Friday, November 30, 2007

Eastern Michigan Preview

The Eagles of Eastern Michigan visit the Joyce Center tomorrow night.

Leading the way is top scorer Jesse Buckley. The 6'5" senior wing averages 15.4 a night with 2.5 rebounds in 31.2 minutes. He shoots 45% from beyond the arc, hitting 21 of 47. That seems to be his only way of scoring, as only four of his total buckets have come from inside.

The only other player with a double digit scoring average is Carlos Medlock. The junior guard averages 13.3 points per game, but shoots only 35% from the floor. We need to put some pressure on him and force him to take bad shots.

The top rebounder is Justin Dobbins (7.2 RPG). Wendale Farrow and Will Cooper round out the starting 5.

This is a struggling basketball team. 3-3 with wins over St. Bonaventure, Manhattan, and Radford, but they have suffered ugly losses at the hands of traditional powerhouses Brown and Oakland. Wednesday's 72-68 loss to Detroit Mercy came after the Eagles built a 10 point lead with 10 minutes to play in the 2nd half. Mercy outscored EMU 28-14 to close out the game. Medlock led the team with 21 points, while the Eagles were outshot 56% to 44%.

Eastern Michigan will be featured in the BracketBuster weekend February 23rd. Provided the Irish win, this could potentially turn into a surprisingly good victory if the Eagles upset someone in February. Or not.

Hopefully the Irish can control this game from start to finish. As EMU's premier opponent, it would be nice to get them out of their rhythm early to keep any upset dreams out of their minds.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Man With the Golden Gun

Never go quail hunting in Texas.

Less than two years after Dick Cheney showed his powers of friendship, Bobby Knight proved his inability to shoot anything other than basketballs.

Neither of the two people who claimed to be shot by Knight's (or his companion's) shotgun were injured by the pellets that struck them from 250 feet.

This comes eight years after Coach Knight shot his friend in the shoulder and back while hunting in Wisconsin.

I'm no hunting expert, but I'm pretty sure this kind of stuff isn't meant to happen.

Eastern Michigan Saturday. Enjoy the last day of November '07 tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jimmy V Week

With as ridiculous and commercially-driven as they sometimes can be, ESPN got this one right.

Unless you've been living in a hole or lack cable television (similar circumstances), you know that November 28th-December 4th has been christened "Jimmy V Week" on the ESPN family of networks. Created to increase awareness and raise funds to find a cure for cancer, this initiative is named for Jim Valvano, the late North Carolina State basketball coach who passed away with the disease in 1993.

If you haven't seen his speech in the inaugural ESPY awards, click here. One of the most moving clips, sports related or otherwise, that I have ever seen.

In spite of some controversy for alleged rules violations and low admission standards, Valvano will be remembered not only as the head coach of the 1983 National Championship team, but as one of the leaders in the fight against cancer. The V Foundation raises millions each year in the effort to find a cure. Dick Vitale, Notre Dame father and honorary degree recipient, is one of the major proponents of this great organization.

Thanks to ESPN for starting the Jimmy V Week. Hopefully it will eventually raise enough awareness and money so that the V Foundation and others like it ultimately become unnecessary.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The ACC is dominating yet another ACC/Big Ten Challenge. After two days of action, Tobacco Road leads the Midwest 5-1 with 5 games to be played today.

Indiana's win over Georgia Tech was the only victory for the Big Ten. The Yellow Jackets fell just short of winning a game that would have boosted Notre Dame's nonconference SOS. Then again, the Irish lost so there was little to gain but pride for ND in yesterday's game.

Barring a sweep of today's matchups, the Big Ten will fall for the 9th straight year that the series has been contested. Time to bring back the ACC/Big East Challenge. Just for fun, we'll showcase a few matchups here:
  • #7 Duke vs. #10 Louisville
  • #2 North Carolina vs. #5 Georgetown
  • #18 Clemson vs. #11 Pittsburgh
  • Virginia vs. #14 Marquette
  • NC State vs. #21 Villanova

Just a taste. Would certainly be more competitive than the current lineup. Not to mention teams like Syracuse and Connecticut getting a chance against the most publicized conference in the land. Just an idea...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Games to Check Out This Week

If you're watching ESPN tonight, you'll have an opportunity to watch Georgia Tech play #15 Indiana. After dropping games to UNC Greensboro and Winthrop, the Yellow Jackets have a chance to bolster their NCAA bid by following a win against the Irish with a victory at Assembly Hall.

Tomorrow, Long Island plays St. John's. After losing to the Irish, LIU has rebounded nicely with wins over Army, Columbia, and Canisius.

Thursday, Kansas State plays #17 Oregon. The Wildcats fell out of the coaches poll with a loss to George Mason next week. The December 4th contest could prove to be a quality win for Notre Dame if K-State can defeat the Ducks, Xavier, and some top Big XII foes.

As for last night's opponent, Colgate will take on Syracuse on December 18th. It will be interesting to see how those two teams stack up in preparation for our game against the Orange.

Happy Tuesday...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Big East Bloggers Poll

1) Georgetown (16): 256 pts. Hi: 1st. Low: 1st.
2) Marquette: 220 pts. Hi: 2nd. Low: 6th.
Louisville: 220 pts. Hi: 2nd. Low: 5th.
4) Pittsburgh: 217 pts. Hi: 2nd. Low: 7th.
5) Syracuse: 190 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 8th.
6) Villanova: 175 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 10th.
7) Connecticut: 170 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 8th.
8) Providence: 133 pts. Hi: 7th. Low: 10th.
West Virginia: 133 pts. Hi: 6th. Low: 10th.
10) Seton Hall: 114 pts. Hi: 7th. Low: 13th.
11) Notre Dame: 96 pts. Hi: 8th. Low: 12th.
12) St. John's: 72 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 16th.
13) DePaul: 52 pts. Hi: 11th. Low: 16th.
14) Cincinnati: 47 pts. Hi: 11th. Low: 16th.
15) South Florida: 43 pts. Hi: 12th. Low: 16th.
16) Rutgers: 39 pts. Hi: 12th. Low: 16th.

Player of the Week: Brian Laing, Seton Hall
Freshman of the Week: Dante Greene, Syracuse

Notre Dame 94, Colgate 63

Nice to get a solid win. This one was a little sloppy to begin with, but a strong second half left no one in doubt.

Pretty flat first half... overwhelming is a good word. The Irish led by 13 at the break, but were unable to take control of the game. There was too much perimeter play, by design or on accident, with 5 guys sometimes staying on the three-point line. This took away inside chances and relied on driving to the basket for points. Sometimes the offense looked a little slow and Colgate was able to outhustle the Irish who were simply going through the motions.

In the 2nd half, Notre Dame outscored Colgate 48-30 and the quality of basketball was much higher. A little more intensity and better fundamentals helped the lead grow and allowed for quality minutes for the freshmen.

We'll start with the player of the game, Kyle McAlarney. The junior can simply shoot lights out. 7 of 10 from beyond the arc for 25 points. Add in 4 assists and no turnovers. After a little poor shot selection at the start of the game, Mac hit good jumpers from all over the floor. He has no problem stepping up from 25 feet and knocking down shots. If he can keep the good shot selection he had today, he will be one of the best pure shooters in the conference. After a game like today, it's easy to compare Kyle to the man he is replacing, Colin Falls. K-Mac is hands down the better overall player and showed more range than some of Falls' games, with the ability to hit from 2-3 yards beyond the arc. Absolute top-notch performance.

Tory Jackson was the sparkplug during some of Notre Dame's rough patches, running the floor and accumulating 7 assists to one turnovers. Coach Brey was quite right after the game in mentioning Jackson's strong performance as the catalyst of the offense. 3 steals and 3 rebounds isn't too shabby either.

Rob Kurz stepped up with a slightly below-average performance from Bamm-Bamm. 20 and 10 for the senior from Lower Gwynedd, PA. Able to dish for 4 assists as well. He was our inside presence tonight.

Luke Harangody only played 19 minutes and picked up 3 fouls. He did score 11 points and grab 7 boards. No superhuman performance was required from him and it was nice to see the other players pick up for his slightly lowered production.

Ryan Ayers is the big question mark in my mind. He plays solid defense and can shoot when given looks, but really doesn't bring a lot to the table offensively. He scored 9 on 3-7 shooting but with McAlarney as the deep threat, it would be nice to add a guy who can drive to the basket. We'll see if Hillesland or Nash can step up to the plate.

Hillesland looked tired tonight. Not sure if he was sick, but definitely off his game. Looked a bit slow on both ends of the floor. Only 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. He is the best option at power forward off the bench, but I really would like to see him start at the 3. If he does end up taking most of Ayers' minutes with the starting 5, Coach Brey will need to develop a good option for spelling Bamm-Bamm and Kurz.

Luke Zeller is not that guy. A very good game for the 6'10" junior, but he's a small forward in a big man's body. Great catch and shoot from outside, but ugly under the basket. 4 of 5 from deep for a career-high tying 14 points, surely earning him the right to keep his 15 minutes a game. He did have four rebounds, but was unable to establish an offensive presence inside. He must be paired with a player who can provide some buckets in the paint to be successful.

Peoples was rock steady once again. 4 points, more importantly 4 assists and no turnovers. As the backup point guard, he does exactly want you want. Just run the offense and don't mess up.

Great opportunity to see Tyrone Nash in action. Entering with 10 minutes to play, Ty was physical from the start, providing the some of the best inside defense all game. He did pick up three fouls for having his hands all over the opposition, but certainly made use of his time on the floor. Gave the Irish energy and intensity and dished out 2 assists to go with 3 rebounds. I can't wait to see more from him and hopefully he will break into the rotation as a 3 or 4.

Abromitis and Proffitt earned 4 minutes each. The two walkons saw a minute of playing time. Really like to watch Tom Kopko on the bench. He's the first to cheer for baskets and high-five the starters for good performances. Great team player.

Check out our starting lineup compared to last year-
  1. Jackson-Jackson
  2. Falls-McAlarney
  3. Carter-Ayers, Hillesland, or Nash
  4. Harangody-Harangody
  5. Kurz-Kurz

Looks like we found a solid replacement for Colin in the resurgent K-Mac. If we can replace Carter's driving ability without losing too much of an outside threat, the starting five looks better than last season. That's a big if with Ayers not overly impressing. Maybe Nash can develop into that guy. That's something only more playing time will be able to determine.

Also, the lack of a great backup post player is disconcerting since the team loses Kurz next year. Someone will need to step up and fill those shoes.

Overall a very good win. The team finally gets a little time off after 5 games in 10 days and returns Saturday against E. Michigan.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Next weekend I will begin my career as a featured writer at the message board This should be an exciting new venture for me to expand my amateur sports writing career and bring new viewers to this site.

What will be different? Very little on this blog will change. Hopefully starting next weekend I will devote some time to putting together an article on the Irish, the Big East, or college basketball in general. I am planning on posting the article on this site along with the normal Black and Green fare that you know and love.

I encourage everyone to check out this site at your leisure. It should be a fun way to expand this blog's influence in the sports community as well as a great way to gain new information on college basketball.

Tomorrow's game is against Colgate. Look for another big performance from Harangody as the Irish take on the Fighting Dentists.

Big East Ballot- Week 2

Team Rankings-

  1. Georgetown
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Marquette
  4. Louisville
  5. Connecticut
  6. Syracuse
  7. Villanova
  8. Providence
  9. West Virginia
  10. St. John's
  11. Seton Hall
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Rutgers
  14. Cincinnati
  15. DePaul
  16. South Florida
Player of the Week- Luke Harangody- Notre Dame
Freshman of the Week- Donte Greene- Syracuse

Still way too early for these rankings to mean anything of substance. Seton Hall has a better record than Notre Dame (they're undefeated, in fact), but only defeated Monmouth by 8. Are the Irish the 12th best team in the conference? No, but you can't rank them ahead of teams with better records. Things should shake out over the next month, but the conference games head-to-head are what matter.

Bamm-Bamm gets the nod over Brian Laing from Seton Hall for player of the week. Laing scored 27 and 25 against Navy and Virginia, with 19 rebounds between the two games, but Luke scored 22 and 25 against Georgia Tech and Youngstown St, with 24 total boards. Though Seton Hall won both of the games with Laing's big performances, Harangody single-handedly kept the Irish in the contest against the Yellow Jackets.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Notre Dame 87, Youngstown State 75

First two thirds were great, the last ten minutes not so much, but winning feels great.

We'll start with the positives.

Notre Dame outscored the Penguins 53-31 in the first half. The Irish shot 55% from the floor, 41% from the three-point line. Outrebounded Youngstown State 44-34, 24 assists to 17 turnovers, and stayed out of foul trouble.

On the not-so-positive side, Youngstown St. scored ten more points than Notre Dame in the second half and the Irish saw their offense shut down. 14% from long range in the second period, bad mistakes and an increase in turnovers. The team just looked like they wanted to get to the locker room as soon as possible. Not the end of the world, but you can't do that against better opponents. Still, a win's a win.

Kyle McAlarney looked like a completely different player. He is really adapting well to the 2 guard position, taking open shots whenever they present themselves. Today he was converting those opportunities, scoring 23 points with 5 three pointers in 10 attempts.

Luke Harangody continued his great run of games with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Really dominating performance down low. Also showed some unselfishness with 4 assists. If he keeps this kind of effort up the rest of the year, an all-conference selection will be waiting.

Rob Kurz provided an added rebounding force that was lacking in the Virgin Islands. 11 rebounds and 8 points for the lone senior. Only 26 minutes on the floor, but was a good complement to Bamm-Bamm and K-Mac.

Tory Jackson was very good until the end of the game. 9 points and 6 assists, but many of his 6 turnovers came down the stretch. Some mental mistakes and general carelessness. He needs to work on closing games out.

Ryan Ayers scored 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting. 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Only played 26 minutes.

Zach Hillesland scored 10, grabbed 5 boards, had 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal in 18 minutes. Just gives you a balanced effort all over the scoresheet.

Luke Zeller scored 4 and had two rebounds in 15 minutes. Jonathan Peoples continues to look good when given minutes. Not a lot of stats, but is gaining Coach Brey's respect with his trustworthy control of the offense when in the game.

Ty Nash was the only freshman who worked up a sweat, as the lead dropped too low in the closing moments to trust the inexperienced players. He played well and I really would like to see him break into the regular rotation. Even 5-10 minutes a night would be sufficient for him to produce a little and grow in confidence. Tim Abromitis played only a minute and Ty Proffitt saw his first action of the year, taking off his redshirt. Proffitt's appearance virtually confirms the speculation that Carleton Scott will take his freshman year off.

Lots of 2-3 zone, which looked pretty good. Still as my cousin Ellen said at the Thanksgiving dinner table, "Hot shooting will tear apart the zone defense every time." Wise words. The Penguins shot 63% from deep in the second half to make Notre Dame forget about a rout and just hope to hold on.

The first half was very encouraging, with 62% shooting and a very fluid attack. However, the lack of concentration down the half really hurt the Irish. The mistakes and poor shooting down the stretch served as a strong reminder of what went wrong last weekend.

Need to fix the problems, but let's just be happy tonight. After all, Notre Dame football is 3-9.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Around the Country

Never travel without a laptop. Blogging from a hotel conference room is less than satisfactory...

I was able to watch three games yesterday which were quite interesting.

First, Texas A&M beat Washington in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semis. The Aggies overcame a four point halftime deficit to win 77-63. Keep in mind that they only made 22 of 40 from the charity stripe and star Josh Carter only scored 5 points. This could have been much more lopsided.

Losing coach Billy Gillespie to Kentucky and All-American clutch point guard Acie Law should have really set this team back. However, on a night where they had more turnovers than assists, missed an embarrassing amount of free throws, and received a poor performance from their top player, A&M turned in a double-digit victory against a tournament-caliber team. They could do very well this year.

They will play Ohio State in the finals in Madison Square Garden after the Buckeyes pulled away from Syracuse. It was a battle of two teams wearing those hideous Nike "System of Dress" jerseys, with skin-tight tops and baggy shorts. The Orange played in front of a very partisan crowd, but were unable to turn the home-court advantage into a victory. Freshman Kosta Koufos scored 24 points and had 9 rebounds, but I spent most of my time watching the two first-year players from Syracuse.

Donte Greene is the real deal. 21 points, 9 rebounds for the small forward from Baltimore. He is certainly game ready right now. Jonny Flynn was less impressive. Since his fantastic breakout performance against Siena, the undersized point guard has been ice cold. Last night he failed to score and was 0-6 from the floor. 2 assists and 3 turnovers in addition. He did show some very good moves, with lightning-quick cuts and solid court vision, but has some maturing to do as a college basketball player. Overall, with the talent of Flynn and Greene, as well as the addition of redshirt sophomore power forward Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse has loads of talent. Add in holdovers Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf and the Orange could be contending for the Big East title next season.

Kyle Singler is another fantastic player from this freshman class. The 6'8" Duke forward scored 25 and grabbed seven rebounds to defeat Marquette in the finals of the Maui Invitational. I was only able to watch the first half, but picked up some interesting insights about this Golden Eagle team.

Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews are all upperclassmen now, which should have led to success in Hawaii. Certainly, Marquette took care of a stumbling Oklahoma State and gutsy Chaminade, but the Duke game was to be the coming-out party for this junior class. James is the easiest to breakdown. Think Chris Thomas from a couple years ago. Greg Paulus did a great job of pressuring the Marquette point guard from the halfcourt stripe and forcing him to take ill-advised shots. James finished with 12 points, on 4 of 16 shooting. He did finish with 6 rebounds, but three assists and two turnovers failed to help his cause.

McNeal had been very good throughout the first two games, scoring 22 and 20, but only picked up 11 points last night. He did spend some of the game in foul trouble, finishing with 4. Matthews, the third of Marquette's junior guard triumvirate, scored 12.

Duke did a great job switching up the half-court man pressure and 2-3 zone. Hopefully Coach Brey can learn from this and will use Tory Jackson to harass Dominic James in our two meetings this year. Once you take away Marquette's catalyst, they become a very beatable team.

That's it for now, Happy Thanksgiving to you all. No post tomorrow since I have such limited Internet access. I will be back for the game Saturday night (remember the time change to 7:30) and can provide a postmortem for you afterwards. Enjoy the holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Day Later

After two days of disappointment, the sky hasn't fallen on this Notre Dame basketball team. Not yet. With all that has been said about poor coaching and playing evident in the two losses (much of the comments being quite valid), this is still the team that gave the Irish faithful so much hope with a big win over Monmouth on Saturday.

Thankfully, you know that the players and coaches understand how big of a disappointment those two losses are. Gene Cross mentioned how excited he was for the season to begin. Having seen his excited on-court demeanor, you know that the young assistant coach is not at all satisfied with a 4th place finish. In addition, players like Tory Jackson and Rob Kurz will not let this kind of underachieving slide. There will certainly be improvement.

With a couple days to relax before the showdown with Youngstown State on Saturday, we can look around the country. Baylor beat Winthrop to win the PJ championship after our game yesterday. Good for them. Let's hope that they continue to surprise the rest of the year. Duke and Illionois make up an intriguing matchup in Maui tonight and #1 UCLA and #11 Michigan State face off in the CBE Classic. The rest of the Maui Invite should be fun as usual with teams like Marquette and Oklahoma State still alive.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I might miss a post tomorrow due to travel, but know that I'm here in spirit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Big East Bloggers Poll

1) Georgetown (10): 220 pts. Hi: 1st. Low: 2nd.
2) Louisville (4): 212 pts. Hi: 1st. Low: 4th.
3) Syracuse: 179 pts. Hi: 2nd. Low: 7th.
4) Pittsburgh: 178 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 7th.
5) Marquette: 176 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 7th.
6) Connecticut: 147 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 9th.
7) Villanova: 145 pts. Hi: 5th. Low: 10th.
8) Providence: 124 pts. Hi: 7th. Low: 9th.
9) west Virginia: 113 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 10th.
10) Notre Dame: 94 pts. Hi: 7th. Low: 16th.
11) Seton Hall: 79 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 13th.
12) DePaul: 61 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 15th.
13) St. John's: 60 pts. Hi: 11th. Low: 16th.
14) Rutgers: 41 pts. Hi: 12th. Low: 16th.
15) Cincinnati: 37 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 16th.
16) South Florida: 27 pts. Hi: 14th. Low: 16th.

Player of the Week: Terrence Williams, Louisville
Rookie of the Week: Donte Greene, Syracuse

Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69

Another tough, tough pill to swallow. Matt Causey's three pointer with 2 seconds left turned a 2 point Notre Dame lead into a Yellow Jacket victory and sent the Irish home with an extemely disappointing 4th place finish in the Virgin Islands.

There will be plenty of people who will blame Coach Brey for yet another close loss. Losing this one was not at all like our previous blunders (especially two seasons ago), so I definitely give the head coach a pass for how the game was lost. If you want to talk about how the team underperformed overall against two inferior opponents, that's a different story.

Luke Harangody was the man for the second day in a row. 22 points, 12 rebounds. He may have been at fault on that last three pointer, but overall a great performance for the young man. We need to see more of that from him.

Rob Kurz had another quiet night, slowed by 4 fouls. 15 points (6 from the line) and 6 rebounds. With such a grea performance by his fellow frontcourt mate, it would have been nice to see the senior take the game over more in the paint.

K-Mac was cold again. 3-8 for seven points is not what you need from the 2 guard. 1-5 from the three point line is also very discouraging.

Jackson had ten points, but 3 assists and 5 turnovers. Missed half his foul shots. Not a very pretty night. We must improve the guard play to be successful in the Big East.

Ryan ayers played only 18 minutes, with 3 points. Unless he was injured (I didn't get to watch the game on TV), he could lose that starting spot to Zach Hillesland.

Zach was another bright spot for the Irish. 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.

Peoples and Zeller were used very sparingly. Eight minutes with limited production each. Using an eight-man rotation is one thing, but I would like to see more minutes for the guys off the bench. No reason to let our best players get tired when we have several scholarship players riding the pine.

Overall, the 40% shooting was better, but not great. 31% from deep does not bode well for a team that relied on the long ball so much last season. 14/19 assist to turnover ratio is not acceptable.

Georgia Tech made their last six three pointers. You can't blame that hot shooting touch on the Irish D. With a two point lead, I can understand defending the inside shot and possibly leaving Causey open for the three. That said, this loss and entire trip ends up being very disappointing. With such a promising season ahead of us on Saturday, the last two days have made doubters out of the best Irish fans. Questions will be answered and the players know what they need to do, but there will not be another opportunity to make up for these losses until December 4th against Kansas State. Until then, the Irish must stress fundamentals and look to destroy Youngstown St., Colgate, and Eastern Michigan.

This Irish must bounce back from this. The Notre Dame nation needs this team to play well and to expectation. Please, for our sanity...

Big East Ballot- Week 1

Team Rankings-

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

Player of the Week- Eugene Harvey- Seton Hall

Freshman of the Week- Donte Greene- Syracuse

Not much changes, the Irish drop two spots with their loss yesterday. Since few teams have played anyone of note, the standings will take a while to shake out over the nonconference schedule. Notre Dame could hop back in the top 5 with wins and having higher ranked schools lose.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baylor 68, Notre Dame 64

The Irish folded in an extremely disappointing way tonight. At least one Notre Dame team has to disappoint right?

Awful shooting overall and poor decision making down the stretch killed the team against Baylor. Tomorrow's opponent will be Georgia Tech, not the rematch with Winthrop as had been hoped.

Luke Harangody got absolutley no help from his teammates, scoring 22 of the team's points. He shot 9-14 from the floor, one the only two ND players over 50%. 8 rebounds, 3 fouls. He did have 4 turnovers, but still finished as the only ND starter with a passing grade for the everning's performance.

Rob Kurz was surprisingly quite disappointing. 13 points on 2-11 shooting is not acceptable for a post player of his caliber. Adds in 5 rebounds, but had 4 fouls that really held him back.

Kyle McAlarney played almost the entire contest, with very very little to show for his efforts. 1 of 11 shooting from the floor. 1 for 11. That's not what we need from the guy expected to replace Colin Falls as a three-point threat. It's a bad night to be sure, but most of the time you could count on someone else to pull the team up. Not so tonight.

Tory Jackson picked up 2 early fouls, which limited his 1st half play, but still finished 2-8 from the floor. 0 for 4 from three-point range. Did have 3 assists and 3 steals, but could not put the ball in the basket.

Correction on the earlier comment about Zeller and Harangody being the only two who made half their shots. From the early Game Tracker statistics, it looks like Ryan Ayers was 3 of 6. 3 of 5 was from three point land. Good for him. 3 rebounds and 3 fouls to go with it. Not a great overall effort, but the shooting was quite solid.

Zeller was the third with 50% shooting. Made 2, shot 4. 6 points, 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. One of his better performances statistically in such few minutes.

Peoples was very solid having to sub for Jackson most of the 1st half. 20 minutes overall. 2 assists, no turnovers.

Hillesland had 5 rebounds, not much else.

Saddest about tonight was how the team folded down the stretch. Baylor did not lead until the closing minutes and the Irish simply could not answer when they needed to. It's not as big an upset as some of the other major teams have faced, but this is simply unacceptable.

The numbers are pretty bad. 33% shooting. 3 less rebounds than Baylor. Only 22 defensive boards. 4 players with 3 fouls, 2 with 4. Play like that against a legitamite Big East foe and we will get run out of the gym.

This team must win against Georgia Tech tomorrow to get anything out of this trip. Forget the big win against Monmouth, losing 2 games in a tournament with this weak a field should not happen. The Yellow Jackets are probably the 2nd most talented team in the field, next to the Irish. They are lead by Anthony Morrow, who averaged 24 ppg prior to today's loss. Jeremis Smith and Alade Aminu both contributed 13 a game. Morrow and Aminu are the top rebounders. Four players average three assists. Georgia Tech lost 83-74 to UNC Greensboro to start the season and are 2-2 after today's game. They will certainly come out fighting.

If we can pull off a victory tomorrow, one can hope that watching Winthrop or Baylor lift the trophy will inspire the team to play even harder the rest of the year. Either way, today's disappointing loss has ruined the squad's vacation to the Virgin Islands. No more beach parties. It's time to take care of business.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Notre Dame 76, Monmouth 33

Wow. What a greaat way to start the Paradise Jam.

Rob Kurz led all scorers with 15 points, adding 5 rebounds. Ryan Ayers and Kyle McAlarney scored 13 each. Ayers added in an impressive seven rebounds. Tory Jackson was a little off his game offensively, with 4 assists and 3 turnovers. He did finish with 6 rebounds. Luke Harangody played only 22 minutes, but scored 8 points and collected 5 boards.

For the subs, Luke Zeller played 19 minutes with 4 rebounds to show for his effort. Zach Hillesland collected six rebounds and 9 points in his 15 minutes of playing time. Jonathan Peoples was very solid with eight points playing 13 minutes for our backcourt duo. Nash, Abromitis, and our two walkons collected some garbage time. Barring an unknown injury to Scott, it looks like he will redshirt this season. Proffitt may still be held out for his previous hurt.

The Irish will play Baylor on Sunday. The Bear defeated Wichita State 64-55 today. Curtis Jerrells scored 23 points to lead Baylor. He also finished with eight rebounds and four assists. Aaron Bruce scored 10 and Kevin Rogers added seven.

Overall, a great win for the team especially the way it happened. Last season we could outscore most of our opponents. Today we were able to tear apart a team offensively and defensively. The Irish shot 51% from the floor, compared to 27% for Monmouth. Only eight points in the second half for the Hawks. Great job all around. Let's hope we can keep this up on Sunday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Monmouth Preview

The Irish are picked 29th in Sports Illustrated's college hoops preview, the 6th Big East team listed. Nine teams total from our conference are selected to make the NCAA Tournament.

The preview for tomorrow's game will be shorter than usual due to all the action that is coming up this weekend. I will try to fit in previews for each game as well as the normal post-game analysis all during a home football weekend, but no promises.

Monmouth was 12-18 last year, with a 7-11 NEC record. Despite losing half their scoring and rebounding, the Hawks started off the year with a win over William Paterson University. That lack of depth and experience, however, has caught up with them in their last two games. November 9th was a 63-60 loss to Colgate and November 11th was an overtime defeat to Big East foe Seton Hall. Though they played the Pirates tough, that game should never have been as close as it was. Monmouth shot 33% from the floor and turned the ball over 23 times to 11 assists. Stop Jhamar Youngblood and you stop the Hawks' offense. Youngblood scored 27 points on 11-24 shooting, playing nearly the whole contest.

As long as the Irish play good fundamental basketball, we should see extended minutes for the subs as this looks to be a blowout.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Paradise Jam Preview


Charlotte vs. Georgia Tech- November 16th, 2 PM Atlantic-


Picked eleventh by Sporting News in the Atlantic 10, the 49ers will struggle to improve on last year's 14-16 record. They will count on senior guard Leemire Goldwire's strong outside shooting to be competitive in this tournament. Goldwire averaged the most three-pointers of any player in A-10 last season.

Georgia Tech-

Predicted to finish 7th in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are the best team from a big conference in the field not named Notre Dame. They lost talented freshmen Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young to the NBA over the offseason and starter Ra'Sean Dickey is academically inelgible for the first semester. There is a big question mark for this young team. How will the inexperienced members of the squad perform when thrust into the spotlight?

Illinois-Chicago vs. Winthrop- 4:30 PM-


The Flames are selected 6th in the ten-team Horizon League. 14-18 last year, Illinois-Chicago lost top scorer Othyus Jeffers to NAIA school Robert Morris. If that doesn't bode poorly for this squad, nothing else does. 6-11 Josh Vandermeer set a school record for blocks last year, but can't do it alone.


We know plenty about Winthrop. Picked to win the Big South, last season saw the Eagles finish the year ranked 22nd with a first round victory over the Irish in the NCAAs. Eight players with no experience are on the roster and will be lead by new coach Randy Peele.

Baylor vs. Wichita St.- 7:00-


Baylor is selected 9th in the Big XII. Bouncing back from a 4 win campaign in '06 (granted the program has been in shambles since 2003, with the tragic shooting of Patrick Dennehy and resignation of coach Dave Bliss), the Bears went 15-16 last year. 5th year coach Scott Drew is confident with the arrival of top-50 recruit LaceDarius Dunn that this Baylor squad will be able to have a winning season for the first time in recent memory.

Wichita State-

Selected 5th in the ever-potent Missouri Valley, the Shockers are led by Gregg Marshall, former Winthrop head. Last year's coach, Mark Turgeon, is now employed by Texas A&M. Wichita State has been to the postseason four of the past five years, but must deal with a young and inexperienced roster. Eight of the sixteen players on the roster are freshmen.

Monmouth vs. Notre Dame- 9:30-


Monmouth is pciked to finish 10th in the Northeast Conference, one slot ahead of Long Island. The Hawks lost three of their top seven players from last year's 12-18 team. More importantly, future New Jersey governor Jon Bon Jovi has a home about seven miles from campus. Monmouth returns NEC Rookie of the year Jhamar Youngblood this season. Youngblood scored 12.3 points a contest last year.

Last Year's Standings-

1. Alabama
2. Xavier
3. Villanova
4. Toledo
5. Iowa
6. Virginia Commonwealth
7. College of Charleston
8. Middle Tennessee State

All-Tournament Team-

MVP: Alonzo Gee - Alabama
Justin Ingram-
Curtis Sumpter-Villanova
Stanley Burrell-Xavier
Ronald Steele-Alabama

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Schedule Strength and Bench Depth

With a couple days before the opener in the Virgin Islands, I've decided to take some time to research the two biggest complaints about Coach Brey this season: non-conference schedule strength and an eight-man deep bench.

Overall, I am not too concerned with the non-conference schedule. It presents a problem if, and only if, the Irish fail to convince the committee through a strong performance in the Big East slate. If this team finishes 7th or lower in the Big East standings, they will have larger problems than an unimpressive string of games before January. In addition, the lack of top competition out of conference guarantees wins and minimizes the chance for an embarrassing upset here and there. You can fully expect Notre Dame to carry no more than two losses and a continued home winning streak into 2008.

That said, let's break down the opponents. In-season tournaments are withheld.

Team- Final 2007 RPI- Conference Prediction (Sporting News)-
  • Long Island- 310- 11th Northeast Conference
  • Youngstown State- 173- 9th Horizon League
  • Colgate- 261- 6th Patriot League
  • Eastern Michigan- 234- 4th MAC West
  • Kansas St.- 56- 3rd Big XII
  • Northern Illinois- 301- 5th MAC West
  • San Francisco- 162- 4th WCC
  • Brown- 230- 5th Ivy League
  • North Florida- 333- 9th Atlantic Sun
That's three games outside the top 300, with only one top 100 team. Although Kansas St. is currently in the Top 25, not an impressive slate. Let's look at two other Big East schedules, Pitt (ranked 4th in my preseason ballot) and Syracuse (ranked 6th).


  • NC A&T- 271- 2nd MEAC
  • St. Louis- 74- 8th A-10
  • Mississippi Valley- 200- 5th SWAC
  • Buffalo- 238- 6th MAC East
  • Boston U- 210- America East
  • Toledo- 94- 3rd MAC West
  • Duquesne- 222- 9th A-10
  • Washington- 81- 8th Pac-10
  • Oklahoma State- 51- 5th Big XII
  • Duke- 15- 2nd ACC
  • Dayton- 75- 4th A-10
  • Lafayette- 284- Patriot League


  • Fordham- 108- 5th A-10
  • UMASS- 61- 6th A-10
  • Tulane- 145- 6th C-USA
  • Virginia- 55- 5th ACC
  • Rhode Island- 109- 3rd A-10
  • E. Tennessee State- 123- 1st Atlantic Sun
  • Colgate- 261- 6th Patriot League
  • Cornell- 169- 1st Ivy League
  • Northeastern- 184- 8th Colonial Athletic Association

Pitt and Syracuse display two very different styles of scheduling. The Panthers will play a very hit and miss non-conference schedule, with 6 teams out of 12 ranked 200+ and the other half in the top 100. Syracuse has a less ambitious, but equally effective schedule, with only one opponent out of the top 200 and two top 100 teams.

Pitt will certainly lose the most games before the Big East season starts, with Duke, Oklahoma St., and a trap game at Dayton coming up. If you're looking for a good way to improve Notre Dame's schedule, Boeheim has compiled a strong list. No 300+ cupcakes, only two top-100 contests. The Orange should escape their nonconference schedule with few losses and an added boost to their strength of schedule.

The second subject for tonight's post comes from a variety of complaints I overheard during yesterday's game. With such a cupcake schedule, why not deepen the bench and give more playing time to freshmen and walkons? I can't speak specifically for yesterday, but I did a little research into the use of bench players over last season overall. If Coach Brey's unwillingness to go more than 8 deep is such an irregularity, certainly other top coaches around the country must use their substitutes with more frequency.

One large part of this equation is the tempo at which a team plays. That is hard to determine, so I used a variety of teams in my research. The first 4 schools are Big East teams who lost two top players before this year. The other two are the defending champs and one of the most talented squads from year to year.

Notre Dame-
  • Carter- 30.4 MPG
  • Falls- 34.3
  • Kurz- 28.0
  • Jackson- 27.8
  • Harangody- 20.6
  • Hillesland- 19.6
  • Zeller- 12.4
  • Ayers- 11.9
  • Peoples- 6.4


  • Chandler- 31.7
  • Mejia- 33.5
  • Burns- 25.9
  • Clarke- 20.7
  • Currie- 19.0
  • Walker- 14.9
  • Clinkscales- 11.9
  • Green- 11.7
  • Handler/Moses- 4.3
South Florida-
  • Buckley- 35.7
  • Mattis- 32.7
  • Howard- 31.1
  • Bozeman- 30.6
  • Gransberry- 28.5
  • Verdejo- 23.1
  • Williams- 17.6
  • Saaka- 17.0
  • Lovett- 5.6

West Virginia-

  • Young- 32.0
  • Summers- 21.6
  • Nichols- 34.8
  • Ruoff- 33.2
  • Alexander- 25.0
  • Butler- 23.3
  • Smalligan- 14.4
  • Bawinkel- 9.0
  • Mazzula- 8.7
  • Smith/Talkington- 7.8


  • Brewer- 28.7
  • Green- 33.1
  • Horford- 27.7
  • Humphrey- 30.0
  • Noah- 25.8
  • Hodge- 17.7
  • Richard- 18.0
  • Werner- 8.9
  • Mitchell- 6.2
  • Speights- 5.7


  • McRoberts- 35.3
  • Scheyer- 33.7
  • Paulus- 32.4
  • Nelson- 31.9
  • McClure- 21.7
  • Henderson- 19.3
  • Thomas- 14.9
  • Pocius- 7.1
  • Zoubek- 7.3
In 2006-07, Notre Dame had eight players with double figure minutes per game (the numbers are a little low due to Kyle McAlarney's 12 games). DePaul and South Florida also had eight. West Virginia, the national champion Gators, and super-talented but young Duke Blue Devils, who had four four-star recruits and five five-stars to choose from, only had seven players with double digit minute averages.

So what does all this mean? While the non-conference schedule is quite weak, especially when compared to similar Big East teams, Coach Brey's use of the bench is overall quite normal for top-level college hoops teams. Even Coach K, with a more talented team in Durham, was content with a short bench over the course of the year.

Whew. This post was supposed to be done an hour ago. Sorry if the delay inconvenienced you at all. Tomorrow we'll talk about the Paradise Jam...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Notre Dame 82, Long Island 50

The Irish took control of this game from the beginning and pulled away slowly but surely in a workmanlike effort. Not dominating, but plenty to be proud of after the first real game in the season.

The student section was impressive, if undersized, for the beginning of the year. The band looks nice in their "6th Man" jerseys and those in attendance were loud for their numbers. The "Brey-niacs" in the front row dressed in mock turtlenecks and the video shown on projector screens at both ends of the floor during introductions served to add plenty of character to the Joyce Center.

Long Island was ice cold from the start, which enabled Notre Dame to overcome some early mistakes and not relinquish an early lead. The Blackbirds shot only 28% from the floor and 25% from three-point range. Down considerably from an exhibition win against Queens College, LIU's shooting was the #1 reason for such a large margin of victory tonight. Some credit is certainly due to Notre Dame's defense for shutting down Kotorobai, Hicks, Wisseh, and company.

At the other end of the floor, the Irish were able to connect on their scoring opportunities. Shooting 51% from the floor and 41% from long range. Those percentages are good for the W most nights. ND outrebounded the visitors 48 to 37 and added up 28 assists to 11 turnovers. The A/T ratio was much improved from the second exhibition game, a very good sign. 13 points off turnovers and 10 second-chance points.

Individually, it was nice to see Harangody back in the starting lineup for the first real game of the year. He was poor from the charity stripe, which may indicate that the thumb still bothers him a little. Overall, however, he was pretty much back to his old self. 15 points and 6 rebounds through some great hustle and physical play. He finished with 3 assists, showing the ability to dish the ball under the basket to Rob Kurz when double-teamed.

Kurz was himself with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Nothing too flashy, but was a definite force under the basket. 4 blocks and 3 assists, showing his great ability to make plays on both offense and defense. Keep up the good work, Captain.

Tory Jackson started off poorly with a quick turnover, but was able to right the ship and gain 8 assists to 3 turnovers. He only scored 4 points but also picked up 6 rebounds. He made two of the four shots he attempted. Add in two steals and a great block under the hoop for an overall solid performance. Even if he doesn't show up with lots of points in the scorebook, Tory can control the game with his assists and general game management.

Kyle McAlarney showed his ability to make shots when needed. As Tom Noie mentioned, Kyle is going to be asked to take more shots this season. While he only had five attempts, one was a very confident three from 25' that fell through the hoop nothing but net. He has the talent, but just needs to get used to being the shooter on the floor. Only 7 points today, but also added 7 assists to 2 turnovers.

Ryan Ayers was a little quiet, but made a few good plays. His steal near the beginning of the game was a great result of quick hand-eye coordination and long wingspan. He finished with eight points, including 2 of 4 threes, and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Zach Hillesland was very good off the bench as usual, getting eight points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes. Not only a good option at the 3, he is a strong defender in the post and could take some minutes from Luke Zeller who failed to impress tonight.

Zeller is 6'10", weighs 239 pounds, and was a four star recruit out of high school. Somehow 6'7", 225 pound Kellen Allen was able to dominate the Irish big man under the hoop. Allen was able to back down Zeller with a couple quick dribbles and hit the turnaround jumper from 6 feet nearly every time down the floor. Allen, who averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds last season, picked up the majority of his 16 points and 6 rebounds when matched up with Luke. Four of those rebounds were on the offensive glass, leading to second chances. Against Kurz or Harangody, Allen was nowhere near as effective. Though he scored 12 points with some solid mid-range jumpers, he was a liability most of the time on the defensive end. Zach Hillesland is certainly looking like a better choice as backup post player with his complete game.

Jonathan Peoples was the 8th man in the rotation, picking up 5 points and 3 offensive rebounds when spelling Jackson and McAlarney. He is a very solid performer and must be gaining Coach Brey's confidence with each game.

I heard some complaints about Brey's use of the bench in today's game. Until 4 minutes remaining in the second half, the Irish stuck to the normal eight-man setup. While this is what will be used in Big East play, it certainly makes sense to get others involved in early matchups after the outome has been decided. I understand the reasoning in getting the core of the team time to gel in the first real contest. However, once the lead hit twenty it would have been perfectly reasonable to get Ty Nash and Tim Abromitis in the contest. Not a huge complaint of mine, but we'll get more into that latter.

Nash and Abro received four minutes a piece. Both scored and looked fluid on the floor. Nash is the more game-ready of the two, but I was certainly impressed with Abromitis' play. I think both can contribute enough to be given some more opportunities before Big East play. Proffitt and Scott could both redshirt. Scott is the more likely to be held out, but I didn't even notice Proffitt on the bench tonight. It could have just been me.

Overall, it's great to start off the year with a win. Friday starts off the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands against Monmouth. Hopefully the boys can enjoy some nice weather and get a few wins. I'll preview the tournament later in the week.

Also, after USC and Kentucky fell from the Top 25 due to upsets, Indiana overcame a halftime deficit to beat Tennessee-Chattanooga. I'll have to save my jokes about Kelvin Sampson being so distraught that he actually won't answer phone calls for another day. Oh, well.

Have a good one.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Long Island Preview

It's a big week for Notre Dame basketball fans, starting with Long Island tomorrow night. LIU has a fancy new website for the season and look to improve on last year's 10-19 record. In their only exhibition game, the Blackbirds rolled over Queens College 103-60.

Freshman Kyle Johnson, a 6'3" guard from Ajax, Ontario, was fantastic off the bench with 28 points. It will be interesting to see if he gets the start tomorrow. 6'5" senior forward Eugene Kotorobai scored 20. David Hicks was the only other player in double figures, with 15.

Long Island relied on some hot outside shooting for the opening win, going 13 for 27 from three-point land. In addition, 22 offensive boards led to second chance points. Overall, the Blackbirds outrebounded Queens 50-21. Though LIU's tallest player is 6'8", keep in mind that QC has no player taller than 6'6" (picture from last wednesday's game).

Notre Dame should have the speed and height to make this an easy win, but Coach Brey must make sure that this team takes nothing for granted.

After tomorrow, the Paradise Jam heats up starting Friday against Monmouth. That game is a 9:30 Atlantic, 8:30 Eastern. The winner will take on Baylor or Wichita State. Should be a fun early season test for this team.

As for tomorrow, just win baby.

Boom Goes the Dynamite

Yet another top 25 team falls to a perceived cupcake. This one is extra special for ND fans.

Mercer rolled to a 15 point win over Southern Cal, despite 32 points in O.J. Mayo's debut for the Trojans. Mercer connected on 59% of their shots from the field and never relinquished the lead from the opening bucket.

Big East Bloggers Preseason Awards

Roy Hibbert, Georgetown

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Dominic James, Marquette
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
Terrence Williams, Louisville
Kentrell Gransbery, South Florida

Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Jonathan Wallace, Georgetown
David Padgett, Louisville
Geoff McDermott, Providence
Eric Devendorf, Syracuse

Edgar Sosa, Louisville
Levance Fields, Pittsburgh
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

Jerome Dyson, Connecticut
Brian Laing, Seton Hall
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Wesley Mathews, Marquette
Derrick Caracter, Louisville

High Honorable Mention:Dante Greene (SU), Paul Harris (SU), Dante Cunningham (Nova)Honorable Mention:Draelon Burns (DePaul), Darris Nichols (WVU), Rob Kurz (ND), Sharaud Curry (PC)

Dante Greene, Syracuse

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Nyal Koshwal, DePaul
Corey Stokes, Villanova

DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
Dar Tucker, DePaul
Corey Chandler, Rutgers
Chris Wright, Georgetown
Justin Burrell, St. John's

Anthony McClain, Cincinnati
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
Mike Davis, Seton Hall
Rick Jackson, Syracuse
Donell Beverly, Connecticut

Honorable Mentions:Scott Christopherson (MU), Alvin Mitchell (UC), Brad Wanamaker (Pitt), Jamine Peterson (PC)

Some recognition for our big men is nice. Harangody is certainly gaining respect around the conference.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet Another Site to Feed the Addiction

"SportscastsU, a division of SportscastsLLC, is happy to announce the debut of our brand new Big East basketball podcast, BigEastCast, hosted by Brendon Desrochers and Dante Carnevale. For the rest of the 2007-2008 season and beyond, BigEastCast will bring you fresh, free commentary from die-hard college basketball fans twice a week."

Podcasts are great for staying up to date on anything. Nothing like downloading a radio show covering Big East basketball twice a week. You can subscribe to it for free on iTunes or give them your e-mail address to be notified when new episodes are available. I've yet to listen to the most recent episode in full, but it certainly seems promising. I'll add a link to the ever-growing list to the right (check out all our Big East friends on the blogroll as well).

In addition, Notre Dame is ranked 7th on's preseason rankings. Seems to think Kurz and Zeller are the frontcourt starters, with no mention of Ryan Ayers:

"7. Notre Dame - The Irish lost quite a bit of offense from last season in losing Falls and Carter. However, they are left with a young, promising team who can do very well this season. Kurz and Zeller are solid in the frontcourt. Harangody is going to be even better this year, and he’ll be in the conversation about All-Big East 1st team. The guards are good as well with Jackson and McAlarney. But the X factor is Zach Hillesland. Hillesland is another Joe Alexander type who can do everything for the Irish. This team will get better and better as the year goes on, and will cause serious problems for the upper echelon teams."

And for those who can't wait for March, the Bracket Project is rolling already. The Irish are a 10 seed.

That's all for now. Say a Hail Mary for the football team. They'll need it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big East Bloggers Poll: Preseason

2007-2008 Big East Pre-season Poll (first place votes in parenthesis):
1) Georgetown (13): 282 pts. Hi: 1st. Low: 3rd.
2) Louisville (5): 274 pts. Hi: 1st. Low: 3rd.
3) Marquette: 243 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 5th.
4) Syracuse: 206 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 8th.
5) Pittsburgh (tie): 200 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 10th.
5) Villanova (tie): 200 pts. Hi: 2nd. Low: 8th.
7) Connecticut: 195 pts. Hi: 3rd. Low: 10th.
8) Providence: 165 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 10th.
9) Notre Dame: 154 pts. Hi: 5th. Low: 12th
10) West Virginia: 142 pts. Hi: 4th. Low: 11th.
11) Seton Hall: 98 pts. Hi: 9th. Low: 14th.
12) DePaul: 84 pts. Hi: 9th. Low: 16th.
13) Cincinnati: 82 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 15th.
14) St. John's: 57 pts. Hi: 10th. Low: 16th.
15) South Florida: 35 pts. Hi: 13th. Low: 16th.
16) Rutgers: 31 pts. Hi: 14th. Low: 16th.

Guess who gave Notre Dame their highest placement?

Talk to anyone around the program and they will tell you that 9th is far too low of an expectation for this team. The general perception around the league is that Carter and Falls carried this overachieving team as far as possible last year. However, with an established big man in Kurz returning as well as stacked junior and senior classes, there is no reason why the Irish can't return to the Big East semis once or twice in the next two seasons.

I stand by my prediction for 5th, but would not be surprised if this team returns to the Top 4 this year. Any spot below 6th or 7th would be very disappointing in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Notre Dame 71, St. Edwards 56

It wasn't pretty, but it was a game certainly worth scheduling.

Hats off to St. Eds for giving the Irish all they could handle. Tough full court defense and constant substitutes to provide fresh legs forced 19 Notre Dame turnovers. A great early season test to get the boys into the swing of things and in the end it's a win, albeit a sloppy one.

Coach Brey stuck to his eight-man rotation for most of the game.

In the backcourt, we'll start with Kyle McAlarney. 12 points and 4 turnovers in 34 minutes for the junior. The TOs loom large with no assists. Not a great night handling the ball, but he certainly has a great shooting ability. PG responsibilities lie with Tory for now, but Mac is more than able to play both guard spots.

Jackson had a tough night. 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, but also 6 turnovers in 34 minutes. Credit St. Edward's for causing the turnovers with their relentless pressing defense, but Tory has to take care of the ball better. Play like that against a Big East team and its a loss.

Ryan Ayers had 7 points and 5 assists in 23 minutes. Great to see him distribute the ball from the perimeter when the guards were having trouble. Will continue to see the fewest minutes of the starters, but certainly deserves the 20 some he receives each night.

Zach Hillesland was off a bit, Only 2 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 25 minutes on the floor. He needs to show up in the stat book more. Not with high scoring totals necessarily, but good contribution in every category.

Rob Kurz had another very solid night. 15 points, 9 rebounds, 31 minutes. He is a rock down low. May not be as flashy or as menacing as a guy like 7'2" Hibbert, but is as reliable to put together positive nights as anyone in the Big East.

Great to see Luke Harangody back in action. The big man had 15 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes for his first game back from injury. Coach Brey will be sure not to rush him back too soon, but he certainly looked able to compete right away. Very encouraging. He hopefully will be up to his normal output by the Paradise Jam.

Peoples and Zeller filled out the rest of the stat sheet, logging 15 and 10 minutes a piece. Peoples had 5 points and 2 assists with 3 turnovers. Zeller had 2 points and 3 rebounds. Coach Brey mentioned Jonathan's solid night today. He has plenty of confidence and can control the offense well when called upon. Normally a 2/3 assist turnover ratio will keep you on the bench, but everyone had a tough night handling the ball. He will be called upon regularly with confidence to give the starters a breather.

Freshmen Scott, Abro, and Nash saw some mopup time.

Overall not a great output (at least we're not in the Big Ten), but St Edwards is a talented team who played very hard tonight. Although an exhibition game, it was certainly one of the tougher nonconference tests we'll face. Their 24 wins last year in Division 2 were no fluke.

Good to see the team overcome some difficulties, but they must crack down on turnovers to be successful in the Big East. Shooting was rather solid and the defense got the ball back as many times as they turned it over on offense.

Monday against LIU will be the first game to count. If Harangody can continue to improve coming off injury and the team can cut down on mistakes, it should be no problem.

EDIT- The game certainly looks better compared to UCONN's survival over Morgan State and #22 Kentucky against Gardner-Webb. Run, Bulldogs, run.

Pre-Game Post

Two topics to get to before the Irish tip-off in their second exhibition game tonight.

The Big East Tournament will expand to 16 teams next season, allowing all its schools to participate. There will be an additional round to include everyone, but the best teams will still only play three or four games. This should add a little more predictability to the tournament, giving the better schools a greater opportunity to advance.

"The new format will have the teams seeded 9 through 16 meet on the first day of competition. The matchups will be No. 9 vs. No. 16, No. 10 vs. No. 15, No. 11 vs. No. 14 and No. 12 vs. No. 13. The winners of those four games will meet seeds 5 through 8 on the second day of play. The 9/16 winner will advance to play the No. 8 seed. The 10/15 winner will play the No. 7 seed. The 11/14 winner will meet the No. 6 seed. The 12/13 winner will play the No. 5 seed."

The Irish have received a commitment from high school junior Joey Brooks. He is a three-star guard on both Scout and Rivals from Houston Texas. Glad to see he liked his visit and plans to sign for Notre Dame over Marquette and a few other schools. Signing day is a ways off however...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Leprechaun Legion 2nd in Country

According to Pat Forde.

Great to see the students get some respect. Certainly after last year's win over Alabama, they deserve the mention. The stadium was rocking for that one. Hopefully with the football team down the students will be able to put more consistent effort into establishing a home presence (not that the team needed more help at home last year).

Judging from Friday, the student section will be fine. The rest of the J.A.C.C., however, must start selling out.

Also getting mentions: Coach Brey for not wearing ties and K-Mac for his suspension last season.

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November...

Tyler Zeller, brother of Luke and five-star recruit out of Washington, IN, has committed to North Carolina. Notre Dame was just one of three Indiana schools to lose out to the 6'11" senior, joining IU and Purdue in his recruiting. Best of luck to the young man.

Unfortunately I may not be able to get a full post in during the day tomorrow, but will certainly be back for Wednesday's game. Be sure to vote early and often tomorrow...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Big East Preseason Ballot

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

Preseason Player of the Year-

Roy Hibbert- Georgetown- C

First Team All-Big East-

  • Dominic James-Marquette- G
  • Scottie Reynolds- Villanova- G
  • Jerel McNeal- Marquette- G
  • Jeff Adrien- Connecticut- F
  • Terrence Williams- Louisville- F

Second Team All-Big East-

  • Kentrell Gransberry- South Florida- C
  • Levance Fields- Pittsburgh- G
  • Eric Devendorf- Syracuse- G
  • Jonathan Wallace- Georgetown- G
  • Geoff McDermott- Providence- F

Third Team All-Big East-

  • Rob Kurz- Notre Dame- F
  • Edgar Sosa- Louisville- G
  • Paul Harris- Syracuse- F
  • Eugene Harvey- Seton Hall- G
  • Tory Jackson- Notre Dame- G

Preseason Freshman of the Year-

Jonny Flynn- Syracuse- G

First Team All-Conference-

  • Donte Greene- Syracuse- F
  • Austin Freeman- Georgetown- G
  • DeJuan Blair- Pittsburgh- C
  • Darquavis Tucker- DePaul- F
  • Mac Koshwal- DePaul- C

Second Team All-Conference-

  • Corey Fisher- Villanova- G
  • Corey Stokes- Villanova- G
  • Bradley Wanamaker- Pittsburgh- G
  • Rick Jackson-Syracuse- F
  • Antonio Jardine- Syracuse- G

Georgetown takes the top spot, led by the league's best in Hibbert. Louisville is next, with top players Sosa and Williams. Marquette will be better than last season as Dominic James continues to grow as a player. Pitt, Notre Dame, and Syracuse should finish together in the standings for a second year. Connecticut will make some strides to improve from a disappointing 06/07, but will not be contenders until this great sophomore class gets a little more experience. Villanova and Providence round out the league's possible NCAA bids.

Notre Dame gets only two bids on the all-conference teams with Kurz and Jackson. I used my end of season ballot from last year as the basis for this preseason attempt. Both could certainly go higher on the ballot by the end of the year with more responsibility this season.

All-Freshman teams are loaded with Syracuse, Pitt, DePaul, and Villanova players. Syracuse freshmen take four of eleven spots themselves. Ty Nash is the only ND player this year who could conceivably make the postseason all-freshman team.

Home against St. Edward's on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

In Memoriam

Condolences to the family of Ryan Shay. Ryan was the first Notre Dame runner to win a NCAA individual title, the 10,000 meters, in 2001. He died while competing in the Olympic Trials Marathon in New York this morning. The running community and Notre Dame family has lost a valued member today.
I'll take a short break from basketball writing and post my preseason Big East ballot tomorrow.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Notre Dame 109, St. Ambrose 53

Well we knew how this one would end.

A common rule for perfection in a college basketball game is scoring 100 points and holding your opponent under 50. The Irish just missed that standard, but showed plenty to be excited about.

McAlarney, Jackson, Ayers, Hillesland, and Kurz were your starters. Luke Zeller was held out of the starting lineup with a sprained ankle.

It was great to see #23 on the court again. Kyle brought his steady hand back to the offense as well as a strong shooting touch. He really can stroke the ball from deep. 11 points and 5 assists in 27 minutes. He was 3-8 from three-point range but seemed better than that. Rumor is he made 60 threes in a row during practice this week. Maybe a bit exaggerated, but a good story nonetheless. His leadership and secure ballhandling are a welcome addition to the squad and he played well with Tory Jackson.

Tory was really fired up for this game. He finished with 12 points and 5 assists in 25 minutes and was the vocal leader on the floor. He made several slashes to the basket reminiscent of the BET loss to Georgetown. His passing opened up several other scoring opportunities and he was able to create havoc under the basket contesting for rebounds. His pure talent and athleticism is fantastic. The strides he made during the year last season are very encouraging because I certainly believe he can improve even more. Playing beside McAlarney was not a problem today and even helped him open up the floor a little more.

Ryan Ayers showed why he earned the starting spot this season. 6 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes, but added 3 assists and 2 steals. His long wingspan enabled him to take away his man from the St. Ambrose offense in half-court sets. He ran the floor well and showed some ability to drive and move well without the ball.

Zach Hillesland is a tough player to keep on the bench, however. He certainly earned the start in place of Zeller and should continue to start until Harangody is healthy. 12 points and 14 rebounds in 18 minutes. He was all over the court tonight and had no trouble taking over the game. He would be a great addition to the starting lineup full-time, but Coach Brey must be content to let Hillesland chalk up full-game stats in only limited minutes. His less-than-half-game performance tonight was better than just about anyone else on either team...

...except Rob Kurz. The senior had no equal tonight with 23 points and 11 rebounds. There was simply no one from St. Ambrose who could guard the big man. Kurz scored with ease and controlled the boards. In addition to his great half-court game, Rob ran the floor well and shot 1-2 from deep. 8 of 10 overall is fantastic. This could be a huge year for the team captain.

Coach Brey had a 7 man rotation to start, adding Luke Zeller and Jonathan Peoples to the mix. Zeller just doesn't play like a big man. The contrast between Kurz and Luke is astounding. Rob took over the game down low. Zeller just seemed uncomfortable with contact. He finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes, but most of his scoring came from open jump shots. 6'9" Hillesland is a much better option down low. Peoples was pretty solid, spelling both Mac and Jackson. He was the main backcourt sub tonight and performed well, with 11 points and 2 assists.

Ty Nash was the first freshman to play. He is physically and mentally ready to get in the mix right now. 7 points and 3 rebounds, but had no trouble competing out there. A little uncomfortable with the speed of the game right now, but that comes with time. He certainly has loads of talent and heart.

Carleton Scott was the second frosh off the bench and played well with 4 points and 4 rebounds. He has great moves and is lightning quick cutting to the basket. Coach Brey has a tough decision to make, but barring injury in the next game I would certainly be in favor of sitting Scott for a year.

Abromitis finished with 9 points. He looks a little like a younger Zach Hillesland. Proffitt scored 3 points and ran the offense when all the freshmen were on the floor. Andree and Kopko played a couple mop-up minutes.

The crowd was fitting for a glorified scrimmage, pretty empty. The student section filled out well enough, however, and looks good in black. St. Ambrose travelled rather well and had some great support from the visitor's section. The freshmen looked really excited to be playing, Scott and Nash especially. The full-court press worked very well in the beginning, resulting in some turnovers. Defense broke down a bit in the second half, understandable with the score, but that is something to work on.

Overall, a great win to get the ball rolling. Next Wednesday is another exhibition against St. Edward's, then it gets started for real.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Season Preview

Tomorrow the 2007-08 campaign begins. Time to break down the schedule:

N 02 St. Ambrose (Ex.)- W
N 07 St. Edwards (Ex.)- W
N 12 LIU- W
N 16 Monmouth (PJ)- W
N 17 Baylor/WSU (PJ)- W
N 19 TBD (PJ)- L
N 24 Youngstown State- W
N 26 Colgate- W
D 01 Eastern Michigan- W
D 04 vs. Kansas St. (JVC)- L
D 08 Northern Illinois- W
D 22 San Francisco- W
D 29 Brown- W
D 31 North Florida- W
J 03 West Virginia- W
J 05 Connecticut- W
J 12 @ Marquette- L
J 15 Cincinnati- W
J 19 @ Georgetown- L
J 26 @ Villanova- L
J 31 Providence- W
F 02 DePaul- W
F 06 @ Seton Hall- W
F 09 Marquette- W
F 13 @ Connecticut- L
F 17 @ Rutgers- W
F 21 Pittsburgh- L
F 24 Syracuse- W
F 28 @ Louisville- L
M 02 @ DePaul- W
M 05 St. John's- W
M 08 @ South Florida- W

Overall- 22-8
Non-Conference- 10-2
Conference- 12-6

I really tried to be unbiased about this and I feel this is a very realistic view of how the season could map out. A little on the hopeful side, as we could drop a couple more Big East home games, but overall a good picture of the year to come.

No tests until the Paradise Jam. That will be interesting, but two wins in three games shouldn't be too much to hope for. Maye the Irish could win three and take home the trophy, but let's be humble.

After that, a neutral site game against Kansas St. provides the next test. The Wildcats are a contender for the NCAAs. O.J. Mayo's old buddy Bill Walker is back, but coach Bob Huggins won't be after taking the job at West Virginia. Hands-down this will be the toughest scheduled nonconference matchup for Notre Dame. A win will set the tone for a very good year, a bad loss could derail preseason hopes. I split the difference and am calling it a close defeat for the Irish.

Two home wins to start 2008. First Huggins and the Mountaineers, then Connecticut. A rough stretch of three road games in four looks to be the first sustained challenge for this team. If they can go 2-2 from Marquette to Villanova, I'd be ecstatic.

Providence to home against Marquette should help. We will need big crowds in all three home games. Providence will provide a challenge, but both DePaul and Marquette will fill the visitors' section. I'm predicting we beat the #3 team in the conference to avenge an earlier loss.

Split the next five. Away at UCONN and Louisville doesn't look good, but Pitt and Syracuse at home are equally as difficult. We could lose one or both of those games to break the winning streak.

DePaul, St. John's, and South Florida should help Notre Dame finish with a bang.

If it plays out like that, the Irish should be in contention for another Big East Tourney bye. Either way, a win or two in the BET solidifies a top 4 NCAA seed. At least, 22 wins puts the Irish in 5-6 range. If we stumble a little more and drop to 20 wins over the whole year, an at-large big should still be in hand. 19 or less and the team is on the bubble.

Things look up, and they should. Looking forward to seeing the team full-speed tomorrow night. Big East preview coming this weekend. Until then, happy All Saints' Day.