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NC State tries to get back on track against struggling Notre Dame

The Irish ain’t quite what they used to be.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Mike Brey farewell tour is officially underway, though that’s unlikely to make the remainder of the season any more pleasant for Notre Dame. Brey could be looking at anywhere from 1-4 plaques honoring him on his way out, so he’s got that going for him.

But everybody else on the team? They’re gonna have to continue living this basketball pain, without any presents. Doesn’t seem fair.

Notre Dame is 1-8 in league play and has lost three straight, including consecutive home losses by double figures to Florida State and Boston College. The only league win came against Georgia Tech in overtime. The Irish probably won’t be favored in more than one game the rest of the way.

Notre Dame in 2023

... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 109.1 (83) 53.1 (60) 14.0 (3) 20.0 (353) 50.9 (142) 37.3 (32)
Defense 108.4 (274) 52.6 (283) 14.0 (359) 25.7 (72) 53.2 (297) 34.3 (204)

If you just squint, the usual shape of a Mike Brey team is there: offense the strength, defense the liability. Problem is that this edition of the Irish has redefined “strength” and “liability,” and neither in a good way.

The defense fell off a cliff, going from 69th in efficiency last year to 274th this season. Brey’s teams never force turnovers, which is only survivable to the extent those teams can actually force missed shots. This year, slight problem: they can’t defend the paint. There’s no rim protection to discourage opponents from venturing into the lane, and ACC opponents are shooting 56.5% on twos. Giving up a lot of field goal attempts and also a lot of field goal attempts that go in—bad combo, can’t recommend it.

Offensively, the Irish still bring plenty of cause for worry, because as usual, they don’t lack shooters. Five guys are at 35% or better from three, including three over 40%. And they take a lot of threes.

Up front, Nate Laszewski (6’10, 230) is having a great season: 66% on twos, 42% on threes. He’s also an 88% free throw shooter. He scored 29 points their last time out, going 7-9 from beyond the arc.

Dane Goodwin (6’6, 214) hasn’t been quite as good as he was last season but remains a serious threat from three. Niagara transfer Marcus Hammond (6’4, 188) has also been excellent from outside.

Notre Dame’s efficiency has been hindered somewhat by the fact that freshman JJ Starling (6’4, 200) has the team’s highest workload but is shooting a modest 46.9% on twos and 31.5% on threes.

If the Irish get it rolling from deep, they can hang around, but with second chance opportunities and trips to the free throw line both rare occurrences, there’s a lot of pressure on those jumpers to fall.

KenPom likes NC State by 13.