Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Notre Dame 81, Texas 80

Make your foul shots.

Gigantic win for the team that will add confidence and help a ton in the seeding. This was a Sweet 16 or Elite 8-type matchup. Congrats to Coach Brey and the guys. Now step to the line and practice those free throws!

Luke Harangody's halfcourt sling to beat the shot clock in the second half proved to make a difference between a win and a loss. Of course, making those eleven extra shots from the line (including at least three one-and-one opportunities) would have put this game away much earlier.

All aspects of the Irish attack were working against one of the toughest defenses in the land. A.J. Abrams was pretty well held in check until the final minute. Harangody and McAlarney came to play and were boosted by another gutsy game by Tory. Jackson is truly one of the most fun players to watch, but he'll give you a heart attack with that shot selection (50% from the floor is certainly an impressive clip for the young man).

More on Tory, he added 7 assists and 5 rebounds to the 16 points. He has been a complete player so far in Maui. Let's hope he brings it with him to the mainland. Was 2-4 from the line, along the trendline for the team.

Kyle McAlarney scorched the nets all night, with 19 points. Was 7-11 shooting and made some good ballhandling decisions, including a nice drive and pass to get Harangody to the line. Played solid defense against Abrams most of the game, though the Texas sharpshooter did show him up in the box score.

Ryan Ayers did a solid job contributing from the perimeter. 6 points, 2 rebounds. He does a lot on defense that does not show up in the stats with his long reach and quick reflexes. Did cool off a bit in the second half.

Zach Hillesland would be remembered for his nervous barely-hit-the-rim foul shooting if we lost this game. That's a shame because he played very well before those awful shots. 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists. That's about right from him.

Luke Harangody was everything you need from an All-American in a big game. 29 points, 11 rebounds. Stepped up his game down the stretch, though he did miss two free throws in the last five seconds.

The bench was not relied upon a lot tonight. They will be needed against the high octane Tar Heels. Luke Zeller disappeared a bit with only 3 points and 2 rebounds. Peoples and Nash didn't score.

Last time the Irish beat Texas on a neutral floor, the team finished in the Sweet 16. That is the bar for this year's squad to hurdle. Great, great win. We should play #1 Carolina tomorrow and have an opportunity to see how we match up with them.
Win or lose, a lot has already been accomplished in Maui. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun to see how Harangody plays Hansbrough and how our overall lineup fares against the clear top squad in the nation.

Congrats once again boys. Time to watch the second half of the double header and see how UNC fares against a fast and fun (if not fundamentally sound) Oregon team.


Anonymous said...

No Kidding!!! I think my hairline receded a couple of inches in the last minute of the game [not to mention we were 50% in the first half including two misses on the front end of one & one's]. This game should have been put away.

Kudos though. They hung tough and won.

BlackandGreen said...

I didn't comment on the failure to foul in the last minute (as Jay Bilas repeatedly called for). While I agree with Bilas' analysis, that's never been Coach Brey's game. Brey likes to make shooters beat him instead of stretching out the game with fouls (and possibly fouling on a shot on accident). If Abrams and Mason did not go 3-4 in the last 36 seconds, we wouldn't be talking about this.

Of course, it was a good move to not foul off the final missed free throw. Better to force a 3/4 shot than give a chance off the inbounds.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my hairline has already receded!

Great victory over a very tough Texas team. Coach Brey is clearly preparing the guys for the Big East, and appears to be doing a masterful job.

If we beat Carolina, are we #1? It would be fun to wear the mantle, even for a little while.

Anonymous said...

The thing that I seem to notice is that this years squad can miss a few outside shots and then someone (often Jackson) changes the pace and drives to the bucket. Past years we would have seen a tendancy towards a longer slump, and I think this is a really positive thing for this year.

Of course the free throws are starting to make me a little nervous, but hey, we just beat a top ten team. And it is still November.

MJenks said...

I think it's more than just the foul shots.

Practice moving the ball against the press. Texas got their finger tips on the ball WAY too often down the stretch as the Irish were trying to inbound.

After that, maybe try to focus on some perimeter defense. Sure, Texas' guards were darting back and forth, but they were catching the ball ready to shoot. And Indiana had a lot of open looks from behind the arc, it's just that their players couldn't knock the shots down.

Danny Green and Ellington could have a hayday tonight. I'm not as confident going into this game as I was earlier in the season.

Anonymous said...

Best Irish basketball game I've watched in years! Jackson has upped his game and Kmac looks like he has something to prove this year. Looks like all that three point shooting in the PIT this summer is paying off. UNC will be tough tonight, but this is a winable game. Go IRISH, show who's the real Kahuna on campus.

BlackandGreen said...

It would be great to beat Carolina and pick up the #1 ranking that goes with it (not guaranteed since the voters can be pretty stubborn, but certainly deserved).

However, this is certainly going to be a tough one. I think we are as prepared as any top 10 team to face Carolina on a neutral floor, but the Tarheels are head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

What concerns me most is the quick turnaround from such an emotional win last night. UNC has drubbed their two opponents and we just pulled off the biggest OOC win since 2002. It will be difficult to come off of that emotional high and get back down to business.

Still, there is plenty to be gained tonight. A win puts the program on its highest pedestal since the Digger era. A loss brings the team back down to earth and keeps them hungry.

Anonymous said...

Watching the UNC game last night, I don't think we can take it unless we play a nearly flawless game - which will be difficult given the minutes put in by the starting 5 last night [Kyle played all 40]. But you never know... maybe they'll be fired up and surprise us all.

Either way, this team should come away from the tourney with a lot of confidence for the future. And Tory in particular has been spectacular. If he keeps playing like this, you're looking at the best backcourt in the country.