Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hoosiers Strong Under Sampson

IU proves to be a solid third team in the Big Ten (behind Wisconsin and tOSU) after beating the #2 ranked Badgers at Assembly Hall 71-66. The upset marked the biggest win for the Hoosiers since the Duke game in '02. Kelvin Sampson's squad has impressed this year, beating two ranked teams and falling in close matchups to Duke, Ohio St., and Butler. High school juniors everywhere wait for Coach Sampson to call (and call, and call...).

Elsewhere, West Virginia survived a close road game vs. Rutgers, Louisville seems to be having no trouble with Cincy, and UCONN and DePaul are just underway. Sunday's close loss to Marquette is South Florida's last matchup before the Saturday showdown with the Irish at the Sun Dome.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Onward to Victory

Was tonight sweet or what? A big win on the road against a very good opponent. The Irish were without their best inside threat and a fouled out Colin Falls near the end. The lead did slip a bit, but at Syracuse any win counts.

The most noticable difference in tonight's game is the score. I mentioned how impressed I was at how the Irish won a low scoring contest vs. 'Nova. Tonight was back to a good old barn burner.

First, Russell Carter. 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 of 7 from long range. Just another very good performance from a top Big East talent. He ended with a wee bit of foul trouble, but had another very good night overall.

It is great to see Colin Falls contributing regularly again. 16 points on 4 of 10 shooting from deep. Also, 4 assists. His overall FG% finished a touch above Carter's. When he can produce like that, Falls provides a great 1-2 punch with Russell.

Tory Jackson was very, very solid tonight. 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals. Where did he contribute most tonight? At the line, 11 for 14. Previously perceived as a weakness in late games, Tory did everything a point guard needs to do on the road. His 19 points were a career high, but most important was the way he handled himself under pressure. Great job.

To the other freshman, what can I say about Luke Harangody? Bamm-Bamm has looked a bit shaky in recent contests. Tonight, #44 was as rock solid as a four year starter. 21 points. 13 rebounds. Only 24 minutes! He is a serious basketball player. Without Rob Kurz and having Bamm-Bamm in foul trouble, the Irish were without a respected inside presence for far too many minutes tonight. However, when the freshman was on the court, ND dominated the paint. Notre Dame would not win tonight without a solid game by Harangody. He was a lot more than solid.

Zach Hillesland got a much deserved first career start in a big conference matchup. He's not really a big guy, 226 pounds, and looks even skinnier in person. Somehow the lightweight from Toledo grabbed 9 rebounds against a veteran Syracuse front court. He also scored 14 and tossed out four assists. We will see a lot more of him next season, but right now he is a perfect addition off the bench.

Ryan Ayers played a good 20 minutes. Seven points, a steal, a block, and a rebound. Most importantly, the sophomore is starting to make his shots when he gets the opportunity. I would love to see Ryan give Hillesland a run for the starting small forward spot next year.

Luke Zeller sure doesn't seem to be a great fit down low. Tonight was a big game for him to step up, but LZ picked up four fouls in twelve minutes and was unable to provide more than a few minutes here and there. Nice to see him be physical, but a foul every three minutes is too much.

Jonathan Peoples made a three, but was otherwise on the bench all night.

Big, big win for the Irish that more than offsets the St. John's loss. The team should ride the wave to South Florida (maybe some Super Bowl festivities?) and hopefully a road trip sweep. Everything is back on track after a rough January.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pitt Squeaks by Villanova

I missed the entire game and only caught the score halfway through, but Villanova very nearly pulled off a great upset at home vs. #7 Pittsburgh. The game was at the Wachovia Center, instead of the more home-friendly atmosphere of the Pavillion. Still, a very good effort by the squad we beat two days before. The Wildcats should compile a gaudy record the rest of the way and I'll predict an upset at Marquette February 19th.

The Irish surprisingly hopped up to 21st and 19th in the rankings. I was afraid that the St. John's loss would hurt us, but the Villanova win more than evened it out. In the Big East:

1) Pittsburgh (16): 286 pts.
2) Marquette (2): 269 pts.
3) Georgetown: 245 pts.
4) Notre Dame: 228 pts.
5) Louisville: 208 pts.
6) West Virginia: 191 pts.
7) Villanova: 190 pts.
8) Syracuse: 170 pts.
9) Providence: 154 pts.
10) Connecticut: 112 pts.
11) DePaul: 110 pts.
12) St. John's: 93 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 81 pts.
14) South Florida: 54 pts.
15) Rutgers: 31 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 27 pts.

BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dominic James. Marquette.
BIG EAST FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova.

Top five were the same as my ballot, but Dominic James refuses to let anyone else take the top spot for players. Big game tomorrow at the Carrier Dome.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Big East Ballot

1. Pittsburgh
2. Marquette
3. Georgetown
4. ND
5. Louisville
6. Syracuse
7. West Virginia
8. Villanova
9. Providence
10. DePaul
11. Seton Hall
12. St John's
13. Connecticut
14. South Florida
15. Rutgers
16. Cincinnati

Player of the Week- Jeff Adrien- UCONN
Freshman of the Week- Scottie Reynolds- Villanova

Saturday, January 27, 2007

'Nova: Act Two

Great, great win today. Lots of fun being in the Joyce, with the loudest atmosphere since Alabama. The boys fought back and held on for an important 66-63 win.

In the first half, one ref (either Bernard Clinton, John Gaffney, or Tim Higgins, I don't know them by sight) made some awfully pro-'Nova calls. Two were overturned by the other men in stripes and several others brought Mike Brey to his feet to yell at the one official in particular. Those calls cost the Irish 4-6 first half points, easy. The second half was equally as horrid, although bad to both sides. Villanova racked up 7 fouls in 3:09 to start the second half. Please, just let the players play.

Notre Dame came out of the locker rooms wearing the Alabama unis (black and white, sans last name). The first half saw only three ND players make shots from the floor, with Colin Falls scoring 10. 'Nova pulled well ahead twice, but the Irish were able to cut back into leads by making strong defensive stands. The last three minutes of the first half passed without a Villanova basket.

In the second half, The Wildcats lead by as much as seven, but a 9-1 run but ND ahead by one and made it a game. Notre Dame was able to control the last 2:30 and should have put the visiting team away, but still held on to win by 3.

We start, as usual, with Russell Carter. Russ had a really tough night from the floor, three of eleven, but most evident was his attitude. With no apparent injury, our star player rode the bench for the final key minutes of the game. When last taken off the floor, Gene Cross had a few stern words for the young man. Such a poor attitude is unacceptable for a senior, especially such a key player. However, being able to win a close game without an All-Big East talent on the floor is very impressive.

Congratulations, Colin Falls. With Carter having an off night in a must-win game against a stern defense, you stepped up. 6 of 11 shooting is nice, add in eight free throws to almost equal a season high. We need some production out of him every night, and this marks his fourth straight conference game scoring in double figures. The captain played all forty minutes and proved to be a strong psychological boost to the squad even when the deficit grew.

Yawn, another double-double for Rob Kurz. He was able to bounce back well from a tough night at St. John's. Did rack up four fouls, but never backed down inside.

Luke Harangody continues to struggle a bit shooting, but grabbed seven rebounds. One of six from the floor is not very good for a post player and he needs to not shy away from contact. After getting hacked a few times and not getting calls, the freshman seemed a get a little timid and was unable to score effectively.

The point guard battle promised to be rather interesting with two talented freshmen. Scottie Reynolds is obviously the better player at this point in their respective careers. Tory Jackson was unable to provide a scoring threat and only assisted in four baskets. Jackson did turn the ball over only once to Reynolds' two, and also kept the Villanova guard from being an even bigger impact on offense (held to 5-14 shooting).

Zach Hillesland is Mr. Everything once again. While not providing much of a shooting threat, Hillesland grabbed seven rebounds and made four foul shots. He gets 20 minutes a night, but I wish we could see the sophomore a little more to start off the game. His hustle and sheer will is what drives his stat line and he seems to energize the other players around him.

Ryan Ayers finally made some case for more playing time. With the game on the line, Ayers made a key three-pointer and hit two of three foul shots to give the Irish 5 points when they needed it most. Should be a boost to his confidence, especially since he was seemed to struggle with an unwillingness to take shots in the past.

On the opposing bench, I would say that Curtis Sumpter is just about back from his injury. I certainly didn't expect to see Villanova's best player for more than a few minutes at a time off the bench. With Dante Cunningham in foul trouble, Sumpter played a full ten minute stretch early in the second half and ended the night with a double double. Frosh Scottie Reynolds showed some of the talent displayed against Texas and us previously, but was unable to really take over due to a good effort by Tory Jackson defensively. He still scored 19.

Overall, really strong defense and physical play lead to poor shooting by both teams. The Irish finished a hair under 35% and had the same number of rebounds as 'Nova. This win makes 17 on the year and will prove to be really big later on. Halfway through the Big East schedule, ND is 5-3 and can go .500 the rest of the way to lock up a NCAA bid. The win avoids a losing streak and gives a little momentum going into Syracuse and a three game road trip. It also revenges a previous loss to a very good team. Congrats to the guys for a stellar performance, and good luck Tuesday.


Kyle McAlarney is coming back to Notre Dame in the Summer (text).

Good for him, although this isn't really a surprise. He's still pretty bitter, but does plan to turn this into a positive situation by improving his game. He will take six credit hours at a college near home this spring and should return on track to graduate.

It is nice to hear him want to make things right with the team and Coach Brey. I'm sure he will be a great addition next season, but I certainly hope that Tory Jackson makes a strong run for starting PG with his play this year.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good Story About K-Mac and Former Irish Players

For a different spin, Michael Rothstein got the opinions of former point guard Doug Gottlieb and fullback Ashley McConnell. Both were booted from their respective teams and the University. Gottlieb's case was arguably more serious than Kyle's, involving stolen credit cards. He is currently working at ESPN and did come out rather pro-ND in this case during the week.

View From the Opposing Bench

It's been a while, but we finally have a scouting report from another team's blogger. Craig Dimitri, from Villanova Viewpoint has given me a great rundown of the 'Nova squad. His comments are as follows:

Villanova had a fine nonconference record, but lost three of the first four in the BE. However, they've recovered and now won three in a row ( ND, plus Texas, and @ PC, where they never win).

I did a recap of the first VU/ND clash on my site (one is a stand-alone game story in my archive and the other is included on the VU/ND preview), so if you want my extended thoughts on that, please take a look at them. A couple of other points, tailored for a ND writer:

VU has traditionally played ND at the Wachovia Center, rather than the Pavilion, in order to sell more tix to the ND fan base (the Pavilion only seats 6,500 and it doesn't have sales to the public, in general, except for cupcake opponents in December). This is a big advantage for ND (granted, one wouldn't know it by the fact that VU has dominated the series since ND joined the BE), because the Wachovia Center is much more visitor-friendly, especially if it isn't full. But this year, ND played at the Pavilion for only the second time (the first time was in 1995-96), and it's a lot tougher for a road team to play in front of a raucous student section than it is at the 76ers' venue. I think that was a key factor as to why the score was so lopsided - none of your players had played VU at the Pavilion, before.

Sumpter had an awesome performance in the first one - in just 29 minutes, 21 pts, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks. However, he's injured, due to something that happened vs Notre Dame. He didn't play at all vs Texas on Saturday (Wright dressed him, but there was no chance he'd play; I think Wright just dressed him as a decoy, to make Rick Barnes think that he might be available if needed.). He did play at Providence on Tuesday, and he did well - 7 pts, 4 rebs, 1 blk - but he only logged 16 minutes, so he's clearly not 100%. I wouldn't anticipate that he'd play more than that vs ND. He has a bone bruise on his left tibia and it's going to take some time to heal. So Sumpter won't be as much of a factor this time, which is good for you, obviously.

The rest of the team-

Scottie Reynolds, the freshman point guard, has been incredible recently, scoring a ton of points (he got 27 pts/4 assts vs ND, and he got 20 @ Providence while playing 40 minutes). He's the chief offensive weapon with Sumpter being hurt.

Senior Mike Nardi - combo guard, good shooter from three-point range, and since he can play both guard positions he has a lot of value.

Senior Will Sheridan - doesn't put up a lot of numbers, but he does the quiet stuff (rebounding and defense). Also, he's the only legitimate post player VU has this year (he can play either the 4 or 5; he's better suited to the 4 but since VU has no 5 he has to play there.) If he gets into foul trouble, VU's in trouble.

There are two sophomores that Wright has been easing into expanded roles - Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark, both forwards. Last season, with Ray, Foye, Lowry, and Fraser, they were used primarily as defensive specialists. (Wright likes to do offense/defense substitutions with them.) But they're both scoring points this year. Since we lost four players, Cunningham starts this year, and Clark will probably start vs ND with Sumpter not 100%. They're both good players, and will improve a lot as their careers progress.

Off the Bench

These players won't play much, but a quick rundown-

Sophomore forward Dwayne Anderson - this is mysterious, because he was the 7th man in the rotation for most of the season. He must have ended up in Wright's doghouse, because in four of the last five games he's played 5 min or less. To illustrate vs ND on Jan 17, he played one minute, after averaging double figures in minutes all through November and December. So I don't think you'll see him much.

Sophomore guard Bilal Benn - comes in solely to give Reynolds and Nardi a breather. Not a threat offensively.

Freshman forward Reggie Redding - lot of potential, but with so many forwards, he only plays a few minutes a contest. (Coincidentally, he attended the same Philadelphia high school I did, so I always root for him to get on the floor, as you can imagine...)

Villanova's Weaknesses

The chief weakness is the lack of a legitimate 5, and moreover, the fact that Sheridan is the only player with the size and talent to play that position at all. It would be logical for opponents to play a patient offense, use up the shot clock, in order to run their plays directly at Sheridan, and try to get him in foul trouble. Jay Wright managed to solve this problem last year by famously starting four guards + Sheridan all year, and had a lot of success. But if Sheridan is off the floor, everyone else has to drop down a position, and Villanova is very vulnerable inside.

Nardi is too small to be an effective defender, which is why he's taken out for defensive possessions at crunch time if it's close. Reynolds, as most freshmen are, takes way too many bad shots (in fairness, he's scoring 20+ pts, so he's making a lot of them), but he can be tempted into taking NBA distance threes if he's defended well.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dick Vitale's Attention Span

Finally back to the reason this site is around: college basketball. Now, I'm a pretty big fan of Dick Vitale. Passion is what sets college sports apart from the pros and passionate is a great word to describe Dickie V. The Card Chronicle, a voter in the Big East Bloggers Poll, compiled a list of 156 random things Vitale spoke about at the Louisville/UCONN game. The result is either maddening or hilarious depending on your view of the man (I personally find it funny).

To the games. While we were discussing K-Mac's extended vacation, Sotuh Florida made a strong statment of "we're not worst", beating Rutgers by 22. Marquette handled Seton Hall by nearly the exact same score as Notre Dame (89-76 compared to 88-76 against the Irish). Our February 24 matchup at the Joyce Center should be a good one.

No more Big East games until Saturday. Clemson and Duke match up tonight, however. The Tigers have collapsed against good competition after starting the year 17-0. Have a good one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

K-Mac's Response

First, let me apologize for some lack of statistical credibility in the post after the game last night. I grabbed the stats off of CBS Sportsline right after the game ended, many of which turned out to be false (they have since been edited). I was a little tougher on Rob Kurz than I should have been and in retrospect, though the game was still a very poor effort, it was not as embarrassing as previously mentioned. Team stats: 35% shooting, uncharacteristic 60% from the line, and eight less rebounds than St. John's. Not pretty stats, but a 3 point loss is probably the best we could ask for with shooting like that.

Now to a story that really bugs me. Kyle McAlarney said in no uncertain terms, that he is "ashamed" by Notre Dame's punishment for him. I caught the headline and thought for sure that it read "McAlarney 'ashamed' about his own actions." In my morning stupor, I thought that the young man had taken responsibility for his mistake and plans to move on. How silly of me. In today's society, when does anyone take responsibility for their own actions?

Before I get too into this, I'd ask you to read Hal's comment under my post entitled "Dismissal." He talks about his own experience with ResLife and suspension from Notre Dame, an experience I have never had to go through.

Back to the story. Tom Noie, a very good sports writer, sure paints the story in McAlarney's favor, which is understandable given the interview he had with Kyle. The young man mentions things like how "[He] was 'devastated' by a ruling that will force him to withdraw from school." That is understandable and commendable. I am glad that he took Notre Dame so seriously that he feels bad having to leave.

The quotes get worse, however. "'Speaking for my family, we're very ashamed and very disappointed with how Notre Dame handled everything,' McAlarney said by cell phone Tuesday morning from a relative's home near campus. 'I did everything I could do and more, but they didn't judge me on that. A regular student would not get half the punishment that I received.'"

Save your breath. I'm not feeling sorry for you, Kyle. I truly believed that you would take the high road here and just take your punishment. I understand that you must be frustrated. It's ok to disagree with the University's reaction to your crime. However, to pretend that you are being held to a higher standard than everyone else is blatantly ridiculous. Apparently you haven't heard that just about every other drug case ends up with a semester dismissal from Notre Dame. ND is not like a public school, it's not like Boston College, it's not like any other university in the world. True, this suspension is harsh. You should have thought about your punishment before you decided to light up.

While the semester suspension doesn't come as a surprise to me, the McAlarney family seems blindsided. This is where I have some sympathy for K-Mac. He obviously was surrounded by people who told him that the disciplinary action would not be this harsh. If he was expecting better news, it is natural to be bitter. He did act respectably before this and took the indefinite suspension from basketball well. However, saying that he is being treated more harshly than others is downright false. I really hoped Kyle would rise above that.

Now to the nationwide reaction to this story. If you weren't angry about the whole story before, this should help. Gary Parrish from CBS Sportsline gives ND haters a completely new reason to dislike the Irish: the school is too harsh. Chalk that up with independent football status, too high academic standards, and not living up to its own principles. Wouldn't that last complaint be in complete contrast with this latest story? In a word, yes. Remember this classic piece of spectacular journalism? Notre Dame is held to an amazingly high standard by those in the media who apparently think the Irish should be the standard bearer for mediocrity in college athletics.

Mike Coffey is right that these kind of stories hurt Notre Dame athletics in the recruiting field. ND is classified as too harsh, too soft, too rich, or too Catholic for young athletes who want a good education. By doing the right thing, Notre Dame has hurt itself on the playing field. However, that shouldn't change a thing at the University. Where Coffey misses the point is that nothing can or should be done to fix the public perception of this story. Had McAlarney returned this year, many would cry foul due to special treatment of a star basketball player. And they would be right.

There is no win for the administration in this matter and let me be the one to stand up and applaud those involved. It would have been easy to give up a little respectability for a couple wins. Student Affairs decided to treat K-Mac just like everyone else. In that they will be criticized. It takes an extreme amount of courage to do what is right in the face of public scrutiny. They can have the simple satisfaction of sticking to the value that Notre Dame holds dear. There is plenty of resentment towards this part of the school, some warranted, but today they got it right.

To wrap things up, let me finish talking about K-Mac himself. I love seeing this guy on the basketball floor and hope to see him again very soon. While it is understandable to be upset, the classy thing would have been to disagree and move on. I hope that he does not appeal this case, which could result in his suspension being moved to the fall semester instead. Kyle made a mistake and must face the consequences. I, however, will hold nothing against him if he decides to return next year. He will be welcomed back into the fold as is his right. God bless, K-Mac, and good luck over the next few months as you put this behind you.

About his family, I am sure that they feel the same things that Kyle does. It must be even harder to watch your child go through the process. I do hope that they decide to send the young man back to South Bend. Whatever the decision may be, I hope peace and closure comes along with it.

Regarding members of the national media, I doubt anything I say can stop the relentless bashing of the University. I respectively disagree with Mike Coffey (El Kabong), though I hold him in the highest esteem as a blogger. Indeed, he is one of my inspirations for starting this blog.

And to those of you who read this post, I hope you enjoy seeing this story from my point of view. If you have any disagreements or questions, feel free to add them at the bottom. That's what the "comments" tab is for. Have a good Wednesday. Maybe tomorrow we can talk about basketball.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This One Hurts

Georgetown and Villanova were tough contests. Big losses against good teams on their home courts. St. John's is not a very good team.

Sure, K-Mac's suspension is a distraction. Sure, Notre Dame's still undefeated at home and the Red Storm did beat Syracuse on Sunday. There are plenty of excuses for tonight's embarrassing loss, but excuses were are for teams that aren't good enough to win. Tonight, the Irish played down to a deeply inferior opponent, played tough to get back in the game, but just didn't get the job done.

Russell Carter single handedly lead an Irish comeback. He scored 32 points to keep the game from becoming a slaughter and very nearly stole a win at the Garden. He had two steals and five rebounds to add to a very good overall output. Russ certainly looks like an All-American.

Colin Falls was mediocre, which is better than many of his games but far worse than his best. He scored 13 points in 4 of 12 shooting, which is just fine for the #3 or #4 shooter on a team. Unfortunately, when only two players score in double digits, they both better be shooting lights out. It just didn't happen tonight.

How can you make only 1 of 8 shots as a very good post player in a close game? Rob Kurz somehow found a way. His lack of inside scoring lead to three straight off target shots from deep between 5:12 and 2:05 left in the game. Any points during that stretch could have turned the game in favor of the Irish for good. However, without an ability to score in the paint, our players resorted to jacking up low percentage shots which doomed an already sinking ship. Kurz, who did manage two blocks on defense, also needed a better night rebounding the ball. His nine rebounds, a solid total, still paled in comparison with Lamont Hamilton's eleven. Hamilton, who totaled eleven rebounds over the three games before the Syracuse win. Kurz should bounce back from this and we will need his best effort against more physical Big East teams down low.

Luke Harangody was also nonexistent. Only one point and three rebounds in twleve minutes. Luke Zeller, along with Kurz and Harangody, picked up three fouls early and managed one rebound and a missed three pointer. With all three big men in foul trouble, a result to Georgetown makes sense.

Tory Jackson was pretty solid, turning the ball over five times to eight assists and making a third of his shots. He played good defense on the guards and nearly went the whole game. Jonathan Peoples received very little playing time and failed to put up any stats.

Zach Hillesland was the one bright spot off the bench for the Irish. He scored six points and grabbed six rebounds playing a career high 32 minutes. Hillesland played a full 20 more minutes than starter Luke Harangody and was a good option on the floor.

The game was a bad loss and is sure to leave a bad taste in each of our mouths until the Irish hopefully pummel 'Nova on Saturday. Unfortunately, we will have to wait a full week to get another shot at our first road win, at Syracuse. Life goes on, and the sun will come out tomorrow. At least I hope.

I mean, I thought this would be the scariest thing I'd see all day.


What was commented on this site late last night has been reported in the South Bend Tribune: text. Tom Noie painted a pretty bleak picture in his article, mentioning "[McAlarney's future with the team] all changed, maybe forever, on Monday. "

First let me applaud ResLife for this difficult decision. No matter your opinion on marijuana use, the difference between DUI and drug possession, and the Administration in general, the McAlarney's dismissal from the University fell in line with normal procedure.

From DuLac:

"11. Disciplinary Suspension — Separation from the University for at least one semester. The student is eligible to apply for readmission to Notre Dame. Readmission after suspension is not automatic; a suspended student must complete an application for readmission. Readmission must be cleared by the Office of Student Affairs, the suspended student’s academic department and the Office of Student Accounts."

Four out of five drug cases at ND result in a one semester suspension. Many students return to normal college life the next semester and move on. Of course, this policy is much stricter than most colleges nationwide, but Notre Dame holds its students to a higher standard.

Had this been a "normal" case, the punishment would have raised no eyebrows. Had he been a less integral part of the basketball team, few would bemoan Kyle's dismissal. He knew what he was doing, and must face the consequences.

Now what? I can confidently predict that Kyle McAlarney plays for Notre Dame next season. His desire to remain with the team after his indefinite suspension shows that the young man can take responsibility for his actions and wishes to be a Notre Dame graduate. Coach Brey's willingness to keep Kyle shows that he has enough confidence in the young man to move forward. The legal process will not be done for a year if he stays drug-free and his basketball career would be better served than if he sat out half a season to transfer.

No one wins in this situation, but if Kyle can make up the lost credits and return with his head held high, the situation can mend itself. As far as this season goes, the Irish have shown an ability to win games with Tory Jackson and I am sure will continue to do so as the young man gathers more confidence. Good luck to him and all the players tonight vs. St. John's.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Little Something to Mull Over

With the McAlarney decision expected out this week, precedent points to a semester suspension. Assuming Kyle's return in the fall, Notre Dame should have three sure-fire starters: K-Mac, Kurz, and Harangody. After that, the picture gets a bit fuzzier. I am sure Mike Brey will like to give Tory Jackson a shot at a starting position, probably the shooting guard. With those four set, the question becomes who will play small forward. Ryan Ayers hasn't proven anything in limited playing time and Brey seems to be hesitant to give him more opportunities. Zach Hillesland, the best overall choice, lacks the deep threat to make up for Jackson's lack of range. If K-Mac and Tory are lined up in the backcourt, your starting 3 for the '07/'08 season will be... Luke Zeller.

Zeller's game is tuned to the wing and he will present a tough matchup for opponents outside. His ability to shoot the 3 will stretch the defense and we will not have to worry about playing inside more than the handful of minutes when both Kurz and Bamm-Bamm ride the pine. LZ has received lots of criticism from this end, but I strongly feel that his game will improve with less inside responisbility.

Of course, a prediction this early for the starting lineup next year is as reliable as predicting the next president. Just... think about it.

Big game tomorrow for the Irish to get a solid conference road win. Let's continue a little momentum before the Saturday rematch with 'Nova.

Some Shift in Polls

Irish fell to third in the Bloggers Poll, behind Marquette after their win over Pitt.

This Week's Poll (first place votes in parenthesis):
1) Pittsburgh (12): 237 pts.
2) Marquette (3): 221 pts.
3) Notre Dame: 207 pts.
4) Georgetown: 187 pts.
5) Villanova: 172 pts.
6) Syracuse: 166 pts.
7) West Virginia: 140 pts.
8) Louisville: 139 pts.
9) Connecticut: 132 pts.
10) Providence: 116 pts.
11) DePaul: 95 pts.
12) Seton Hall: 70 pts.
13) St. John's: 63 pts.
14) Cincinnati: 43 pts.
15) South Florida: 32 pts.
16) Rutgers: 20 pts.

BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dominic James. Marquette.
BIG EAST FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova.

Irish also fell to 22nd in the AP poll and 21st in the Coaches Poll. Nice to see that the loss to Villanova didn't hurt us much in terms of national rankings. Analysts around the country seem to be giving ND a bit more credit with the nice win over USF yesterday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Big East Ballot

1. Pittsburgh
2. ND
3. Syracuse
4. Marquette
5. Villanova
6. West Virginia
7. Georgetown
8. Connecticut
9. Louisville
10. Providence
11. DePaul
12. Seton Hall
13. St John's
14. Cincinnati
15. South Florida
16. Rutgers

Player of the Week- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Freshman of the Week- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

Irish Bounce Back

Nice easy win against a team we should dominate. 82-58, with the result never seriously in doubt. Everyone contributed and several smaller role players showed some promise.

Russell Carter had a tough afternoon, which made the win all the more impressive. We know what Carter does every night, so his 4-13 shooting is definitely just a blip on the radar. Nine points, 5 rebounds, two assists. He did look either bored or sluggish near the end. A couple reasons for this could be his poor play, the easy win, or maybe K-Mac decided to share his stash. However, I do want Russell showing more leadership in a game where most of the younger guys would want to just take it easy.

Colin Falls was very impressive, even with 3-9 shooting. He was able to break through a slump in the middle of the game and regain his touch. Today was the first time that I have seen Colin be able to be effective without shooting lights out. 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, and good on-court leadership.

Tory Jackson was very solid. He will continue to grow as the season goes on, but for now games like this are crucial. He made some shots (5-8), scored 11, and dished out 5 assists to 2 turnovers. Very nice overall performance and will be one to build on for the young man.

Bamm-Bamm's minutes were limited by a nice performance by Luke Zeller, but Harangody still got the job done inside. With a great game by Kurz, his inside presence was not needed as much against a poor rebounding team like South Florida.

Robby was just about perfect today. 21 points, 10 rebounds, 50% shooting, and went toe-to-toe with Kentrell Gransberry despite giving the South Florida center 30 pounds. Kurz also displayed his outside touch with two three pointers.

Zach Hillesland scored nine in 22 minutes. The sophomore also logged 4 assists and three boards. Jonathan Peoples played solidly in the half-court game and picked up a surprising 5 rebounds. His ballhandling skills are better than Jackson under pressure and he provides a good backcourt pairing with Tory for extended minutes. Luke Zeller finally had a good outing off the bench. His seven points and four rebounds marked his best game in a long time. He went one for two from deep and played solid, albeit not spectacular, inside defense with Kurz on the bench. Ryan Ayers showed a little spark. He didn't score much, but did provide three rebounds in rather productive time off the bench. Ayers will not command more playing time, but does need to play like he did today to get Coach Brey to extend the reserves. Joe Harden also made a three in mopup time.

The atmosphere was pretty nice with the students back. They got on Gransberry 's case with his poor foul shooting, chanting his clip from the line or "you're on fire" after a make. Should be electric for Villanova. St. John's provides a chance for a good road win Tuesday and to start a good win streak. Overall, good win against a team we need to beat. Nothing special, but without much input from our best player, the guys should be proud of the effort.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Games Shuffle ND's Way

This turned out to be a big day for ND opponents. 'Nova, Alabama, and Butler all pull out victories. Cincy beat West Virginia and Louisville took down DePaul. In other Big East news, UCONN fell to Indiana in a matchup of top unranked teams.

Starting first with the marquee Big East nonconference matchup. Villanova beat #23 Texas 76-69. Kevin Durant scored only 12 in 40 minutes. The Wildcats should be ranked for the game at the Joyce next Saturday. #9 Alabama pulled off a win in the closing seconds thanks to Ronald Steele's game winner (and travel to set it up). Butler had no trouble with A.J. Graves back in the starting lineup for the first time in three games. Graves had all four wisdom teeth removed last week.

Those three wins help Notre Dame's RPI standing, while Louisville and Cincinnati winning increases the parity in the Big East and should help the Irish down the road for a better BET seeding. Tomorrow should be a good showcase game for the Irish. Notre Dame takes on 10-9 South Florida with an opportunity to show the nation that Wednesday was not the norm for this team. Hoping for a double-digit win. Also on tap is #22 Maryland/#25 Virginia Tech, as the Terps try to get back to .500 in the ACC.

That's it for today. After the game tomorrow, enjoy some football. I'm picking the Colts and Saints to matchup in Miami.

Shark Chooses Baseball

So Jeff Samardzija is now a full-time baseball player. Good for him. For as much attention another Bo Jackson would get and the publicity he would receive right away in the NFL, it is nice to see that Shark chose the sport he loves more. Of course, I'm sure he took into account the guaranteed contracts offered by baseball and this recent report about the severity of brain damage in football and its effect on real life. Also nice to note that his no trade clause will keep him in Chicago for a while. Go Cubs!

On the plate today, UCLA/Arizona at 4. Oklahoma St. vs. Texas A&M at 8 tonight. Big east game of the day is Villanova at home (Wachovia Center, not the smaller Pavillion we played in) vs. Texas at 1:30 on CBS. Hopefully, 'Nova can pull out a big win there and make our loss to them sting a little less.

Very Quick Roundup

Only one notable game on Friday night. Georgetown beat Seton Hall 74-58.

The Hoyas are very good. After losing close games to Pitt on the road and Villanova at home, Georgetown outrebounded Seton Hall 38-8. Three of Seton Hall's boards counted as "team rebounds", usually meaning the ball was knocked out of bounds. To hold a conference opponent to 5 legit rebounds, especially on the road, is a tremendous feat. To do so in the physical Big East is even better. If Georgetown can put a couple games like that together in March, they could take home the Big East crown.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Update on K-Mac

I realize that the word on Kyle's pretrial diversion came out a couple days ago, but I felt it necessary to lump all the recent events into one pile.

First, on Wednesday, McAlarney entered into a pretrial diversion program. Basically, if he goes to drug treatment and passes tests for a year, the charges are dropped. Of course, this has very little to do with his suspension from the team.

I believe that K-Mac met with ResLife yesterday. The original meeting is just a meet and greet, to allow Kyle to plead his case/accept responsibility/etc. About a week from now, the official suspension will be handed down. Based on similar cases with other students, the University has typically removed the student from school with the possibility of reinstatement the next semester. As long as he does not fight this case, K-Mac should be in an Irish uniform next season. What the pritrial diversion does do, however, is ensure that ND does not lose him for any amount of prison time (also possibility of removal from school for a conviction/up to one year sentence).

No real winners in this case, but hopefully the young man can start back on track next year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tempo-Free Stats

First of all, one final note about last night. Villanova needed the win a lot more than we did and played like a desperate team. Of course, it is good to not have to win every game down the stretch, but hopefully the Irish will play with a little more inspiration as the year goes on.

For any of you hoops stat junkies out there, check this site out. While the idea isn't wholly new, indeed the post is over a year old, it is nice to see a different approach to basketball statistics apart from the norm (FG%, Assists/Turnovers, PPG, etc.). For anyone who has read the book Moneyball, this site seems to offer the same approach to college hoops. I'll look into that a bit more in depth over the weekend and try to add a little more objective analysis in future posts.

To the games. No ranked opponents or Big East teams squaring off tonight, with Georgetown-Seton Hall paired for tomorrow. That's all for the Thursday edition. Have a good one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

And You Thought Georgetown Was Bad...

Another bad post to write. Made altogether worse by the fact that I couldn't see it in person.

First of all the number that sticks out is 60, as in the percentage of shots Villanova made from the floor tonight. Part of the blame has to go to the defense. No matter how many playmakers the opposing team may have, ND cannot allow anyone to shoot that high a rate and expect to win. Of course, Villanova must get a lot of credit for a complete offensive performance. Defense has been a staple of Irish success this year and the Wildcats were red-hot all night long. You can bet the farm no one will shoot 60% against the Irish again this year.

On the offensive front, Russell Carter started hot, went through a cold streak, but finished with 9 of 19 shooting. He did plenty from the offensive standpoint and scored 26 to lead the Irish.

Colin Falls stepped up in a pressure situation and came through in a big way. His 17 points are the most he's gotten in Big East play. Colin made half of his three point attempts, but did finish the night with four fouls. He will be needed to provide the same kind of performance consistently as the year goes on.

Tory Jackson had a bit o' trouble with the ballhandling. Four turnovers is a little high for a point guard, but he did finish with six assists. He needs to cut down on the mistakes to make up for the lack of offensive firepower he displays (1-4 from 3), though he did add 9 points on the night.

Kurz was solid, but needed to play a bit better. The Irish were outrebounded 30-22. Kurz added 7 to that total, and scored 11. He did leave a lot on the plate. 3-9 shooting is never good for a big man, especially if that player has five opportunities for second chance points.

Harangody scored 13, but only grabbed five boards. It was his longest time on the floor all year, but he only achieved his per game averages. Every game in the Big East will be a learning experience in physical play for the young man, and there is plenty for him to pick up from tonight. He did shoot pretty well inside, making 5 of 8.

Hillesland was limited with four fouls and wasn't able to provide his usual spark off the bench. Peoples played great defense, with four steals, but offensively lacked some control. Ryan Ayers made a three pointer and grabbed one rebound in 12 minutes. Luke Zeller stayed on the bench again for most of the night.

Overall, a tough loss in one of the toughest road environments in the conference. The offensive output would have won most games, but allowing 102 to a home team is unacceptable. Of course, all expectations have changed this season. A year ago, a road loss like this is predicable. Now, any loss has people asking "What went wrong?"

Sunday (USF) provides a good chance to put things back on track, with a road game against St. John's also coming before the rematch with 'Nova at the Joyce. Overall record, 15-3, 3-2 in Big East play. Time to get some more wins and seal up that at-large bid.


I traveled down to my little site counter today to check out the daily hits to the blog. Through the referrals link, I noticed that many of you reading this are newcomers from The Fieldhouse. Many thanks to Pat for listing Black and Green as that site sadly has to shut down. I hope you enjoy your stay here and come back often.

Meanwhile, my eyes are glued to the computer screen for updates of tonight's action (no ESPNU). Not great by any means yet, but there is still time...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bamm-Bamm Gets Another Award

For the third time this season, Luke Harangody received Rookie of the Week honors for the Big East. It is great to see the young man get so much publicity for the fine year he is having.

Wow, tomorrow's another game. At Villanova, second pure away contest all year. If the Irish can pull out a convicing W, there is no reason why the next three should not also fall into place. After Wednesday, there is South Florida and 'Nova again at home with St. John's in between. Sure would be nice to roll into Syracuse with a 7-1 conference (19-1 overall) record.

EDIT (6:30 PM): Digger Phelps just gave Zach Hillesland a little love, listing him as the most underrated player in the country. "He's the best 6th man in the Big East, maybe the whole country." Sure, a compliment from Digger Phelps is kind of like Lou Holtz talking about the football team, but it's nice to see the Irish get a little national airtime.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Polling

ND hops to 20th in both polls, good for a little clarity when describing the team.

Big East Bloggers Poll-
1) Pittsburgh (17): 272 pts.
2) Notre Dame: 230 pts.
3) Syracuse: 227 pts.
4) Marquette: 219 pts.
5) West Virginia: 196 pts.
6) Georgetown: 182 pts.
7) Connecticut: 181 pts.
8) Providence: 147 pts.
9) Louisville: 142 pts.
10) Villanova: 140 pts.
11) DePaul: 116 pts.
12) Seton Hall: 89 pts.
13) St. John's: 61 pts.
14) South Florida: 47 pts.
15) Rutgers: 38 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 23 pts.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Big East Ballot

1. Pittsburgh
2. ND
3. West Virginia
4. Connecticut
5. Syracuse
6. Louisville
7. Providence
8. Marquette
9. Villanova
10. DePaul
11. Georgetown
12. Cincinnati
13. Seton Hall
14. St John's
15. South Florida
16. Rutgers

Player of the Week- Dominic James, Marquette
Freshman of the Week- Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall

The One That Didn't Get Away

After a double technical foul and a couple quick turnovers, a once unassailable lead fell to 10 with 3:21 remaining. Notre Dame seemed to stall in front of 10,000 angry supporters against a much weaker opponent. Over the next few minutes, the Irish came together and pulled out a gutsy 88-76 win over Seton Hall.

The big individual matchup of the game pitted freshman point guards Tory Jackson and Eugene Harvey. Harvey got the better stat line, but Jackson got the win. Tory only scored 4, but grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. He also turned the ball over 3 times with 2 steals.

Russell Carter shot 8 for 13, including 4 threes. He scored 24, with ten rebounds. Rob Kurz scored 15 points with 6 rebounds.

In his first collegiate start, Luke Harangody played fairly well. He had a little trouble shooting down low, but still racked up 12 points. He also only logged 4 boards in 23 minutes.

Colin Falls filled out the starting lineup, but forgot to bring his jump shot with him to the arena (partly due to his struggle with the flu). He missed his first attempt, and never was a factor. He shot 1-7, with four points, but sat most of the 2nd half.

Zach Hillesland had a great afternoon off the bench. Logging a career-high 26 minutes, the sophomore scored 12, with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He showed impressive ballhandling ability, driving the length of the floor a few times and also finding open shooters.

Ryan Ayers displayed a little shooting touch of his own. He made both 3-pointers he attempted and gave out two assists. Really nice to see him have a good game. If the young man can shoot, I'd like to see him take more chances when he gets playing time.

Jonathan Peoples might give Mike Brey a really hard decision to make next season when deciding the point guard situation. He did turn over the ball four times, but otherwise seemed in control of the game. Peoples shot well, with nine points, and looks like a very solid backup point guard for the future. Jackson and Peoples teamed up in the backcourt for several minutes in the second half. A taste of things to come? We shall see.

Benched Luke Zeller played two minutes. I hate to see him struggle so much, but the Irish looked better down low with him on the bench.

Overall, great game with a little slip-up towards the end. The Irish seemed to be fully in control and got to 3-1 in Big East play without much trouble. It was nice to see the guys come together after a couple rough patches and fix problems in-game.

The last time Notre Dame started 15-2 was during the 1978-79 season (24-6 finish). Wednesday is an opportunity to add to that record. Go Irish. Hopefully more of the same ahead.

Upsets Around the Country

Both major state schools in Washington were bounced in OT tonight. #24 Washington lost to Cal and #23 WSU fell to Stanford in extra time. Top ranked North Carolina was beaten by Virginia Tech 94-88. Last unbeaten Clemson tripped up in College Park vs. the 25th ranked Terrapins.

The Hokies lead UNC by 20 with 3:48 left. Roy Williams' team made an impressive run to cut the lead to three with 16 seconds left. After holding on for a 94-88 victory, Virginia Tech joined Gonzaga as the only teams to defeat North Carolina this season.

The victory by Maryland over Clemson boosts Notre Dame's at-large profile and keeps Maryland ranked. The road ahead does not look good for 17-1 Clemson. After not playing a ranked team until tonight, the Tigers have North Carolina next up. Also ahead are two games against #11 Duke and a rematchs vs. Maryland.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Around the Big East

Marquette crushed West Virginia at home, quickly dropping the Mountaineers to 3-2 in conference play. Dominic James gets my player of the week vote already with a 21 point effort on 8-17 shooting. James dropped 17 on UCONN earlier in the week. With those two wins, Marquette is starting to look like a more competitive team. After losing by double digits to Providence and Syracuse, the Golden Eagles have responded with two nice victories over ranked teams and will soon be ranked themselves.

Louisville and Syracuse won over Providence and 'Nova, respectively. DePaul also crushed Rutgers.

Pitt plays Georgetown on ESPN at 9. If you need a break from hoops, however, tune in to the NFC Divisional game pitting New Orleans vs. Philly. Both are feel-good stories. The Saints for obvious reasons and the Eagles for making the playoffs without their starting QB.

Seton Hall tomorrow.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three Day Weekend

Friday night is a once again a day off for college basketball. The weekend looks to be better, however. Six Big East games on tap for the 13th. Two more on Sunday with a bonus MLK Day matchup pitting Marquette against Louisville. Enjoy the long weekend!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Quick Late Night Post

Sorry for the delay, but there's very little to share in the world of hoops tonight.

Seton Hall beat St. John's easily at home. They still look like a lower-tier Big East team at this point. Hopefully Sunday will prove to be a bit more like the Pirates' earlier 91-69 loss to Providence.

David Beckham's moving to the states. Big news for soccer fans and will hopefully grow the sport in the U.S.

That's all for tonight, folks. Three day weekend coming up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Walker to the NFL?

With no game until Sunday, I had to comment on the latest Notre Dame football rumor. Junior tailback Darius Walker is reportedly headed to the NFL draft this year.

I hate to hear that, but it is understandable. Walker is solid, but not great college back. Next season, the offense will rely more on running. Travis Thomas figures to return to running back, along with rising sophomores Jame Aldridge and Munir Prince as well as recruit Armando Allen taking away carries. Darius is just not the most talented option and should take advantage of a good year to make some money.

I have only met a few current ND football players, but Darius stands above them all. Most were cordial enough, a credit to Our Lady's University. Walker, however, is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I am sure that he is bombarded by strangers constantly, but he has no problem having a conversation with anyone at any time. Go luck to a true domer and a young man with pure class.

Quick BE Hoops rundown:
Marquette @ Connecticut
Louisville @ South Florida
Pittsburgh @ DePaul
Syracuse @ Rutgers

Have a good one.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

West Virginia Post Game

Big win, not least because of the poor results in Irish sports last week. Notre Dame was in control against a very good West Virginia team all night and survived a last second shot in a game that got a little too close. Overall, a pretty 61-58 victory.

My love-hate relationship with Colin Falls continues. The senior guard was clutch tonight, shooting 4-7 from long range. He played well overall and provided a couple of steals to go with a block on defense. Really nice to see him in form.

We needed Colin, because Russell Carter had a tough night shooting jumpers. He missed all 5 three-point attempts, but finished with 19 points. A few beautiful dunks, including a reverse slam at the end of the 1st half, got the crowd on its feet.

Luke Zeller plays pretty well, but his stats rarely surpass injured walk-on Tim Andree. Only two points and two rebounds, but he didn't hurt the team while on the floor. Still, his minutes will continue to be eaten up by...

Luke Harangody, who scored 11 with 5 rebounds. He missed a few close shots, but provided a great inside presence to help spread out the Mountaineers' 1-3-1 defense.

Rob Kurz scored 8 with 11 rebounds, but only shot 4-7 from the charity stripe. His late miss gave West Virginia a last-second opportunity. Overall, he is a great foul shooting big man, but he had a tough night today. Both he and Harangody played well without getting into foul trouble (Rob's three fouls were spread out).

Ryan Ayers showed some of his shooting ability, with a nice corner three. Overall, he didn't do much else and sat on the bench the whole 2nd half.

Tory Jackson didn't score, but did play the point pretty well. His late steal at the bottom of a pile was pure heart. 5 assists with 2 turnovers. Continues to show promise with some growing pains.

Jonathan Peoples was very impressive, however. He lacks Jackson's talent, but is very effective running the offense. I really like to see him on the floor, because he rarely makes the bad mistakes to which Tory can be prone. We should see more of him as the year goes on.

Hillesland again provided the hustle and guts off the bench. The sophomore scored 2, with two assists and three rebounds. Zach is developing into quite a 6th man.

The Mountaineers kept the game close with slick three-point shooting and their unique defense. The Irish showed a lot of poise winning a close game at a slower tempo. Brey let West Virginia make it a half-court game and maximized chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team showed a lot of individual sets made strictly for the matchup against a 1-3-1 zone and played more full court zone D than usual. All in all, a great and very needed win.

We would have lost this matchup last year. This team is showing more and more upside as the year goes on. Next matchup is Sunday at home vs. Seton Hall.

West Virginia Pre-Game

Tonight is the biggest game of the Irish season. Forget Alabama, forget Maryland, forget any game this team plays in the future. This is a young team reeling from a tough loss. The Irish have the talent to be great, but need to get back on track. A tough win at home against the only ranked opponent left on the schedule will do that. We need a big game from Tory Jackson, Colin Falls, Carter and the rest to pull it off. Let's see how it goes.

Go Irish!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Poll Results

Bloggers' Poll-

1) Pittsburgh (16): 300 pts.
2) West Virginia (3): 274 pts.
3) Georgetown: 256 pts.
4) Notre Dame: 234 pts.
5) Connecticut: 221 pts.
6) Providence: 207 pts.
7) Syracuse: 205 pts.
8) Marquette: 181 pts.
9) DePaul: 150 pts.
10) Villanova: 144 pts.
11) Louisville: 114 pts.
12) St. John's: 82 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 79 pts.
14) Cincinnati: 54 pts.
15) Rutgers: 45 pts.
16) South Florida: 31 pts.

Irish fall to 22nd in the AP and out of the Coaches' Top 25. West Virginia at home is a big opportunity to bounce back.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Big East Ballot

Some other big teams lost yesterday. Top-ranked UCLA fell to Oregon. Virginia Tech beat #5 Duke. Washington St. upset #7 Arizona. #8 Alabama dropped their third to Arkansas (any loss by 'Bama or Maryland hurts us). #14 UCONN lost to LSU.

A little shake up in the Big East-
1. Pittsburgh- Only losses to ranked teams
2. West Virginia- Three wins to start conference schedule
3. ND- Need to bounce back against West Virginia
4. Connecticut- LSU put them away
5. Marquette- *Pending today's Syracuse game
6. Providence- Beat Marquette, Seton Hall
7. Georgetown- Crushed Notre Dame
8. Syracuse- *Haven't proven anything, lost to Pitt at home.
9. Villanova- Lost to West Virginia and DePaul
10. Louisville- Crushed by the Irish
11. Cincinnati- *No conference games yet
12. DePaul- Lost to St. John's, beat 'Nova
13. St John's
14. Seton Hall
15. South Florida
16. Rutgers- *

*Pending Today's Results

Player of the Week- Frank Young, West Virginia Forward- 37 points, 11 rebounds in two wins this week. Scored 22 in upset over UCONN last week.

Freshman of the Week- Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall Guard- 37 points in two games

Saturday, January 06, 2007


The officiating at today's game was horrendous. The Messieurs Kersey, Breeding, and Burr combined to give Georgetown a sixth man on the floor. However, no matter how biased the officiating might be, referees cannot hand a team an 18 point loss. Oh yes, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Forgive me, Tory Jackson, I must start with you. I know that we are dealing with a freshman point guard in a new offense. However, he needs to play smarter. I believe all four of his turnovers were telegraphed passes directly into the arms of the opponent. Jackson has plenty of talent but when pressured, like most young players, he panicked. He is part of a team that beat Alabama and Maryland, therefore there is no reason to doubt his ability. He needs to be confident that he cant break down defenses with his dribbling. He needs to always be smart with his passes, as turnovers kill momentum. Most of all, he needs to improve into a solid one guard very quickly. This is asking a lot, but the season's success hinges on the effectiveness of the point guard play.

Colin Falls frustrates me to no end. The young man has shown incredible talent. However, 1 for 7 will not cut it. I would give a lot for Colin to consistently score 10-15 a night. I know he can get red hot and drop 20+ in less than ten shots, but all I want now is consistency. With normal output from other players, 10-15 points from Colin Falls equals a win. If his foot injury or some other problem prohibits him from scoring that many on a daily basis, the team would be better without him on the court for 30 minutes a night. He does play solid defense and is the vocal leader of the team, but his lack of mobility creates serious offensive problems if he cannot make his shots.

Rob Kurz was OK. He and Harangody got into foul trouble and could not be very productive down low, which crippled the offense. A lot of those fouls were questionable, but I have already addressed that. Kurz did shoot well from the line, which is a good trait in a big man. Not his best output, but he did the best he could.

Luke Zeller again had an unproductive offensive night. A little bit in every category, but not enough with the two other big men having to ride the pine for extended periods. Obviously, having our best big men in foul trouble was crippling, but Zeller needed to step it up in a situation like today. He was unable to provide a force under the basket, which made our perimeter players resort to poor shot selection.

Russell Carter has a very poor game as well. Shooting 1 of 6 from long range, his poor shot selection doomed our already dim hopes. Carter took a lot of poor shots and was not patient as the game slipped out of grasp. Part of the problem was the lack of an inside threat, but his poor shooting compounded it.

Harangody was unable to produce with four fouls. Ayers was awful the defensive side of the ball, letting his man make backdoor cuts at will. Peoples was ineffective, but did not turn the ball over. Zach Hillesland was probably the player of the game, collecting 7 points and 7 rebounds. He was the guy to step it up when Kurz and Harangody were on the bench. It boggles the mind why our 6-11 starter cannot be as succesful.

After falling behind 18-2, the team fought back well at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 11. However, poor outside shooting and no inside presence added kept the Irish from getting closer. The defense did play very well in the first half. Georgetown shot well over 50%, but turned the ball over on half their possesions. For the game, the Hoyas had one more turnover. There were plenty of opportunities to close the gap, but poor offensive play kept the Irish from taking advantage.

Ok, now what? It was a terrible game. The team shot 30% (18% from 3-point) and lost by 18 even though they had eight more attempts. No one had a good day, and there is plenty of room for improvment. All have shown the ability to play better. Since Brey has shown that he will continue to play Falls through hot and cold streaks, we must hope that Colin has seen his worst output for a while. Time to move on, put this behind us, and hope West Virginia looks a lot like Louisville.

New streak starts Tuesday.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Boring Night

Nothing to watch in the Big East tonight, so you could feel free to go out and have a life. Me, I spent a few hours surfing the net looking for anything to fulfill my collge hoops addiction.

Also, I'd like to remind you to feel free to make comments down below whenever you wish. I can amuse myself just fine but it can get a little lonely, you know?

Anyway, big game tomorrow vs. the Hoyas at the Verizon Center. Should be a treat to watch in person.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Week 1

With Big East action finally underway, there are plenty of games to watch around the league.

Yesterday West Virginina, St. John's, Seton Hall all logged wins. Tonight, Pitt finds itself in a battle against Syracuse at the Dome, while Providence has leapt to a very early lead against Marquette.

Mixed Feelings

I don't want to talk much about the Sugar Bowl, so I won't. It's terrible to send a special senior class off like that. I wish it could have gone better, but LSU is a great team. Thus begins a new era of Notre Dame football.

Before the game, I followed basketball action back in South Bend on the cell phone. It's funny how tense a twenty point game feels when you have to rely on a mobile device for information.

Early feel, great win. I was nervous about the Big East opener with a new point guard against a veteran coach. Thankfully, there was nothing to worry. ND dominated the first twenty minutes and cruised to a 16-point win.

Playing all but five minutes, Tory Jackson was impressive. The freshman scored fourteen, a surprising show of shooting ability, and grbabbed five rebounds. He tallied four assists and four turnovers, but did not hamper the offense. Like for doctors, the golden rule for emergency starters is "first, do no harm." The offense was able to run effectively once again without one of its main components.

Carter had another solid game. 19 points, three rebounds. 7 of 14 shooting. He played 38 minutes, too many for comfort, but gives the team a good game every night. If a couple other guys can step up and provide a spark to give Carter a few more minutes off a night, I would feel a lot better about Russell's effectiveness over the course of the year.

Ugh, Colin. Why are you such a streaky shooter? Falls was 3-12, 1 of 8 from deep. He scored 7 and had a good night off the ball (5 assists, 4 rebounds) but needs to be a consistent threat to earn 37 minutes a night.

Rub Kurz had a bad shooting night, but nearly earned another double-double. His nine boards helped the Irish gain a 33-28 advantage in that category and his three blocked shots were all ND achieved in the game.

Why is Luke Zeller still starting? He had a solid game, 3-5 shooting for seven points with four rebounds. Unfortunately, with Harangody playing well each night, Zeller is only given 15 minutes a game. Let Bamm-Bamm start the game and Zeller will be just as successful off the bench.

Speaking of Harangody, Luke scored 15 and grabbed 6 rebounds. He only played 21 minutes, but provided a needed spark when introduced into the lineup.

Rounding out the lineup, Hillesland was solid in nine floor minutes. Peoples grabbed a steal in mop-up time, and also avoided turning the ball over. Ayers grabbed a foul and a turnover in an uninspiring time off the bench.

Can't wait to see the team play again on Saturday. Real gut-check time on the raod against Georgetown.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Visit New Orleans

Spending time in New Orleans for the past 48 hours, I have fallen in love with the city. Its truly unique culture, a Creole blend of the European, Carribean, and African, makes this town special. Everyone I have met the last two days is gracious, to a soul. How many times have I heard "Thank y'all so much for coming"?

New Orleans is still a city needing to be healed. In the Lower 9th and many other neighborhoods, destroyed homes lie dormant. You've seen the pictures all over television, but to see the actual homes is heartbreaking. Half of the houses still have markings from rescue workers in the days following the disaster.

Most of all, New Orleans needs you and me. Tourism is the biggest industry in the city and has been severly hurt since Katrina. Money from tourists keep New Orleans alive. By spending your next vacation in the French Quarter, you provide a valuable boost to shopowners, bus drivers, and musicians. The food is great, the music is original, and the entire experience is powerful. Next time you book a trip, make it to southern Louisiana. You'll be glad you came.

Tomorrow's the big day in South Bend and the Superdome. Good luck to both the teams. Here's to two victories.

Fiesta Bowl Upset

I'll admit it. I gave Boise St. up for dead after Jared Z's pick-six seemed to blow the biggest game in school history. I missed all the trick plays and the unbelievable decision to go for two which gave the Broncos a 43-42 win. Congratulations to Boise St. for a great victory. Instead of the tremendous upset everyone thinks this is, I would argue that college football has finally found a little parity.

The knock against this team is that they didn't beat anyone. Had they scheduled a couple of solid major conference teams, they could still be 12-0 and arguing for a piece of the National Championship puzzle. Realize that Oklahoma is a team that could very well have been playing in Florida's place next week barring officiating follies against Oregon earlier this year.

Congratulations to Boise St. for a terrific season and a great game. The heart and passion exhibited last night by the Broncos are two of the most important reasons why the game is played.

Monday, January 01, 2007

January 1, 2007

The first record of the year is set on New Year's Day. Bobby Knight's Red Raiders slipped by New Mexico by two to give Knight his 880th career victory.

Lots of stuff to watch on TV, mostly bowl games. Enjoy.