Virginia Tech and Notre Dame Need to Find a Solution on Offense

    Virginia tech notre dame will look to start the season with a bang, but first they must find a solution on offense. Their offense has been underwhelming in recent games and needs to step up big against Notre Dame. Last week they were flat against West Virginia, so they need to get off to a fast start.

    Trey Wertz

    After missing his last game with an ankle injury, Impact Wertz is expected to return to action Tuesday for Notre Dame. After missing three of his first four games, Wertz is eligible to start four more. His production has been inconsistent, but he did average 5.3 points per game. Despite his limited playing time, Wertz has the potential to become a fantasy player.

    Wertz was a two-time all-state selection and one of the top 15 prospects in North Carolina when he graduated from high school. He played at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a member of a high school team that included Devon Dotson, who led Kansas last season. After earning a scholarship to Santa Clara, Wertz beat out schools like Boston College, Georgetown, and Clemson.

    Although Wertz did not visit Notre Dame in person during the last two weeks, he did get a feel for the campus and the facilities. He spent an hour on the phone with Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey. After talking with Notre Dame coaches, Wertz made his decision to attend the school. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound forward had also considered Ohio State, Virginia, and Oklahoma before committing to Notre Dame.

    After the media timeout, VT had a chance to make one more shot before the final buzzer at 14:42. The next possession was a must-win for the Hokies. Justyn Mutts made a three-point shot to put the Hokies within four points at 16-12. VT’s first three-pointer came at 12:36, and Prentis Hubb added nine points in the final 46 seconds to help the Hokies close the gap.

    While Wertz and Worthz are both good players, neither of them are superstars. Wertz is averaging over 16 points per game and the Fighting Irish have had success without him, so look for him to continue his breakout season.

    Prentiss Hubb

    The Fighting Irish had a tough time getting going in the first half against Virginia tech notre dame. The Cavaliers shot 56.7 percent from the field, while the Fighting Irish only made five of 18 shots. Notre Dame committed eight turnovers and only managed to score 13 points. Both teams had a lot of trouble getting stops and clearing out their boards, so they were not able to disrupt the Cavaliers’ offense.

    Hubb was also a good rebounder and playmaker. He averaged nine points, four assists, and three steals during his sophomore year. However, his numbers have gone down from his career-high 28 points in the 2020-21 season. He was able to rebound well this year and is likely to improve upon his stats.

    Hubb and Wesley will not be returning for next season, but they may be back. Brey also hinted that Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin could return, along with Dom Campbell and Ven-Allen Lubin. In addition, the team will likely add a player from the transfer portal.

    Cormac Ryan

    Cormac Ryan, a sophomore guard from Virginia Tech, is one of the best college basketball players in the country. In the fall of 2018, he exploded on the scene, winning the National Invitational Tournament title. His career stats rank among the best in college basketball. Ryan averaged over 21 points per game, and his six assists per game ranked second in the Big Ten. He was named the Big East Player of the Year last season, and was named to the AP All-America team.

    Virginia tech notre dame held a double-digit lead early in the game and kept the Fighting Irish from scoring. The Hokies led by as many as eight points in the first half, and the Irish scored just eight points in that time. Notre Dame came back in the second half, but was unable to get past Cormac Ryan. The Hokies closed the gap to one point with 10:21 left, but Cormac Ryan hit three free throws to cut the Irish’s lead to 58-51.

    Ryan has been an effective scorer this season, averaging 9.1 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. However, his recent injury has forced him to miss the game against Miami. His absence is a setback for the Irish, as Ryan had reached double figures in three of the last four games.

    Ryan’s shooting efficiency is a significant reason for Notre Dame’s recent success. He averages 40.6 percent from three this season and 42.3 percent against ACC competition. Ryan’s versatility helps the Irish preserve their floor-spacing, which is important for their offense. He also helps protect Wesley and Hubb by providing another shooting option. The two have combined to commit just one turnover in 79 minutes.

    Nate Laszewski

    In the ACC Tournament, Nate Laszewski has played very well, and has earned votes on the all-defensive team. He has had some great games, including his 12 points and 10 rebounds game against Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals, his fifth double-double of the season. He also had a double-double against Rutgers in the NCAA First Four. In addition, he had 10 points and six rebounds in the first-round victory over Alabama.

    While Laszewski didn’t have a great start to the season, he turned it on in the last few weeks. He had an injury to his leg early in the season, but was able to return and be a big part of Notre Dame’s late-season success and NCAA Tournament run.

    After a solid first half, the Cavaliers looked to the outside for scoring opportunities. The Cavaliers’ forwards looked to Laszewski and Aluma to provide the offense, and both starred. Despite facing double teams, Aluma and Laszewski were able to score against both man and zone coverage. In the second half, Notre Dame went to Goodwin, but Virginia Tech hunted post-up mismatches on him on his first three trips down the court. In the end, the Cavaliers were able to hit eight straight free throws in the final 46 seconds.

    Laszewski has been a two-year starter for Notre Dame. He is expected to be the starting forward for the Fighting Irish next season. He averaged almost 10 points and seven rebounds per game and is a rare big man who can score from the outside. His versatility will add another scoring threat for the team in 2022-23.

    Paul Atkinson Jr

    After transferring from Yale to Notre Dame before last season, Atkinson has made the most of his new role. He has started 34 games and averaged 12.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He is on the brink of graduating and will play in the senior season Portsmouth Invitational Tournament before preparing for the NBA draft.

    The Irish’s offense showed some promising numbers in Blacksburg. All four starters scored in double figures, led by Paul Atkinson Jr., and shot eight-for-20 from beyond the arc. However, the Irish fell short of their goal of making 10 or more threes, and were outrebounded by their opponent.

    As Notre Dame’s leading scorer, Atkinson had an outstanding game. He scored in double figures in both of the teams’ first two games and had season highs in both rebounds and blocks. Atkinson will likely remain the Irish’s primary offensive player.

    The Irish had a short lead in the first half, but it was not enough. Virginia tech notre dame offense was much more efficient. They shot 51 percent and forced 10 Irish turnovers in the first half and finished the half with a 79-68 lead. Despite that, the Irish never came within one possession. With 1:51 left in the game, Murphy hit two three-pointers for the Hokies. Earlier, Notre Dame had come within five points.

    Virginia Tech has been on a roll from the outside in recent weeks, but Notre Dame is one of the best perimeter defense teams in the country. This means the Hokies shouldn’t be able to shoot 3-pointers. Notre Dame will need to be strong on the perimeter to keep the Hokies’ shooters in check while moving the ball into open spots.

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