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Notre Dame Basketball

Nik Djogo Hopeful Notre Dame Can Turn Up Intensity

January 12, 2021
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Nik Djogo has seen it all over his time at Notre Dame. He's seen what it takes to win and how quickly a season can go south. 

The 6-foot-8 guard also knows it starts with the players making plays if the Irish hope to end a three-game losing streak on Wednesday at Virginia. 

"I don't think there's anything you can tweak around with your game plan," stated Djogo. "I think we really just have to dig in when the other team's making a run and they're getting more aggressive offensively.

"We have to do our part to lock in defensively and get those loose ones. We just have to want it more than we do. And if we don't, we're going to keep losing games." 

Toughness and want is something Notre Dame has lacked for quite some time as the Irish have lost 25 games in a row to ranked opponents. 

The Irish have started several games fast, but have failed to finish the job in the second half, including Sunday's game at No. 19 Virginia Tech. 

"I think it's just when it comes to game situations and winning the game," explained Djogo. "We have to do a better job of executing. It's easy in the first half when there's not much on the line and then when it starts coming down to crunch moments. We're going to have to do a better job to play a full 40 because every single team we play in this league is a very good team.

"If we don't play for 40 minutes of basketball and they'll walk away with a win."

The second half issues have been a significant issue this year and even in wins. 

Notre Dame led by 22 at Kentucky and escaped with a win, while on Sunday, they blew a seven-point lead as they shot just 2-for-19 from the field in Blacksburg. 

"When in the second half when both teams are trying to win games, they lock up defensively and it's a lot tougher to get shots," said Djogo. "Just from a mental aspect, the game's on the line. Everybody gets a little tighter with the kind of decisions they're making and their confidence in their shots.

"We just need to play the second half like we play the first half. It's simple as that. The looseness we play within the first half, we need to carry that over into the second and then just put together a full 40." 

Djogo, a captain, might not play 30 minutes a game, but as a fifth-year graduate student, his experience and leadership can be valuable to pull the Irish out of its latest rut. 

"Using the experience that a couple of us older guys have and just reminding the young guys that it's a very long season," Djogo said of where he can help the younger players on the team. "There's lots of games to play. We've played some great teams in the first half of this thing and we have a chance to go on a run every night we have an opportunity to play.

"There's a fine line between learning from our mistakes, but also not completely putting our heads down because the games are coming at us and we're gonna have to be ready. So, just telling the guys to stay ready no matter what happens and we never know when the tide's going to turn for us." 

What gives Djogo confidence Notre Dame can turn it around? 

Djogo believes the talent and desire is there. 

"I just know the guys in the locker room and even though we haven't shown it," said Djogo. I" know how we can play and how much of a well-rounded team we have. I know it hasn't really shown in the games and especially for a full 40, but we have a lot of very talented guys. 

"It's a long season, so I'm just confident that we're going to keep going back in the lab and do what we need to do to improve as a team and hopefully win the next one on Wednesday and start a little run."

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Nik Djogo Hopeful Notre Dame Can Turn Up Intensity

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