Consistency next objective for Notre Dame men's basketball

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Bad week for the Eagles: First Glenn Frey, then this.

Notre Dame, with its best player tied behind its back, still demolished Boston College 76-49 in a Saturday college basketball matinee.

The Irish were determined not to be hamstrung by Demetrius Jackson’s injury as they pursued their fifth ACC win.

There’s a trend developing; a positive trend, like when gas prices tank and the stock market is bullish, all on the same day.

Since the “Hey, maybe we can be pretty good” victory over Duke, Notre Dame has taken positive steps against Virginia Tech and B.C.

Next on the Irish agenda is to develop consistency; something they can bank on night in and night out.

Now that they have an idea of how to finish a tough game (Virginia Tech) and how to mash a team that’s mashable (B.C.), they have to figure out how to do it on a regular basis.

Easier said than done, especially with a trip to Syracuse Thursday to tangle with the dastardly Orange zone and the cavern they call the Carrier Dome.

Remember, Notre Dame is just a month removed from the feeling of despair that comes with allowing Indiana to find life during a game that was evolving toward certain Irish victory.

That just shows how fragile a season can be. Once on the precipice anticipating a free-fall, Notre Dame has regained its footing and is heading into the meat of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with a chance.

The only way that opportunity turns into wins is via consistency. More than just a popular phrase for coaches to prod or lament, there is a tangible side to the concept.

“One of the things we needed to do today … was defend for 40 minutes,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “Our defensive numbers are excellent.”

That breaks down to allowing the Eagles to shoot 28.6 (16 of 56) from the field, forcing B.C. to turn the ball over 12 times, and winning the battle of the boards, 36-33.

Of course, the only way to guarantee that happens more often is to try to schedule Boston College a couple more times this year. Maybe replace Syracuse and Carolina.

“Our (season defensive) numbers (giving up 70.3 points and 43 percent shooting heading into Saturday’s game) are still not acceptable overall,” said Brey, who tried to coerce his student body Leprechaun Legion to the early game by buying $500 worth of donuts for them. “But, can this get us trending defensively? Offensively, we’ve got that handled.

“It’s defensive improvement. We had to do it for 40 minutes, no matter who we played. Hopefully we can grow off that.”

It’s that mentality that is resonating through the Irish veterans. They realize what’s left to be accomplished through the grind that lasts into March.

“The most important thing is consistency,” said guard Steve Vasturia. “Today we did a great job playing for 40 minutes. A lot of games we haven’t. It starts with our habits in practice and in the game.

“This week, we’ve got three or four days of practice before we play again. It’s just with people coming in (to practice) being focused and wanting to get better.”

“We have a great individual effort, you lock in; that makes us great collectively,” said big man Zach Auguste. “If we do our part individually, collectively we’re hard to stop.

“It all starts in practice – be aggressive, do it every day. It starts from the time we wake up. We know what it takes. We’ve been there last year.”

Only way to get that magic back is to be consistent. Starting Thursday.