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O’Malley’s Monday Musings

Channeling John Keats, Brey’s undervalued vs. his highly valued, and the increasingly -popular football recruiting “hit rates” highlight his week’s edition.

1 – A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever: His feet aren’t great on the defensive end (though his length has become a factor), and you can count on one hand how many dribbles he should take in one-on-one situations, but if there’s a prettier, high-release jump shot in amateur American basketball than the one owned by V.J. Beachem I haven’t seen it.

Credit Notre Dame’s ball movement for the sharpshooter’s ability to unleash it.

Beachem has knocked down 25 of his 58 long range jumpers since suffering a crippling 0-for-5 outing in that regard in a home loss to chief ACC foil Virginia.

Matt Farrell (9), Rex Pflueger (4), Bonzie Colson (4), Steve Vasturia (4), and T.J. Gibbs (2) have assisted on 23 of those 25 triples.  Beachem hit the remaining pair off the bounce.

2 – Finding a Way: Steve Vasturia has hit just nine of his last 44 three-point shots (20.4%) over the last nine games (Notre Dame is 5-4 in that span) after connecting on nearly 50% (14 of his first 30) in his initial six matchups of ACC action when the Irish began 5-1.

But Vasturia’s offset that lost long-range stroke by making good on 20 of his 41 shots inside the arc over the same span – about half of those 20 were the result of determined forays to the hoop.

Vasturia, who has 25 rebounds over Notre Dame’s last four victories, converted 19 layups in 29 attempts at the rim during the nine games in which he’s struggled from beyond the arc. Excluding a steal and dunk, nine of those 19 finishes were the result of his penetration; the remaining nine were assisted.

And if he’s fouled on a drive, it’s a nearly automatic two points as the senior has hit 46 of his 51 charity shots in ACC games.

Admittedly, the Irish will need a few timely triples from Vasturia to advance in the two tournaments that await, but its clear Vasturia facilitates offense better than he plays catch-and-shoot.  

3 – Value Add? Our Four Horsemen Lounge message board posited the question over the weekend: “Why add (Michigan graduate transfer) Freddy Canteen to the mix of wide receivers?

A.) Never turn down talent

B.) I like a handful of Notre Dame’s 10 returning pass-catchers/incoming freshmen but I cant’ identify more than a trio of top tier types against whom Canteen has to fight for playing time next fall, and …

C.) What if Canteen’s purported speed affords him the invaluable and oh-so-necessary skill of covering kicks and punts?

4 – Hit Percentage: I received a few questions about my reference to the recruiting “hit” percentage among offensive linemen at Notre Dame over the last 10 seasons. Not including the incoming quartet from 2017, 16 of the previous 28 dating back to the class of 2007  “hit” or will “hit” by my estimation.

Four among those 16 – Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Ronnie Stanley, and Nick Martin – rank as standout performers while current starters Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey have “hit” but with their standout status pending.

-- Remaining 10 OL “hits” were as follows: Taylor Dever, Trevor Robinson, Mike Golic, Jr., Braxston Cave, *Alex Bullard, Christian Lombard, Matt Hegarty, Steve Elmer, Alex Bars, and Sam Mustipher. (*Bullard transferred not because of issues with the program/staff but because of a death in the family and became a two-year starter at Tennessee.)

-- None of the team’s five relative rookies are yet counted among the 28 referenced above. 2015 recruits Tristen Hoge (likely) and Trevor Ruhland (no idea), plus last year’s trio of freshmen Liam Eichenberg (likely), Tommy Kraemer (likely) and Parker Boudreaux (no idea) have ample time to make an impact.

5 – Better than Drinks at a Party: Notable exchange between my wife and I after attending a party at a home that had an indoor basketball court – a full, indoor basketball court – one that predictably turned what was a nicely planned birthday/wine dinner into about 90 minutes of P-I-G for at least half of the dozen attendees (obviously us included):

Christy: How much would you have loved to have that growing up?
Me: Yeah. But you know what Rick Pitino says, “Never recruit a kid with a three-car garage.”
Christy: You had a two-car garage and a wooden backboard. He didn’t recruit you either.
Me: Valid.

6 – Hit Percentage, Part II: That was fun. How about the wide receivers?

From 2007 through 2016, Notre Dame collected 28 athletes that, at least initially, played wide receiver.

2007: Golden Tate (Legend), Duval Kamara (hit)
2008: Michael Floyd (Legend), John Goodman (hit, relatively speaking), Deion Walker (miss)
2009: Robby Toma (hit), Shaq Evans (transfer standout)
2010: T.J. Jones (standout)
2011: DaVaris Daniels (um, hit…until he you know, ruined the legacy of the program. MISS!)
2012: Chris Brown (hit), Davonte Neal (miss/transfer), Justin Ferguson (miss/transfer)
2013: Will Fuller (legend), Corey Robinson (hit), Torii Hunter, Jr. (hit),
2014: Corey Holmes (miss/transfer), Justin Brent (miss/transfer)
2015: EQ St. Brown (hit at minimum), C.J. Sanders (hit), Miles Boykin (pending) *Chris Finke (hit considering he was a walk-on)
2016: K.J. Stepherson (hit), Chase Claypool (pending), Deon McIntosh (pending/converted RB).

In summation: 28 players, 3 legends, 1 standout, 1 standout transfer, *10 hits, plus 3 pending players vs. just 6 “misses” – five of them transferred or got the boot.

*An additional 4 hits, Bennett Jackson, Austin Collinsworth, Matthias Farley, and James Onwualu were each recruited (in part) as wide receivers. All “hit” instead as defensive players – each of them became a team captain, which is remarkable.

7 – I Can Do This All Day: Hmmm…let’s try this trick with quarterbacks. Should be telling:

2002: Chris Olsen 4-star transfer/miss
2003: Brady Quinn 4-star Hit
2004: David Wolke 3-star transfer/miss
2005: Evan Sharpley 4-star miss…but a baseball hit.
2006: Zach Fraser 4-star transfer/miss and Demetrius Jones 3-star transfer/miss
2007: Jimmy Clausen 5-star Hit. Early NFL entrant
2008: Dayne Crist 5-star Miss…great guy though. Eventual graduate transfer
2009: None. And it bit them in 2010…
2010: Tommy Rees 3-star Hit, Luke Massa 3-star miss, moved to WR/holder, and Andrew Hendrix 3-star miss, eventual graduate transfer
2011: Everett Golson 4-star Hit, eventual graduate transfer
2012: Gunner Kiel, 5-star miss/transfer
2013: Malik Zaire, 4-star Hit (relatively speaking), eventual graduate transfer
2014: DeShone Kizer, 4-star Hit, early NFL entrant
2015: Brandon Wimbush, 4-star pending
2016: Ian Book, 3-star pending
2017: Avery Davis, 4-star pending

-- Among the “misses” only Sharpley didn’t transfer or switch positions but he started for the Irish baseball team for three seasons.

-- Of note, there are nine transfers among the 18 listed with three pending.

-- Only Quinn, Sharpley, and Rees exhausted their collegiate eligibility in South Bend. (Massa could have/would have returned for a fifth but moved onto the real world.)

8 – Brey on Bonzie: Notre Dame’s head coach had this to offer last week regarding his prize recruiting “hit” of the last three cycles, three-star prospect and five-star player, Bonzie Colson:

“He’s become better with the ball. He’s a better passer than he was in his early years. And he’s able to make face-up jump shots now.

“We got his footwork together,” Brey continued. “He was always a junkyard dog – around the bucket, making plays. He’s become a better basketball player with us. Catch, footwork, how to pivot, shot-fake, and he still needs work in that area. But he’s a better basketball player. Then you put that with an edge and an intensity – and it’s a really neat combo.”

Colson and likely Matt Farrell (2-star) will join Russell Carter (2-star) Tim Abromaitis (2-star), Jack Cooley (3-star), and Jerian Grant (3-star…whoops!) as low-profile recruits by Brey that earned All-League honors.

Of note: Like current All-ACC hopefuls V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia, three-star Rivals.com prospect Luke Harangody was billed as a 4-star prospect per Scout.com. Never would have guessed that…

9 – Which Begs the Question: Let’s pit a pair of 9-man rotations (insert Brey joke here) against each other:

Team A: 2 and 3-star Brey Recruits: Bonzie Colson, Jack Cooley, Tim Abromaitis, Jerian Grant, Matt Farrell, Russell Carter, Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott, and Eric Atkins.

Against…

Team B: 4 and *5-star Brey Recruits: Luke Harangody, Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste, Chris Quinn, Pat Connaughton, Rob Kurz, *Torin Francis, Steve Vasturia, and V.J. Beachem.

(I had to cut four-star prospects and eventual All Big East players Colin Falls, Tory Jackson, and Kyle McAlarney from the team above. I only had to omit Rex Pflueger and Ryan Ayers from the three-star squad. Pflueger will one day replace Atkins, I believe.)

Who wins?

Until next week, Irish fans…


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