HOOPS Preview: Notre Dame vs. Chicago State
NOTRE DAME (1-0, 0-0 ACC) VS. CHICAGO STATE (0-1, 0-0 WAC)
Where: Purcell Pavilion (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Rankings: Both teams are unranked.
TV/Time: ACC Network Extra, 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Notre Dame 106-55 on Nov. 16, 2017 (home).
Series: Notre Dame leads 5-0.
Notre Dame is back on the court tonight after beginning the 2018-2019 season with an 84-67 win on Tuesday over the University of Illinois-Chicago.
The Irish welcome Chicago State to Purcell Pavilion with the Cougars searching for their first win in the series between the two programs. Chicago State opened on Tuesday as well with a 104-55 loss to Indiana.
Before the Irish and Cougars square off this evening, Blue & Gold Illustrated previews both teams along with a prediction of the outcome.
NOTRE DAME OVERVIEW
How about those Irish freshmen?
The quartet of guards Robby Carmody, Dane Goodwin and Prentiss Hubb along with forward Nate Laszewski stole the show during Notre Dame’s win over UIC.
Laszewski led the way with 12 points and nine rebounds, both team-highs, while Carmody notched 11 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes earning the start to become the first Irish freshman to do so since Torin Francis (2002). Goodwin turned in 10 points and four rebounds. Hubb added five points on 2-of-3 shooting.
It was quite the impression for the group in the opener combining for 38 points in their first career action.
The Irish needed that spark offensively while junior guard TJ Gibbs (2-of-12 shooting) struggled from the floor getting nine points as did senior guard Rex Pflueger (five points on 1-of-6).
Junior forward John Mooney turned in a good opening performance with 10 points and eight rebounds while sophomore wing DJ Harvey added 10 points in his first action since going down with a knee injury last January.
Though they weren’t major factors offensively, senior forward Elijah Burns had six points (all free throws) and seven rebounds while junior forward Juwan Durham blocked six shots to go with six points in the win.
Notre Dame struggled a bit offensively shooting just 35.5 percent (22-of-62) and a dismal 18.2 percent (4-of-22) behind the arc. A 36-of-38 (94.7 percent) effort from the charity stripe helped mask any offensive woes.
Despite all that, the Irish essentially rolled in the win over the Flames with the 17-point margin of victory not accurately representing the entirety of the game.
Mike Brey and company will aim for a better performance offensively in tonight’s matchup.
There are a few questions heading for the Irish heading into this particular matchup. Can Gibbs and Pflueger get going in the backcourt? What does the freshmen show in game two? Will there be more of a consistent post presence inside offensively?
Thursday night would provide a good opportunity for the Irish to answer the first and last of that trio of questions positively.
CHICAGO STATE OVERVIEW
There is likely a very long road ahead for first-year Chicago State head coach Lance Irvin, who was hired in August.
The Cougars finished 3-29 year ago including 24-straight losses after starting 2-4, and the team’s top four scorers are all gone from a group that averaged just 67.8. The quartet made up over 60 percent of the offensive production.
Irvin will also be tasked with fixing a defense that gave up 86.1 points per game on average.
Chicago State opened the year with a 104-55 blowout loss at the hands of Indiana shooting 31.7 percent (19-of-60) and 23.8 percent behind the arc (5-of-21).
Senior guard Anthony Harris, who is the top scorer returning from last year, led the way with 14 points for the Cougars on 4-of-6 shooting. He averaged 5.8 points during the 2017-2018 season.
Fellow senior guard Delshon Strickland added 11 points and five rebounds to the cause while Rob Shaw, another senior guard, led the team with six assists to go with his three points (1-of-10 shooting). Shaw was ninth on the team last season averaging 4.4 points while Strickland was not on the roster.
Irvin started junior forward Christian Jacob and sophomore forward Cameron Bowles in the front court. The duo — with Jacob being the tallest at 6-foot-8 — contributed just five combined points. Bowles averaged 4.7 points last season. Jacob was also not on the roster.
Sophomore guard Travon Bell, who averaged 5.0 points as a freshman, was the top scorer off the bench with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-6 behind the arc. Senior forward Ken Odiase played just over three minutes on average in 14 contests a year ago, but went for five points and six rebounds in the loss to Indiana.
The rest of the bench that played — junior forward Patrick Szpir, sophomore big man Noah Bigirumwami and freshman guard Miles Oliver — combined for six points with Szpir having four alone.
There will be no easing into the season for Chicago State with the Irish next on the schedule. Can the Cougars bounce back in northern Indiana tonight and present a challenge to Notre Dame?
Notre Dame crushed the Cougars a year ago 105-66 and Irvin’s group could be facing a similar uphill battle. Chicago State will likely need to rely on its guard and namely Harris and Strickland to score points against the Irish.
Chicago State fell victim to 20 turnovers against the Hoosiers, and Irvin’s group will need to cut that number in half or more if they want a chance to upset the Irish. The Cougars will also need to improve its 5-of-21 efforts behind the arc as well.
Notre Dame 95, Chicago State 60
There’s really not much to say in this one. The Cougars are overmatched and this one will likely wind up very similar to their opener against Indiana.
I expect Brey to continue throwing out multiple lineups to find what works and spread the minutes around.
Notre Dame finds the basket a little more efficiently in this one and cruises to a 2-0 start to the season.