The University of Notre Dame Men’s Basketball Team raised their first ever ACC Championship banner inside the Purcell Pavilion on Friday night when the team took on the Red Flash of St. Francis (Pa.).
This moment brought back memories of the run last march that saw them defeat both ACC traditional powers Duke and North Carolina on their way to gaining the ACC automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, Notre Dame did not stop there. The Irish fought their way all the way to the Elite Eight before falling to the number one overall seed the University of Kentucky.
While that was an extremely exciting time for fans of Notre Dame hoops, the days of Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton are over, as they have both moved on to the NBA. They’ll be greatly missed on the team, however there are others ready to step up and make this season just as memorable for Notre Dame.
Experienced players such as Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste, and Steve Vastuira will lead the 2015-2016 squad.
They were ready to see the banner go up, and have one final walk down memory lane before tuning their focus to this season, and more specifically the Red Flash.
The Irish did just that in their 87-56 thrashing of St. Francis in the season opener. After the banner was unveiled in the Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame got right to business. They were paced by Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste, both of whom had outstanding games. Jackson was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points on 10/14 from the floor, he also added in eight boards and three dimes. Auguste had the first of what should be many double-doubles this season, totaling 15 points and 14 boards. Off the bench Notre Dame got a boost from Freshman Matt Ryan with nine points.
Senior guard Greg Brown paced St. Francis with 15 on the night.
Demetrius Jackson looked extremely athletic, and ready to take some of the load left by the departure of Jerian Grant. If Jackson continues to shoot as well as he did Friday evening, there is no doubt he will be able to find a home in the NBA one day.
Obviously, all games will not go as smooth as the opener did for Notre Dame, but this team looks primed to win over 20 games again this season.
Notre Dame has been picked to finish fourth in the ACC this season, behind North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia. They are the three teams that finished ahead of them in the regular season last year as well. The Irish are also ranked at 19 in the AP Poll to start the season.
Notre Dame has non-conference tilts with notables Indiana and Illinois before opening ACC play on January 2, at the University of Virginia.