In their third game of the season, the depleted Notre Dame Fighting Irish slumped to a defeat. They had come off a win against Detroit, but they were always second favorites in the game against Ohio State.
Their solid home record was the only thing working in their favor. They were unbeaten in over 20 games since 2017 at the Joyce Center. At half-time, it seemed like the Fighting Irish could hold on to their record. But the Buckeyes kept the pressure on and piled on 56 points in the 2nd half to win by five points. This is their second loss after the season opener loss to the Michigan State Spartans.
Could the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been in a better position?
While their record might read 1-2 currently, it could have potentially been 3-0. They lost by just 10 points to the Spartans and now this was a five-point loss.
The Fighting Irish started the season with 12 players registered on their roster. Trey Wertz was ineligible due to transfer rules, taking the number to 11 players. Freshman forward, Elijah Taylor then suffered a season-ending ankle injury. This was followed by Robby Carmody injuring his kneecap and possibly being out for the entire month of December.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, captain Nikola Djogo got injured, but he might return soon. They also have a walk-on player on the roster in Elijah Morgan. So this depleted team has forced coach Mike Brey to play his starters for an exhausting 35 mins and above.
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During the game against the Buckeyes, Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski played 40 minutes, Cormac Ryan played 39 minutes, and Prentiss Hubb played 37 minutes. Coach Brey only had seven players in his rotation, and despite this, they just lost by five.
There is no doubt that it was a valiant effort. However, if they continue to play so much, the Fighting Irish are flirting with more injuries. At the moment, there is a chance they can qualify for the NCAA tournament if they can get Djogo and Carmody back soon. They are also fighting to overturn Wertz’s ineligibility, citing a need for the team to be at full strength during this COVID crisis.
If they can get their players back, the Fighting Irish can be a promising team that can cause some serious upsets.