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Notre Dame Basketball

Table service: Students fill Purcell as Irish romp past Clemson

January 12, 2022
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The promise – threat? – elicited a nervous chuckle from Jack Swarbrick.

After Notre Dame demolished visiting Clemson Wednesday night, the Fighting Irish athletics director had just listened to his men’s basketball coach, Mike Brey, declare his intentions to crowd-surf the student section inside Purcell Pavilion after a future victory.

This, after Brey, at the behest of Notre Dame basketball media ace Alan Wasielewski, had barn-stormed through campus dining halls Tuesday with impassioned pleas for students to fill up the Irish home.

Arrive, they did. With the traditional student sections filled to capacity, the Irish led 17-6 minutes into the game, by 17 at halftime and by as many as 23 points in the second half of their 72-56 win.

“Alan had a good idea, you need to go to the dining hall and let them see you,” Brey said after his Irish won for the sixth time in a row and seventh time in their last eight outings. “And I just want them to feel … I’ve always felt connected to them, I go to the dorms – not since the pandemic. I’ve always been connected to our student section.

“I almost crowd-surfed. I was close to diving up there and I probably will. I wonder how long it would take me to be surfed from the baseline all the way to the top. We’re going to try that before the year’s out on a good win.”

Senior Dane Goodwin used eight-for-10 shooting, including a perfect three-for-three night from behind the arc, to lead all scorers with 21 points while freshman Blake Wesley added 20.

It was Wesley who said he had just entered the dining hall Tuesday after Brey’s de facto revival session.

“I did not know there were going to be this many students here tonight,” Wesley said. “They really helped us out like the Kentucky game.”

TAYLOR OUT

Seldom-used forward Elijah Taylor, who’s appeared in just three career games in two seasons after last season he suffered an ankle injury that required season-ending surgery, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to off-the-court reasons.

"He's got some work to do academically,” Brey said. “We love him. We support him. He'll be back.

“Actually, I'm going to have LaPhonso Ellis spend some time with him. I think you remember when Phons was inducted into the Ring of Honor, he spoke of bouncing back from an academic misstep.”

The 6-foot-8-inch Taylor can continue to practice with the Irish but cannot dress or appear in contests.  

"He can practice with us, but he cannot play,” Brey said. “He's going to be part of the team. We're educators. We'll work with him, grow him up and get him going."

NATE’S BALANCED PRODUCTION

 

Senior forward Nate Laszewski hit his first 3-pointer, and his last one, and closed with eight points in the win.

 

Additionally, Laszewski had eight rebounds, three assists and a trio of steals in a turnover-free, game-high 36 minutes of floor-time.

 

Laszewski’s best play might have been an all-around defensive gem. After Wesley didn’t get a foul call on a dwindling shot clock, Clemson raced to its end the floor but Laszewski blocked a shot, saved the ball in-bounds to a teammate and Wesley promptly answered with a trey.

"He is so unselfish defensively -- talking, rotating, helping,” Brey said. “Then his post defense tonight and rebounding - he just does everything on that end of the floor. He doesn't try to force anything offensively. I think he turned down a couple.

"He's become a better passer with what we're doing with our motion. He's catching it and touching in that slot up top and starting to get crafty. You can always count on him, no matter what's going on the offensive end, but he's going to guard, talk, rebound, take a charge. He gives himself up physically. Some of his post defense this year - how about how he played (Illinois All-American) Kofi (Cockburn)? He just works his back side off. He wants to win.

"Maybe he'll get 20 in Blacksburg." 

The Irish travel Saturday to Virginia Tech, seeking their seventh win in a row overall and a third-straight win on the road.

 
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