Luke Harangody has pneumonia and the rest of the campus has been stricken with a mysterious case of Rehireweis Syndrome, that terrible malady that causes you to lose to vastly inferior opponents.
Okay, so the Irish didn't lose the whole game, but it played an extended period of bad basketball for the first time all season. We should not be outscored in a half by a transitional program... ever.
It wasn't all bad obviously as Notre Dame exits with a 26 point win without its best player and set a new school record for three point shots made. At the first media timeout, the Irish were on pace for 200 points. Ryan Ayers really stepped up today and scored 25 in the first half. Kyle McAlarney was not far behind him, as it seemed clear that the solo three point record would be in jeopardy, though the record breaker was certainly yet to be decided.
At halftime, Coach Brey came up with a strategy straight from the still-football coach: "Let's make these guys feel good and give them something to tell the family about back home." That's probably not how the talk went, but the results seemed like it. South Dakota started knocking down open looks from outside and the Irish were sloppy on both ends of the floor. Though it never got really competitive, the Coyotes outscored us 46-42. The team should not be happy.
Tory Jackson spread the ball around, but was rahter erratic at times. 0-6 from the floor, he forced shots on drives and turned the ball over three times. He did get those ten assists and two steals, but it feels like he plays to the level of competition. His decision-making was not at its best today.
Kyle McAlarney was on fire in the first half and drilled a few good shots late, but was uncharacteristically tentative to start the second period. Clearly, Coach Brey told the players to slow down a bit and run the offense. That makes some sense, as we gain nothing from playing street ball against a bad team. However, we don't gain a whole lot from playing poor organized basketball either.
Ryan Ayers really stepped up his game with 35 points on 9-14 shooting from beyond the arc. He also had six rebounds in 33 minutes. He, like McAlarney, also failed to take open shots in the second half. Mac's school record would have been gone easily if Ayers played both halves with authority.
Zach Hillesland played like a big time power forward against Creighton transfer Steve Smith. Smith is 6'11", 254 pounds, and sweats... a lot. Hillesland and a veriety of other smaller defenders seemed to keep him pretty well in check, until one sees that the seemingly-imposing big man set career highs with minutes, points, and rebounds. Nonetheless, I can't complain with 6 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals.
Luke Zeller had 8 and 6, but didn't shoot exceptionally well and did not stick out in 22 minutes. Hillesland is clearly the first choice in the paint and Ty Nash saw a lot of action and had better numbers than Zeller in five less minutes.
Off the bench, Peoples did not shoot well but finished with 4 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Scott and Nash were better, scoring 7 and 9. Nash also had 8 rebounds and is starting to look like a serious player in the post.
First half, Irish shot 55% from the floor (61% 3PA). South Dakota 34% (22%). Second half, Irish 39% (36%). Coyotes 59% (64%). That tells the story right there. Give the Coyotes credit for strong shooting in the second period, but they were open and we were not. Need to step up that defense a lot against Ohio State, who just beat Miami.
It's a win, it counts in the record (if not the RPI), and everyone stayed healthy for Saturday. LH looked good walking around and acknowledged the student section at the end of the game, but a decision on him will not come out until probably Thursday.
As for that football team, no I won't go there...