Needless to say, before tip-off, this looked like a game this Irish team could actually win — although I’m not sure any of us had THAT much confidence, just based on the team’s play the last couple months. Per usual, I took extensive, useless notes on all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels this dumpster fire of a basketball matchup had to offer.
I knew it was going to be a pretty solid day about 45 minutes into my drive from Chicago.
If I felt the British monarchy was potentially on my side heading into this match-up, then damnit if the Irish didn’t have an excellent chance to win this one. I got to Purcell a little earlier than I would’ve ideally liked (planning the timing of driving from Chicago for one of these games is hard to get perfectly right), so I spent a little time hanging out in my Versa, enjoying more of that lovely, nostalgic playlist and also having a violent sneezing fit that briefly made me think there might never be a time again where I wasn’t sneezing. Once the sneezing finally halted, I meandered into Purcell and made a quick pit stop.
You obviously don’t need the details of that, but one thing I do want to mention about my Purcell bathroom experience is that Purcell now offers what they call “Healthy Soap.” Imagine my surprise, as a local simpleton, that not all soap is healthy.
I found my seat in the press box without any issue for maybe the first time ever (a reflection on me, as a guy who is bad at finding things), and as I settled in, it truly hit me that I had driven 3 hours round-trip to watch two teams who have a combined conference record of 1-18.
I don’t blame any students for not wanting to see this dumpster fire on a cold Saturday morning.
*then just keeps on talking about him without mentioning that he does, indeed, have a last name* As they flew through some ads on the video board, one was a little commercial for next Saturday’s game against Wake Forest, which has been called “Superhero Day.” The more important and fitting thing about Superhero Day, of course, is that they’ve managed to book an honest-to-God superhero for the occasion, as the GOAT herself, Red Panda, will be performing at halftime of that one.
A few other quick notes as we moved into the player intros, national anthem, etc.: And can ND actually capitalize on that, despite how bad they are?
We found out early in the pregame warmups that Ven-Allen Lubin got hurt at practice on Friday and would not play in this one.
Cancer during this game, and one awesome tidbit they mentioned is that Mike Brey has raised more than $4.5M for the fight against cancer via his work with Coaches vs. The early going of this one was a pretty fun and even affair — Zewski kicked off the scoring with a three-pointer that Louisville immediately followed up with an easy layup against ND’s patented “Stop No One” defensive alignment. Someone named Withers on Louisville buried a three at one point in the early going, and his name just made me think of Smithers from The Simpsons and I hereby swear I will only refer to him as such for the rest of this recap so that I can make Mr.
Starling from long range, which he buried to give Notre Dame a 13-9 advantage heading into the first media timeout. I wonder if he’s available for a wedding early next year... Eventually they moved to other fans doing some dancing, more little kids, etc., but it was a really funny start to the Dance Cam segment with no one dancing and that horrible song piped through the loudspeakers. stealing this and using it forever https://t.co/jax3dBGpUv — One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) January 28, 2023
At one point they had hit 6 shots in a row, with Louisville offering little in the way of resistance. Not only have there already been more than one Mike James who’ve come through the world as basketball players (one Mike James in particular I recall hanging around in the NBA for a long time as a solid backup point guard), but hearing his name on from the PA announcer every time he did something was also making me think of Rick James, and Dave Chappelle, which then made me reminisce on the Prince basketball sketch.
Hearing that song on Saturday got me all sorts of pumped up — it still slaps. I was snapped out of my DJ Snake and Lil Jon nostalgia-haze by Daney G once again using his old-man game to hit a turnaround midrange jumper. No one puts up 10-20 points a game while playing like that old guy at the gym better than Daney G, y’all. As I watched Domzie fight hard with some Cardinals players for an offensive rebound and force the ball to go out of bounds off Louisville so that ND retained possession, I noted that if he can develop any sort of back-to-the-basket offensive game over the next year or two, he’s going to absolutely rule by the time he’s an upperclassman. After Louisville randomly converted on a 3/4-court alley-oop layup for some reason, Daney G did another middle-aged-man-at-the-YMCA move, backing down his man and then spinning and making a scoop shot. He got dressed in the various items of clothing way faster than Daniel, who appeared to have never put a shirt on in his life.
This was a pretty entertaining little show for a timeout, and the band followed it up by launching into “Everytime We Touch,” so you could argue this was the perfect media timeout. Also, during that reflection I also once again enraged myself by thinking about the ND now adorning center court, as I am FIRMLY in the bring-back-the-shamrock camp in terms of how Purcell’s court deserves to be designed. Of course, he went on to be absolutely electric in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, leading the Irish to back-to-back Elite Eights, and although there were some things he did that Starling just doesn’t have the ability to do, Starling has some advantages over Jackson as well (height/length, being a more capable scorer as a true freshman, etc.). So, let’s hope that Starling, in the event that he sticks around for whoever the new coach is going to be, follows a DJ path and blossoms over the next couple years into a certifiable stud who can lead this program back to some postseason success.
I believe he’s quite capable of that, especially with other young talent around him like Lubin, Domzie, J.R. Because next weekend is the big weekend for halftime entertainment with Red Panda coming to town, this game featured a much more casual and relaxed halftime show — but it was still an enjoyable one, for sure.
have helped raise has had on real people who were battling such a horrible situation. After that, they brought out Grace, a freshman from Pennsylvania for some sort of shooting game.
Her third and final attempt was a return to normal shooting form, but that one missed as well, and thus Grace did not win whatever the prize was (I missed that announcement as well). Some experts commented that this is a game plan the Irish should put into action more often.
I think ND men's basketball should simply double-up their opponents more often. They would win more games, I think — One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) January 28, 2023
During that timeout, the crowd was treated to the delightful video board entertainment of the Monogram Shuffle (or it might be called Basketball Shuffle, I don’t know) where a cartoon basketball is hidden behind one of three ND monograms, and then they move around a bunch and one lucky fan gets the task of having their concentration tested in front of a few thousand people. Later, I would realize it was just the beginning of this ND team being back on their bullshit, but heading into the first media timeout, it definitely seemed like a harmless and fun little moment for Kenny Payne’s squad. The crowd understood the importance of this moment because of that, and I think more grown-ass adults than ever before were on their feet, hootin’ and hollerin’ at the cheerleaders in hopes of having a t-shirt that probably won’t fit them thrown wildly in their direction. First #NotreDame turnover finally surfaces with 13:18 left in game, and Irish up by 23.
This timeout gave us what’s quickly becoming a classic at both football and basketball games: an adorable little ND fan telling us how long they’ve been a fan (spoiler alert: it’s always the same number of years as their age) and then giving the cue to the band to begin playing, saying, “Go Irish — hit it, band!” As the band rocked out, the cheerleaders were playing air guitar on their megaphones, which I very much appreciated and hope they do more often. Daney G got himself another offensive board and a bucket to follow that put the Irish up 71-52 with 6:55 to play, but the Cardinals quickly clawed back into it with a three and another basket.
However, any possible desperate hope Louisville was clinging to was erased when Zewski, feeling inspired by the megaphone air guitar from earlier, decided to absolutely rock the rim and throw down a one-handed slam that was both awesome and that also almost didn’t go in. It should also be noted that somehow, some way, there was not one instance of a dead ball for the final 4 minutes of play in this game, and thus there was no under-4 media timeout.
That was pretty funny but much appreciated by those of us who wanted to hit the road ASAP. Yes, of course there’s a chance this team finds an extra gear and gets hot one night to truly send him off against a decent team, similar to the MSU game in November.
And yes, they COULD potentially manage to beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta considering the Yellow Jackets are also very much not good. But there are simply no remaining easy home games for this Irish squad, and thus I’m not willing to bet on them emerging victorious in basically any other contest down the stretch.
And remember, Scoremac technically could return for one final season, if the situation makes sense... It might not be super clear until March because some of these guys won’t want to officially interview until their seasons are over, but there are some pretty fun and interesting names being tossed around, such as Pat Kelsey, Darian DeVries, Sean Sweeney, Porter Moser, Dusty May, etc.
I’ll probably dive a bit deeper into a list of potential names in a future article, but for now will just say that I’d be much more jazzed about someone from that list than I would with Swarbrick just picking the low-hanging fruit off the Brey coaching tree (i.e. Hopefully Swarbrick can find the basketball equivalent of Link Jarrett and get this men’s hoops program humming again.