If one of the greatest seasons in Notre Dame basketball history ended in the round of 32 against an ordinary Florida State team, than what might the downside look like?
It seems as if Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and the rest of the Fighting Irish cagers are about to find out.
Brey has found himself shorthanded following the premature and ill-advised departure of Carleton Scott for an NBA Draft that never looked at him. And now this: a season-ending knee injury to his lone dependable upperclassmen and star Tim Abromaitis.
After being seriously outclassed by Missouri 87-58 and outgutted down the stretch by Georgia 61-57 even with Abromaitis, the Irish found themselves out on a limb and a long way from home against a decent Gonzaga team in Spokane, Wash., on Wednesday night. The result was a predictable 73-53 thrashing.
Brey has become accustomed to depending on seniors for leadership and backbone. But with only fifth-year transfer Scott Martin to look up to, the young Irish look ragged and confused a lot of the time.
Some people are going to have to be inconvenienced before the Irish reach Big East play. The free lunches on the Notre Dame schedule are just about over. If the Irish play as poorly as they have been playing once they begin conference play, it's going to be a very long season underneath the dome.
Here are five players who have to step it up if Notre Dame is going to have a winning season or even be competitive. Never mind the NCAA Tournament for now.