Monday, January 26, 2009

Marquette 71, Notre Dame 64

Train off tracks. Irish now face their nightmare scenario as they drop another winnable game against a top 10 opponent at home. The goal is just to make the Tournament now.

Peoples came in for Ayers and Zeller for Hillesland in the starting lineups, good moves underlined by the complete ineptitude of the former starters today. Peoples made a couple nice threes and was decent overall while Zeller really stepped up for the first two-thirds of the contest. Unfortunately, Luke completely lost his mind near the end and wasted a few extremely critical possessions down the stretch. It just seems like our 3 and 4 are not going to be able to put up 40 minutes of Big East quality play.

Of course, our normally solid backcourt is not free from blame. Both Jackson and McAlarney forced the pace into turnovers time and again. Is it so hard to slow the pace against a three guard lineup? We're not North Carolina out there, our best player is in the post. Slow it down and make possessions count. Our fast breaks only result in points for the other team.

Without Luke Harangody, we might struggle to beat South Florida with a game like this. 29 points, 17 rebounds, singularly carried the team and pumped up the crowd. He was also our only consistent shooter all game. I'm going to miss this guy when he's gone. I wish I could write more, but it's tough to celebrate the good with a 3-5 conference record.

As said before, Tory really hurt the team with some dumb drives in transition. However, he did score 10 points and grab 8 rebounds with 7 assists. Shot well on a few three point attempts, but couldn't convert inside the arc.

K-Mac had his second awful shooting performance in two big home games. So much for shooting better at home. 3-12 overall, 1-6 beyond the arc. 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists.

Peoples kept the team in the game with two big three pointers, but was a problem on the defensive end. Maybe starting him was a good idea to counteract the Golden Eagle three guard lineup, but he really plays like a mid-major guy on both ends. Not fast enough to guard the quick guys off the dribble or close off the open three.

Zeller finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds. When was the last time our starting power forward finished with eight or more boards? December 2nd against South Dakota. That's just pathetic. So props to Luke for stepping the plate and giving us a good second option on the glass. Unfortunately, he cracked in crunch time with a turnover (which basically consisted of bobbling a pass and handing it to a blue jersey between his legs) and a three point attempt that went down like the half court shot on GameDay.

Bench? What bench? We don't need no stinkin' bench. No points, 0-10 shooting, 5 rebounds in 38 minutes for Ayers, Hillesland, and Zeller. That was only topped by the 53 minutes of offensive trash played by Burke and the four Marquette bench players. If a single player finished with 38 scoreless minutes (save for Stephen Curry), he would never be wearing a Notre Dame jersey again.

Ayers is nothing on offense if he can't knock down those shots. Unbelievably, he is 1-17 in the last two games. Thanks for not showing up when we needed you most, Ryan. Hillesland has averaged less than three points per game in 2009. The last time he scored more than 6 was in December. Two points in the last three games. Here's to Zach getting better soon and becoming a solid player off the bench. Unfortunately neither he nor Ryan is anything more than that right now.

I liked what I saw in Ty Nash. Though he didn't score and only grabbed 2 rebounds in 8 minutes, he actually worked in the post. With Hillesland and Zeller, we have no second post prescence. He did struggle a bit with Marquette focused on him, but I like the potential there. He also tipped two passes and nearly forced turnovers on both occasions. The rest of the team in 40 minutes? 3 turnovers forced. Seems like the sophomore can bring a little needed pressure on D. He's not ready for the starting lineup, but I'd like to see him spell Zeller at the 4. Let Ayers and Hillesland swap time at small forward.

We're now 3-5 in the Big East. Unless the team gets better in a hurry, Saturday should be very tough to watch. 3-6 in the first half of the conference schedule is not the record of a good team. We need to finish extremely strong or this season of such promise will end in the NIT.

P.S. Thanks to Cracked Sidewalks for making my hits go through the roof tonight. I always have some trouble with how to feel about Marquette. It's a fantastic school with some very good fans who support their team well. Of course, they are also one of, if not our biggest, rivals. Fair play to them and here's to a rematch in New York.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just looking at their schedule. I say best case scenario has us 21-9. Losing at Pitt and at UCONN. Honestly I am not impressed with UCLA, they are beatable.

However worst case, I can see them 17-13, which would be NIT bound.

I think 19-11 gets them to the dance. 18-12 and they probably have to win a game in NYC to get a berth.

As long as they have no more bad losses I think the committee will give them the benefit of the doubt bc of the schedule. But no way does 17-13 get them in.

Anonymous said...

There is really no reason to analyze the last 2 games. Ayers and KMAC combined 7 of 44. Nuff said....

Anonymous said...

Losing to a mediocre St. John's team got ND off the tracks. The issue is whether the train is still sliding down the ground along the tracks and is really going to smash into something.

BlackandGreen said...

They came back strong against Georgetown and Seton Hall, but I do think St. John's was a sign of bad times on the horizon. Ayers and Hillesland combined for 6 points on 2-10 shooting and Mac had a tough game.

If you want some silver lining here, Coach Brey is now forced to take a look at what Ty Nash and others can do. You lose four (maybe five!) straight and no one in the starting lineup is safe.

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis of Marquette in your wrap up. Oh wait, we did play the #8 team in the country, no? Let's not drive off a cliff--we lost to a very good team that beat us 2 of 3 last season.

Anonymous said...

What a cheap shot by Harangody at the end of the game. A real Tanya Harding.

If Charlie's OL could take out opponent like that, maybe they'd be ranked

Anonymous said...

I would not even have known who ND played reading this re-cap. I know its an ND site, but perhaps a bit of credit for some tough D might be due.

See you in the BET.

jpauly said...

harangody didn't touch james on the layup and it was incidental contact when he came down...watch the replay again.

BlackandGreen said...

We're on a four game losing streak against top 15 teams, Lousiville (7th), Syracuse (15th), Cunnecticut (2nd), and Marquette (8th). It's a hellish schedule, true.

But it's still a four game losing streak with a game at #3 Pitt ahead. That's not good for any team with the expectations we have had since the beginning of the year.

Now, I think we'll still make the tournament. Our schedule gets easier down the stretch and we should be able to rack up some decent wins with the Committee watching. Still, we definitely were not looking to be in this situation right now.

BlackandGreen said...

Good comment on the defense. Second straight game in which we were able to keep a top 10 team below its average efficiency.

Anonymous said...

The 2 of 3 that Marquette won last year could have been 3 of 3 very easily. Marquette won by 26 in Milwaukee and by 10 in NYC and losing by 3 in South Bend. As a Marquette fan I expected a win tonight because ND does not match up well with my Warriors, even though Hargondy goes off for 30-35 against us consistently. I hope we see you in NYC again.

BlackandGreen said...

Thanks. I do enjoy the rivalry between our two schools and how well your fans travel to the Joyce Center. I'd love another crack at your guys in March.

Anonymous said...

If the last two games have shown anything they have shown that we lack toughness. Props to Adrien and McNeal for coming into town and making our home court theirs. McNeal said he wanted ND against UConn so that he could be the one to end the streak. We need that type of mindset. This is big boy basketball now.

Anonymous said...

Seems like we play good defense our offense does nothing and when we score 80 we lose cause we decided not to play defense. Just cannot put it together at all. Really disappointing because this team is better than these last couple of weeks.

BlackandGreen said...

Harangody has that kind of toughness. He shows up to play every game and waved his arms several times today to get the crowd involved.

We definitely need to see some toughness out of the 3 and 4 slots. I think that is going to play a role in who solidifies those starting roles the remainder of the year. Zeller stepped it up a bit, but was not reliable at the end.

Anonymous said...

After the UCONN game, Brey said he was glad the winning streak was over. He said the pressure of that streak was weighing the team down. Shows his true colors, he doesn't want the pressure of being highly regarded, just wants to be able to sneak up on teams when nobody thinks N.D. is any good. Well, the pressure is off now. The home winning streak is over, 4 losses in a row, playing poorly the last 3 games. I suspect nobody thinks we are very good now. Now he can start sneaking up on teams again and maybe we can eke out a #12 seed in the NCAA tournament and lose in the first game. Mcalarney is exhausted from playing 40 minutes every game. His legs are gone. Before the Louisville game on ESPN radio Rick Pitino said he was surprised that Brey was playing his starters so many minutes and he questioned if Notre Dame would be able to make it through the Big East and not be totally drained by February. Well, it's late January and they look like they are done. This team should be better than last year's team. I realize that overall the Big East is much better this year than last year, but we shouldn't be sitting here trying to figure out how to get in the NCAA tournament for a team that was ranked in the top 10 earlier this year. My compliments to Marquette. They play basketball the way I wish N.D. would play. Fundamentally sound, attack on offense, attack on defense, make good passes and take good shots and win important games on the road. Brey's teams have been consistent in that they generally lack toughness. Harangody and Jackson play tough, but the rest play pretty soft. I have seen enough of Brey. He belongs at a mid major where he will never have high expectations and can always sneak up on teams.

lucid said...

Anonymous #16 - please go back to the hand wringing football boards.

This team has not performed to what we expected, they may now be a bubble team. But they still could become what they should.

Does hat fall on Brey's shoulders to realize that he needs to play the next gen? Yes.

Should we go on tirades about Why he hasn't yet?

Yes...

But honestly, you have no memory of the history of the program, or knowledge the way it is hamstrung by the university if you try the argument you're making.

He is a top notch coach, inheriting a terrible situation and building it back to the program it could be again.

BlackandGreen said...

I would certainly stop short of calling for Coach Brey's head. 2 Big East Coach of the Year awards, 2 top 4 finishes in the league in '07 and '08 certainly should hold some weight.

The coaching staff is as much at fault as anyone, so I don't want to deflect criticism. It took three straight non-NCAA seasons (including this year) for Mark Gottfried to get canned at Alabama. I'd expect the same for Brey. He's a very good coach who has some flaws, absolutely. Give the guy a chance to address those flaws now that the rotation has proven to be a weakness (you didn't expect him to go ten deep after two years of success in conference play with a small lineup, did you?).

yogurt said...

Peoples scores 2 threes late in the second half and he's yanked. Eh? So Brey leaves Mcalarney and Ayers in to throw up prayers with our hottest shooter on the bench. Harangody needs offensive help, and Brey has to realize that if Ayers and McAlarney can't provide it he should give the chance to someone else. Coaching is DEFINITELY to blame for part of this loss.

BlackandGreen said...

Absolutely. Peoples was shooting the ball well and probably was a better option at that point than Ayers. You can also make some good points about how the Zeller/Nash rotation was handled.

There's a difference between criticizing the coaching and saying a guy should be fired. I'm all for the former. The latter is a ridiculous overreaction.

Anonymous said...

Heard on the radio that Brey woke the boys up this morning for a sunrise practice. It's a start.....

Josh said...

Marquette fan here: That was a good game and I'm sorry than you guys had to be on the losing end of it. It really could have gone either way there approaching 5min left in the game.

Great pre-game and post-game write-up from the domer's perspective! Hope we don't have to play you guys again in the BE tourney!

EMoney said...

For the record, Marquette fan here and linked through Cracked Sidewalks. Just wanted to try and help all of the ND fans back off from the ledge. While you are in the midst of a 4 game skid and 3-6 in conference, you need to remember that the Big East is the toughest conference in the nation and every school has a 4-5 game stretch that is an absolute gauntlet. Marquette's happens to be the last 5 games of the year (at G'town, UConn, at Pitt, at Louisville, Syracuse). I suspect that MU, the team that's 7-0 in conference and currently tied for first, will only win 1 of those last 5 games. With your tough stretch out of the way early, there is still plenty of time to post a 0.500+ conference record. And considering that 9 teams are likely going to make the NCAA tourney this year, I highly doubt that ND misses out. You guys are too good not to. Harangody is an absolute beast! Unstoppable. In fact, I can't wait until he leaves school (no offense). However, after watching the game against MU last night, it seemed as if Gody is too much of the offense. He forces a ton of shots, and while all of his fadeaways were dropping last night, even Bilas and crew were commenting how bad of shots those are. Sometimes he needs to look for the other guys and get them involved more often. It's as if the 4 other guys become complacent because Gody does all the work. Well, like I said, with the tough part of your schedule almost out of the way, ND could easily string off 6-7 wins and post a respectable win total which will get thim in the NCAA.

Anonymous said...

The old saying, "live by the jumper, die by the jumper".

I've been saying all year that I thought Hillesland was still suffering from the foot problem.

McAlarney legs are gone. Not a good coaching move to play him so many minutes.

Ayers shot is flat as is McAlarney's - another sign of dead legs. We need him to get going. Before the season I counted him as a key to success.

Brey might be 2 time Big East coach of the year and a fine fellow, but do you really think he is a better coach than Pitino, Calhoun, Boeheim, the Marquette guy (forgot his name but liked how they played last night), Huggins or Thompson? He is a middle of the road guy.

BlackandGreen said...

EMoney-

Thanks for the comments and the perspective.

Hard to argue with Harangody taking so many shots last night (or any game). He's a beast and was our only reliable scorer last night. I believe you when you say you can't wait for the guy to go. Personally, I'd like to see him get some kind of waiver for lifetime eligibility. No reason for him to ever leave our campus.

To the last Anonymous poster-

I think you're dead on with Ayers' dead legs. He posted four straight games of 35+ minutes before last night. Let him come off the bench like last year (where he was more effective) and I think he will be ok.

As for McAlarney, the guy can't find an open shot, dead legs or not. He's starting to force things a little, but you can tell it stems from being frustrated about constant pressure.

Pitino, Calhoun, and Boeheim all have national titles. No argument against their superiority to Coach Brey here. I'd add Tom Crean to that list as well, though the jury is out on Buzz Williams (he impressed me last night, but needs a lot more experience before we can compare the two). Thompson is a rising star and Huggins has been successful at a few different schools.

Of course, none of those guys would be as good without five-star recruits or the support of their fan base (Marquette and Georgetown have no D1 football team, UCONN's basketball team is king on campus, while both Pitino and Huggins built their reps at basketball schools). Coach Brey is a great fit for ND because he can mold pretty good squads with high academic standards and poor facilities.

Now, would I take any of those coaches? In a heartbeat. I think Brey is an average game coach with some tendencies that can be problematic (short bench, etc.). But if you fired him, you're not choosing from the cream of the crop as his replacement. He came from Delaware and our next coach would most likely be another mid major guy on the rise.

Overall, your point underlines the strength of coaching in this league. There are some Hall of Famers out there with incredible resumes. I'd love to see one of them coaching players in blue and gold, but Brey's two Coach of the Year awards demonstrate his ability to do a lot with a little. He needs to take the next step and mold this program into a contender head-to-head with the big boys. Maybe that's not possible, maybe someone else would be able to do it better.

Doc Hoople said...

In eight and one half years Coach Brey has done a great job in restoring a program that was in bad shape. No easy task considering the lack of interest by the University. Can he take us to the next level in a very tough conference? I don't think he can. He doesn't recruit the talent it takes to get there and I'm not one that believes that's a impossible task. I agree with Anonymous,he would be at his best at a Mid Major.

I've been sitting behind the home bench for over twenty years and would love to see another team the caliber of Diggers final four team.

With all the money being spent this year on the A.C.C. and the increase (I'm sure) of the ticket prices, I wouldn't be supprised if next year would be Brey's last?

Hang in there IRISH basketball fans, we're a hell of lot better off than the football team....

Anonymous said...

Excellent dialogue and perspective. Keep it coming. What differentiates this blog from others is the mutual respect that is shown by posters.

I played in the days when ND was a Final Four team and getting 5 HS All-Americans a year. I must believe that the ascension of Duke hurt ND more than any other program. I don't think that you can just concede that you are not going to get elite players. If you do that you are more or less throwing in the towel.

Pitt found Dixon and he has built a powerhouse. I think the real question is - and has been - are the past several years as good as it gets with Brey? I see nothing on the horizon to indicate differently.

BlackandGreen said...

Those are some very good points and ones that cannot be taken lightly.

It's frustrating to hear those who oppose Brey for a variety of reasons without giving him credit for all he has accomplished at Notre Dame. The true question when looking at Coach Brey's status at the University is whether or not this is as good as it gets. Are we content with playing in the NCAAs 4 out of 5 years with a Sweet Sixteen appearance once in a blue moon? That's not bad, certainly. It's a record that 90% of D1 schools would kill for.

I think Coach Brey's future at Notre Dame will be determined by how the program moves forward with new facilities and a stronger Big East. Finishing third or fourth in a very good conference is nowhere near a fireable offense. Finishing seventh or eighth in a great league might be.

If he can use the Joyce renovation to bring in higher quality talent (or at least win at a higher level with the talent we're bringing in now), then all this will be in the past. However, if we continue to stay in the sort of funk that keeps us at the status of a good program without climbing into the ranks of the elite, I would definitely support an upgrade. You just better be 100% sure the guy you're bringing in is going to take you to that next level and not lose what we have accomplished over nine very solid years.

daniel said...

As a Marquette fan, I find the talk of Brey's game being the best he can offer interesting. I think that's a big reason why Tom Crean left Marquette. He brought our program up from nowhere, and brought us to where we are now, but he realized the pressure out there to return to the level of the final four team. He's not that coach, and realized it. Im just glad that the early prognosis on Buzz game coaching, recruiting is looking splendid

BlackandGreen said...

The Crean/Brey comparison is an apt one. There were rumors of Coach Brey being considered for the IU post as well. Crean does have a Final Four to his resume, but the rest of the record is almost identical. In nine years, 5 NCAA bids (Brey has 5), 3 losses in the first round (Brey- 1), one trip past the 1st weekend (Brey- 1). I would have been okay with Coach Brey leaving for more of a basketball school then and would certainly support him if he made a similar decision now or in the future. That's probably the best case scenario if he doesn't get us to the next level. Brings in new blood to the program and lets the man leave with the respect he deserves with somewhat of a promotion (though coaching Indiana in its current state is far from desirable).

Anonymous said...

Tough to be the basketball coach at a football school - no doubt. I suspect that Jeff Capel has a better understanding of that now. I also suspect that Jeff Capel will be leaving OU to coach in the Big East or ACC (maybe Virginia) - probably a good move for him.

Keno Davis could make some noise at Providence - good coaching bloodlines there.

Crean is a better coach than Brey. I think he will do fine in time at IU. All talk of Brey to IU died when he got seriously outcoached in the NCAA's last year.

Anonymous said...

Hey jpauly,
You review the Marquette game tape!
Tanya Harangody misses a three pointer and then races all the way down the court to make "incidental contact???" and butt checks the opponent into the stands. Get real. This was a typical ND "we lost again", but we're going to pop a cheap shot on you and send let you know who you played. How classless!

ND is especially good at laying these cheat shots on Catholic teams who continually beat the them. (If ND tried this on USC, they being going home in body bags.) Check the replays of the ND hockey team being outskated and outplayed by Boston College, but trying to get cheaply physical in the last NCAA Hockey Finals. Another classic example fo ND cheap play. Didn't work here either. ND still lost. Get some class.

lucid said...

...And the jackass of the thread award goes too...

BlackandGreen said...

There are some of these at every school...