Monday, January 18, 2010

Syracuse 84, Notre Dame 71

The Irish fell behind by eight late in the second half and the deficit remained pretty much the same the rest of the way. Though ND closed the game to two with about ten minutes left, six straight Orange points kept it at arms length for good.

On offense, we saw mixed results against the 2-3 zone. Syracuse is so effective with that defense, holding the potent Notre Dame attack below 40% shooting for the game. Like against Northwestern, the Irish took awhile to get comfortable against a mostly zone team. Much of our success came on secondary breaks with the Orange unable to get settled. In the half-court, ball movement suffered a bit with the Irish finding a few opportunities in the low post with Tim Abromaitis or Luke Harangody running the baseline. Harangody is much more suited to this task as a true post player, while Abro seems better on the wing especially since it keeps Gody from getting touches near the top of the key which limit his effectiveness.

Defensively, Syracuse had their normal success in the paint. 261 pound Arinze Onuaku and 240 pound Rick Jackson took turns battering around our weak power forward combination (Ty Nash, Carleton Scott, and Abromaitis) and combined for 19 points and 11 boards. Onuaku has really taken a backseat this year with the arrival of Wesley Johnson, but he simply dominated Nash all night. Johnson is the real deal, the kind of player everyone hoped Scott would grow into. His 22 points and 8 boards looked so fluid and effortless. Andy Rautins is a true punk in the vein of Eric Devendorf, but was hot from the start. Ben Hansbrough could not defend him off the ball.

Tory Jackson struggled mightily shooting the ball and driving amongst the trees of the Orange, but made up for it a bit by finding open teammates in the holes of the zone. A career-high 15 assists on an otherwise forgettable night.

Hansbrough could not stick with Rautins off of screens enough to hold the fifth-year senior down. Though he is a much better on-ball defender than was Kyle McAlarney, he sometimes gets lost in man-to-man defense and makes poor decisions leaving his man to help out his teammates. Also struggled shooting the ball, 2-7 with all of his attempts from three-point land.

Abro was impressive, however. Though he certainly was nothing special on defense, it is certainly impressive that he was able to outscore one of the best players in the conference and be one of only two Irish players in double figures. He knocked down most open looks afforded to him against the zone and also had a bit of success finding open spaces in the low post.

Ty Nash had another awful performance. His last 32 minutes: 9 fouls, 2 rebounds, 1 point.

Harangody was very good, demonstrating a reborn effort on the glass with 14 rebounds and scoring all over the floor. He was most effective in the low post, like Abro, and is much more suited to it. Every possession in which he decides to catch the ball beyond the arc is a wasted opportunity. He turned the ball over just twice, but one was real backbreaker. With four minutes remaining and the Irish only down six, he went back into point guard mode and abruptly turned it over in transition. Though he certainly did more good than harm tonight, decisions like that are inexcusable for a senior All-American.

Off the bench, Carleton Scott really hit the glass well. 9 boards, 6 on offense, which repeatedly gave Notre Dame chances and kept this one competitive for as long as possible. On offense, however, the differences between Scott and Wesley Johnson are enormous. Johnson's quick first step and viable outside shot make him a scoring machine. Scott's jumper is unreliable at best and he lacks the mechanics and confidence to beat people to the rim. While there is still time for him to gain a bit of polish, I would hope we would see more flashes of scoring ability from him by now. Peoples had 13 forgettable minutes with 2 rebounds and 3 fouls. This was an interesting night, because our seven man rotation was equaled by Syracuse. The Orange clearly have more ability from top to bottom even with such a short bench.

Not a whole lot of people would have predicted a win tonight, but this makes the DePaul matchup critical. If the Irish can get an easy home win Saturday, they will face a tough Villanova team before hitting the easiest five-game stretch of the conference slate.

11 comments:

Mattare said...

How was the atmosphere in the Pavillion considering this was the first really big game since the renovation?

BlackandGreen said...

Great student turnout, not too bad from the locals. It was pretty quiet until the game got close in the second half because it was consistently a multiple-possession game. The one embarrassing point was in the closing minutes once the Irish started fouling. The place cleared out pretty quick... it was a ghost town at the buzzer.

Kurt said...

par for the course... [both the game and the exit....]

Anonymous said...

Hansbrough can't keep up with BE guards - pure and simple. He couldn't keep up with the mid-major guards.
Why in God's name is Peoples playing and Brooks not? It is irresponsible for Brey to continue sitting Brooks and playing Peoples.
Is there not anyone who knows how to teach these guys to block out on a free throw? It is basic, fundamental basketball. You step to your man and get him on your butt. It is even easier now since they moved the inside player up the lane. Of course Brey has never done this in his life so he has no idea but Swanagan does. 45 minutes of today's practice should be spent on blocking out on free throws and fighting over screens. This team does not talk on defense. When you were at the games in years past you could hear them talking, particularly Kurz. Not this year. This is one of the risks you take when you bring transfers in - team chemistry is lacking.
Hansbrough's fearless drives to the hoop have disappeared in the BE. I guess when UConn blocked his shot every time he drove he figured out that this was not IUPUI.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure, but I think 34 or 35 of Syracuse's 84 points were scored off of Hansbrough. Even cutting those in half, we win.....

BlackandGreen said...

Jackson switched to Rautins in the second half and shut him down from the floor, but he had already done enough damage with his threes over Hansbrough in the first half.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that Brey would ever even consider using a deep reserve in a conference game like Painter did last night? My fear is that Brey has grown complacent over the years and will continue with the formula that has gained him infinite job security - load up on W's in the OOC and somehow approach .500 in the conference and pray for a bid. If no bid - well there's always next year and hey, what a bunch of great kids we have and what a tough league that Big East is. Swarbrick needs to sit him down and let him know that he is only marginally meeting expectations. Not selling out a Big Monday game against Syracuse (when capacity has been reduced over 2,500 seats) speaks volumes about where the program is.

Anonymous said...

The attendance was 9149. Is that not a sellout?

BlackandGreen said...

Capacity is 9800 I believe.

As for Painter, he played 11 guys in that game which is something you would never see from Brey but then again if John Hart has so much talent why did he sit the previous six games? You can guarantee there would still be complaints about Brey's substitution policy if something like this had occurred. Syracuse went just seven deep Monday, but they handled us pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Syracuse plays zone and thus their 7 players do not chase shooters or battle for post position for 40 minutes a game. Zone keeps players much more fresh. Allowing Jimmy B to play 7 guys, Simple and plain

Anonymous said...

Syracuse could have handled us with - you pick a number 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 players. Did not matter. To them it was a good chance to play in front of the central based pro scouts and collect a win - nothing more and nothing less. Unfortunately the ND program is losing relevance. It makes me mad when I see the Butler's, Purdue's and Virginia's (Tony Bennett can flat out coach - he will bring that program back quickly)doing what they are doing. If I recall we saw a preview of Bennett's coaching ability in the NCAA tournament when he made Brey look like a piker.