Good win for the Irish. Jack Nolan mentioned that the team focused on defense in the pregame shootaround, which is nice to hear. The D was spot-on tonight while the regulars remained on the floor. Once the freshmen entered, both teams got a little sloppy, but that is to be expected.
We pushed the tempo throughout the game, with Luke Harangody chipping in to lead a couple fast breaks. I'd much rather see him learn the art of the quick outlet pass. Let the small guys do the dribbling, Luke. As a whole, however, I was pleased with the team's ability to score in transition. Yes the quick pace led to an unacceptably high 17 turnovers, but the Irish made up for it a bit by getting high percentage shots all night. Almost 60% from the floor is fantasic. They also made half of their attempts from beyond the arc. 28 assists on 37 baskets demonstrated the unselfish play of a Mike Brey-coached team.
The energy on defense was nice to see. A few of Bucknell's three pointers came in garbage time with the reserves reacting too slowly, but the rest of the night showcased some of the best defensive effort we've seen all season. Bucknell's 34% field goal shooting is eight points lower than their season average, which is especially surprising due to the breakneck pace of the contest.
Tory Jackson had a bit of a quiet night. 6 points, just 2 assists and 1 turnover. All three of his shooting attempts came from three-point range. He now boasts 1000 points and 500 assists for his career.
Ben Hansbrough was fantastic, even with that stomach virus. 16 points, 5 assists, a perfect night from the charity stripe and good shooting overall. For a guy who almost sat out the game, he put forth a nice effort and now has a good to get healthy for the Big East.
Tim Abromaitis was great, as usual. He finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds and scored in a variety of ways. The three pointers were falling, as they have much of this season, but almost half of his field goal attempts came from inside the arc. He capped off one drive to the basket with a rather aggressive dunk. Atta boy, Tim.
Ty Nash also showed off a lot of determination on the offensive end of the floor that had been lacking until the last couple of games. He only scored 5 points, but seemed willing to take it to the basket consistently. Of course, that aggression also led to 4 turnovers. If he can be a force in the paint without getting reckless, the Irish offense will add another wrinkle to its attack. His rebounding total was great (7), yet it marked his lowest total of the past three contests. He has made a much larger impact in the past week and a half than has been expected from him.
Harangody has yet another double-double, with 20 and 11. He chipped in with 5 assists and 3 turnovers. The positive assist-to-turnover ratio is a bit surprising due to his frequent leading of fast breaks. He seemed a bit more reckless live, so kudos to him for dishing out so many good scoring opportunities. Luke missed both three-point attempts, but was otherwise 8-10 from the floor. Throw in four made free throws for good measure.
Lots of activity off the bench. Peoples played great in extended time with Hansbrough sick. 7 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, with a perfect night shooting. Carleton Scott contibuted in multiple statistical categories, 5 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Cooley and Broghammer each had 5 points. Little Harangody had 8 rebounds in pretty limited playing time, hopefully that leads to a bright future for him. The Hammer chipped in with 3 boards and finished off one possession with an impressive tomahawk jam. Walkons Kopko and Andree each got in the scorebook with Tim's two points putting the Irish over the century mark. The most impressive reserve tonight, however, was Joey Brooks. I mentioned at the half that he could be a defensive stopper in just two to three minute spurts if Coach Brey wanted to use him in that kind of role, but he was also great on offense tonight as well. 12 points on 3-5 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the line.
The stats in the post so far are from the always-unreliable ESPN gamecast. I'll edit as necessary when the official boxscore becomes available. Great win for the team and a nice way to finish off the nonconference slate. We're 11-2, compared to 9-2 at this point a year ago. Time for a few days to go home and enjoy the holidays before Big East action starts.