This will most likely end up as our worst non-conference loss since 2004. I'm not sure if the Irish were caught looking forward to finals, UCLA, or just plain unmotivated but it was completely unacceptable. We have a week to fix whatever went wrong, but even a win against a 2-6 Bruins on Saturday would not make up for this at all. Bad defense, sloppy rebounding, and just an overall lack of toughness threw this game away against an untalented, but spirited, squad. In the last few possessions, we played tight and resorted to the point guard isolation play that has had very little success since the days of Chris Thomas.
Tory Jackson couldn't put the ball in the basket all night and completely choked with twenty-two seconds to go and the Irish up by one. Not that the fault is all his, though. In the last couple possessions, I would much rather get the ball into the hands of our best player and look for high-percentage shots than just milk the clock. Counting on a 5'11" point guard to create a scoring opportunity in the lane with the shot clock winding down is pretty foolhardy.
Ben Hansbrough played very well. Obviously the turnover with a minute to go and a chance to seal the game was an issue, but statistically he had a very nice night. 14 points, 9 assists, 5-8 shooting.
Tim Abromatis also shot very well. He 23 points, 5 rebounds, and made half of his attempts from long range. However, he also was a big defensive liability. Backdoor cuts, getting beaten on the ball, lots of issues for him and everyone else. It's just a program flaw when Loyola Marymount can hit 52% of their shots against you.
Ty Nash was another one of the culprits on defense, but also contributed well on the offensive side of the ball. 13 points, 9 boards, the majority of which came on offense. He also picked up 4 personal fouls and was unable to move his feet fast enough to play good defense without getting overly physical.
Harangody played pretty well, but his three missed three pointers were wasted possessions in the second half. 24 points, 11 rebounds. To be honest, the biggest issues I have are with the team as a whole. Not a lot of personal complaints here.
We learned tonight that this squad will only go seven deep in close contests. Even a seven-man rotation is stretching it a bit, as the starters all played nearly the whole game and stayed in when it counted. 10 useless minutes for Peoples, Scott was a bit more helpful in his seven on the floor.
Overall, it comes down to this:
- Same issues we've always had on defense. A Mike Brey coached program has and will always focus on running a very efficient offensive game. He just doesn't focus on the other side of the ball. Tonight, it really showed.
- Mid-major programs see road games like this as a chance to pick up a big upset. We fell into the trap of letting them outhustle us all night. They wanted it more and they took it with a willingness to get after loose balls and push people around for rebounds.
- Our endgame strategy is downright horrendous. In the final minute (at the start of which, we led by 3), the Irish completely wasted three possessions. With an emphasis on wasting time instead of continuing to look for scoring opportunities, Ben Hansbrough turned the ball over, Tory Jackson took an offbalance jumper, and we couldn't get the ball inbounded out of a timeout. I don't mind Coach Brey allowing Tory to try to make something happen in transition at the end of the game, but everything else we did pointed to horrendous coaching. I really don't blame the players as much as the coaches tonight.