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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Gets Key Culture Win Over Marist

December 22, 2023

Micah Shrewsberry was mad on Tuesday following the 20-point loss to The Citadel and the first-year Notre Dame head coach vowed to change his approach. 

The Fighting Irish (5-7) didn’t run all night or go through hell during practice to get the 60-56 win over Marist (7-3) on Friday evening. 

In fact, Notre Dame didn’t even practice on Wednesday following the loss. Shrewsberry focused on taking a calm approach and it led to his team showing signs of coming together. 

“We really leaned on each other,” stated Shrewsberry. “I think that was the big thing. We talked about who are we when things get tough. That’s what basketball is. It’s a game of runs and how you react to those runs and how you handle those runs - good or bad - usually determines who are as a team.

“Just proud of us coming together as a group. It was good to see.” 

Friday was a game of runs as offense was at a premium for both sides. It was a flat out struggle at times with neither team finding a rhythm in the first half. 

Notre Dame held Marist scoreless for almost six minutes, but the Irish failed to take the lead during the stretch despite getting 11 first half points from freshman point guard Markus Burton. 

Marist then held Notre Dame scoreless for almost four minutes to end the first 20 minutes. Tae Davis ended the drought with just under a minute to play to cut the lead to 25-24 at the break. 

Shrewsberry wanted to see more effort and even energy coming out of The Citadel game and the Irish responded. 

The Irish started the second half on a 10-3 run and while there were some shaky moments, Shrewsberry was confident in his team because they showed signs of coming around before the game started. 

Remember, Shrewsberry knew his team was going to lose on Tuesday because of the energy levels during practice, but it was a much different story heading into tonight’s game. 

“Thursday they came out with an incredible spirit,” said Shrewsberry. “Our shoot around today, I just stopped it. I had a bunch more stuff I wanted to do today, but it was as energetic of a shoot around as we’ve had. Shoot around, practice, pregame locker room, postgame locker room, it was about as energetic as you could get. 

“I’ve seen enough and shut this down and let’s go play this basketball game.” 

Burton led the Irish in scoring with 21 points, but it was classmate Carey Booth and Davis who came up with big sparks when Notre Dame needed them. 

Booth, who made the first start of his collegiate career, finished with 11 points and six rebounds, including three offensive boards and one led to a key three-pointer in the second half.

Davis ended the night with 12 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. As a team, Notre Dame went 18-for-20 from the line while Marist finished just 7-for-13. 

Notre Dame’s roster also heard Shrewsberry’s passionate message from Tuesday night loud and clear, which led to better chemistry and effort.  

“We all committed here to him,” stated Davis. “That’s our guy. No matter what, we stand ten toes behind him. He stands ten toes behind us and he wants what is best for us. We want what is best for the team. 

“It got us to come together. When we hit adversity, go after it and try to do what we should have done better instead of bumping heads and different things like that. We came together and it’s working out for the better.” 

Perhaps there was no better response from the team than winning the hustle plays against Marist. 

The Irish won the battle on the boards 32-25, second chance points 10-4 and simply showed more fight for the basketball at key times. 

“We were angry,” Davis explained. “100 percent. That’s something that is inexcusable. We bounced back and will try to be better in the future. That’s all we can pretty much do.” 

It was a turning point for the program as ACC play comes next week. A bad loss made everyone evaluate their role in the program, including Shrewsberry. 

“I don’t know if I want to remember this, but we sat in there as coaches for a long time after the game,” Shrewsberry explained. “At some point in time way down the line, we’re going to remember December 19th, 2023 because it changed how we approached everything. It reinforced what we should be approaching.” 

Notre Dame’s offense has been a struggle, but Burton has been the one consistent force through 12 games. Burton finished the night 8-for-18 from the field and 3-for-4 from the line as he went over the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season. 

“The coaches told me before the game it was going to be a game for me to get in the lane and play off two feet to find my teammates or find a shot for myself,” Burton stated. “I saw it a little later in the first half, but I got adjusted to it and it was good for me.” 

The Irish also found some offense in the second half by scoring 36 points and shooting 52.9 percent from the field. 

Why? It goes back to Notre Dame growing up, but also starting to communicate with each other instead of waiting on the staff to give instruction. 

“We just came together. At halftime, we were all talking to each other. This was one of the first times we were all speaking and not being quiet while waiting for Coach to talk. I feel our team camaraderie has gotten a lot better over the last couple weeks. 

“Going into the second half, Coach Shrews told us we needed to get stops and we needed to score. That’s what we did.” 

Notre Dame will start ACC play next Saturday as No. 22 Virginia will come to South Bend. It’s a chance for a fresh start in conference play, but it will also be another new challenge given the attention to detail and physicality that will be needed to win ACC games. 

“We can’t win this game, go home for Christmas and forget everything we talked about,” said Shrewsberry. “It’s almost like Remember the Titans or something when they left camp and he was like, ‘Don’t forget everything.’ That’s what it is. 

“There are technical things we needed to do, but there’s nothing technical about that game against The Citadel. We just folded under pressure because we didn’t have anything to stand on or anything to fall back on. That was 100 percent on me. I love the way these guys responded. They picked each other up.” 

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