The Irish played some really solid defense last night. It was our fourth good effort on that end in five games, a noticeable improvement over the beginning of the Big East season. The emphasis on defense has allowed Notre Dame to overcome a poor offensive performance.
Average Offensive Efficiencies in Losses- 99.4
Average Defensive Efficiencies in Losses- 116.7
Offensive Efficiency Last Night- 101.4
Defensive Efficiency Last Night- 98.6
Offensive Efficiency Last Five Games- 101.4
Defensive Efficiency Last Five Games- 93.6
Our offense has been tanking since the Providence game (want to bet if tired legs are a factor?), but it has been shadowed by an improvement in offense. While one might want to argue that it has come against easy competition, early season games against DePaul and Seton Hall were shootouts highlighted by poor effort on defense.
A commitment to man-to-man propelled us to a big win against Louisville. Since that game, there has been a noticeable difference in the success of our opponents against the man and the 2-3 zone. Our players are too slow to close out on the perimeter and struggle to shut down the lane against penetration. Stick to man-to-man and keep the other team under a point per trip. A week off should give Ryan and Kyle ample time to rest their legs and I'll wager we see a better shooting game by both players.
Pomeroy Rankings of NIT Teams-
San Diego St.- 31
St. Mary's- 55
South Carolina- 64
Kansas State- 40
Illinois St.- 61
Washington St.- 37
Weber St.- 114
Virginia Tech- 56
Notre Dame- 36
New Mexico- 38
Bowling Green- 140
Penn St.- 78
Rhode Island- 72
George Mason- 89
I tend to use Pomeroy's rankings as a crutch too often and this is only one good comparison, but it is interesting to note. The Irish faced the most difficult road to the quarterfinals of any two seed and have now beaten two of the best teams in the tournament. With Washington State and Georgetown out of the tournament, only two teams remain (Miami and San Diego St.) that are ranked higher than New Mexico. Yeah, it's the NIT, but we have a good shot at winning this thing.