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Notre Dame Basketball

Micah Shrewsberry proves he'd “rather lose” the right way against Miami

January 24, 2024

Notre Dame took the lead five times against Miami on Wednesday night, including once in the game’s final 10 minutes, only to run out of gas down the stretch. 

The Fighting Irish (7-12, 2-5 ACC) dropped their fourth straight home contest in a 73-61 loss to the Hurricanes (13-6, 4-4 ACC). 

Following the game, coach Micah Shrewsberry expressed dismay with the effort he witnessed from a few key members of his team. 

“I would rather lose with the dudes that are gonna play the right way and that are gonna build this culture,” Shrewsberry said,” “than win with somebody that's not doing it the right way.”

He backed up his words with action to kick off the second half by benching 6-foot-10 forwards Carey Booth, Kebba Njie and Matt Zona in favor of a smaller rotation consisting of guards Braeden Shrewsberry, Julian Roper II and Logan Imes.

The move sparked an initial comeback. 

Notre Dame quickly erased a 37-29 halftime deficit and engaged in a back-and-forth battle with Miami for the first 10 minutes of the second period. 

An enthusiastic crowd erupted inside Purcell Pavillion when forward J.R. Konieczny hit a 3-pointer to give Notre Dame a 52-49 lead with 9:24 left in the contest, only for an exhausted and undersized six-man rotation to allow Miami to go on a 17-2 run over the next seven minutes.

Throughout his team’s late on-the-court struggles, Coach Shrewsberry never wavered from his halftime decision. 

“I'll stick with the dudes that are gonna give me the effort that I want,” Shrewsberry said. “Maybe I shouldn't call more timeouts and give them a break, but that group established from the start of the second half how hard you needed to play in order for us to win. So, I was gonna roll with those dudes the rest of the half.”

For better and worse, guard Markus Burton continues to carry a sizeable offensive load for the Irish.

The top scorer among ACC freshmen led Notre Dame with 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting to go along with four assists, three rebounds and eight head-scratching turnovers.

“Markcus Burton is not just one of the best players in the ACC,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said, “but he's maybe one of the three or four best freshmen in the country. He's handling the ball. He's got the largest usage of any player in the ACC, meaning he's got the ball in his hands making decisions constantly, and for a freshman to do that is really special.”

Konieczny and Shrewsberry also scored in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. 

Notre Dame’s biggest headache proved to be Miami forward Norchad Omier, who returned to the Hurricane’s lineup after missing the team’s most recent contest against Syracuse. The senior quickly eclipsed his 17.2 points per game average with 20 first-half points.

Omier finished with 33 points after making 12 of his 14 attempts for a career-high since he transferred to Miami before the 2022-23 season. 

“We treated Omier like he had some disease that we didn't want to get close to, or we'd get sick,” Coach Shrewsberry said. “We just let him operate and do whatever he wanted to.”

He Said It

Despite Notre Dame’s late struggles, Larrañaga praised Coach Shrewsberry for what he’s accomplished early in his Fighting Irish tenure. 

“Micah Shrewsbury is doing an incredible job,” Larrañaga said. “I think you can really see the foundation that he's already established. They're one of the best teams in the league in defense. They're holding the opponent to like 62 points in ACC play. They've got a lot of young kids, and those guys are getting better and better.”

What’s Next?

The Fighting Irish return to action on Saturday for another ACC contest in Purcell Pavillion when they host Boston College (11-8, 2-6 ACC). 

The Eagles have lost their last two contest since defeating Notre Dame 63-59 on Jan. 15. Notre Dame blew a 36-29 halftime lead that evening, scoring 23 points in the second period.

​​"We've been poor to start the second half,” Shrewsberry said following the loss. “Poor. That's cost us. We can't keep coming back to the well and coming back to the locker room like, 'Man, that's a game we should have won.’”

Shrewsberry is confident his entire team will respond the right way from another late-game defeat, including the players he benched in the second half. 

“They played really hard and other games,” Shrewsberry said. “I hope this helps them play really hard against Boston College — the same way they sat and watched those dudes compete.”

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