Notes: Notre Dame power forward Bonzie Colson a marked ACC man

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

 This is what college basketball life is like now that he's no longer tucked somewhere inside the other team’s scouting report.

Now near the top and someone teams need to neutralize, Notre Dame power forward Bonzie Colson understands it’s not always going to seem so easy.

Not for the guy who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in double-doubles for points and rebounds with 11. Not for the guy who enters the weekend ranked 14th in the league in scoring at a career- and team-high 15.5, first in rebounding (10.7) and fourth for foul shooting (85.7).

Days when Colson sneaks up on unsuspecting opponents are done. Everyone knows where No. 35 is and what he likes to do around the rim. That makes his junkyard-dog job that much harder.

Colson scored a season-low eight points in last week’s win at Miami (Fla.). In Wednesday’s loss at No. 10 Florida State, he had nine.

“You’ve got to play a little more patiently,” he said. “You can’t let it take you out of your game, still look for your opportunities.

“You have to lead and rebound.”

And do it against length and size. The 6-foot-5 Colson had to do it last week against Miami and the last game against Florida State. He’ll have to do it again Saturday for No. 15 Notre Dame (16-3; 5-1 ACC) in a sold-out home game against Syracuse.

That’s life in the ACC.

“I just have to find other ways to put the ball through the rim and just relax,” Colson said. “Not get overwhelmed with it and continue to rebound, don’t let that get me out of my game.”

Second in the ACC in defensive rebounding at 7.42, Colson could use some help. Many times Wednesday, the best offensive option for the Seminoles was a missed shot. Notre Dame allowed 11 offensive rebounds that turned into 14 second-chance points.

“It’s the fundamentals of boxing out and not taking plays off on that end,” he said. “It can’t be one of us, can’t be two of us. It’s all of us crashing.

“That’s something we have to be more attention to detail against these bigger teams.”

Taking a fifth

Senior power forward Austin Torres talked in the fall about the options that awaited come spring when he graduates with a degree from the Mendoza College of Business.

Torres, who sat out his freshman season to grow his game and preserve a year of eligibility, thought about taking his next step in several directions. He might return to Notre Dame for his final year of eligibility or look at another school where he would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer. He could enter the working world. He also told the Tribune that he had toyed with the idea of possibly playing Division I college football.

It was a decision he would make in the spring. But Torres couldn’t wait.

On Thursday, during Mike Brey’s weekly radio show, the coach announced that Torres would return for his final year in 2017-18.

The two met for breakfast earlier this week to finalize Torres’ fifth-year plan. Brey called it the “easiest decision and discussion” he’s ever had with a player who has a fifth-year option.

While pursuing his MBA, Torres will join a senior class that will include current junior starters Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell and Martinas Geben. Brey said Thursday he envisions Torres as a team captain next season.

Heading into Saturday, Torres is averaging 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in a career-high 8.1 minutes. He’s usually the eighth man in and the first big off the bench. Torres scored a season-high eight points in eight minutes in last week’s win at Miami (Fla.).

“I think Torres is playing the best of his career right now,” Brey said earlier this week of the Penn High product. “I’m thrilled with how he’s playing.”

Rivers honor

A program that has had a steady string of really good point guards play for Brey in each of his 17 seasons will honor arguably the greatest to ever play the position for the Irish.

David Rivers will enter the school’s Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. He will be the first point guard publicly recognized as one of the program’s elite.

Rivers, who turned 52 on Friday, still ranks in the Top 10 of nine categories. He’s third in free throws made (583), fourth in attempts (717), fourth in steals (201), fifth for assists (586) and sixth in starts (116) and points scored (2,058).

A 6-foot, 170-pounder from Jersey City, N.J., Rivers was a four-year starter who led the Irish in assists, scoring and steals in each of his four seasons.

Rivers joins an Irish men’s basketball ring that includes former coach Digger Phelps and players Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley, Luke Harangody, Tom Hawkins and Troy Murphy, who was inducted last winter.

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Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson (35) has seen more defenders run his way in two of the last three Atlantic Coast Conference games. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)