Dec. 11, 2016
Irish Enjoy Early Success thanks to Beachem, Offense
After the loss of Zach Auguste and Demetrious Jackson, many wrote Notre Dame's 2016-2017 season off as one for rebuilding. However, Bonzie Colson, V.J. Beachem, and Steve Vasturia have returned from last year's starting lineup to lead the Irish to an electric 7 game win streak to start the season.
The Irish have relied heavily on their veteran leadership so far, seniors Beachem and Vasturia and junior Colson have been the three highest scorers. Senior guard Matt Farrell is the facilitator of the team, averaging 6 assists a game. In regards to youth, the Irish will look to sophomores Rex Phlueger and Matt Ryan to carry some weight.
Notre Dame is playing an exciting brand of basketball this season. Bonzie Colson is gaining national respect for his gritty play in the post, despite his six-foot-five foot stature. He prides himself on being a legitimate scoring threat both in the post and from mid range. Steve Vasturia is a dual threat with his shooting and driving ability. He can knock down an open three just as easily as a contested layup, which makes him a dangerous asset on the wing. The real superstar this year for Notre Dame is V.J. Beachem. After breaking out during the tournament last season, he's already made his name known this season after a thunderous dunk he threw down against Colorado went viral on twitter. He is a deadly shooter. Last season, he shot 44% from three, sinking 88 of them throughout the season. His athleticism makes him a serious play maker, and a dangerous weapon for Coach Brey.
So far this season, Notre Dame has not been tested too heavily. The lone challenge they have faced was Iowa, who they handled easily, winning 92-78. The Irish faced another Big 10 team as well, Northwestern, who they defeated 70-66. The Irish's exciting offense has resulted in an abundance of points. They have broken 90 three times this season. The statistical leader for the Irish is Bonzie Colson, who's leading the scoring and rebounding categories with, averaging 18 and 10 respectively.
While the Irish have played some quality basketball up to this point, don't expect the winning streak to continue too much longer. This season will not be reminiscent of the 2014 Wichita State squad. Playing in the ACC, night in and night out the Irish will be facing the best talent in the nation, as the ACC is the best conference in basketball. Remaining games include matchups with Villanova, Purdue, Louisville twice, Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina. That is an absolute gauntlet of the nation's elite. While they may not finish the season undefeated, they should be a tournament team. Their veteran leadership will make a big difference in close games. This year's squad will look to continue the Irish's recent success in the Big Dance.