Feb 19, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT
Mike Franz, the official 2013-14 men’s basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College. Over the course of the year Mike will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBlogger.
Going into Sunday’s game, the men’s basketball team was 0-6 in road games this season. That record would change after the tussle with Boston College because Notre Dame was able to hold onto a victory over the Eagles by a score of 73-69. This game was not as thrilling as the overtime thriller these two teams had in their previous matchup, but it did have some sentimental value for three players on Notre Dame’s roster as it was somewhat of a “coming home party” for them.
Zach Auguste (Marlborough, Mass.), Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass.), and Tom Knight (Dixfield, Maine) all grew up in the Massachusetts/Maine area watching the Eagles.
Despite being in Boston College country growing up, these three would need to get past the moment and perform at a high level in order to guarantee a road victory for the Irish. Perform they did.
Zach Auguste got yet another start for the Irish today. Coming off of his stellar performance Tuesday night, many were wondering, including myself, if he would have an off night tonight. He did not.
Auguste ended up the night scoring ten points in 20 minutes with three rebounds and one block. His highlight of the game came in the first half at the 5:28 mark when he conjured up a contested slam dunk. His animated reaction reminded of John Wall during the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. If Auguste can average 10 points per game, he will be a key piece to the puzzle that is Notre Dame’s offense.
To say Tom Knight has had a quiet season would be an understatement. Tonight, though, to say he had a good game would be another understatement. Coming off the bench and only playing 19 minutes, he was still able to score 10 points on five buckets. What was really impressive was Knight’s presence underneath the basket when the Irish had the ball.
Tonight, Knight led the team with six offensive rebounds. Coupled with three on the defensive side of the ball, Knight certainly showed the most fight and desire for the ball “in the trenches” of the court.
Knight actually made up for more than half of Notre Dame’s bench points in the victory. It was nice seeing this grad student going out there and being able to contribute tonight as well.
Pat Connaughton had, without a doubt, the largest fan following at the game tonight. Whenever he shot the ball, got a rebound, or heck even touched the ball, part of the crowd went up in jubilation. The announcers at the game said there were about 300 of Connaughton’s friends and family in attendance at today’s game. If you do not believe it count up all the people in this picture (below) and you tell me.
He certainly did not let down his family and friends. In the first half alone he scored 11 points on five of seven shots from the field and a made free throw. What was surprising was that none of these points came from Connaughton shooting from three point range. In recent games Connaughton has been struggling in this aspect of his games.
Last game against Clemson, he only made one three pointer in seven attempts. Switching his game to driving the lane and hitting some pull-up jumpers proved effective. This was his strategy all game because Connaughton chose not to shoot a three pointer. Although Connaughton had a quiet second half, he still ended up the day leading the team, with 17 points.
He also ended up the day with five total rebounds (four defensive, one offensive) and shooting 100% from the free throw line. The junior captain, Auguste and Knight all had great games in front of the home crowd and their combined 37 points proved to be the decider in order for the Irish to improve their conference record to 5-8.
The outcome of tonight’s game increased Notre Dame’s winning streak to two which is tied for their longest one since the Duke win. A win over the Miami Hurricanes would increase the team’s winning streak to three which would be the largest winning streak since December 1st. Tipoff for the Miami game is scheduled for 9PM on Wednesday February 19th. The game can be seen on WatchESPN and heard on WatchND.
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