Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Notre Dame 58, Connecticut 50

Huge win. It was an ugly one, but the Irish took one step closer to a possible NCAA bid and, perhaps more importantly, eliminated the Huskies from Tournament contention. ND has moved into a tie for seventh in the Big East and holds the tie-breaker over Georgetown.

Both teams shot very poorly from the floor. Give the Notre Dame D some credit, but UCONN also missed a few open looks and airballed a bunch. Someone forgot to turn on the heat in the building.

However, you can't overlook the effort our guys put in tonight. This has been a huge improvement the past three games. In addition to moving their feet on defense, the Irish threw their bodies around inside to nearly break even in rebounding against a team with three guys at 6'10" or taller. Led by Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough, ND forced 15 turnovers, tying a season-high against Big East opponents. Out 10 steals for the night marked just the third time this year the Irish finished with double digits in that category.

The offensive output was the second worst of the year (to the Northwestern game) but that just underlined how effective the home team was in other areas tonight. If we can win with 37% shooting and ten missed foul shots, more success will follow with a good night shooting the ball.

What a fantastic Senior Night for Tory Jackson. The vocal leader of the team for the past four years, Tory led the way with 22 points. He was ruthlessly efficient at the rim with 8-14 shooting and added in a pair of assists and three rebounds even though the Irish put the brakes on the pace of the contest, frequently waiting until the shot clock read five before attacking the basket. When he was pulled from the game with a few seconds remaining, he received a much deserved standing ovation and gave a very nice postgame speech after putting the team on his back tonight. Thank you for four great years, Tory.

Ben Hansbrough had no shooting touch tonight, but tied Tory Jackson with 4 steals. Like any good shooter, he tried to get shot back with multiple trips to the free throw line. He was able to come away with 6 points even though he finished 0-8 from the field. He was also the second highest rebounder with 4.

Tim Abromaitis also struggled a bit with his shot, but had a little success inside the arc. 10 points and 4 rebounds for the Alumni Dawg. At the end, his teammates had some trouble getting him the ball in an opportunity to get fouled, which needs to change. Going 4-8 as a team from the foul line during a crucial minute-long stretch allowed UCONN to cut the lead by four.

Carleton Scott was excellent. 12 points, 14 boards, 2-4 from three-point range. His athleticism overcame the height disadvantage and allowed him to finish as the game's highest rebounder. Add in a pair of assists and 3 blocks for a great all-around effort. He combined all of his best attributes: solid wing defense, athleticism on the glass, and a bit of clutch shooting, for a fantastic performance.

Ty Nash had a bit of trouble putting the ball in the basket like a few of his other teammates. 5 points, just 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. When the Irish looked to kill the clock, he caught the ball far too away from the basket to be effective and we relied on some perimeter drives for points. That's not the kind of offense in which he can be effective.

Off the bench, Jack Cooley combined 3 points with 3 offensive rebounds in just 7 minutes on the floor. Jonathan Peoples' Senior Night was forgettable, just 2 minutes and a turnover, though he did get the token start in Abromaitis' place. Joey Brooks got in at the last second and so did Tim Andree, senior walk-on. Thanks to him for playing hard in practice all these years with so little reward in games.

So now we're looking at a very realistic NCAA bid all of a sudden. Who would have thought? With no Harangody tonight, you have to think we will be out against Marquette on Saturday. Keep playing like this and the Irish could enter the BET riding high on a four game winning streak.

13 comments:

Brad said...

I don't know about anyone else but we believe we are a completely different team then we were two weeks ago. I would have laughed if you said we would win a game 58 to 50 by playing some pretty darn good defense. Isn't it amazing how our best player goes out and we become a better all around team. I love Luke and hope he comes back, but I don't want to see this type of basketball come to an end.

Flex said...

Roger that. Super win, fellas. Whodathunk it two weeks ago? What a terrific night for Jackson on Senior night. I'm feeling pretty good about selection sunday, but let's not count our chickens before they hatch. It will take at least one more win, either at Marquette, or on day two of the BE tourney against a probable 9 or 10 seed (UConn again?), to feel better about it. In the not so distant past, ND has been left out of the dance with one-game-over-500-league-record-after-playing-lopsided-difficult-league-schedule. I think that happened twice in the aughts.

Kurt said...

We beat Marquette, we're in.

And the way we're playing - Go Irish.

2 months ago I made a prediction on this board that there were 3 games we could not win this year - Syracuse, Pitt and Georgetown. I am so glad I was dead wrong on two of those.

Mea culpa. Let's win out!

Anonymous said...

Brad, right on the money.

Gody practiced Monday, I think he will be back for the B.E.T. My concern is that Brey will revert back and allow him to shoot at will as before. Scott getting a few minutes and Cooley none. Breys past says that will happen. If Martin wouldn't have gotten hurt, we probably wouldn't know that Abro is so good.

Lets finish this off in the right way and get a bid. It sure would be BIG>

Keaton McDonald said...

Big game Saturday...I believe a win puts us in for sure...

If not, a win in our first round of BET will be neccesary from what I hear...

I would really like to avoid that scenario because a possibility of UCONN rematch is looming...I would rather play any other team in the bottom half than UCONN...

Lets get it done Saturday boys....keep having fun and keep rollin'!!

Go Irish!

Anonymous said...

What a great game by Tory. He is a true warrior who will be missed. Also, what a great scene seing all of his brothers and sisters come out on the floor with him for his Senior Day recognition. Go Irish!

discndav said...

what an ugly 1st half, without a doubt the worst college ball I've seen this year. A win is a win though.

Joe said...

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology

Why does Lunardi still have UCONN in the field? 17-13 and 7-10 in conference? please, rpi isn't everything


i would love to draw Seton Hall in the BE tourny, I think we would take them out easily the way we are playing. if not them then south florida would be my second option.

Brad said...

Joe,

I really believe Lunardi has no idea what he is doing. If UConn gets into the tourney, it will be an absolute joke. I really question these ESPN guys. I know it's off subject but Todd Mcshay's mock draft last month was seriously laughable. I really don't go off of what these so called "experts" predict anymore.

That being said, the Big East is the best conference and should probably get the most teams in the field, but 7-10 in any conference will not get you a seed, unless of course you win the conference tournament.

Knobby said...

This was a huge win, but I am a little nervous. I am frightened by a possible Harangody return. The team seems to have found a nice flow on offense (despite the poor shooting last night), and I would hate to have Gody come back and ruin that. ND is playing their best basketball of the year at the perfect time. You know, we are in a rhythm. I just hope we don't go back to the ways of giving Gody the ball right away and having him sit with the ball for 5 seconds while he ponders if he can score or not.

The subbing pattern is still really a shame. Ben didn't have his best game shooting the ball so why not give Joey Brooks a shot? Remember when Carleton was leaving and Brey said Joey Brooks was gonna move in the rotation anyway? Well Scott didn't go and where's Joey Brooks now? On the bench. I think when times are going good, we forget why they ever went wrong.

Next game to see all these guys play: Jackson, Hansbrough, Abro, Scott, Nash, Peoples, Cooley, Joey Brooks, and of course Gody if he can. If not, then throw the Hammer a few minutes. That'd be a nine man rotation.

I can't complain though. Keep on keepin on

Keaton McDonald said...

Just heard an "expert" on ESPN say Notre Dame wont get in unless they win tomorrow....

Its amazing how so many people think differently. I think it would be a joke if Dayton or San Diego state made it in over us.

I hate mid majors...they have some success and all of a sudden they are valued more than big conference teams...

We have the same record as those two schools...and we play in the Big East...we play tough teams night in and night out....its sad to think a mid major could make it over us....its just not fair.

Lets just win Saturday and put an end to the speculation...

Anonymous said...

Was that the same expert who got kicked out of nd for using a credit card that didn't belong to him? He still seems bitter. And most "experts" know not to do that.

David said...

Mr. Gotlieb couldn't shoot his way out of a paper bag, but he sure knew how to handle a credit card.

We're one of the few bubble teams actually "playing their way in," as opposed to "backing in."

Is the ND game on TV tomorrow? I'm in the New England area, so I don't know if I will get it.