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Irish look to bounce back against No. 20 Michigan State

On Wednesday night, Notre Dame men’s basketball faces its toughest test to date as they host No. 20 Michigan State. On the heels of their first loss of the season, the Irish will look to get back in the winning column with a marquee victory against a battle-tested Spartan team. The game comes as part of the final iteration of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, as it was announced earlier in the week that the event will be replaced by the ACC-SEC Challenge next season.

The Irish (5-1) enter the matchup having split their previous two games. Last Tuesday, Notre Dame led Bowling Green by just one point with under eight minutes to play but continued the habit of playing their best basketball during crunch time. The Irish used a decisive 17-0 run to coast to an 82-66 win that was much closer than the score would indicate.

On Friday afternoon, Notre Dame saw their undefeated start slip away in their first trip away from Purcell Pavilion. Facing St. Bonaventure in a neutral site matchup, the Irish struggled to find their footing offensively in a 63-51 defeat. Notre Dame converted on just 2 of 17 three-point attempts, uncharacteristic for a team that had previously averaged nearly 80 points per game behind strong perimeter shooting. On Monday, Irish head coach Mike Brey spoke about how the Bonnies took his team out of their comfort zone offensively.

“I think there’s no question that the ball pressure bothered us, the athletic ability pushed us out a little bit. You get off to a horrible start and you’re kind of uptight,” Brey said. “We’re struggling to find that rhythm.”

The Irish will need to find it fast as they prepare for Michigan State (5-2), who has been among the nation’s most impressive teams this season. The Spartans, unranked in the preseason, have ascended the polls after holding their own against an unforgiving early schedule. Michigan State has picked up wins against No. 19 Kentucky, Villanova and Oregon, while their losses have come in tight contests against No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 11 Alabama. After consecutive wins to close out the Phil Knight Invitational last week, the Spartans will look to keep rolling in what will be their first true road game of the season.

Wednesday’s game pits Notre Dame against their first ranked opponent as well as their first from a major conference. Brey made no attempt to downplay the game’s significance but did not want the Irish to be mentally bogged down by the high stakes at hand.

“These are your power games now, you have a great opportunity here,” Brey said, speaking on the Michigan State game and the Irish’s upcoming ACC opener against Syracuse. “It’s a fine line of [paying] attention to detail but being loose and going for it. Playing but not playing with the weight of the world. I think that’s kind of the balance point that you try to strike with these guys.”

Luckily, the Irish roster is loaded with players that have experience in finding that balance. Graduate students Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, Trey Wertz and Cormac Ryan all played key roles in the team’s run to the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. After strong starts to the season offensively, particularly from Laszewski and Goodwin, the quartet struggled to put the ball in the basket against St. Bonaventure, combining to shoot under 30% from the floor. Brey is confident that the veteran core will shake off the tough night and return to the high level of play that they exhibited to start the season.

“This is why they came back, for these kinds of games,” Brey said. “I trust them because the four of them have been in big games and great atmospheres here.”

Ryan described his excitement for a primetime game in front of Notre Dame’s home crowd.

“I think Wednesday will be fun,” Ryan said. “We love playing in [Purcell]. Our students are amazing and our fanbase has been really strong for as long as I can remember.”

While the veterans will need to be at their best against Michigan State, Notre Dame has gotten a boost by the play of its freshmen in the last week. Against Bowling Green, JJ Starling erupted for a career-high 23 points while missing just one field goal attempt. Starling added six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the best all-around performance of his young career. He, along with the rest of the Irish, struggled to find his shot on Friday, but appears more comfortable by the day as he establishes himself as one of the ACC’s best rookies.

Freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin was arguably Notre Dame’s top performer against St. Bonaventure. Coming off the bench, he secured his first career double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Irish currently rank last in the ACC (and No. 343 nationally) in rebounding. Lubin’s status as the team’s only true interior player makes his play critical against Michigan State, especially on the glass. Lubin spoke about his blossoming confidence in his first season with the Irish.

“I feel like my role here is really important to this team,” Lubin said. “If I continue to produce the way that I did last game, I feel like I can make an impact here.”

Ryan reinforced the importance of Lubin’s game as a change of pace for Notre Dame’s perimeter-oriented roster.

“Ven’s been amazing,” Ryan said. “I think he brings physicality and athleticism to our group. We need him playing with confidence just like everybody else.”

On Monday, Brey said that Notre Dame’s shooting woes against St. Bonaventure can be partly attributed to exhaustion, as just six players have absorbed nearly all of the team’s minutes. They are unlikely to find any relief on Wednesday, as Brey indicated that graduate student guard Marcus Hammond, who has yet to play this season as he recovers from an MCL sprain, is a “longshot” to take the floor against the Spartans. Hammond has practiced this week and is on track to return Saturday against Syracuse.

Battling that fatigue will be just as important on the defensive end, where the Irish will look to slow down a high-powered Spartan attack. Senior guard Tyson Walker (15.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) does much of the damage for Michigan State. Senior forward Joey Hauser (13.9 ppg, 47.2 3P%) is one of the nation’s premier shooters. Limiting Hauser’s long-range opportunities will be key for the Irish, whose “bend, but don’t break” defense has focused on preventing threes at the expense of allowing easy two-point opportunities. After struggling defensively to start the season, Notre Dame has held its last three opponents under 70 points. A similar effort, coupled with a return to form in terms of shooting, will put the Irish in position to take down the Spartans.

Wednesday night’s game presents many opportunities for Notre Dame. The Irish have the chance to get back in the winning column after their first defeat, to earn their first marquee win and to begin the season-long task of building an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume. Ryan is confident that the team will be at their best.

“That’s why you play the game. You want to play big games, big-time opponents, especially when you have a team as good as we do. You want to go up and see what you’re made of, go up and battle against great teams,” Ryan said. “We obviously know what we’re capable of and we’re ready for it.”

Notre Dame faces Michigan State on Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. on ESPN2.

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Irish gear up to face Bowling Green, St. Bonaventure in Gotham Classic

On Friday night, Notre Dame graduate student guard Dane Goodwin made a three-pointer to push the Irish men’s basketball team past Lipscomb in the game’s final seconds. That win was Notre Dame’s fourth in a span of just nine days, and their second in which the outcome remained in doubt until the final buzzer. For an Irish team whose rotation has included just six players to start the season, this weekend provided some much-needed rest.

“[We] have to take an off day,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said after the Lipscomb game. “It’s almost like two days of getting their legs under them and then a good tune-up on Monday.”

Following that tune-up, Notre Dame will be back in action twice during Thanksgiving week. The Irish will host Bowling Green on Tuesday before traveling to face St. Bonaventure at the New York Islanders’ UBS Arena on Friday, their first time leaving the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion this season. Those games come as part of the Gotham Classic, an event that the Irish began in their home win against Southern Indiana last Wednesday. Notre Dame will look to continue their undefeated start to the season and add two more quality wins to their resume as they move closer to ACC play.

Saturday provided the Irish with rare time off, but it also served as a perfect scouting opportunity for the coming week, as their next two opponents faced off in an afternoon matchup. Playing at home, St. Bonaventure used a 48-point second half to defeat Bowling Green 81-68, pushing the record of both teams to 2-2. Each team presents a unique set of challenges for a Notre Dame team that has relied on the clutch play of their veteran lineup to consistently win games despite struggling for long stretches.

First-half play looms large against Bowling Green

Closing out games has been a weakness for Bowling Green this season. The Eagles have been outscored in the second half of each of their first four games. They are 2-0 when leading at halftime and 0-2 when trailing. Notre Dame, having held halftime leads in every game this season, has consistently started strong. Doing so against a Bowling Green team that has shown an inability to overcome second-half deficits would put the Irish in a good position to win. This is especially true considering how well the Irish have executed in late-game situations, part of the benefit of having four graduate students in their starting lineup.

Offensively, the Eagles are led by seniors Leon Ayers III (20.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Samari Curtis (13.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), big guards that prefer to get to the rim rather than take perimeter jump shots. As a team, Bowling Green has shot under 30% from the three-point range on the season. This plays into the hands of Notre Dame, who has shown a willingness to cede two-pointers in order to limit threes as much as possible. Brey discussed the Irish’s defensive philosophy following the Lipscomb game.

“As long as it wasn’t a three, I thought we’d have a chance. It’s a weird way of looking at it… [but] all of those layups only count for two,” Brey said. “We were switching everything because we were just worried about shooters. We’re out on people, so there are going to be some driving areas, but at least we were chasing them off the arc.”

By limiting Bowling Green’s long-range opportunities, especially in the first half, Notre Dame will hope that its own shooters, currently sitting at an elite 40% clip from beyond the arc, will provide enough of an edge to finish their homestand with a win over the Eagles.

Ryan’s defense crucial to stop St. Bonaventure

Despite losing several key players to the transfer portal, St. Bonaventure will likely be the strongest team that Notre Dame has matched up with to date. The Bonnies took down Bowling Green with relative ease and will have home-court advantage against the Irish on Friday.

Like Bowling Green, the Bonnies play through their guards. Unlike the Eagles, however, those guards are eager to shoot as many three-pointers as possible and have been extremely effective while doing so. St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer is Daryl Banks III, who has made nearly four three-pointers per game at a 42% rate while averaging over 20 points. Fans may remember Banks for leading St. Peter’s to a stunning Elite Eight berth in last year’s NCAA Tournament. He needed little time to settle in with his new team, having erupted for 34 points against Bowling Green.

A similar outburst could prove deadly for Notre Dame, who has struggled to gain separation from any of its opponents this season. Luckily for the Irish, they have a player renowned for his ability to take opposing stars completely out of the game’s flow: graduate student guard Cormac Ryan. After Ryan’s impressive defensive effort against Lipscomb, Brey praised the dedication and unselfishness that he exhibits on that side of the ball.

“He’s unbelievable. Cormac Ryan has so given himself to just guard and take away a guy. It definitely affects his offense, and he doesn’t care,” Brey said. “I have the utmost respect for him sacrificing like that.”

The Irish will need a similar performance from Ryan on Friday. Their chances of beating the Bonnies hinge on his ability to shut down Banks in the same way that he has shut down the best guards that Notre Dame has faced all season long.

Hammond’s availability remains potential wild card

Having entered the season as Notre Dame’s presumed starting point guard, graduate student Marcus Hammond’s absence as he recovers from a sprained MCL has been a major story for the Irish. On Friday, Brey provided an update on Hammond’s timeline for returning to play.

“I think [Hammond] playing Tuesday is an extreme long shot,” Brey said. “Could we have him for St. Bonaventure? That would be a grand slam, but I don’t think we can count on that. I think it may be the next week.”

Hammond is an experienced player who averaged over 18 points per game for Niagara last season. His return, whenever it comes, will provide a big boost for the Irish offense.

Notre Dame will host Bowling Green on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on ACC Network. Friday’s 4 p.m. matchup against St. Bonaventure will be on ESPN+.

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Irish survive nail-biter vs. Lipscomb on Goodwin’s late three

It was the nail-biter that no one expected. In their first-ever meeting, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team beat Lipscomb, 66-65, Friday Night in Purcell Pavilion. The Irish came into the meeting 3-0 and averaging 83 points a game in wins against Radford, Youngstown State, and Southern Indiana. Lipscomb came into the meeting 2-1 after falling to South Dakota in their season opener.

Despite being the underdog, the Bisons started off well against Notre Dame in the first half, scoring the first five points of the game and staying ahead of the Irish for the first eight minutes of the game. Graduate student guard Cormac Ryan made a three-pointer to tie the game. Although the Bisons scored a quick layup in response, they didn’t regain the lead again until late in the game.

Notre Dame prevented Lipscomb from scoring for nearly six minutes near the end of the first half. Graduate student guard Dane Goodwin was dominant in the first half, scoring 15 points, and accounting for more than half of the team’s overall points at the time. 

Afterward, head coach Mike Brey discussed how it was a priority for the team to limit the number of threes, even if it meant giving up shots in the paint.

“[Lipscomb] is a really gifted offensive team. I told our guys at halftime that they average 80 [points a game] and we have them at 23. They still never really got flowing because they couldn’t make double-digit threes.”

Very few fouls were committed by either team. The first free throws of the game not occurring until graduate student forward Nate Laszewski went three for three five minutes into the second half. He continued Notre Dame’s trend of excellence from the line. So far this season, Notre Dame has made over 85% of its free throws, the second-highest percentage in the country.

Despite the fact that it never felt like Notre Dame lost control of the flow of the game, Lipscomb came back to take the lead with just over two minutes to go by shooting 76% from the floor in the second half. After each team scored once in the late stages, Goodwin shot a game-winning three-pointer with 14.5 seconds to go to give Notre Dame the lead — and the win.

Brey was very complimentary of his grad students and how they handled themselves throughout the game. Brey knew Goodwin’s game-winner was going in as soon as he saw it go up with the night he was having. He was also particularly impressed with the defensive skills and leadership shown by Ryan.

“Ryan has just so given himself to just guard and take away a guy… and it definitely affects his offense and he doesn’t care. As a fifth-year senior, I would think he would care more, but he doesn’t. And in the huddles, when [it wasn’t going our way], he challenged Ven[-Allen Lubin] because [he] had a long stretch there looking for his shot… and set the tone coming out of the timeout. I mean, amazing leadership, and those guys, the big three have ownership of this thing.”

At the end of the game, Trae Benham and Jacob Ognacevic led Lipscomb with 19 points each. Ahsan Asadullah also contributed 10. Goodwin led the Irish with 24 points. Laszewski had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Freshman guard J.J. Starling also scored 11 points.

Notre Dame will look to stay undefeated when they return to Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday. That night, they will take on 2-2 Bowling Green for the second game of the 2022 Gotham Classic.

Contact Annika Herko at aherko@nd.edu.

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Strong start carries Irish to win against Southern Indiana

After opening the season with two tight victories, Notre Dame men’s basketball sought a less stressful finish on Wednesday night against Southern Indiana in the opening game of the Gotham Classic. The Irish got just that, building a big first-half lead and holding on to earn an 82-70 win in Purcell Pavilion.

With a veteran group made up of several high-level shooters and playmakers, the Irish offense has run seamlessly in the early stages of the season. Their struggles in narrow wins against Radford and Youngstown State came on the defensive end and getting stops was a point of emphasis for the team entering Wednesday’s game.

“[Defense] was obviously a focus for us yesterday in practice, being a little bit more vocal on the defensive side of the ball as well as dictating what they were doing,” Notre Dame graduate student forward Nate Laszewski said after the game. “Just being a little more aggressive.”

Those adjustments paid dividends for the Irish, who held the Screaming Eagles to just 25 points on 34% shooting in the first half. Notre Dame had previously allowed at least 36 points in every half this season. By steadily opening up a lead that eventually ballooned to 17 points at the end of the half, the Irish were able to create significant separation from their opponent for the first time this year. Graduate student guard Trey Wertz attributed that to the team’s talented offensive players buying in on defense.

“I think it was just getting stops,” Wertz said about Notre Dame’s first-half advantage. “I think when you can string together stops — with the way we’re scoring right now on offense — you can start to build leads like that.”

The offense was led early on by Laszewski, who made a three-pointer on the game’s opening possession on his way to scoring 11 points in the first half. For Laszewski, who won ACC Player of the Week after averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds in Notre Dame’s first two games, these types of offensive outbursts have seemingly become the rule, rather than the exception. Laszewski has been a key player for several seasons, but after the departure of volume scorers like Blake Wesley and Paul Atkinson Jr. in the offseason, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey challenged him to take on an expanded workload in the offense. After recording his third consecutive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Southern Indiana, it is clear that Laszewski is ready to step into that role.

“The stage has been cleared out for [Laszewski] to be the star, it took me time to explain that to him,” Brey said. “I love that he’s grabbed it.”

While Laszewski was critical in Notre Dame’s win, it was Wertz who led the Irish in scoring. He recorded a season-high 20 points in a continuation of his breakout season. After making two three-pointers in the first half, Wertz took over in the second period by keying in on the rim, consistently attacking Eagle defenders off the dribble and converting several tough finishes. For Wertz, who has primarily been a spot-up shooter for much of his Irish career, this season has highlighted the expansions of his offensive game.

Laszewski’s dominant offensive performance so far this season was easy to see coming. Wertz’s play, and even more so his leadership and game management, has come as more of a pleasant surprise, according to Brey. Wertz was not expected to be a starter for the Irish but seized his opportunity following graduate transfer guard Marcus Hammond’s knee injury. Hammond is expected to return to action in the coming weeks, but with Wertz having been perhaps the Irish’s best offensive player through three games, it is difficult to see him letting go of his spot in the starting five any time soon.

“I need a guy that’s running the team and who I can talk to, and we weren’t sure who that was going to be through June,” Brey said. “With Marcus Hammond out, [we said], ‘Trey, we need you, and we need 35 minutes [per game].’ He has just grabbed it. He’s calm and he sees the floor. I just love his demeanor.”

Wertz is clearly on the same page, as he attested after the game as to how Brey’s confidence in him has allowed him to make the leap from averaging four points per game last year up to nearly 18 in the current season.

“I’m someone with the ball in my hands a lot and the coaches trust me to make decisions,” Wertz said. “It feels good [to be scoring more], I know last year wasn’t the best scoring output that I’ve had. The guys trust me, coach trusts me. I worked hard all summer and the confidence is there now.”

Coming out of the halftime break trailing 42-25, the Eagles continued to fight, whittling the lead down to single digits several times. Most of the damage came in the paint, as the Irish struggled to contain Southern Indiana’s Trevor Lakes, who scored a team-high 21 points, and Jacob Polakovich, who added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Polakovich, who was not expected to play for another month following surgery to treat a Jones fracture, had several emphatic dunks in his first game back from injury.

A pair of Polakovich free throws trimmed the Irish lead to 51-43 with under twelve minutes to play, but the Eagles were ultimately unable to get any closer. The dagger came midway through the half when graduate student guard Cormac Ryan and Wertz made consecutive three-pointers to boost the Irish advantage from 10 to an insurmountable 16 in a matter of seconds. With the game in hand, Notre Dame emptied their bench in the final minutes to close out the 82-70 victory and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2017.

Looking ahead, Notre Dame has a quick turnaround before returning to Purcell Pavilion to play Lipscomb on Friday at 7 p.m. The Irish will conclude the Gotham Classic next week, hosting Bowling Green on Tuesday and traveling to New York to face St. Bonaventure on Black Friday.

Contact Matthew Crow at mcrow@nd.edu.

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Three takeaways from Irish men’s basketball opening exhibition game

Notre Dame men’s basketball made their final regular season preparations on Wednesday night in an exhibition matchup against NAIA opponent Xavier University of Louisiana. The game’s outcome remained in question for longer than expected, but the Irish pulled away late to earn a 67-52 win. With the preseason now in the rearview mirror, here are three takeaways from the victory as the Irish turn their attention to next Thursday’s season opener against Radford.

Goodwin, Laszewski ready to lead the way

Just as was so often the case last season, graduate students Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin were at the forefront of Notre Dame’s offensive attack. Laszewski did most of his work early, scoring 9 of Notre Dame’s first 18 points on his way to 12 in the game. He then handed the reigns to Goodwin, who recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, six of them offensive.

Laszewski seemed focused on attacking the rim, using his reputation as a sharpshooter to attract overaggressive closeouts that allowed him to consistently get past his defender. In the paint, he showed improved patience, frequently using shot fakes to get Xavier defenders off balance and draw fouls, which led to an 8-9 performance from the free throw line. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey discussed Laszewski’s expanded offensive arsenal after the game.

“I thought Nate kind of got us started by drawing fouls and driving,” Brey said. “He’s become a little better off the dribble and making plays, passing and finding people when [Xavier was] doubling and he made his free throws.”

Goodwin spent the game hunting mismatches that allowed him to back down smaller defenders and either finish at the rim or shoot his patented turnaround jumper. As with Laszewski, good things happen for the Irish when he plays aggressively, and Goodwin made all eight of his free throw attempts. Notre Dame struggled to shoot from distance (the Irish finished 7-26 from three-point range) but having two of their best shooters looking to get to the rim and draw fouls gives them a reliable safety valve when their shots are not falling.

Rebounding effort leaves room for improvement

While the Irish outplayed Xavier in most facets, struggles on the defensive glass allowed the Gold Rush to hang around for most of the game. In total, Xavier outrebounded Notre Dame 46-33 and had a 22-11 advantage in terms of offensive rebounding. Entering the season, rebounding was widely expected to be a point of weakness for the Irish, who have only two big men likely to play on a consistent basis, but it was a surprise to see a decisive loss in the rebounding battle against an opponent with considerably less size at their disposal.

After the game, Brey noted that the Irish “have to [rebound] as a group,” but praised several players’ individual performances on the boards, including graduate student guard Marcus Hammond and Goodwin. Hammond finished with seven rebounds, which Brey called “encouraging” but not surprising, given that he has rebounded well during practice. The team’s standout performance on the glass, though, came from Goodwin. He was notably aggressive on the boards defensively and even more so on offense, where his effort plays created several second-chance point opportunities. Goodwin spoke about the emphasis that he put on rebounding in preparation for the season.

“I realize that [rebounding] has to be a big priority for me this year. We’re playing a little smaller, so I have to get in there and grab some boards,” Goodwin said. “There’s definitely a mindset about it. You just have to be aggressive. Just like scoring, you’ve got to be aggressive going to the boards, hitting guys, whatever it is to go and get that ball.”

The Irish will frequently be undersized during ACC play and will rely on the entire team to attack the glass with the same effort that Goodwin gave on Wednesday.

Newcomers fill key roles in tight rotation

Last year, Notre Dame rarely went beyond seven-deep with its rotation. If the exhibition was any indication, this season will be similar, as only seven Irish players saw the floor for significant minutes. Out went Prentiss Hubb, Paul Atkinson Jr. and Blake Wesley and in came Hammond (a Niagara transfer), freshmen JJ Starling and Ven-Allen Lubin to replace them.

Marcus Hammond facilitates offense

In their first appearance for the Irish, the trio showed glimpses of what they will bring to the table for Notre Dame. Hammond, who scored over 18 points per game last season, took on point guard responsibilities and initiated the Irish offense nearly every possession when on the floor. After scoring nine points on three three-pointers and adding two assists, Hammond spoke about how a productive preseason of practices paid dividends in game situations.

“I was very comfortable,” Hammond said. “In practice, we get a lot of reps in, five on five. We get a lot of chances to play with each other. I’m real comfortable just moving the ball, knocking down the open shot when I get it and competing on the defensive end.”

JJ looks inconsistent in anticipated debut

Starling delivered an up-and-down effort in an anticipated effort, given his status as a consensus five-star recruit. While he did not shoot particularly well, finishing just 1-7 and 0-5 from three, Starling’s performance in other areas pleased Brey.

“JJ made some good decisions. When he was double teamed, I thought he was really good,” Brey said. “He had open looks, I thought he took really good shots. He does pass it and find people, and he’s able to get in [the paint] with strength like nobody else we have.”

The primary way in which Brey looks for Starling, as well as any young player, to grow, is by not letting shooting struggles prevent him from impacting the game in its less glamorous aspects.

“When you’re not making shots, and maybe your offense isn’t as smooth, there’s the great maturity and growth [process] of, ‘can I go back and defend and rebound and work my way into it,’” Brey said. He noted that this is especially important for a player with as much athleticism and defensive potential as Starling has.

Lubin earns three blocks in gritty effort

A face mask hampered Lubin after he suffered a nose injury during practice earlier in the week, but that did not stop him from tallying four points and three blocks while putting his athleticism on constant display. In the first half, he used impressive focus to score in the paint while being fouled. Later, he maneuvered past his defender off the catch and converted at the rim, showing a unique combination of agility and strength for a 6’8” player. Defensively, Lubin’s length and defensive instincts allowed him to disrupt several shots at the basket without fouling. Brey spoke highly of Lubin’s defense. He said that the coaching staff has to “keep making him feel comfortable” as he gets accustomed to Notre Dame’s offensive scheme and recovers from injury.

Notre Dame’s new players make up nearly half of the seven that are likely to soak up most of the team’s minutes, and they will have many opportunities to improve over the course of the season and prepare for big games in January, February and (the Irish hope) March. At this early stage in the season, all three appear ready to step into key roles and make an immediate impact.

“It’s a learning process,” Goodwin said about the development of Notre Dame’s young players. “They’re going to have their ups and downs, but I think they all contributed today and had bright spots. So that’s definitely something to build off of.”