FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame will try to keep moving in the right direction after picking up back-to-back ACC wins and a conference road win for the first time this season.
The Irish are at Miami tonight in the second of three straight road games.
Notre Dame (14-12, 5-8) is making the trip on the heels of a 68-64 double-overtime win over Clemson on Feb. 11 and a 73-69 win at Boston College on Sunday.
Little steps for us, coach Mike Brey said. I think where we’ve made some strides here in the last week to 10 days is our offensive efficiency. We’ve simplified some things. Our kids have had great freedom to play, but with this group, given our personnel, we’ve structured it a little bit more in the last 10 days. That has helped us be more efficient offensively.
The Irish, who have made 45.8 percent of their shots this season, shot 50.9 percent against Boston College.
Notre Dame will need to be just as efficient against a Miami zone defense that is limiting opponents to 39.9 percent shooting.
It is a little bit of a Syracuse mentality because you are going to play against the zone for 40 minutes, Brey said. The mental state of dealing with the zone and being patient and getting touches in different areas of the floor. You got to be disciplined with that.
The Hurricanes’ offense has been much less consistent than their defense.
Miami (12-13, 3-9) is the lowest-scoring team, averaging 61 points, and the worst shooting team, making 40.9 percent of its shots, in the ACC.
But it is not the same offense every night. The Hurricanes made 25.9 percent of their shots and went 7 for 34 on 3-pointers in a 52-45 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday after making 47.9 percent of their shots and hitting 7 of 15 3-pointers in a 77-73 win over Florida State on Feb. 10.
Brey said he believed the Irish’s defense was strong enough to make the Hurricanes miss their first shot, but he is concerned with Miami’s ability to rebound on offense. The Hurricanes average 11.2 offensive rebounds, and the Irish have given up 9.8 offensive rebounds per game.
Miami has always been very athletic. Sometimes a great play for them is a missed shot, Brey said. They have guys that can go up and get it. We’ve had a little problem controlling the defensive boards at times. There is where my concern is. I think we can force the first miss, but can we get the first miss? It has been an Achilles’ heel of ours, and it worries me.
Notre Dame should have freshman Demetrius Jackson back for tonight’s game. Jackson didn’t play in the last two games or travel to Boston College as he got caught up on his school work.
Brey said Jackson rejoined the team at practice Monday and will travel to Miami. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 23.3 minutes, 6.9 points and 1.8 assists in the first 24 games.
Caught up academically, needed some time to get his academics straight, get some work handed in, Brey said. Really pleased with how he handled the week, getting back in here academically.