Notre Dame announced today that starting senior guard Jerian Grant will not play any more games this season due to an academic issue. In a statement released on the Fighting Irish website, Grant said that he was no longer part of the basketball program due to an “academic matter that [Grant] did not handle properly.” Grant’s absence from the Notre Dame basketball team takes effect immediately.
The loss is a crucial blow to Notre Dame, which is likely still smarting from Saturday night’s loss to Ohio State in which the Fighting Irish blew an eight-point lead with less than one minute remaining. Grant was Notre Dame’s leading scorer at 19 points per game and also was team leader in assists at 6.2 per game. All of that means he was in some way responsible for about 30 points each game for the Fighting Irish.
At this stage in the season, finding someone to step up and replace that kind of production is going to be very difficult to say the least. Already troubled at times defensively, the Fighting Irish now are without their most effective offensive weapon for the rest of the season, as well.
Notre Dame (8-4) does have three other players who average double figures in scoring, including Garrick Sherman (14.3), Pat Connaughton (13.8) and Eric Atkins (11.8). Atkins is most likely to pick up the slack distributing the ball, since he is already averaging 4.3 assists per game. Of course, some of those assists would have been going to Grant, so the entire dynamic of Notre Dame’s offense now changes.
In his statement on the Notre Dame website, Grant said he intends to re-enroll at Notre Dame as quickly as possible and that he will try to finish his college basketball career at the school.
But that won’t help a Fighting Irish team that in the immediate future has to scramble to rebuild its offense in its first year as a member of the ACC. News like this could not come at a worse time for Notre Dame, with much of the non-conference schedule already played and conference games against the likes of Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina (twice).
Grant’s departure takes Notre Dame from a possible top-tier ACC team to one perhaps at the middle of the pack that lacks the kind of non-conference wins that will be enough to forgive a .500 record in the conference and get Notre Dame into the ACC Tournament.