Skip to content

Eric Atkins, Notre Dame beat No. 7 Duke, turn around their season?

Jan 4, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT

source:

For the first time in 19 games against former assistant coaches, Mike Krzyzewski has been beaten.

And while it isn’t necessarily a surprise that it was Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey that did it, it is a surprise that it happened this season.

The Fighting Irish were dealt a bad hand last month when it was announced that leading scorer Jerian Grant would be leaving school for the second semester due to an academic issue. That left a Notre Dame team that had been struggling with Grant in the lineup shorthanded, and the fact that they were taken to overtime by Canisius in their first game in the post-Jerian era was not exactly promising.

But if there is anything that Brey has proven that he’s capable of doing, it’s overcoming adversity on his roster. And on Saturday, his Irish used a late 20-4 run to turn a 60-50 deficit into a 70-64 lead in their 79-77 win over the Blue Devils.

Eric Atkins led the way for the Irish, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists while completely dominating the game on the offensive end of the floor. There really isn’t any other way to put it. He’s averaging 24.5 points and 9.0 assists in the two games without Grant.

He’s not alone, however. Pat Connaughton finished with 16 points — including a pair of momentum-changing dunks late in the second half — while Garrick Sherman chipped in with 14 points and eight boards, helping the Irish to control the paint against the smaller Blue Devils. Austin Burgett (five boards, five blocks) provided energy off the bench while Steve Vasturia (3-for-5 from three) came in and helped stretch the floor.

Put it all together, and what you get is Notre Dame’s biggest win of the season.

By far.

Remember, this is a team that lost to Indiana State and North Dakota State at home, that choked away an eight point lead in 51 seconds against Ohio State at the Garden. This is a team that had been written off as a contender in the ACC before the lost Grant for the year. But the Irish made a statement on Saturday afternoon. They’re not going to roll over and die just because a couple of pundits said they would.

This isn’t the first time that Brey has had to manufacture a turnaround. Remember when Luke Harangody injured his knee in 2010 and the Irish were forced to turn to the ‘Burn Offense’? That turned their season around, and they won their last six regular season games before making the NCAA tournament. Or what about in 2012, when Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL and the Irish still managed to win 13 Big East games?

Are the Irish really back?

Is this group actually going to be able to win against the best in the ACC once teams have a chance to scout and game-plan what they do without Grant?

Who knows.

But the bottom-line is that writing off the Irish — writing off Mike Brey — is never a good idea.

Latest Posts
  1. Former Nevada forward Cole Huff free to transfer to non-Mountain West schools in southern California

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    huff AP

    The number of schools that former Nevada forward Cole Huff is prohibited from transferring to has been cut down to 38 following an appeals hearing Thursday.

  2. Cincinnati, Creighton among eight teams in inaugural Emerald Coast Classic

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT

    cronin AP

    NCAA tournament participants Cincinnati, Creighton and North Carolina Central part of eight-team field in inaugural Emerald Coast Classic.

  3. Order of protection filed against former Missouri F Zach Price thrown out

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:16 PM EDT

    Missouri_Tigers

    The order of protection filed against former Missouri forward Zach Price by Earnest Ross was thrown out Thursday.

  4. Green Bay, head coach Brian Wardle agree to new five-year contract

    Apr 17, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    wardle AP

    After leading Green Bay to a 24-win season, head coach Brian Wardle’s been rewarded with a new five-year contract.

  5. Gonzaga adds forward Domantas Sabonis to solid 2014 recruiting haul

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    Mark Few AP

    Gonzaga’s added a fourth member to its 2014 recruiting class, with the son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis making his pledge to join the program.

  6. Houston duo still looking to be released from respective scholarships

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    Former Houston players Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas met with an appeals committee Thursday in hopes of getting released from their respective scholarships.

  7. Report: Rodney Hood to enter the NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Rodney Hood Getty Images

    Rodney Hood is following Jabari Parker to the league.

  8. Reports: Missouri’s Frank Haith agrees to take the Tulsa job

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    haith AP

    Is Frank Haith getting out of Missouri before they kick him out?

  9. Kentucky’s James Young to enter the NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky is still waiting to hear from four players on their NBA decision.

  10. Report: Jordan Adams to return to UCLA

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

    Jordan Adams

    UCLA will be a contender in the Pac-12 next season with Jordan Adams returning to school.

  11. Are the Harrison twins leaning towards returning to school?

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    With less than stellar reviews from NBA folks, might the Harrisons be leaning towards a return to Lexington?

  12. Jabari Parker is headed to the NBA

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker will be a top three pick in the draft.

  13. Former Murray State guard Zay Jackson headed to Southeastern Louisiana

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Jacksons path from Murray State to Southeastern Louisiana is wild.

  14. Ahmed Hill released from his National Letter of Intent to Marquette

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Hill wrote a nice note to Marquette fans to thank them.

  15. #UMassUnited: Thousands show to support Derrick Gordon during Westboro Baptist Church protest

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo via MassLive.com Photo via MassLive.com

    Five protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at UMass on Wednesday. 1,500 students rallied in response.

  16. Michigan guard Caris LeVert to return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    levert Getty Images

    Caris LeVert reiterated his decision to return to Michigan for his junior year at the team’s postseason banquet Wednesday.

  17. Report: New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    Sim Bhullar, Barndon Ashley AP

    According to a report, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro.

  18. USC guard Byron Wesley to transfer for final season of eligibility

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Byron Wesley, Jarett Upchurch AP

    After leading USC in scoring last season, Byron Wesley announced that he’ll be transferring after graduating this summer.

  19. Arizona State guard Jahii Carson officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    carson AP

    Arizona State’s Jahii Carson made official the news that’s been known since October: he’ll be entering the 2014 NBA Draft.

  20. Former Northwestern wing Kale Abrahamson transferring to Drake

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

    Kale Abrahamson AP

    Former Northwestern guard/forward Kale Abrahamson will finish out his career in his home state.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'