In a university setting, a professor might look at Notre Dame‘s body of work in the 2013-14 college basketball season and give the Fighting Irish the rare grade of “Incomplete.” Notre Dame played out its schedule and the result was far more disappointing than anyone ever expected. But the Fighting Irish team that finished the season 15-17 overall and 6-12 in the ACC certainly wasn’t the one that most thought they’d be seeing when the campaign began. The departure of Jerian Grant, who averaged 19 points and 6.2 assists in 12 games this season, didn’t leave an immediate bruise on the Fighting Irish, but in the end it pretty well ruined Notre Dame’s season.
Grant left Notre Dame in late December for academic reasons and he may be back with the team next season. In his immediate absence, Notre Dame shocked Duke in its first-ever ACC game. After the Duke win, however, Notre Dame lost six of its next seven conference games and the damage was done. The Fighting Irish went 8-4 with Grant, 7-13 without him. Here’s an evaluation of Notre Dame on both sides of the ball as well as overall.
OFFENSE: With Grant, Notre Dame averaged nearly 80 PPG, though that was also during the non-conference portion of the season. Without Grant, the Fighting Irish managed just 63.1 PPG, which, had that been the number for the whole season, would be one of the worst in the country. Eric Atkins, Garrick Sherman and Pat Connaughton all tried to pick up the pieces, each averaging about 13 PPG, but Grant’s loss was too much to overcome. You can’t penalize those that were there for their effort, but you have to consider the drastic difference, as well. GRADE: C-.
DEFENSE: There were questions about Notre Dame’s defense all season long and outside of getting a couple key stops in the Duke upset, those questions were never really answered. The Fighting Irish gave up 98 points in a loss at Iowa, 82 in a home loss to Indiana State, and their defense was soon found out to be not up to par in the ACC, a conference with plenty of top defensive basketball teams. The Fighting Irish barely made the top 200 in any major defensive category. GRADE: D.
OVERALL: If Grant plays the whole season, Notre Dame probably goes at least 10-8 in the ACC and at least plays in the NIT. But the Fighting Irish had time to adjust to his departure and never really did. This was a tough year for head coach Mike Brey and his team, but better days are ahead. GRADE: D+.
Twitter-Style, the 2013-14 Fighting Irish in 140 (or less): “Jerian Grant to leave team, Fighting Irish to leave top half of the ACC with a quickness. #FootballSchool”