Notre Dame basketball went 2-0 last week, and the team is looking comfortable on the court.
I said last weekend that Notre Dame basketball fans just needed to be patient. Your patience was rewarded, as the Irish overcame the transfer of one Elijah Burns to go 2-0 on the week.
With a convincing win against Depaul on Saturday afternoon, the Irish move to 5-1 on the season. Before the game, Notre Dame was rated No. 63 in KenPom, Depaul was No. 66 and had been undefeated on the season. The Irish jumped to No. 51 after the win. According to the predictive metric, the Irish outperformed the spread by 21 points. It appears that even the computers are underestimating this young Notre Dame squad.
The most noticeable difference this week was obviously the play of senior Rex Pflueger. He needed to play better if this team is going dance this year and he did just that. In two games this past week, he averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal per game. He was 5 of 9 from deep and remains perfect at the line on the season.
In addition to Rex, the freshman are also growing up right in front of us. Prentiss Hubb looks like he is feeling really comfortable in the offense and it looks as if coach Brey is giving him a lot of leash. On the week, he averaged 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists and went 5 of 13 from deep. Nate Laszewski had a great game against Depaul with 15 points and both Robbie Carmody and Dane Goodwin continue to impress.
As soon as Temple Gibbs inevitably finds his groove, this team is going to be dangerous. He looked good against Depaul, but not so much versus Duquesne. Hopefully Saturday’s results become typical for Gibbs, after the Illinois game the schedule ramps up a bit. Oklahoma on a neutral court and UCLA on the road will be incredibly difficult.
The one area that still needs to be tightened up is the shooting from behind the arc. Currently, Notre Dame ranks 241st in three point shooting at 31.5 percent. That number will rise substantially in my opinion as the freshman get more experience and Gibbs and Rex find their form.
If the Irish can find a way to split the next four games, it will be huge. They are currently only favored in the Illinois game. If coach Mike Brey finds a way to go 3-1 over this stretch, I say we start building the statue now.