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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

Write it in ink.  Chisel it in stone.  Don’t bother saving it in Drafts.

If Georgia Tech wants another crack at closing out a tight ACC game, the schedule-makers gave them the perfect opponent Tuesday.  In 10 all-time meetings between Tech and Notre Dame at McCamish Pavilion, the average margin of victory has been a minuscule 2.8 points.  That includes last year’s game in mid-February, when Lance Terry’s tip-in at the buzzer gave the Yellow Jackets a 70-68 win.

Damon Stoudamire could only shake his head and let out a gravelly laugh when told of the nerve-shredding nature of the series.  But after a frustrating second half against Boston College, where a 16-point lead dissolved into an eight-point loss, he and Georgia Tech (8-6, 1-2 ACC) may welcome the chance to write a better ending so quickly.

They’ll get that opportunity against Notre Dame (6-9, 1-3 ACC), which beat Virginia by 22, lost to NC State in the final second, hung tough with Duke, and may be shedding its reputation as a young, vulnerable team.  Enjoy the top notes from my chart in preparation for a late-night tip in Atlanta (9 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Kyle Sturdivant averaged 15 points and hit 54.5 percent from the floor in Tech’s two games against Notre Dame last season. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Stoudamire knows another place where he expects a capacity crowd on Tuesday.

“I think I told our staff.  I said, ‘Well, one thing is for sure.  This thing is going to be on the big screen at the Boston practice facility,’” Stoudamire joked on his radio show.

They never overlapped, but Stoudamire and Micah Shrewsberry, Notre Dame’s first-year head coach, both spent time as assistant coaches with the Boston Celtics.  Shrewsberry had a six-year run under Brad Stevens (2013-19) before stops at Purdue and Penn State, where he led the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Tournament last March.  Stoudamire spent two years with the Celtics (2021-23), where Stevens had by then moved to president of basketball operations.

They may have worked on different staffs, but with Stevens as the through line, Stoudamire sees more than a few similarities in his and Shrewsberry’s systems.

“It’ll be interesting to hear his play calls [Tuesday] to hear if they kind of are the same,” he said.

Stoudamire noted that their offenses have some differences based on personnel.  Five-foot-11 Markus Burton (16.2 ppg) has the fourth highest scoring average in the nation among freshmen and is the kind of slippery, undersized guard that has given Tech problems this year.  In Tech coaching parlance he’s a “not done” guy, their term for a player who constantly keeps his dribble active, hunting for the slightest bit of relaxation from a defender before attacking.  Burton is athletic splitting defenses and has a tough right-to-left pull-up.

Along with freshman Braeden Shrewsberry (4-7 3pt. vs. Duke) and 6-7 wing J.R. Konieczny, a rangy shooter and physical rebounder, Notre Dame sprays threes at the second highest volume in the ACC.  The Irish still last in the ACC in three-point percentage (28.6 pct.), but Tech can’t get caught in rotations and let Notre Dame catch fire from deep.  Notre Dame also plays at a pace that can be charitably described as deliberate (No. 326 NCAA in tempo).  Defensive rebounding and holding the Irish to one-shot possessions will also be key.

*****

Entering this week, 269 players in Division I have recorded a triple-double in the last 10 seasons.

Kyle Sturdivant nearly joined an even rarer subset of that group.

According to CBB Reference, only three of those 269 triple-doubles were recorded by non-starters.  Sturdivant almost became the fourth, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in 23 bench minutes against Boston College.

Worth remembering: the senior had a pair of solid scoring games against Notre Dame last season:

Kyle Sturdivant – 2022-23

  • vs. Notre Dame (2 games): 15.0 ppg, 54.5% FG
  • vs. Rest of ACC (18 games): 8.3 ppg, 36.9% FG

Tech head coach Damon Stoudamire and Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry both served on the staff of the Boston Celtics at different times. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

In spite of its loss, Georgia Tech shot a season-high 54.2 percent against Boston College.

That may come in handy against the Irish, which held NC State and Duke to season lows in field goal percentage and held Virginia to its second worst percentage of the season.

Notre Dame vs. ACC – Opposing FG%

  • Virginia – 38.2% (2nd worst)
  • N.C. State – 28.8% (Worst)
  • Duke – 35.6% (Worst)

Notre Dame likes to pack the paint, play drop coverage on pick-and-rolls, and take away three-pointers, similar to how Hawaii defended Tech at the Diamond Head Classic.  The Yellow Jackets’ guards will need to be comfortable playing to the second side and making two-pointers off the bounce, while Tech’s forwards will need to get comfortable scoring under duress around the rim.  Can Tech also find ways to steal baskets in transition?  It may not be a conventionally abrasive defense, but with the Irish’s slow pace of play, teams are under pressure not to waste possessions.

*****

Notre Dame freshman Carey Booth (6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is the son of Denver Nuggets GM Calvin Booth, who starred at Penn State before a 10-year career in the NBA.  He also served as the boss of Georgia Tech assistant coach Nate Babcock, who joined Stoudamire’s staff after two seasons as an assistant with the Nuggets’ G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich.  Babcock said after practice Monday that he recalls working out the 6-10 Carey in high school.

*****

You’ve been warned:  Last year’s two games versus Notre Dame featured a combined 23 ties and 24 lead changes.

*****

Now that we’re ready, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage at 8:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you at McCamish.

-AD-

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of the development of Yellow Jackets that thrive academically at the Institute and compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Damon Stoudamire. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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