At the Coaches Roundtable at ACC Media Day, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey was asked about his recruiting philosophy. He said he wanted his team to “get old, and stay old.” This team fits. Two of the starters are already 22 years old, and two more will turn 22 before the season ends. The one freshman who is playing is 7th on the team in minutes.
In a league dominated by blue bloods and NBA picks, Mike Brey counters with experience and player development.
No. 15 Notre Dame (16-2, 5-0) has a one game lead in the ACC over North Carolina and Florida State.
As is usual with Mike Brey’s teams, Notre Dame has an elite offense, ranking 9th in the nation. This could be the 3rd straight year that the Irish are top 10 in offensive efficiency.
Only two of 351 Division I teams commit fewer turnovers. Everyone can shoot. And they’re on pace to set a new D1 record for FT% (though they rarely get to the line).
They have four players who average between 14 and 16 points.
Bonzie Colson, who would be a lock for 1st Team All ACC if he played for a team which wore the correct shade of blue, leads the team with 15.8 ppg and 10.9 rpg. Colson, who picked ND over Florida State, is an undersized post player at just 6-5, but he has a crazy wingspan and great motor. He’s had at least 11 boards in every ACC game.
Senior Steve Vasturia scores 15.0 per game and has made 44% of his 3s. His back court mate Matt Farrell (14.1 per game) makes 40% of his 3s and runs the show. VJ Beachem, a 6-8 wing, rounds out their scoring at 13.9 per game.
No one else on the team averages more than 5.2 ppg. All four of their scorers play more than 30 minutes a game.
Notre Dame grinds out slow possessions, and usually get good shots.
Their problem - as is the problem with all Mike Brey teams - is that they struggle on the defensive end. They’re 70th nationally (which is actually their best defense in five years). They aren’t a great defensive rebounding team, nor do they force a lot of turnovers.
But recently, they’ve been better. Through five conference games, they are 5th in conference-only defense. In their three ACC seasons, they’ve finished 14th, 11th, and 12th in conference defense. If they don’t regress, they could easily finish the regular season atop the ACC.
The ‘Noles are going to have to do a great job pounding the offensive glass. Not only does this target Notre Dame’s weakness, but is a great way to pick up some cheap fouls. The Irish really only go eight deep.
The game tips at 7 PM from the Tuck and will be broadcast regionally and on ESPN3. Florida State opened at 5-point favorites.