Opportunity Awaits Notre Dame With UCLA In Town
Notre Dame has already been through a bit of a roller coaster this season, but the next week presents the Irish with a chance to gain some serious momentum heading into conference play.
After a competitive season-opening loss at then ninth-ranked North Carolina, Notre Dame ripped off six straight home wins. The Irish were dominant in its first two wins, but they were sloppy in wins over Marshall and Presbyterian, and overtime was needed to defeat Toledo.
A road loss at then No. 3 Maryland was expected, but the home loss to Boston College that followed was devastating. Notre Dame bounced back with a convincing win over Detroit Mercy, but the Titans are just 1-8.
But we saw a spark against Detroit Mercy; we saw an Irish offense that was snapping the ball around the court, was attacking the basket and was filled with shooters that were confident with their strokes. Was it an aberration, a bright spot against a bad team, or was it a sign of things to come?
Head coach Mike Brey sounded dejected after his team’s loss to Boston College, and it was clear he knew his team needed a shake up. The victory over Detroit Mercy was a good first step, but we’ll see just how much that message sunk in and resonated with his players over the next two Saturdays.
Wins over the next two weeks could start to give the 2019-20 season a much different feel.
Today, Notre Dame hosts the UCLA Bruins (7-3) and first-year coach Mick Cronin. UCLA has the same record as the Irish, but all three of its losses (Hofstra, BYU, Michigan State) have been by double digits.
UCLA presents some matchup problems for Notre Dame with their length and athleticism, but the Bruins have struggled on the defensive end of the court. Of course, Notre Dame’s offense has sputtered for much of the season. If Notre Dame is as active, aggressive and confident on offense against the Bruins as they were against Detroit Mercy this is certainly a game they can win.
A victory this afternoon would provide the Irish with a much-needed confidence boost. This isn’t a vintage UCLA team, but it’s still UCLA, and right now this is a Notre Dame basketball team in major need of a mental boost.
That confidence will be needed when Notre Dame next takes the court, which is next Saturday when it faces Indiana (10-1) in the Crossroads Classic. Archie Miller’s squad is 10-1 and already owns an 80-64 over then No. 17-ranked Florida State.
If Notre Dame is able to win its next two games it will have only Alabama A&M left on its non-conference schedule. Going into ACC play on a four-game win-streak with victories over UCLA and Indiana would show the lessons from the losses to Maryland and Boston College have been learned and applied.