Notre Dame’s season ends with loss in ACC tourney
Holden Perrelli | Wednesday, March 20, 2019
After an opening round win in the ACC Tournament, Notre Dame men’s basketball fell in their subsequent matchup to Louisville 75-53.
The Irish’s (14-19, 3-15 ACC) chances in post-season play flashed a glimmer of hope when the team defeated Georgia Tech (14-18, 6-12) by seven points, and for a moment it seemed as though the group’s fortunes may have turned following a dismal regular season.
“We have had a tough regular season in the ACC to say the least,” head coach Mike Brey said in a press conference after the Georgia Tech game. “For us to mentally prepare and come down here and [have] understood we had a clean slate — I just thought we got out of the gate with such a free mind. We were flowing offensively.”
Notre Dame’s offensive flow in its first postseason game deviated from that of regular season — the Irish shot 57.1 percent from behind the arc, well above its 31.5 percent regular-season average.
“I thought [freshman forward Nate] Laszewski on the floor to start the game and having another shooter against a zone stretched it and helped us,” said Brey.
Both teams recorded 16 assists and under 10 turnovers. The Irish’s ability to share the ball so effectively and capitalize on 3-point looks and shots around the paint earned the victory against Georgia Tech.
“I was so hoping we could find a little bit of a rhythm down [in Charlotte] after a tough 18 games in the regular season,” Brey said. “For our young guys to play confident down here — [John Mooney] has been fabulous, I don’t know how he has any energy left, we rode him so hard to get double-doubles against athletic front lines every night, so I’m happy for the kids because they’ve been invested and so coachable.”
Unfortunately for the squad, the program’s fortunes went way off its regular season tendencies with a double-digit loss to Louisville (20-13, 10-8). The Irish trailed by nine points at halftime, and were outscored 28-41 in the last twenty minutes of play.
“I thought Louisville was really good and just wore us down physically,” Brey said. “We didn’t have much left in the tank.”
Louisville’s defense cut off any carryover Notre Dame may have brought in terms of offensive flow from the previous night against Georgia Tech. The Irish shot a mere 11.1 percent from 3-point range, recording just six assists to the Cardinals’ 14.
“[Louisville players] really do guard you,” Brey said. “Georgia Tech played a zone, so you could move more freely, and you got looks. The looks we got [tonight] — there was somebody athletic closing out all the time … They really have physicality. I’m not sure we had as many good shots as we thought.”
Every player on Notre Dame’s roster, barring graduate student guard Liam Nelligan, possesses eligibility for the 2019-2020 season. The coaching staff has acknowledged at various points in the season, including during the ACC tournament, that the program is experiencing an influx of young talent that will take time to develop.
“I do feel good about how our young guys played for us to come down [to Charlotte] and win a game after a really tough regular season,” Brey said. “Our young guys got to play a lot. We didn’t get the best results, wins-wise, but they got experience. We certainly need to get healthy and a lot stronger. It’s a great strength-training summer for us.”