Colson, Irish set for busy stretch starting with Seattle
Marek Mazurek | Wednesday, November 16, 2016
With one win on their resume in the young season, the Irish embark on a difficult stretch of the schedule as they play four games in seven days.
For the first two contests of the four-game stretch, Notre Dame (1-0) will stay in Purcell Pavilion to face Seattle on Wednesday and Loyola Maryland on Friday. After Friday’s game, the team will fly to Brooklyn, New York, for the Legends Classic in the Barclays Center.
Irish head coach Mike Brey said the upcoming stretch will be a tough one for the Irish but one in which the team has the opportunity to make a lot of progress.
“We’re going to come back here and talk today about an unbelievable level of focus, which this team should be able to do,” Brey said. “We really have a chance to really make a move, we have a chance to get better. As far as our level of competition and the energy we expend, we’re not going to go two hours [in practice], but we need to be at a high level. I talked to them after the game [Saturday] about eight days where we can make a move, can we really be locked in? I have confidence in this group, because they have been a very mature group about focusing on the task.”
One player that figures to be a key for the Irish during the next week: junior forward and captain Bonzie Colson.
“The one thing that’s always helped him, he’s such a warrior as a competitor,” Brey said of Colson. “He makes his teammates and his coach believe that we’re winning. He’s just contagious as far as how he competes, especially on the road in tough atmospheres. Cameron [Indoor Stadium] was an example of that. He has just continued to add to his game.”
At 6-foot-5, Colson made his mark in his first two seasons through his offensive skill set and his defensive ability. Now, however, Brey said the New Bedford, Massachusetts, native has expanded his game dramatically.
“The two things that are just blowing my mind are that, through just 26 practices, [Colson]’s second behind [freshman guard Temple Gibbs] and [junior guard Matt Farrell] in assists, so he’s really making great plays in passing the ball,” Brey said. “And then what he’s doing from the 3-point line. Through the practices, he’s shot 45 percent from the 3-point line. And he’s using it the right amount. … It really adds to our game. We can really be more of that four-around-one. The competitive edge he has is really contagious, and it’s why we always have a chance.”
Colson said the transition to being a captain and taking on a larger leadership role has been exciting, and emphasized his role as a vocal presence on both ends of the court.
“[I work on] staying focused and staying composed, making my voice heard on both sides of the court and on and off the court as well,” Colson said. “Just being a vocal leader and trying to lead by example. I’m trying to focus on being vocal on defense, talking to everybody so our defenders on the perimeter can have confidence in themselves.”
The Irish picked up their first win of the season Saturday against Bryant in anticlimactic fashion. After leading by 12 points for much of the second half, the Irish finally put the Bulldogs (0-1) away in the second period’s later minutes to secure the 89-64 win. The only area in which the Irish struggled was from the 3-point line, shooting just 3-for-16. Senior guard and captain Steve Vasturia, normally a sharp-shooter himself, said he doesn’t expect the 3-point struggles to continue for long.
“I think when you have guys who can shoot the way they can on this team, it’s going to just get better,” Vasturia said. “I think it’s a good thing for this team, that we might not shoot it as well, but we still find other ways to score and get to the basket and get to the free-throw line. Doing that and not being one-dimensional is important.”
Notre Dame and Seattle tip-off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Purcell Pavilion.