Takeaways from Irish Hoops Exhibition

The Irish defeated the Central State Marauders 76-54 at Purcell Pavilion on Thursday night in their only stateside exhibition. While the game was sloppy at times, especially in the first half, the contest provided a first look at a number of new faces for ND. Although the team will look different come conference play, we did get a few insights into this year’s squad. TJ Gibbs, as expected, led the team in minutes and points. Rex Pflueger was just behind Gibbs in minutes, and played his typical excellent defense. Since no one wants to read a play-by-play recap of a ho-hum win over a D-II school, here’s a few key takeaways from the game.

New Faces in the Starting Lineup

With the departure of Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell, and Martinas Geben, the Irish were guaranteed to look different this year. While we knew Pflueger and Gibbs were guaranteed to be starters, no one was really sure how the rest of the lineup would shake out. To begin the season, DJ Harvey, John Mooney, and Prentiss Hubb will round out the starting lineup. In the second half, Juwan Durham replaced Mooney. Both lineups feature a single big surrounded by four guards. When Mooney plays, all five players are viable three point threats. The offensive potential of this group is off the charts, despite some question marks on defense. Harvey flashed all the athletic potential we saw early last season, and he looks to be 100% back from injury. Mooney was super efficient scoring 11 points on 5/7 shooting. Also of note is that Gibbs and Hubb split PG duties. While TJ usually brought the ball up and initiated the offense, he occasionally moved to the two and allowed Hubb to run the show.

The Freshmen Can Play

The much hyped Irish recruiting class made their first appearance, and looked like they belonged. Hubb didn’t look out of place with the starters, and has a natural calm about his game. Robby Carmody and Nate Laszewski were among the first two subs to enter the game. Dane Goodwin reached double digits scoring. The only freshman not to play significant minutes was Chris Doherty who many believe will take a redshirt. While Hubb and Laz played the most minutes, Goodwin and Carmody were probably the most impressive freshmen last night. They combined for 19 points on 7/10 shooting. Both guys knocked down a three, got to the rim, drew fouls, and snagged a few boards. Goodwin even threw down a dunk on a fast break. Both guys look to be ahead of Nik Djogo in Brey’s pecking order. While there’s not a ton of guard/wing minutes available, both will be hard to keep on the bench if they continue to impress.

What to Make of Juwan Durham

Unlike the freshmen, Juwan Durham struggled a bit in his first action with the Irish. Although he did play solid defense at the rim, his offensive game left a bit to be desired. Durham was blocked or stripped in the post by some smaller guys which doesn’t bode well for future matchups against ACC bigs. Durham did have some nice put-back dunks (see the photo above) and grabbed six boards in just 14 minutes, but you’d like to see a 6’11” center dominate a bit more against this level of opponent.

Shooting Woes Continue from Last Season

The Irish were uncharacteristically bad shooting from deep last season, and the Irish struggled last night. As a whole, the Irish shot just 8/29 (27.6%) from behind the arc. Laszweski shot just 1/6 from three. Harvey also shot a poor 1/4 from deep. That said, it’s definitely too early and way too small a sample size to cause a panic. Most misses were good looks that rimmed out. Laszweki’s stoke looks fantastic, and he has a lightning quick release. Harvey also knocked down a few mid-range jumpers, so the potential for good three point shooting is there. On the positive side, Gibbs shot a solid 3/8 and Mooney made his only three pointer. Lastly, the free throw shooting was off compared to the last few seasons. The Irish shot 12/19 (63.1%) compared to the 75.8% effort last season and 80.0% the year before that. Again, one game is a tiny sample size, but it may be something to watch going forward.

Looking Ahead to the Regular Season

Mike Brey’s team kicks off the regular season on Tuesday night when they host Illinois-Chicago. In case you missed it, part one of the 18 Stripes season preview dropped yesterday. Part two will drop Tuesday morning before the game. While none of the first five games should be competitive, hopefully we’ll get a clearer look at the rotations, see the freshmen keep balling out, and the Irish will improve their shooting.

By |2018-11-02T09:06:45+00:00November 2nd, 2018|18S Reads, Basketball|5 Comments

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kevreyJoe SchuellerPaddyMikeyBHitman Recent comment authors
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Thanks for the update. I am going into this year with lowered expectations, hoping to be pleasantly surprised.


Durham reminds me, in a weird way, of early years Geben. He’s got no offensive game to speak of, and he looks a step behind where he should be on just about every offensive play. But he was working hard and taking up space. I still hope he becomes senior-year Auguste at some point down the road, but he’s clearly going to be a work in progress this year. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Burns get more minutes than him early on (directly in contrast to what I was hoping before this game).

Goodwin is way more athletic than I was led to believe. I thought he’d be ahead of Carmody in shooting but behind in athleticism. Obviously we’ll see how he plays against real competition, but he’s definitely athletic enough to get real burn as more than just a Matt Ryan-esque shooter off the bench.

Harvey at the 4 is a fun option. This team is going to have trouble defending some of the bigger, freakishly athletic ACC teams (hi Duke), so why not try to outscore them? I think Brey has the right idea here. Mooney and Durham are gonna give up a ton of points in the ACC, but will teams end up downshifting to counter the Irish attack when Mooney and Durham are knocking down open looks from the outside?

Hubb’s ceiling is super high. It’s going to take a long time to get there, but man can he move. He’s gonna take some time adjusting to this level of competition, especially after missing a full year, but Brey is gonna give him plenty of minutes to learn, right away.

TJ can shoot. He hit at least 2 from NBA range last night. But his form is so unconventional, almost like he’s shot-putting it up there. I think if he had a normal shooting form, there would be NBA teams interested in him in the 1st round after this year. I guess that’s fortunate for us, as I think he’s very likely to be back next season. But I do hope he gets a real NBA shot somewhere, because I think he can play in the league.


TJ’s shot is a little weird, but he’s a guy where every time he releases the ball from deep, I think it’s going in. He’s truly become a great shooter. With respect to his NBA potential, I’d be worried about his ability to finish at the rim in the league. He struggled there as a freshman, and that adjustment would obviously be even greater against pros. Beyond that, he brings so many good things that I really hope he gets a shot too (after staying with us next year of course).

Joe Schueller

I’m a little disappointed that either:
a) Durham didn’t spend the summer setting a million ball screens to get to Kurz-level effectiveness. At a minimum, get to late-career Auguste.
b) He did spend the summer doing that and just can’t do it.

There was appallingly few ball screens in the segments I’ve been able to watch so far.


IMO it is a bad assumption to believe the next 5 games will not be competitive. The only team in the next 5 that on paper is bad is Chicago State (they are always bad).

UIC- has some solid returning players and should be a factor to win the Horizon League. They are likely better than the DePaul team ND played to open last season.

William & Mary also returns some very good scorers and should be a factor in the Colonial League. They are awful defensively, so this should be a high scoring game.

Radford is the favorite to win the Big South conference. They have some good athletes and they will defend.

Duquense should be a middle of the pack A10 team. They return 2 talented 14 ppg scorers and are adding several transfers. Their coach (Keith Dambrot) is in his second year after a very successful stint at Akron.

As far as tomato cans, 3 of the 4 will likely be their last 3 OOC games.

vs UIC
4:00 PM
vs CHS
4:00 PM
vs RAD
4:00 PM
vs WM
9:00 AM
vs DUQ
4:00 PM
vs DEP
9:00 AM
vs ILL
4:00 PM
4:00 PM
@ 21 UCLA
7:30 PM
vs 24 PUR
10:30 AM
4:00 PM
vs JAC
4:00 PM
9:00 AM