Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Gibbs Looking For Irish To Keep Fighting

January 27, 2019

Notre Dame wasn’t expected to upset No. 3 Virginia on Saturday, but the Irish forgot to show up to Purcell Pavilion and fell 82-55 in a miserable offensive performance.

The Irish wouldn’t be the first program to have a bad offensive game against the Cavaliers, but it was the lack of effort and energy that caught the attention of many. 

“They are a really good team,” stated Notre Dame guard TJ Gibbs. “When they punched us in the first half, we didn’t have an answer. They did it for a full 40. They kicked our ass.” 

It’s a bold statement and a true one. Notre Dame had just one player in double figures while Virginia had five players in double figures. The Irish 36% from the field, 28% from the free throw line and a shocking 38% from the free throw line. 

Freshman Dane Goodwin knows Saturday’s play is unacceptable and it’s on the team to find a way to fight through adversity.

“We knew they were one of the best defensive units in the country,” explained Goodwin. “We have to find ways to get around it. We can’t make excuses. We have to adapt and change how we play sometimes.” 

Notre Dame has many things to fix, but the first must be starting Monday’s game against No. 2 Duke with shots going in the bucket. The Irish didn’t score until the 13:35 mark in the first half against Virginia and were lucky to only be down 12-2.

“It’s hard to start off down so much and fight back the whole game, especially against a good and active defensive team,” said Gibbs. “We have to have a better start in both halves. We have to keep pushing through and keep fighting.” 

Gibbs has seen it all during his time at Notre Dame, but even he can’t quite put the finger on the offensive struggles that have plagued the Irish in ACC play. 

“I really don’t know,” Gibbs stated. “We got some good shots that didn’t go down us. It’s tough when you start the game on a slow streak. We did a good job of coming back. We have to keep repeating it. It’s a struggle. It’s a fight. We’re not giving up and going to keep rolling with the punches.”

The only bright spot in Saturday’s loss was a second-half spurt of four minutes where the Irish cut a 19-point Cavalier leave to 12. Even that was short lived as Virginia extended the lead to 20 points over the next four minutes. 

“We got some good movement,” Goodwin said of the spurt. “It always helps to get a shot to fall down here and there. We got into the lane a few times and kicked it out. We had that for a couple minutes in the second half and we have to stay in that for the full 40 minutes.”

Head coach Mike Brey stated Sunday’s 8:00 a.m. practice would be a competitive one and Gibbs is taking that as a challenge to the leadership of the team.

“We have to be ourselves,” said Gibbs. “We have to focus on locking in offensively and defensively. We have lapses where we can go in and out. That starts with our leadership. That’s on me and John (Mooney) and the other older guys to not get complacent. 

“When we have these little spurts, we get complacent within that and we have to keep going. We can’t let it stagger. If we miss shots, we have to find a way to get back to how we play, good movement and good shots.” 

“We know we have to get back in the gym and get going again. We have to get back at it tomorrow. We have to prepare like this is any other game. We have to be locked in and be ready to go. We have to pay attention to what we need to do.”

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