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2015-16 Season Review

April 12, 2016

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BY THE NUMBERS – 2015-16:

1 – Notre Dame led the nation in least amount of fouls committed per game at 15.1.
1.5 – Seconds remaining when freshman Rex Pflueger tipped in the game winning basket vs. Stephen F. Austin to push Notre Dame to a second consecutive Sweet 16 on March 18.
2 – NCAA Elite Eight appearances in the last two seasons. Notre Dame is the only team in the nation to make the Elite Eight in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
3 – Notre Dame players to grab over 800 rebounds and shoot over .560 from the floor – senior Zach Auguste, LaPhonso Ellis (1988-92) and Adrian Dantley (1974-76).
6 – NCAA tournament victories in the past two years for the Irish – a program-best mark.
6 in :19 – Junior guard Demetrius Jackson scored six points in the final 19 seconds of Notre Dame’s NCAA Sweet 16 matchup with Wisconsin, pushing Notre Dame to its second consecutive Elite Eight appearance. Jackson drove for a lay up at :19, had a steal and a lay up at :13, then another steal and game-sealing two free throws at :03.
8 – Games in which the Irish rallied from an halftime deficit to earn a victory in 2015-16 (deficit at halftime) – at Illinois (8), at Duke (5), vs. Virginia Tech (8), vs. North Carolina (9), vs. Louisville (7), vs. Duke in ACC quarterfinal (8), vs. Michigan in NCAA first round (12) and vs. Wisconsin in the NCAA Sweet 16 (4).
9 – Players in Notre Dame basketball history to score 1,200-plus points and grab 800-plus rebounds – including Zach Auguste.
10.7 – Rebounds-per-game average for Zach Auguste this season – finishing first in the ACC and becoming the first ND player to lead a conference in rebounding average since Luke Harangody in 2008-09. Auguste finished ranked 15th in the nation in rebounds per game average.
12 – Halftime deficit overcome by Notre Dame in its first round NCAA victory over Michigan. It marked just the third time in NCAA play the Irish rallied when trailing at halftime and the largest deficit ever overcome in the NCAA tourney. The Irish followed up with a come-from-behind win against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.
13 – NCAA tournament appearances by Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey in 21 years at Division I, 11 of those coming at Notre Dame.
17 – Final ranking for the Irish in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, the second straight season the Irish end up ranked in the national poll.
17.5 – Points-per-game scoring average for junior forward V.J. Beachem in Notre Dame’s four NCAA tournament games, securing the a spot on the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament Team. Beachem scored four points total in Notre Dame’s four NCAA games in 2014-15.
22 – Double-Doubles compiled by Zach Auguste in 2015-16- the most since Luke Harangody had 25 in 2008-09 and matches Ryan Humphrey in 2001-02 for the fifth-most in a single season all time at Notre Dame.
35 – NCAA tournament appearances by Notre Dame, tied for eight-most in championship history.
56 – Program-record wins over the past two years for the Irish. Notre Dame was 32-6 in 2014-15 and finished 24-12 in 2015-16.
103.7 – Notre Dame’s adjust offensive efficiency rating as computed by – finishing eighth-best in the nation.
1,819 – Wins in Notre Dame basketball history, ranked seventh all-time. Since Mike Brey took over the Irish program in 2000-01, the Irish have moved from 12th to seventh on the all-time wins list.


The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team capped its winningest two-year stretch with a 24-12 record and advancing to the NCAA Championship Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. With 56 total wins and six combined wins in the NCAA tournament over the past two seasons, the Irish have established themselves as one of the top basketball programs in the nation.

Notre Dame finished non-conference action with a 9-3 record, highlighted with wins over Iowa in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 29, followed by a victory at Illinois in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 2.

Notre Dame began ACC play with a 2-2 record, but hit a great stride in January and early February, earning the program’s first win at Duke (95-91) on Jan. 16, then starting February with wins over #2/1 North Carolina in Purcell Pavilion (Feb. 6), dealing Clemson its first home court loss of the year on Feb. 8, then returning home to take down #13 Louisville on Feb. 13.

The Irish earned a double-bye in the ACC Championship for the second consecutive season (fourth seed overall), then rallied for a 84-79 overtime victory over Duke in the ACC quarterfinals. Entering the NCAA Championship, Notre Dame faced First Four survivor Michigan in the first round, rallying from a 12-point deficit to take down the Wolverines 70-63. Two days later, the Irish would rally yet again, this time in in the final minute, with freshman Rex Pflueger’s rebound tip-in with 1.5 seconds remaning pushing the Irish to a 76-75 victory over Stephen F. Austin and into the Sweet 16.

There were more dramatics in store against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, as the Irish post yet another rally on their NCAA tournament resume. Trailing by three with :23 seconds remaining, Demetrius Jackson drove for a lay up, then stole a pass three seconds later, performed another lay up and suddenly the Irish were ahead with :13 seconds remaining. After a Wisconsin miss, V.J. Beachem defensive rebound and two free throws, Jackson sealed the game with another steal at the :03 mark and the Irish became the only team in the nation to make two consecutive trips to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2015 and 2016.

Battling eventual national runner up North Carolina in the regional final, the Irish were able to grab a 52-51 lead with 13:00 minutes remaining before the Tar Heels pulled away for a 88-74 victory.


Not only did Notre Dame advance to the NCAA Championship Elite Eight for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1978-79, but the Irish combined for six NCAA tournament wins over the past two seasons – the most in program history over a two-year stretch. The previous high was Notre Dame’s three wins in 1978 (the team’s lone appearance in the Final Four) and two victories the next season.

The Irish were the only team in the nation to advance to the Elite Eight in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and the back-to-back regional final games are a first for the program since the NCAA touranment expanded to 64 or more teams in 1985.


Junior guard Demetrius Jackson will forgo his final season of eligibility and declare himself eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft. Jackson announced his decision on March 29. He plans to hire an agent over the next weeks and begin his preparation for the draft immediately.

Jackson was a second-team All-ACC selection by both the league coaches and media in 2015-16, while leading the Irish in scoring (15.8 ppg), assists (164, 4.7 pg) and steals (43, 1.2). He was most recently named to the NCAA All-East Regional Tournament team, capping off his Notre Dame career with a 26-point performance against North Carolina in the regional final, while also pushing the Irish to the Elite Eight with two steals, one of which led to the game winning points, in the final seconds of Notre Dame’s 61-56 victory over Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

Jackson finishes his Notre Dame career with 1,204 points (11.7 pg), 335 assists (3.3 pg) and 114 steals (1.1 pg). He averaged over 31 minutes played per game in his career, including 36.0 per game in 2014-15 and 31.5 per game in 2015-16. He finishes 40th on the all-time scoring list at Notre Dame, 17th in assists, tied for 17th in steals and tied for 17th in free throw percentage (.782).


Zach Auguste finished the season with a 10.7 rebound average, a mark that put him atop all players in the ACC in the final conference rankings. He is the first Irish player to lead the conference in rebounding average since Luke Harangody topped the BIG EAST in 2008-09. Auguste joins Harangody, Ryan Humphrey (2001-02) and Troy Murphy (1999-2000, 1998-99) as the only Notre Dame players to lead a conference in rebounding average.


Zach Auguste averaged a double-double in 2015-16 (14.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg) and moved up the all-time Notre Dame rebound list along the way. Auguste passed the 800-rebound barrier against Stephen F. Austin on March 18th, becoming the 13th Irish player to reach that plateau.

Auguste finished with a .567 shooting percentage in his career. Finishing above .560 shooting for his time at Notre Dame, he becomes just the third Irish player to shoot over .560 and grab 800-plus rebounds.


Notre Dame’s 84-79 victory at Illinois on Dec. 2 marked the 1800th win in program history. The Fighting Irish are 1819-984 (.648) all-time in 112 seasons.

Notre Dame ranks seventh in Division I in all-time program wins behind Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Temple and Syracuse. The Irish have improved five spots in the all-time wins list since Mike Brey took over the program for the 2000-01 season, surpassing Indiana, Oregon State, Pennsylvania and St. John’s.

Notre Dame is the only NCAA program to rank in the top 10 for men’s basketball victories (1819, 8th) and football victories (892, 2nd).


The Atlantic Coast Conference announced its All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball team on March 1. Two members of Notre Dame’s freshman class – Rex Pflueger and Matt Ryan – were named to the 26-member team. To be eligible for consideration, a student-athlete must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career.


On Jan. 4, Irish head coach Mike Brey named Steve Vasturia a captain for the remainder of the 2015-16 season, joining Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste and A.J. Burgett as Irish players with a ‘C’ on their uniforms.


The Atlantic Coach Conference made history last weekend when six of its members moved onto the NCAA Championship Sweet 16 – a first for the sports’s post season tourney. Notre Dame finished a combined 3-6 versus fellow conference members Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia who all won two tourney games on the first weekend of the tournament.


Senior forward Zach Auguste posted 22 double-double this season (10+ points, 10+ rebounds), including 11 in the final 13 games. Those 22 games are tied for fifth all-time in a single season at Notre Dame.

Double-Doubles (Season) 1. Luke Harangody 25 2008-09 2. Robert Whitmore 24 1967-68 3. LaPhonso Ellis 23 1991-92 Collis Jones 23 1970-71 5. Zach Auguste 22 2015-16 Ryan Humphrey 22 2001-02 7. Troy Murphy 20 1999-00


The 2015-16 season was packed with plenty of memorable moments for the Notre Dame basketball program –

vs. Iowa, Nov. 27, 2015 – Just one day after an ‘upset’ to ‘mid major’ upstart Monmouth in the game’s final minute, Notre Dame posts a win over Iowa, a team that would spent much of the season ranked in the top 15, in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Fla. … V.J. Beachem, just five games into being a regular starter for the Irish, scored 16 points, including three three pointers in the first half … Bonzie Colson helped seal the game with two pick-and-roll lay ups from Demetrius Jackson to key a 9-2 Notre Dame run late in the game.

at Illinois, Dec. 2, 2015 – The first of eight rallies from half time deficits for the Irish this season came at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge vs. Illinois … the Illini, celebrating the opening of the renovated State Farm Center built an eight point lead at halftime … a 12-1 run to begin the second half keyed the Notre Dame comeback, with two key three pointers from V.J. Beachem during the run … Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia both finished with 21 points in the game, while Zach Auguste dominated inside with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

at Duke, Jan. 16, 2016 – Bonzie Colson exploded for a career-high 31 points to help Notre Dame take down #9/6 Duke for the first time in program history at Cameron Indoor Stadium … Colson led a trio of 20-plus point scorers for the Irish (Demetrius Jackson 24, Steve Vasturia career-high 22) … trailing by one with 47.2 seconds left, Colson coverted a key three-point play with 35.8 seconds play to put the Irish ahead to stay … Duke made it a two-point game with four seconds left, but Zach Auguste grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, was fouled and nailed two free throws to seal the game … Colson is just the third player to score 30+ points with 10+ rebounds in Cameron Indoor in the past 20 seasons.

North Carolina, Feb. 6, 2016 – With ESPN’s College Game Day in town, Notre Dame tallies yet another rally in the second half to take down #2/1 North Carolina in a prime time matchup … Notre Dame trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and were down by nine at halftime … an 11-2 run put the Irish ahead to stay, capped by a lay up from Demetrius Jackson to break a 55-55 tie with 9:25 remaining … Notre Dame posted 24 team rebounds in the second half, including 12 offensive rebounds … Bonzie Colson (19 pts, 10 reb) and Zach Auguste (15 pts, 10 reb) both posted double-doubles in the contest … Notre Dame committed just two turnovers in the game.

Louisville, Feb. 13, 2016 – After the big win over North Carolina and start-to-finish win at Clemson (handing the Tigers their first home court loss of the season), Notre Dame returned home to post yet another second half rally against a ranked ACC foe … with the rest of the Irish struggling from the field, Demetrius Jackson kept Notre Dame in striking distance at halftime, scoring 20 points in the first 20 minutes bolstered by five three point field goals … three different 7-0 runs in the second half enabled the Irish to recover from their seven-point halftime deficit … Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half … Notre Dame outrebounded #13 Louisville 41-29 in the contest.

vs. Duke, March 10, 2016, ACC Quarterfinals – Trailing 64-48 midway through the second half, Notre Dame exploded for a 14-0 run, holding Duke scoreless for over seven minutes to force overtime – then outscore the Blue Devils in the extra frame to post the program’s fifth win in six games over Duke … V.J. Beachem’s clutch three-point shooting keyed the Notre Dame rally, putting ND ahead 67-66 at the 2:30 mark, then tying the game at 1:04, before hitting yet another three in the overtime period to put Notre Dame ahead to stay … Notre Dame held Duke to 25 points in the second half on 30% (9-30) shooting … Zach Auguste dominated the paint with 19 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, matching Tim Duncan for the second-best ever in an ACC tournament game.

vs. Michigan, March 18, 2016, NCAA First Round – The Irish flipped the script of the game to win their first round match up with the Wolverines, as Michigan was able to score 41 points in the first half (holding Notre Dame to 29), but then ND exploded for 41 points in the second half and hold UM to just 22 for the rally … Notre Dame ended up shooting 57.1% in the second half (12-21) with six three pointers, while Michigan managed just 28.1% shooting (9-32) … V.J. Beachem ended the game 7-7 from the field and 4-4 from three-point range for 18 points … trailing by 12 at halftime, Notre Dame came out of the locker room to score the first eight points of the half … freshman Matt Ryan tied the game up at 48-48 with a three pointer at 12:18 and Beachem followed with a three at 9:26 to cap the 22-6 run to open the half.

vs. Stephen F. Austin, March 20, NCAA Second Round – Notre Dame and Stephen F. Austin would go back and forth in one of the top NCAA tournament games of the year, with neither team building more than a seven point lead … SFA entered the game with 21-game win streak … SFA made a three in transition with 3:31 left for a 73-70 lead, then added two free throws to grow the lead to five – the last points of the tournament for the Lumberjacks … Demetrius Jackson pushed the ball up the court for a layup with 1:34 left, then hit two free throws with :47 remaining to cut the lead to one … Zach Auguste grabbed a huge defensive rebound with :20 seconds left, handing the ball off to Jackson … Notre Dame did not call a timeout, Jackson drove the lane and missed, Auguste missed a follow up but freshman Rex Pflueger was there to tip in the miss with 1.5 seconds remaining … the put back was Pflueger’s first points of the game … Demetrius Jackson led the Irish with 18 points in the contest, while Auguste added 16 and V.J. Beachem 15.

vs. Wisconsin, March 25, 2016, NCAA Third Round – Another back-and-forth game and another second half rally for the Irish … Notre Dame scored a season-low 19 points in the first, but exploded for 10 points in the final 46 seconds of the game to earn a spot in the regional final for the second straight season … Wisconsin took a three point lead with :26 seconds remaining on a three pointer from Vitto Brown … Demetrius Jackson quickly took the ball down court for a lay up to cut the lead to one … with full court pressure on, Wisconsin turned the ball over deep in the back court, allowing Jackson to scoop up the ball and lay it in for a one-point Irish lead … Wisconsin missed with :13 remaining on the next possession, the rebound was grabbed by V.J. Beachem, who was fouled and hit two free throws … now down by three, Wisconsin had a final possession snuffed out by a Jackson steal at midcourt … Jackson was fouled and hit two free throws, capping his six-point outburt in the final 19 seconds … Beachem led the Irish with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, Jackson added 16 points and six assists.


It was a forgettable post season for V.J. Beachem last year. While the Irish pushed toward the ACC Championship and eventual Elite Eight run in the NCAA Championship, Beachem’s minutes and production dropped. Then a sophomore, Beachem scored just 14 points combined in the ACC and NCAA Championships.

Beachem’s performance over Notre Dame’s six post season games this year have made 2014-15 a distant memory.

In the ACC Quarterfinals vs. Duke on March 10, Beachem tied for the team lead with 19 points, going 7-12 from the field with four three point field goals and matching his career high in minutes played (38).

His three pointer at 2:35 left in regulation gave the Irish their first lead of the game since the early minutes, he then followed up with a three pointer during Notre Dame’s second possession of overtime to put the Irish head to stay.

In the ACC semifinal loss to North Carolina, Beachem continued his hot shooting with 11 points, going 3-6 from behind the arc.

He carried over his dead eye shooting to Brooklyn, N.Y., for the NCAA tournament first and second rounds. Beachem shot seven for seven from the field, four for four from three point range to lead the team with 18 points in the first round win over Michigan. His penchant for dramatic three pointers continued as well.

His three pointer at 6:12 tied the game at 56-56, then he struck again from behind the arch at 3:43 to break a 59-59 tie. Beachem followed up to put the Irish ahead by five with a pull up jumper on the next possession.

Beachem finished with 15 points in Notre Dame’s win over Stephen F. Austin in the second round, grabbing seven rebounds.

Moving onto the regional, Beachem continued to bring his ‘A’ game, scoring a team-high 19 points vs. Wisconsin and 18 points against North Carolina. For his outstanding play in the NCAA championship, Beachem was named to the NCAA East Region All-Tournament Team.


Notre Dame joined the ACC at the start of the 2013-14 basketball season. The Irish ended up 0-3 in the state of North Carolina that year (65-58 loss at Wake Forest, 63-61 loss at North Carolina, 81-69 loss to Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro).

Since breaking through for the program’s first win in Chapel Hill, 71-70, at North Carolina on Jan. 5, 2015, the Irish have won seven of the last eight games they have played in the Tar Heel State.


Notre Dame has ‘bounced-back’ after a loss 13 consecutive times from Nov. 26, 2014 through March 2, 2016, avoiding back-to-back losses since losing three in a row to end the 2013-14 season.

The 68-game run of avoiding consecutive losses is the best in school history. The previous school record streaks of games without back-to-back losses (67 games) were owned by the George Keogan teams from 1924-1928 (March 3, 1925 – Dec. 15, 1928) and Digger Phelps teams from 1983-1986 (Feb. 22, 1984 – Nov. 21, 1986).

The streak came to an end with a 56-77 loss at Florida State on Feb. 27, 2016, followed by a 50-68 setback to Miami at home on March 2, 2016.


Notre Dame held its annual ‘Evening With Notre Dame Basketball’ event on Monday, April 11, in the Joyce Center and Purcell Pavilion. Attended by over 500 fans, the event marks the end of the season for the Irish, who hold and open house, autograph session and awards ceremony.

Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson were named Monogram Club Team MVPs for the season and the award was presented to them by former Irish All-American Pat Garrity (1994-98).

Jackson was also named the team’s ‘Outstanding Playmaker’ for the second consecutive season.

Steve Vasturia earned his second consecutive ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ award, while sophomore Martinas Geben garnered the Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award. Junior V.J. Beachem earned the team’s ‘Most Improved’ award as well.