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Notre Dame Basketball

FSU's Defense Too Much for Unfocused Notre Dame in 67-58 Loss

January 13, 2024

New day. Same story for the Fighting Irish. 

Lack of focus. Lack of discipline. Lack of energy. All were contributing factors in Notre Dame’s (7-10, 2-4) 67-58 loss to Florida State (10-6, 4-1) on Saturday afternoon. 

The Irish have struggled on offense for most of the season, so entering the game, Micah Shrewsberry knew there would be challenges, especially given Florida State’s length and size. 

What he couldn’t have foreseen was Notre Dame shooting 3-for-11 from the foul line, including just 1-of-8 in the first half. 

Junior forward JR Konieczny wasn’t necessarily surprised given Notre Dame’s shootaround on Saturday morning lacked any type of energy. 

“Lack of focus,” stated Konieczny. That’s all it is.” 

Those words have been uttered many times through 17 games, which isn't what any coach, player or fan wants to hear. Yet, it’s the 100 percent truth. 

Notre Dame is young, but it’s also mid-January, so those excuses aren’t going to fly. The Irish have struggled with change and adversity all year, which they encountered before the game as forward Tae Davis sprained his ankle in practice.

Shrewsberry believed any positive energy from the win at Georgia Tech was gone following Davis going down in practice and his team never recovered. 

“We can’t make excuses,” Shrewsberry said. “We have to play the game. I thought the moment Tae Davis got hurt in practice yesterday, the air just left the entire building. We were super energetic leading up to that point. We were guarding our asses off in what we were doing. He went down and it sucked the air out of the whole thing. We never got it back.

“I need to do more to help them in that way. You try and keep going. You have to practice. You have to be able to prepare for Florida State.” 

Notre Dame freshman point guard Markus Burton led the Irish with 20 points, but he made it clear he felt a lack of focus from the start. 

“We have to play a little harder,” stated Burton. “I feel a lot of times we come out flat. Sometimes we’re not focused. The other night in Atlanta, we were very focused and locked in from the get go. Today, none of us were focused, including myself. We have to do a better job of focusing and getting ready for games.” 

Florida State’s defense also got to Notre Dame for most of the game. The Irish were unable to figure out how to score around the Seminoles length and size. In fact, the Seminoles finished the game with seven blocks and nine steals. 

On the other end, Florida State outscored the Irish 32-22 in the paint and also got 16 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds. 

“It’s a discipline issue of me choosing to box out or choosing not to box out when the shot goes up,” explained Shrewsberry. “Everyone knows Florida State is going to rebound. They’re sending four guys to the glass. Everyone but Darin Green is going to the glass. If I’m guarding Darin Green, I don’t have to turn and check. He’s not going. The other four guys are going to the glass every single time.

“It’s a choice. Do I go hit my man, or do I not go hit my man? 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, we made that choice to not go hit our man and that crushed us.” 

Freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry hit two late threes to five Notre Dame a shot to steal the game. The second trey pulled the Irish within 61-58 with 1:25 left in the game, but Florida State responded by scoring the game’s final six points. 

Shrewsberry knows his team has the ability to take a late lead, but admitted the energy to do that was used to come back from being down double-digits. 

“We got the extra gear,” Shrewsberry said. “We’re using that extra gear to catch up and then we’re running out of juice. Don’t put yourself in that hole. Play at the level you’re supposed to play at and now be in the game. That juice you have to go from 14 to 5, why don’t you take it from a tie game to a seven-point lead? Take it from down two to up five. 

“We’re using that extra juice to come back. We shouldn’t be putting ourselves in that hole. That’s where we have to be a little bit better.” 

Shrewsberry finished with eight points and two rebounds. 

Despite the continued lack of focus on the details, the most significant concern coming out of the loss is the start of the second half. The Irish have struggled all year coming out for the final 20 minutes and Florida State immediately hit Notre Dame with an 8-0 run to go up 41-29. 

Notre Dame didn’t give up and fought back to cut the Noles lead to six, but another 8-0 run put Florida State up 51-37 with just over 11 minutes to play. 

“We’ve changed our locker room halftime locker room routine,” stated Shrewsberry. “We’ve changed when I go talk to the team. We’ve tried playing music at halftime. I don't know what it is. Just being able to have somebody grab us and pull us all together before we go back out there and say, ‘Come on. This is it. This is our push and our chance to start well.’ 

“We’re just not doing it. Maybe we don’t need to go out at all and we just stay out there. Warm up, talk on the bench like a YMCA team or something. I don’t have an answer for that right now.” 

Davis was in a boot following his sprained ankle and Shrewsberry didn't seem too concerned with the long-term future of his starting forward. 

“He landed funny yesterday,” said Shrewsberry. “He wanted to play today. He’s day-to-day. We’ll see.”

Notre Dame will travel to Boston College (10-6, 1-4) on Monday. Tip is set for 7:00 PM ET on ESPNU. 

“It’s a quick turnaround to playing Boston College on Monday,” Shrewsberry said. “The last I checked, us and Boston College are the only two teams that play on one day rest this whole season. Not that I went through everyone's schedule and checked that out to see if anyone else played on a one-day rest. There’s no excuses for us.” 

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