Notre Dame Rolls Robert Morris 92-57
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said Saturday after his team’s thorough 92-57 dismantling of Robert Morris that the Irish coaching staff wanted to see something slightly different offensively in this game compared to the first three — a couple of exhibition wins and an 11-point loss Wednesday at North Carolina.
In those first three games, the Irish were forcing — and not making — their three-point shots, going only 16-of-67 as a team (24 percent).
Taking a slightly different approach Saturday, especially in the first half, Notre Dame built its offense around a greater emphasis on interior play, and the improved results were dramatic, in both shooting percentage and free-throw production.
The Irish (1-1) outscored the Colonials (0-2) 30-16 in the paint. They shot 23-of-32 (72 percent) on two-pointers and 22-of-25 (88 percent) from the foul line in what was a solid and balanced performance.
“We are trying to drive it a little bit more,” Brey said immediately after the win. “And we have drivers, so driving was part of it.”
Sophomore guard Dane Goodwin paced the Irish with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Senior guard T.J Gibbs added 15 points and sophomore guards Prentiss Hubb and Robby Carmody both added 13.
Five Irish players scored in double figures and seven had eight points or more.
“We really wanted to have that balance. That way everybody is getting involved,” Goodwin said. “We did a good job of that today. That’s really something we can build on moving forward because that balance is going to be a big part of our team success this season.”
Senior forward John Mooney rebounded from a tough shooting day against North Carolina with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his first of what is expected to be many double-doubles this season.
Notre Dame took control of this game with a 15-0 run that carried over from the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half.
“Just like we did today, we had a lot of good shots against North Carolina also,” Carmody said. “They just weren’t falling there. I think we shot the ball more confidently today and it made a big difference.”
The emphasis on interior scoring was evident from tip-off and through the first half when the Irish built a comfortable 39-20 lead at the break.
Through the first 20 minutes, Notre Dame shot 13-of-17 (76 percent) on its two-point attempts and only 2-of-10 from three-point range (20-percent).
The great interior work for Notre Dame in the first half freed up the Irish backcourt to launch and hit more threes in the second half.
Gibbs ended up 4-of-8 shooting threes and Hubb went 5-of-8 from behind the arc. For the season, these two are a combined 15-of-26 three-point shooting.
*Some Needed Support
In 39 minutes against North Carolina, the four non-starting members of the Irish sophomore class — Goodwin, Carmody, forward Nate Laszewski, and guard Chris Doherty — combined for 4-of-19 shooting, 0-for-11 three-pointers, 11 points and nine rebounds, almost all of that production coming late in the second half during mop-up minutes.
This group was much better Saturday.
Goodwin had his 18 and Carmody his 13. Forward Nate Laszewski also added nine points and eight rebounds.
“We looked a little older,” Brey said. “They looked like they belonged today. This crew looks like it belongs and I really want to build on that.”
*More On The Three
Remarkably, through the first 35 minutes played in the 40 total minutes of the first two regular-season games, Hubb and Gibbs were the only two Irish players to make a three-point shot this season, and this wasn’t because the others weren’t trying.
With five minutes left in the game against Robert Morris, everybody not named Gibbs or Hubb was a combined 0-for-23.
Goodwin finally broke that unthinkable drought with a made three-pointer at the five-minute mark of the second half.
A commitment to easy shots and some solid interior passing — and an obvious size advantage — allowed Notre Dame to have its way around the rim against the Colonials.
The Irish had 11 layups and three dunks, and also won the rebounding battle 41-28.
Notre Dame will continue its six-game homestead Tuesday against Howard University. The Bison finished 17-17 last season.
The Irish non-conference schedule gets interesting after that with four straight home games in 12 days — Marshall (Nov. 15), Presbyterian (Nov. 18), Toledo (Nov. 21) and Fairleigh Dickinson (Nov. 26) — against teams that all won at least 20 games last season.