clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Previewing Notre Dame: Irish bring the nation's best offense to Raleigh

New, 15 comments
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 6:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 25

TV: ESPNU (Adam Amin, Brad Daugherty)

Online streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: Sirius/XM 91, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Notre Dame vitals

Record: 18-2 (6-1)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 12
RPI: No. 37
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 4
Best win: UNC (No. 7 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: Providence (No. 48 in Pomeroy Ratings)

Adjusted tempo: 63.9 poss/40 minutes (ranks 252nd)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 123.3 (ranks 1st)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 100.4 (ranks 154th)

Notre Dame @ StatSheet
Notre Dame roster
Notre Dame schedule
Notre Dame 2014 stats / 2015 stats

The Notre Dame offense and starters

Notre dame Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 51.7 (74) 15.9 (38) 32.1 (152) 30.0 (345)
2014-15 60.6 (1) 13.8 (2) 29.3 (232) 34.3 (246)

Mike Brey knows him some offense--when his Irish teams have had down years, it wasn't because they struggled to get buckets. Since 2002, Brey has had only two teams finish outside the top 50 in offensive efficiency, with none finishing below 54th. He's had a top-10 offense five times. (This season would be the sixth.)

The offense he has in 2015 might be the best he's ever had, which is saying something given his coaching history in South Bend. The Irish lead the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring an average of 1.23 points per possession. They lead the country in shooting and rank second in turnover rate. When you are that brilliant in those two offensive factors, the rest is details.

Jerian Grant's return from an academic setback that cost him most of last year is the driving force behind Notre Dame's improved production, but he has had a lot of support. Not a single member of the Irish's tight rotation has been a scoring liability. Not one danged guy in the rotation is shooting below 50% inside the arc. It is insanity.

Grant, Zach Auguste, Steve Vasturia, and Demetrius Jackson are all shooting over 60% inside the arc. So is the team as a whole, and they lead the nation in that respect. The numbers are so good in places that it's almost like there has to be some glitch or magic involved.

I mean, Jackson is only 6-1 and he's shooting 60% inside the arc? This is a damn lie! Mike Brey, you are a liar you lying liar man! How have you rejiggered all the basketballs such that they lie? SORCERY IS ILLEGAL IN THIS ORDERED BASKETBALL UNIVERSE, SIR.

In addition to leading the nation in two-point accuracy, the Irish are also ninth in three-point shooting at 40.9%. I think we can all agree that there clearly are wicked forces at work and that Notre Dame should be quarantined until America's brightest scientists have the opportunity to assess and grasp the obvious threats being posed to national security.

Starters

Jerian Grant (6-5, 204) -- Grant's career FT%/2FG%/3FG% split is 78.7/49.5/35.5, and while he is essentially matching those averages in the FT and three-point categories, he is easily on pace for a career-best effort inside the arc. If he's gonna keep making 60+ percent of his twos in league play, the Irish should stay in the mix for a regular season title. And he already has the dunk of the year.

Demetrius Jackson (6-1, 198) -- Jackson is hitting 42.9% of his three-pointers this season, and this doesn't look like a fluke since he was over 40% last year as well. The two-point shooting is the weird bit--he shot around 43% inside the arc last season, which seems a lot closer to normal for a short dude.

Steve Vasturia (6-5, 211) -- Like Jackson, Vasturia has seen his efficiency increase significantly as a sophomore. He was a bit of a liability in 2014, actually, despite a light workload. It's a much different story now, though he's maintaining the light workload.

Pat Connaughton (6-5, 218) -- Connaughton's professional future likely lies on the baseball diamond, but for now he'll settle for being an excellent college basketball player. He is shooting a career-high 45.5% from three and leads the team with 123 attempts--so about a half dozen per game. Connaughton is also the best defensive rebounder on the roster, despite his size.

Zach Auguste (6-10, 242) -- Auguste has assumed a larger workload offensively than anybody else, which is surprising but seems to be working out okay for everyone involved. He is an outstanding offensive rebounder and a good defensive rebounder as well. Fouls can be an issue for him, as he averages 4.3 per 40 minutes.

The Notre Dame bench and defense

Reserves: V.J. Beachem (6-8, 200), Bonzie Colson (6-5, 226), Austin Torres (6-7, 228), Martinas Geben (6-9, 255). In ACC games, only Beachem and Colson are averaging double-digit minutes off the bench. Grant and Connaughton have both been going for 39+ on average. The inexperience of this bench group (two freshmen, plus a sophomore who didn't play last season) has the Irish in a difficult spot, but fortunately for them, they are the least foul-prone team in the nation.

Beachem isn't shy about taking shots while he's on the floor, and he's 29-63 from three-point range. Aside from him, I wouldh't expect much from the reserves.

Notre Dame Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 51.4 (249) 16.8 (264) 30.1 (112) 32.1 (29)
2014-15 45.7 (65) 17.8 (271)
29.4 (98) 21.9 (1)

Brey's history on the offensive side is really impressive, but his history at the defensive end is not so pristine. Notre Dame's defensive fingerprint is pretty well defined by now. It's always safe to assume that the Irish won't force a lot of turnovers or commit many fouls. Sometimes their interior defense is good enough to actually qualify as a strength, though more often than not, it's lacking.

The Irish are doing a good job forcing opponents to miss two-point attempts (they rank 50th nationally in opponents' 2FG%), but that's about all they've got to stand on. Their defensive rebounding has been poor in league play--they're 13th in DR%--and they also rank among the bottom third in TO%.

Their interior defense and foul avoidin' has only gotten them so far in conference games, though--eighth in the league in defensive efficiency. If opponents start making more twos, the Irish are really going to be hurtin'. But that's what their elite offense is there for, right? Every night, they're capable of overcoming a poor defensive effort.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes the Irish by one.