As a new men’s basketball season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish begins, they try to put last season’s 21-15 record in the past and focus their attention on the potential that this young but talented group of players have for this season.
Head coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish have opened the season strong thus far, winning 84-67 against the University of Illinois-Chicago and 89-62 over Chicago State University. While trying to get new faces acclimated to the program, opening the season with two impressive performances as well as having a string of five more consecutive home games before traveling to New York to take on the University of Oklahoma bodes very well for a group trying to start the season off on the right foot.
In both of Notre Dame’s games to open the season, the starting lineup has been the same. It has consisted of junior T.J. Gibbs, freshman Robby Carmody, senior Rex Pflueger, sophomore D.J. Harvey, and junior John Mooney.
The starting lineup is a group that is very unselfish in terms of finding the open guy to take the shot and that has been evident through the first two games of the season. Also, everyone on the floor for the Irish to open the game can shoot the ball from beyond the arc, making it very difficult on opposing defenses to try and defend.
Not only have the starters impressed in the early going, but the bench has been very productive as well. The Irish go five deep, playing freshman Prentiss Hubb, Dane Goodwin, and Nate Laszewski along with junior Juwan Durham and senior Elijah Burns. Hubb and Goodwin are both very skilled guards who can shoot from deep, create their own shot, and create for others.
Nate Laszewski has shown the ability to play big in the post and on the glass but also has the ability to extend defenses all the way out to the perimeter. As for Juwan Durham and Elijah Burns, they are big men who seem to always be in the right place at the right time. Whether it be hustling to give their offense another possession, blocking a shot on the defensive end of the floor, or being open under the basket for an easy two, they are extremely valuable when they are on the court.
While it has only been two games so far, this Notre Dame team, although younger than usual, looks very deep and talented. With the leadership of Pflueger, Gibbs, and Burns, I am not too concerned for the team once they enter into ACC play and have grueling games night in and night out.
Most eyes are glued on Notre Dame football and their mission to reach the College Football Playoff, but Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish may have something exciting brewing on the hardwood this season that also deserves a lot of attention.
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