The Notre Dame basketball team has had a rough week. It started with a late game collapse and was followed up with the team’s leading scorer being academically dismissed.
Senior guard Jerian Grant is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame. He was let go for undisclosed academic reasons, but promises to return to the school and team in the summer. For more on his release, click here.
He isn’t the only prominent Irish athlete to be released this season either. Quarterback Everett Golson was kicked out of school last spring for cheating. He has since re-enrolled and should be eligible to play next fall.
Coach Mike Brey addressed the media on Monday. He knew going into Saturday’s game against No. 3 Ohio State that it would be Grant’s last game with the team this season.
“I tried not to think about it much,” Brey said. “I think it hit me more afterwards, especially walking out of the arena. I just kind of said, ‘Coach your team. This is your team. Obviously it’s going to change, but when it changes, then deal with it.’ ”
Brey spoke about how it was like starting the season all over again after losing Grant. The Irish will have to completely redesign their style of play without a dynamic player like Grant.
“This one is going to be the hardest, for two reasons,” Brey said. “Jerian is so involved with everything we do on the offensive end of the floor, and we’re trying to (figure out) a new league.”
Conference play isn’t that far away, and the Irish will open with a home game against No. 9 Duke. Notre Dame has just one game between now and then to figure things out.
Goal number one: closing.
The loss to the Buckeyes was embarrassing. Notre Dame held an eight point lead with just over a minute to play, and lost the game. The Irish (more specifically Grant) turned the ball over three times in that span, committed four fouls, and were 3-for-5 at the free throw line.
Eight of Ohio State’s 14 points in that final minute came from the free throw line. In a close game like that, with so little time to play, it is completely unacceptable to foul your opponent. It is essentially giving them free points that don’t waste clock. This team is too experienced to lose a game in this fashion.
Couple that with Grant leaving, and the Irish are in rough shape. Its going to take an exceptional job by Brey to keep this team competitive through the ACC. A loss like this can be symptomatic of larger issues, and might signal a collapse coming soon.
The ACC won’t get really rough for a few weeks, so there’s time to work the issues out and save the season.
Dec. 29th – Notre Dame vs Canisius, 5:00pm
The Golden Griffins will come into South Bend with an 8-4 record. While this game isn’t until Saturday, Brey won’t have all week to prep with Christmas break taking his players off campus. Canisius is a surprisingly good team, with some talented players. Its very likely that they will win the MAAC, or at least compete for it.
Per the Pomeroy ratings, they rank 145th in the country. Canisius features the 108th rated offense, but the 205th defense. They’re wins have come against a lot of weak teams, and even lost badly to Division-II Metro State.
Even without Grant, the Irish should be able to handle Canisius. Expect to see a more liberal rotation as Brey tries to find a combination that will help offset the loss of Grant.
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