuilding like Notre Dame, it is important to allow players to get experience against elite competition. The Irish will have plenty more of these tests throughout the rest of the season, which is going to be pivotal for this team moving forward.


Freshman guard Markus Burton is the clear-cut best player for Notre Dame at this point in the season, and is the only player averaging double figures. Burton was a 3-Star coming out of Mishawaka, Indiana, and has already inserted himself as one of the best freshmen in the ACC. He is averaging 16.3 points per game on 41% shooting while tacking on 3.9 assists per game and 1.4 steals. However, there have been times throughout this season where Burton has shown his inexperience, leaving question marks in certain areas. He leads the team in turnovers per game with 4.1, and has had 2+ turnovers in every game this season except for the third game of the season against Auburn in Brooklyn. This includes six games with five or more turnovers. On top of this, Burton is shooting a lackluster 29.9% from the three-point line, but has found some confidence in the last three games as he’s averaging 17 PPG, on 50% shooting from beyond the arc. In hindsight, you expect your freshman point guard to have weak spots, especially considering the position that Markus Burton has been put in. With no true star on this team and all the losses in the offseason, he has had to be the leader for Notre Dame. There is no doubt that he has won the Irish multiple games this season with his elite ability to get to the rim and get a bucket anytime he needs to.





It also cannot be overlooked that the Fighting Irish have had one of the worst offenses in college basketball this season. Of the 362 schools, Notre Dame’s offense ranks 308th according to KenPom, averaging just 62.8 points per game on 40.2% shooting. They turn the ball over at an extremely high rate as well, averaging 13.6 turnovers per game. These rank towards the bottom of the NCAA and are historically bad numbers for any Notre Dame team. However, there have been some bright spots in the offense in the eight games since the loss to the Citadel that prompted Shrewsberry’s viral postgame interview. The hometown kid, junior J.R. Konieczny has scored double figures three times while shooting 50% (11/22) from beyond the arc. He also notched a double-double in the road win against Georgia Tech in overtime, which was the first road win for Notre Dame since February 12th, 2022. Freshman Braeden Shrewsberry, son of Micah, has scored double figures in three games, including 25 points in the game against Georgia Tech. He is also shooting 45% from the three-point line during those eight games.


The question becomes now; What can we expect from Notre Dame basketball the rest of the year? This team isn’t expected to make the tournament after falling to 7-11, but there are still chances to find bright spots in a season like this. Miami travels to South Bend this Wednesday, who have lost four of their last five games, including home losses to Louisville and Florida State. Following the game against the Hurricanes, the Irish will host Boston College, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Clemson - all of which are winnable games. Notre Dame will also be traveling to Louisville later in February, which falls into the winnable games category. Taking all of that into account, this team has a path to 13-14 wins this season, which would be an improvement after going 11-21 last season. This would be a massive step for Shrewsberry, especially considering the Irish have such a young roster and a roster that only sees two seniors with significant playing time. There is still a rebuild in place for Notre Dame. Micah Shrewsberry did not take over a program that was in a good place. It is important to remember throughout this rebuild that Notre Dame has the right man at the helm, and success will follow.


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