Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ohio State 67, Notre Dame 62

The Buckeyes knocked off their second ranked team in a row by shutting down Kyle McAlarney. Luke Harangody had a heroic effort coming off of a bout of pneumonia, but the rest of the team rode a lackluster rebounding performance to a disappointing loss.

If we shot just over 75% from the line, this really well could have been a victory, so blame Tory Jackson's awful foul shooting for part of this loss. Can't blame him too much, though, as he provided the only outside threat down the stretch.

Ohio State's press forced some turnovers and kept our offense from getting in synch most of the game. The Buckeyes connected on a bunch of second chances with ten offensive rebounds. Simply unacceptable to give a team like that so many opportunities to finish off possessions.

Though good defense and Jackson's hot hand gave ND a chance to tie inside of ten seconds left, sloppy play allowed Ohio State to expand a lead to ten points and essentially put this game away midway through the second half. Though a Duke loss slightly lowers the sting of this one, it certainly looks like the Irish will enter Big East play outside the top 10.

Jackson finished with 13 points and 5 assists. Also added four rebounds. He was awful inside the arc and at the line, making just 1 of 6 two point shots. I like Tory being aggressive, but he has to make those driving layups. If he can't finish, dribble penetration is just as effective as turning the ball over. Still, props to the little guy for scoring ten of our last fourteen points. This is a blowout without his effort.

Mac never got off to his usual production. 6 points on 3-11 shooting (0-6 from three). We just can't win against good teams without offensive balance and he is the most reliable outside threat. For as much as Luke Harangody gives the Irish, he cannot carry the team to victory by himself. Kyle will have more nights like this in the future and its a shame he couldn't produce tonight.

Ayers shot well, but he didn't give us the kind of effort we needed with a defense taking Kyle out of the game. After scoring 35 against South Dakota, he took twelve fewer shots and scored only nine points. He has the ability to be a prolific scorer, but can get too tentative in bad situations. Eight other players took as many shots or more than Ayers did in 34 minutes tonight, including a whole lineup of Buckeyes. That's not going to get the job done without help from the shooting guard.

Hillesland disappeared a bit. 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Played just over half the game. I know Harangody took a lot of boards tonight, but a better effort by Zach could have evened the playing field a bit. Five Ohio State players finished with more rebounds. That's not a good showing by a Big East power forward.

Harangody was a hero and gave a truly gutsy performance. 25 points, 16 rebounds in what had to be a very difficult 36 minutes. He out hustled the rest of the team all afternoon. Without Luke, this game would have been a complete embarrassment. With him, it just lands in the disappointment category.

No real production off the bench. A combined five points, five rebounds, and two assists between 31 minutes of Zeller, Nash, and Peoples. That's not good enough. Zeller did add a steal and two blocks, a nice contribution, but still not enough to really give a boost of energy as a reserve. Those three need to be instant game-changers when they step on the floor. Not so much tonight.

Evan Turner went off for 28 points, a career-high. It's never a good thing to see the Irish give an opposing player the game of a lifetime. Other than Turner, the Buckeyes focused on strong D and crashing the boards. It worked. Notre Dame was held below 40% shooting overall and beyond the arc. A six rebound advantage (three more on the offensive glass) kept OSU's lead down the stretch and allowed them to pull away midway through the second half.

It's disappointing, mostly because of what might have been with a win. Instead of spending Christmas in the top 5, we should be happy to stay top 10 (unlikely). Time to regroup against the cupcakes, make sure Gody is completely recovered, and use opportunities against Big East foes to restake our place amongst the nation's elite.


Golden Monkey said...

Restake our place amongst the nations elite? PLEASE

The Big East has five teams better than Ohio State that we will face maybe twice this year. We have three big time college players on this team. Ayers might score 35 againts St. Marys of the Poor, as long as he can stand in one place with no one guarding him he's a real good shooter. Same can be said for Zeller. We're not big, we need to get much tougher in order to accomplish the lofty goals everyone seems to have.

BlackandGreen said...

Obviously we didn't play well, but let's not overreact too much here. Before this game, we had a win over the #8 team in the country and our only loss a decent effort against the nation's best (twenty points better than #13 Michigan State fared, with our best player sick). None of that has changed.

Ohio State won't fall out of the rankings again this year. They are a very good basketball team who bet the farm to shut down our perimeter shooting. Harangody got 25 points off of their relaxed post D, but clearly could have scored 10-15 more if fully healthy. That was the first time he shot under 50% in a game this season, including games against two other top ten defenses (Texas and UNC). We lost to a talented team that gambled big and won. Give me a healthy Gody and a rematch any day.

That's not to make excuses for losing. Your point is well taken about only having three big time players in the lineup. Teams like UNC, Duke, Connecticut, and Gonzaga spread their scoring out amongst 5 or 6 players in double figures.

However, I'd caution you to not blow Notre Dame's weaknesses out of proportion (a problem I have). Pitt has a big three in Fields, Young, and Blair. The best guy after that is Tyrell Biggs, who puts up Hillesland-esque numbers. Oklahoma rides Blake Griffin like we ride Harangody. Even Louisville is pretty shallow when it comes to talent. They only have three guys earning more than 20 minutes a game (I understand they have a deeper bench, but Edgar Sosa isn't exactly "big time" in my book either).

You are certainly correct in how your comment relates to rebounding. That is the #1 thing we miss from Rob Kurz leaving. I think it is a slight lack of toughness, but also a reflection of the type of player we have in Zeller and Ayers. Their game is to hang out on the perimeter, taking them out of contention for many rebounding opportunities. We need a guy like Ty Nash to step up and earn 15 minutes a game. Then tell him to crash the boards with tenacity. That's his only goal, just pick up 5 or 6 rebounds while on the floor. If he can be that kind of power forward off the bench and Hillesland follows suit (21 rebounds combined against Furman and South Dakota shows promise, but he needs to show up against the big dogs), I think you will see the extra production we need. I think you are spot on when you say an added toughness is needed by the guys in the paint to outrebound those seven footers.

BlackandGreen said...

Just to clarify, calling Texas and UNC "top ten defenses" isn't just a reflection of where they stand in the polls, but how many points they allow per possession.

Texas is fifth ( Adjusted Efficiency). Carolina is seventh. Ohio State is fourth.

The rest of the way, we go up against six teams in the defensive top 25. Only one (Lousiville) ranks higher than 12th. The others are Pitt, Georgetown, West Virginia, Villanova, and Connecticut. Final nonconference test UCLA is 61st in defensive efficiency.

Anonymous said...

We need more from the bench. I've never been real big on Peoples - there are lots and lots of players like Peoples at the mid-major level. I still also believe that Hillesland's foot is bothering him.

As suspected, Rob Kurz is missed in many ways.

BlackandGreen said...

Peoples is a very reliable backup point guard. That's about it. He can give you a three pointer every once in a while and rebounds well enough for a guard, but has never developed into much of a scorer. His production has been especially low so far this year (shooting below 30%).

Haven't heard much about Hillesland's foot recently. A cortisone shot seemed to do the trick earlier in the year, but it is conceivable that it comes back to bother him from time to time. Plantar fasciitis is an awful condition, especially for a basketball player with so much pressure being put on the foot. At it's worst, it can be unbearable to walk and takes a long time to completely go away (though effects may linger). At least, it is possible that his mobility/confidence has been shaken a bit.

Anonymous said...

Therein lies a huge problem. Jackson has never been pushed by anyone for PT since his Freshman year. Lawson exposed Jackson's liabilities - not to speak about his poor free throw shooting. After a couple of years it is no secret that Jackson will try to penetrate and either dish or execute a spin move to score. His height (5'11" on a good day) is a problem as well.

Zeller just doesn't have the stomach to play inside. Never was that more evident than when Gody was out. Given the opportunity to be the first scoring option inside against Furman and South Dakota, Zeller chose to launch threes.