A let-down is a bit to be expected after the Louisville game but this got a little too close for comfort. Still, a ten point win in the Big East is good to see after the past month. Winning a low scoring contest with a really cold day shooting is also something that has not happened in a while. Rather win ugly today and hope to be hot the next two games.
The defensive intensity was not there today. South Florida got a lot of open looks but just shot poorly. They are a pretty bad basketball team, pretty athletic but low on fundamentals. That Marquette win was a fluke. If the Warriors had made 20% of their three pointers (they finished 4-24) or half their free throws (10-23), that's another South Florida loss.
The second half saw baskets dry up for the Irish. The time on the clock for Notre Dame field goals over a twelve minute stretch: 14:47, 12:11, 9:14, 5:07, 2:48. That's about three minutes of game time between scoring points. Luckily for us, the Bulls were very more inept, going eight minutes (9:47 to 1:39) without a point as the Irish slowly pulled away.
I like the attention we payed to man defense in this game. It worked against Louisville and was decent today (the statistics look better than we played). Our zone, played for a short stretch then scrapped quickly, is too slow and does not react well against ball movement. Keep the man D, just crank up the intensity a bit to what we had on Thursday.
One guy who plays defense well is Tory Jackson. Two steals, had his hand in a couple others. On offense had 8 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Forced a few shots and turned the ball over twice, but was decent overall. Did have a rough day from the line, 1 for 4.
Kyle McAlarney got a bunch of open looks. 5-12 from three, but missed at least two more wide open shots. He did seal the game with two three pointers in a 90 second stretch in the closing minutes. Was poor inside the arc, as usual, and wasted a one-and-one, but made up for it by scoring six of the last ten Irish points.
Ryan Ayers also stepped it up a bit. He was a big part of the win Thursday and carried over some of that effort today. 12 points, 2-5 beyond the arc. I would like to see him be more assertive and he passed up a couple opportunities today, but it was a good shooting game overall. Does need to help out a bit more on the glass. Only two today.
One point wonder Zach Hillesland did provide five assists and five rebounds. He has to attack the rim more for boards. Three South Florida players finished with more rebounds, including two guards five and six inches shorter than Zach. Stop sitting on the perimeter so much and help out down low.
Luke Harangody had an "off" day with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Poor shooting with a lot of hooks and jumpers falling short. Give the guy some extra rest over the next two days. He can't be 6-15 against West Virginia.
Off the bench, Ty Nash was a spark before he picked up three dumb fouls in the first half. 8 early points and 3 rebounds. We stayed with the starting five most of the second half, but Peoples and Zeller also picked up single figure minutes. Props to Zeller for 3 rebounds in 9 minutes.
Terrible Jim Burr-style officiating which demonstrated how well officiated the game was on Thursday (shout-out again to you, Mike Kitts). Lots of ticky-tack calls on both teams ruined the flow of the game while ignoring scores of travels by South Florida players.
The jerseys worn by the Bulls were plain awful. Hopefully they lost their real ones and had to wear practice jerseys today. Even then, my high school looked better in practice than those guys.
5-7 in the Big East now. We need to go 4-2 the rest of the way, at least. That's at least one win in the next two away games plus perfect at home. At UCONN is still a bit of a pipe dream even without Dyson. We're 10th in the league with a chance to move up to 9th by beating West Virginia. Plenty of basketball to be played, so let's get ready for a fight Wednesday.