HOKIES HOOPS CENTRAL: NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (3-6, 0-3) AT #19 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (8-2, 2-1) 6PM ACCN
Date/Time: Jan 10 2021 6 PM
Opponent: Notre Dame
Site: Cassell Coliseum
ACCN, Wes Durham (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst)
Virginia Tech Sports Network. Jon Laaser (play-by-play) and Mike Burnop (analyst)
Beat the Leprechauns....
The Hokies are coming off a tough 73-71 loss to Louisville and return home to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Hokies are 4-9 against Notre Dame going into their 14th meeting. This is a down season for the Irish, who come in still looking for an ACC win.
The Fighting Irish are coached by Mike Brey, in his twenty-first year at the helm of Notre Dame. In twenty years, his team has won 20+ games fifteen times. He has led them to the NCAA Tournament twelve times, with two elite eight appearances. Notre Dame has been to the post season in all but two seasons under Brey. He is 440-239 at Notre Dame and 539-291 overall with a prior five seasons at Delaware.
Coach Brey's Fighting Irish are having their worst start to a season in almost a decade. They come in 3-6 with wins over Detroit, Bellarmine and Kentucky out of conference. Their six losses are against Michigan State, Ohio State, Duke, Purdue, UVA and UNC. The Hokies will look to give them their fifth loss to a ranked team this season.
Coach Brey is still trying to replace star forward John Mooney, veteran guard TJ Gibbs and captain Rex Pflueger, who combined to score 34.7 points per game.
The Fighting Irish come into this season with three new Freshman and two transfers. Trey Wertz transferred from Santa Clara and Cormac Ryan transferred from Stanford. Wertz has gradually evolved into a starter while Ryan is a starter but also the secondary point guard for those rare moments Hubb is off the floor. None of the Freshman have found a significant role so far.
Defensively, the Fighting Irish are a very situationally based defensive team. This means against Tech we may see man to man and probably some high perimeter zone with defensive players switching off over or under screens to prevent quick penetration by the Hokies guards. The other aspect that we may see a lot of is to double team Aluma in the post to prevent him easy access and force him to make a good perimeter pass. If this team begins trying to utilize this double team, expect to see Cone receive the perimeter pass and then force Notre Dame to decide how to approach him.
Offensively, Notre Dame runs a four out, one in motion offense. They rely on a single big, who leads them in scoring at 17.2 points per game. Aluma is going to have to be very smart to avoid foul trouble. The Irish shoot almost 25 three-point attempts per game, hitting on almost 10 of them. This means the Irish find almost 30 points a game from behind the perimeter. The Hokies will have to be able to close out on the perimeter to keep the Irish from hitting their usual 39% from outside which is tops in the ACC. That said, they still manage 40 more points per game between the line and inside the arc. 13 of those points come from the line where as a team they are shooting 79% on the season.
Fighting Irish Backcourt
Prentiss Hubb (# 3, JR, G, 6-3, 175 lbs)
14.8 Pts, 3.1 Reb, 4.6 Ast
Shoots 39% from the floor, 31% from the perimeter and 87% from the line. Hubb controls the offense, directing traffic while looking for his own shot. Attempts the most shots of anyone on the Notre Dame roster at 13.2 attempts per contest. Considering his shooting percentages, this actually works in opponents favor.
Dane Goodwin (# 23, JR, G, 6-6, 200 lbs)
13.8 Pts, 5.4 Reb, 1.9 Ast
Shoots 47% from the floor, 42% from the perimeter and 91% from the line. Goodwin is their best pure shooter on the floor so not allowing him to get in a rhythm is a major defensive concern.
"I swear its this big"
Cormac Ryan (#5, SO, G, 6-5, 195 lbs)
8.6 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 3.3 Ast
Shoots 30% from the floor, 30% from the perimeter and 93% from the line. This is not the player to foul. Gentle pressure defensively and he shoots terribly, but send him to the line and he will hit almost every time.
Trey Wertz (#2, JR, G, 6-5, 195 lbs)
9.8 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 2.8 Ast
Shoots 44% from the floor, 46% from the perimeter and 79% from the line. He shoots better from the perimeter than he does inside so forcing him to dribble and not hae clean open looks is critical.
Fighting Irish Frontcourt
Nate Laszewski (#14, JR, F, 6-10, 227 lbs)
17.2 Pts, 8.2 Reb, 0.4 Ast
Shoots 66% from the floor, 59% from the perimeter and 70% from the line.
Juwan Durham (#11, SR, F, 6-11, 231 lbs)
7.9 Pts, 4.9 Reb, 1.8 Ast, 1.9 Blk
Shoots 49% from the floor, doesnt from the perimeter and 68% from the line.
What to expect from Notre Dame?
|Starters||P. Hubb||T. Wertz||C. Ryan||D. Goodwin||N. Laszewski|
|Rotation||N. Djogo||J. Durham|
|Lim PT||E. Morgan||T. Sanders, Jr.||M. Zona|
|Lim PT||R. Carmody|
The Fighting Irish come in with six players averaging 7.9 or more points per game but the Fighting Irish only go one deep on the bench for significant minutes or contributions. Much like Louisville, this is by design to have the offense completely focused around getting Laszewski, Hubb or Goodwin the basketball. Those three players take over 60% of the Fighting Irish shots.
Opponents are averaging an astonishing 74.2 points per game which is the primary indicator of how much this team has struggled defensively. Opponents are shooting 45% from the floor against the Fighting Irish and 39% from the perimeter. Notre Dame has struggled mightily to control the pace of play and allows over 15 points per contest in transition.
The Fighting Irish commit only 12.4 fouls per game, the fewest fouls per game nationally. Opponents have only shot 9 free throw attempts in their three ACC games. The Hokies have attempted 24 attempts per ACC game, the most in the ACC so far so something will have to give in this game.
As a team the Fighting Irish are shooting 39% from the perimeter on 25 attempts per game. Laszeswki is shooting an incredible 59% from the perimeter this year. Teammates Goodwin, Wertz and Djogo each are shooting better than 40% from the perimeter. All five starters attempt at least 3.3 shots from the perimeter per game.
Notre Dame struggles tremendously rebounding and are at almost a 12 rebounds per game disadvantage in three ACC contests. They have four players averaging more then four rebounds per game.
Hubb and Ryan are the primary distributors, averaging 7.9 assists between them. The Irish average 14 assists on 22 made baskets per game, roughly 60% of all shots are assisted.
The top takeaway from the Louisville game is that the Hokies need to shake the hesitation out and make crisp passes. Poor passing plague them all night, creating multiple opportunities for Louisville without even getting a shot up. In ACC play, the talent level for most teams defensively is going to exploit bad passing.
The Hokies will have their hands full with Laszewski and Hubb, who utilize an inside-out combination that the Hokies haven't dealt with much this season. Aluma and Mutts may need to double team Laszewski every time the ball is passed into the paint. Laszewski also has the ability to dribble in from the perimeter and stretch the defense by stepping out to shoot. He averages 4.3 attempts from the perimeter per game.
The Hokies should focus on shooting from the perimeter if only because Notre Dame opponents are shooting 39% and most of those opponents are not stellar three point teams. Cone, coming off a 6 for 12 performance against Louisville could have a career game with the open looks the Fighting Irish seem to allow. Cattoor finding a rhythm will be critical though as well, considering the rest of the team shot 3-18 from outside last time out.
While Notre Dame plays stiff defense, they do not create many turnovers at only 8 per contest. The Hokies should look to take it inside on Laszewski as he is the lesser defender in the post. Durham is the more formidable lane presence defensively, leading his team with 1.9 blocks per game. Durham is the most likely to get in foul trouble though, averaging over 3 per game
YOU HAVE TO HIT YOUR FREE THROWS. Especially with how few the Irish allow. This is going to be a continued point of emphasis for the Hokies, although they did shoot 80% against Louisville on 16-20 shooting. ACC games are often going to come down to one or two possessions and as we saw against Louisville, every possession counts.
This is ACC play against an opponent that allows a ton of threes so hopefully a heavy dose of Cone and a shooting Cattoor. We may also see another small dose of Big John to help counter Laszewski and Durham underneath. Otherwise, a normal dose of Bede, Boots, Aluma, Mutts and Alleyne.
Highlight of the Louisville Game
Jalen Cone burning up the net
The Hokies have to find the open shooter (read Cone) when Notre Dame sags off the perimeter. Not defending the outside seems to be a calculated risk that Mike Brey is choosing to make this year based on the team he has available and how difficult their schedule has been both in terms of opponents and Covid protocols.
Aluma and Mutts grabbing critical offensive rebounds could be the tipping point in this contest. Notre Dame allows more ten 10 offensive rebounds per game. Converting second chance opportunities into points likely provides the greatest margin of difference. These could lead directly to several three pointers.
Hokies outscore Notre Dame in more of a run-n-gun type game and get back to winning 80-72.
Confidence Factor: 4/5 Popcorns