FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame coach Mike Brey isn’t going to panic after his basketball team lost its third game, falling to North Dakota State 73-69 on Wednesday.
Instead, Brey said Thursday the Irish (7-3) will just try to rediscover what works for them when they play Indiana (8-2) at 3:15 p.m. Saturday in the Crossroad Classic in Indianapolis. Purdue (8-2) will play Butler (7-2) in the Classic’s night game.
We are not going to overreact or reinvent the wheel here, Brey said. I told them after the game last night take (shots), don’t turn them down. I thought we turned down a couple because we haven’t seen any go in in a while. I think that is something as an individual player who is a good shooter, you kind of work through. It is kind of the up and down of the season.
The Irish had their lowest offensive output against the Bison as they only hit 35.7 percent (20 for 56) of their shots.
Brey said the team has been out of rhythm offensively since going 8 of 28 from the floor (28.6 percent) in the second half of a 70-59 win over Bryant on Monday. The Irish shot 40 percent (22 of 55) for the game against the Bulldogs.
Notre Dame was shooting 50.2 percent from the floor before the last two games.
I think a lot of it is having a good practice (today), guard Pat Connaughton said of the Irish getting their offensive rhythm back after playing three games in the last five days. We haven’t been able to have a full practice in a while.
Notre Dame will also need guard Jerian Grant to put an uncharacteristic night behind him as it moves forward.
The senior guard, who averages a team-high 18.7 points, went 0 for 5 from the field and got all nine of his points at the free-throw line against the Bison. That performance came after Grant scored 25 in an 80-75 win over Delaware on Saturday and 23 against Bryant.
It’s one game, said Grant, who has led the Irish in scoring in seven out of 10 games. It wasn’t like I was 0 for 15 or 0 for 12 or something like that; it was only five shots.
And the Irish want to use Saturday and next week’s game against No. 3 Ohio State (9-0) in Madison Square Garden as big opportunities to turn around the nonconference part of their schedule.
With loses to Indiana State and Iowa, Notre Dame players know getting wins over two Big Ten teams will help the Irish’s case to make the NCAA tournament.
Our veteran guys have been good bounce back guys, Brey said. We just have to bounce back a little bit more early than ever before. We have two great opportunities here before Christmas with what has happened to us early in the season.
You could really even the ledger quickly with these two.