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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Three observations from Notre Dame men’s basketball’s win against Hanover

The Notre Dame basketball team comes together before their game against Florida State on Jan. 17, 2023.

On Wednesday night, the Shrewsberry era officially kicked off as Notre Dame men’s basketball hosted Hanover College (D-III) in an exhibition match. Notre Dame head coach Micah Shrewsberry inherits a very young team. The few upperclassmen that return have not played meaningful minutes in past years. For fans, the hopes, plans and assumptions for this season are up in the air. Nevertheless, Shrewsberry made three things clear on Wednesday night:

1. The Irish will rely on freshmen

To start, unfortunate for Zona-advocates, Micah Shrewsberry made it very clear that the majority of minutes will go to young players, primarily freshman guards Markus Burton, Braeden Shrewberry and Logan Imes. Forward Matt Zona and junior guard J.R. Konieczny saw the floor as well, but the team seems ready to rely on them for supporting roles.

2. The Irish will get blown out a few times

Notre Dame mostly played a loose man defense, letting Hanover shoot the ball from deep. This worked against Hanover, a team that shot 15% from the three-point line in the first half. However, this won’t work against some of the Irish’s tougher opponents, such as Duke and Miami. The Irish have some promise in the backcourt, and so Shrewsberry’s focus, reasonably, is to put all of the team’s defensive resources into defending the paint. Consequently, teams can shoot from deep without being guarded closely. Every half second that a college-level player has to set up for a three increases their chance of making the shot. From what we saw against Hanover, the Irish seem willing to take that risk. The strategy won’t work if a team — or even a particular player — is on fire from deep.

3. The Irish will play fun, conservative basketball

Markus Burton and Braeden Shrewsberry are fun players, and for fans like myself, it will be entertaining to see their development. Like most young players, Burton and Shrewsberry are volatile and will make mistakes. Some coaches lean into this volatility, rolling with a high-powered, fast offense. However, Micah Shrewsberry made it clear that his team will not.

In his postgame press conference, Shrewsberry stated:

“I want to play with great pace. That doesn’t mean we’re playing at a breakneck speed.”

Unlike the Notre Dame women’s team, the Irish will not look to the press or fast break as a primary source for points. Instead, look for the team to utilize a lot of motion in their offense, specifically cuts and off-ball screens. Turnovers will kill this team, so Shrewsberry’s system plans to avoid them at all costs.

Next Up

Notre Dame starts the regular season Monday night at home against Niagara. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. EST on ACCNX and ESPN+.

For those attending the game, the first 3,000 fans will receive a “Welcome to the Shrews Crew” Rally Towel. Additionally, early-arriving students can claim their 2023-2024 fan shirt, compliments of the Leprechaun Legion, the student fanbase organization.

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