The Runner Sports

Notre Dame: Slow Starts And The Multitalented Steve Vasturia

After a big home win against Florida State, perhaps it should not have been overly surprising that the Irish got off to a slow start against Boston College. The team went into the first half trailing 49-39 but ultimately turned things around and won 84-76.

Slow Starts

The slow start against Boston College was arguably predictable, but the Irish have been falling behind in the first half a lot as of late. This might not be that significant, however, as the team simply hadn’t been playing well. If a team has a four-game losing streak like the Irish did, it’s not shocking that the same team would be trailing after the first halves of these games.

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Still, it will be interesting to monitor whether the Irish continue this slow-starting trend moving forward. Against better teams, it will be harder for Mike Brey’s squad to dig themselves out of these first half holes.

If there is, in fact, any validity to this trend, would there be any reason to explain it? I’m not sure, but the Irish have been mixing up the starting lineups as of late, starting Austin Torres, Rex Pflueger, and TJ Gibbs in different games. This could be contributing a bit to some slow starts, but I don’t think the impact has been overly significant.

The Multitalented Steve Vasturia

If one looked at Steve Vasturia’s shooting performance against Boston College, they’d probably conclude that he had a poor game. He made only 4-13 shots (1-7 from 3), but he does a lot of things beyond scoring to help the Irish win.

Matt Farrell is probably the team’s best ball-handler, which results in him playing point guard most of the time and leading the team in assist rate (per KenPom). Steve Vasturia, however, is arguably the best passer on the team.

Here’s one of his seven assists on the game. He draws the attention of the defense and squeezes a nice pass through to Bonzie Colson.

Here, the defender “fronts” Colson, trying to prevent a pass to him. Vasturia responds by throwing a solid pass over the defense, which leads to an easy bucket.

Vasturia is also great moving without the ball. If his defender falls asleep for just a second, the senior is capable of making them pay.

With the Irish running a pick-and-roll, the Boston College defense is scrambling to rotate correctly. Vasturia recognizes this confusion and cuts to the basket.

Here, Boston College send a soft double-team at Colson. Vasturia realizes his man isn’t paying attention to him and cuts to the basket again.

Need Bonzie For Rim Protection

I’ve written a lot about the Irish’s small lineups that include four shooters and one big man (usually Colson). These lineups have been great offensively, but have the potential to struggle on the defensive end due to a lack of size and rim protection.

The Irish have shown glimpses of being able to get by defensively with these smaller lineups, and a lot of this is because the 6’5 Colson is working really hard to rebound and contest shots the best he can. He might not be a great rim protector, but he leads the team in block percentage, and he will be the best interior defender the Irish have to offer most of, if not, all the minutes he is on the floor.

But for Colson to be effectively manning the paint defensively, he needs to be in the paint. Teams will look to involve Colson in the pick-and-roll, thus bringing him away from the basket. And if he’s away from the basket, this can create easier interior opportunities for the opposition.

Here, Boston College runs a pick-and-roll, and then slips the ball to the roll man with Colson unable to contest at the rim. Beachem does a fine job defensively, but teams will score in a lot of these situations.

Jacob Zinkula

Jacob Zinkula

Notre Dame Writer at The Runner Sports
I'm from Northbrook, IL and am a student at the University of Notre Dame. I think this gives me an interesting perspective on ND sports. You might think this would make me biased, but I'd say I'm only biased about the teams I've grown up rooting for. So if I write something about the Packers, Cubs, or whatever team LeBron's on, definitely take it with a grain of salt. Otherwise, you should be okay. 🙂
Jacob Zinkula