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Three Up, Three Down: Notre Dame

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Sigh. 30 good minutes, 10 atrocious ones for the most part. We’ve seen this movie before. This game is the epitome of “I’m not mad, just disappointed.”

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

First Half Defense. The first half defense was actually pretty good. Notre Dame shot 43.8% from the field and a rather paltry 4-13 from deep, for a shaky 30.8%. We did a good job containing the Fighting Irish offense in the first half, so it’s not a though we’re utterly clueless as to what to do.

Ball Movement. 17 assists, and only 9 turnovers for the entire game. That’s extremely good, especially since we had 3 or 4 of those turnovers occurred early on. That’s good stuff. While I’m at it, I feel like I should remark that the offense in general was pretty great. Any time you score 80+ points, your offense is probably doing what it needs to do.

Domination On The Glass. Wake won the battle of the boards 43-35. A +8 margin is usually, emphasis on usually, an indicator of both good defense and success as a general rule. It takes a gigantic outlier for a team to lose a game with Ups like these. Which brings me to...

The Downs

Second... 15-27 from the field for 55.6% shooting.

Half... 9-14 from deep, for an insane 64.3% from three.

Defense. Giving up 17 free throw attempts in the second half compared to only 4 in the first. I really don’t like boiling EVERYTHING bad down to one aspect, but that’s really what it was. There was no defensive intensity in the second half. Yes, there were absurd shots, but that’s not all it was. The defensive energy just wasn’t there. Even worse, it’s not like Notre Dame especially made a lot of adjustments. For the most part, their plays are their plays. It was just the same plays with rather atrocious defense by the Deacs. There were deep bombs, easy layups, and and-ones, At one point, there was a stretch in the second half where Notre Dame scored on five straight possessions. Not coincidentally, that was the point in the game when the Fighting Irish pulled away. Seriously, we did many things well, but that defense...just atrocious.

The Bottom Line

If you told me we’d have this record against this schedule, two conference road wins, basically zero blowouts except against Villanova, and a solid shot at the NIT with a very outside shot at the NCAA Tournament, and I’d have taken it seven days a week and twice on Sunday. The defensive problems are glaring, but I genuinely believe them to be fixable eventually. I don’t necessarily want to cry “patience” after a loss like that, but it’s hard to say differently. I won’t say the team is terrible, the idea of firing Coach Manning is laughable, and not everything is negative. So, as trite and frustrating as the whole thing is, patience is really all that’s left. The coaches and the team 100% deserve our support, in my estimation anyway. Let’s sweep the Pack on Saturday, shall we?

On to the next. Go Deacs.

--SF