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Fighting Irish “better than people think” in transition

The way coach Buzz Williams sees it, tomorrow afternoon’s game against Notre Dame will likely be a slug fest and joked the Fighting Irish have been playing “pretty fast” the last two games.

According to Synergy, the Fighting Irish have limited opponents to 123 possessions in those two games and won both contests by scoring a combined 113 points.

Those numbers are down compared to the 72.7 possessions per game Notre Dame has averaged for the season. Make no mistake about it, this Fighting Irish team can score and has some tendencies to get out in transition.

“They are much more efficient in transition than people give them credit for,” Williams said. “If they can score in the first six or eight seconds, they will.

“But if you don’t make a blunder before the last six or eight seconds of the shot clock, they’re going to play and feel comfortable playing with less than six seconds on the shot clock.”

According to Synergy, Notre Dame plays in transition on just 11.6 percent of its possessions, but score 10.3 points per game in transition. Its 1.22 points per possession ranks in the 92nd percentile in the country.

Compare that to a Marquette team that Williams says plays much slower this year, but still plays in transition 14.3 percent of the time. The Golden Eagles average 1.18 points per possession in transition.

However, over its past two games, Notre Dame had just 13 possessions in transition, while limiting opponents to just 17 transition possessions.

“It’s a grind in a lot of ways, both mentally and physically,” Williams said of the Fighting Irish’s style of play. “It shortens the game dramatically.”

Williams is happy his team has figured out a way to play effectively without playing fast and thinks that could be a factor in tomorrow’s game, where the Golden Eagles are looking to clinch a double bye in the Big East Tournament for the second consecutive season.

“When the game shortens to 55 possessions, possessions become monumental,” Williams said. “Of course they play that way all the time, so they have comfort in that.

Notre Dame announced Thursday that Scott Martin would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and he has already missed the team’s previous nine games. The Fighting Irish are 7-2 in those games.

“It’s kind of similar to when (Georgetown’s) Greg Whittington got hurt,” Williams said. “It’s changed the dynamic of their team.

“I think they’re playing with even more confidence after the five overtime game against Louisville and they were almost perfect in their last game against Cincinnati.”

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