A preview of the Notre Dame men’s basketball season, after the team won the conference championship title in 2014-2015
After becoming Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champions in 2015, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team is poised for another exciting season. The team had a stellar 2014-15 run, making it all the way to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1979. This year, the Irish face another tough schedule on the road to defending their conference championship title during their third season as members of the ACC.
Head coach Mike Brey, the second-winningest coach at Notre Dame, returns for his 16th season, and the team returns three starters as well. Seniors Zach Auguste and Austin Burgett along with junior Demetrius Jackson are serving as first-time captains in the program, hoping to replace the strong leadership of the graduated Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant. Juniors Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem, and Austin Torres will also play prominent roles this season in the Irish lineup.
Sophomore Bonzie Colson is expected to develop this season and possibly play more of a role in the starting rotation. Matt Farrell and Martinas Geben also return to the program as sophomores. The team welcomes three freshmen: Elijah Burns, Rex Pflueger, and Matt Ryan, a talented group of players who will compete with returning members of the team for playing time.
The Irish were selected to finish fourth in the 2015-16 Preseason ACC poll, with Jackson chosen for Preseason All-ACC first team and Auguste for second team. The University of North Carolina was picked to win the conference, followed by Virginia finishing second and Duke third. The 63rd annual ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held March 8-12 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Notre Dame started its pre-season competitions with an exhibition win over St. Francis on October 30. The team won 87-56, led in scoring by Colson with 12 points, followed by Jackson, Vasturia, and Farrell with 10 points each. All three of the freshmen played during the first half of the game and contributed to the team’s final score.
The Irish also beat Caldwell 81-56 in the preseason finale on November 5. Beachem led the scoring with 13 points, with Jackson and Vasturia each contributing 11. Farrell also was heavily involved, contributing to Notre Dame’s 28 bench points. Brey once again played all three freshmen, who were led by Ryan with 8 points and 4 rebounds.
Notre Dame men’s basketball plays its season opener at Purcell Pavilion on November 13 against St. Francis (Pa.).
Alicia Czarnecki is a junior Environmental Engineering major and International Development Studies minor. Contact her at email@example.com.