Last night I was walking to class and remembered that Notre Dame was playing basketball…or at least I thought they were. I pulled up The Score and looked for the game but couldn’t find it. I was SURE they were playing. Then I remembered…the score tab shows scores in the top 25…a tab that Notre Dame no longer graces with their presence. For the past five games, I’ve been asking myself, “what happened?” The Irish got off to the best start of Mike Brey’s 17-year tenure at 9-0, then sat at 17-3 overall and 6-1 in the ACC, at one point holding sole possession of the number one spot in the conference and as high as a #14 ranking nationally. Their record was impressive, but it was hardly a smooth ride.
The Irish won their first five ACC contests by an average of 4.6 points; 23 points total. Every game seemed to go down to the last minute leaving me biting my nails and, much to their discomfort, everybody else’s nails around me…it’s a bad habit, I know. That being said, they had some quality wins such as Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Miami…ah who am I kidding, just about any ACC win is quality. After watching several of these cardiac arrest-inducing games, I began to wonder how long this style of play would be sustainable. They lost a hard-fought battle by 3 to Florida State in a game where the referees seemed to give foul bias to the team with two guys over seven feet (but that’s none of my business). But still, it was a great game to watch and, as far as losses go, a good loss to a good team. Then they bounced back by beating Syracuse 71-54, a team that they have had NO success against since joining the ACC. Then Virginia happened…then Georgia Tech happened (really?)…then Duke happened…then North Carolina…see where I’m going with this? The Irish hit a BIG rough patch. So big it dropped them from 14 to 20 and then clean out of the rankings. It was a tough stretch of games, I’ll give them that, but I expected them to bounce back afterwards. Not exactly what happened. Last night they eked out a less than convincing win against a less than impressive Wake Forest team.
What I’m getting at here is…were the Irish playing over their heads at the beginning of the season? What the hell is going on out there in Mike Brey land? They went from a poised team with ice in their veins to a team that throws up worse 3-point attempts than that one old guy with really high shorts at the gym that hits the rim maybe once every five shots. I hope it’s just a rough patch and they get their act back together but the last five games have definitely left me worried. I’m afraid they used up all the luck of the Irish in those nail-biters at the beginning of the season. Come on, boys, prove me wrong!