Monday, December 29, 2008

Games on Tap

Georgetown/UCONN tonight, a nice little holiday treat. It will be a matchup of the top team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy (Georgetown) and polling consensus #2 (Connecticut).

Hoops is on ESPN2, since bowls take precedent this time of year. The Alamo Bowl and Bowl, contests not necessarily equal in history and ingenuity of titling, take place today. Take your pick.

EDIT: 8th in the AP poll. Congrats guys.

Congrats also to Georgetown for a statement-making win at Connecticut. ESPN cover boy had 4 points and 7 rebounds. Way to show up, Hasheem.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post to Make Up for Not Posting

With Christmas this week and a short vacation starting tomorrow (perhaps without the internet), I'll try to make up for a lack of quantity in posting with a high-quality post today. Or just today's post will include a large quantity of words and sentences. Quantity or quality. Something like that.

Anyways, Christmas break makes for some interesting matchups on the football field, if not on the court. West Virginia takes on Ohio State today, but there really aren't any other good nonconference games on tap.

Tune in Monday. That's when the Big East season opens for Georgetown at Connecticut. Since the Hoyas' next road game after that will be in South Bend, it will be interesting to see how they match up with the top team in the league.

The Irish begin conference play on New Year's Eve at DePaul on ESPN2. Let's take a peek at the Blue Demons.

Ranked 120th by Ken Pomeroy, DePaul should finish their OOC slate with an 8-5 record after Sunday's game against Alcorn State.

Key Wins- 67-63 over Illinois-Chicago, only victory over a top 100 team
Key Losses- 79-75 to Morgan State (#200 in the country), 72-54 to UCLA, and 63-36 to Northwestern (ranked 30th by Pomeroy, but hasn't had a winning season since 2002)

This should be a good game for the Irish to start Big East play. DePaul will contend for the bottom of the standings (though everyone automatically makes the Big East Tourney this year) and has played like a .500 team against a pretty easy early schedule.

DePaul scores and allows exactly a point per possession each game (compare that to ND's 1.20 and 0.94). We shoot significantly better from the field at 46.5% to their 40.5% and control the defensive glass much better as well.


Dar Tucker- #2- 6'5", 215 lbs.- The sophomore from Tory Jackson's hometown is DePaul's leading scorer with 19.4 per game. He also grabs about six boards a contest.

Mac Koshwal- #13- 6'10", 255 lbs.- A pretty good post player, the sophomore scores 13.4 points per game and picks up 11.2 rebounds. Not a good free throw shooter, like the rest of the team, so we may want to sent him to the line a few times during the game.

Will Walker- #30- 6'0", 190 lbs.- The closest thing to a point guard on the team, Walker dishes out only two assists a contest. He is a pretty good defender, but can't shoot. Eleven points a game on 37.2% shooting.

No out side shooters on this team, so look for Coach Brey to stay in zone defense most of the game. If Hillesland can be a good enough second rebounder and beat out Tucker in the paint, this should be a pretty solid win. DePaul's best hope is to have Koshwal bang around in the post and hope Tucker shoots better than 40% from the floor. Considering the Irish have six more efficient scorers than DePaul's best, even that may not be good enough.

Happy holidays to everyone. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post over the next couple of days, but if not I'll be sure to recap next Wednesday's game when I get the opportunity.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Fantastic football game tonight. Perfect way to end an otherwise disappointing season.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I'm taking today off.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Around the Country

This week is probably the slowest one of the season in terms of posting, with the holidays and what-not.

A couple items of note: Gonzaga lost and Texas survived. The defeat of the 'Zags should bump the Irish up to #7 in the AP poll while we want Texas to win as many games as possible this season to help the RPI. The Longhorns were in a fight all game and pulled it out in the final minute. Sigh of relief here.

No good games the rest of the week. I will try to get a post in daily until the weekend, but no guarantees when they will fall. Of course, you should be enjoying Christmas with family and friends instead of reading a basketball blog, so don't complain.

Good luck to the football team tomorrow night (it's three in the morning, so tonight I guess...).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Breaking News: Indiana is Bad!

From SportsCenter: Northeastern "shocks the Hoosiers 55-42."

I was really hoping Indiana would turn into a decent team to help out our RPI. Doesn't look to be the case.

Notre Dame 81, Savannah State 49

This game scared me a little bit, but the Irish had no trouble putting the Tigers to rest. The team that took Michigan to overtime in Ann Arbor could not respond to a very balanced Irish attack.

Coach Brey opened up the bench in the final nonconference game of 2008 with Ty Nash and Carleton Scott getting extended minutes. Nash is really starting to look like the eighth man in the rotation, so we may start to see a little less reliance on just the seven veterans (not as bad as Syracuse's six man rotation, at least).

The only complaint tonight was a little sloppiness, headlined by Tory Jackson. Three turnovers for the point guard. However, he did pick up ten points and three rebounds to go with a below-average four assists. His best moment of the night was confidently stroking a three pointer from in front of the Notre Dame bench. Nice to see he has no problem hitting an open three.

Kyle McAlarney picked up his 1000th point tonight, with eight on the game. Ryan Ayers was the better long range threat, scoring ten and grabbing six rebounds. If he can be a decent rebounder in league play, it will make him a much better player overall.

Hillesland also helped out with four rebounds, but not a whole lot of other stats. Luke Harangody played only 25 minutes, but scored 23 and pulled down 13 boards. Eight of those were on the offensive end. Probably his most exciting stat was the 13-14 line shooting free throws. That led the Irish to their best foul shooting game in a very long time.

Off the bench, Luke Zeller seemed to draw a little confidence from Ryan Ayers' progression as a scorer, utilizing the midrange jumper once to pad his six point total. He also made a couple good passes for the two assists. Jonathan Peoples did his usual bit, 4 points and 2 rebounds in 16 minutes.

Ty Nash was very impressive once again. Playing 14 minutes, he scored 9 points and had 5 rebounds. He just makes plays when he gets the opportunity. Was also good again from the line, a pronounced improvement from the beginning of last year. Carleton Scott played 9 solid minutes in the second half, scoring 6 points with 1 rebound. That's not the most impressive stat line, but it is hard to rack up good numbers in such limited time. Even Andree and Kopko got to play a couple more minutes than usual.

Savannah State fouled for 40 minutes, which kept the Irish from getting into too much of a rythym offensively. The crew of refs was also pretty bad, teeing up Hillesland and the SSU bench during the game. Just let them play.

Not a whole lot to be gained from looking at the stats, just a good solid win before the players get some time off. Nice to see us hold an opponent under 50 and win with some solid defense.

9-2 entering conference play. 8/11 in the rankings. Not too shabby. Good to know at least one Notre Dame team will enjoy Christmas. We'll see about that other sport on Wednesday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Rankings

Irish do improve to 8th in the latest AP poll. You have to wonder what's going on in the minds of the coaches... ranked below Texas, Georgetown, and UCLA? We beat the first team, I guess we'll have to find out about the other two in due time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Number's Don't Lie

Offensive Efficiency-

Notre Dame- 144.3
Delaware State- 82.0

That's a very, very good game. 25 assists to 4 turnovers. 6 fouls by 6 different players. Three starters with offensive ratings over a superhuman 175. Nice job, boys.

Notre Dame 88, Delaware State 50

Just what we needed.

The Irish were dominant in both halves and rolled to an easy victory. The margin (38) was more than Connecticut, West Virginia, or Ohio State's wins over the Hornets.

First things first. I was impressed by Delaware State's introduction routine (seriously). Upon being introduced, each Hornet starter bumped fists with the refs and shook coach Sean Kearney's hand. Classy stuff, that.

In the first half, the Irish played very well, but were held to only 39 points due to DSU's methodical pace. The tempo quickened with the game out of reach and Notre Dame scored 49 in the second half. Both halves were very efficient on each end of the floor and we did not see much of a dropoff with Nash and Scott receiving more playing time.

Kyle McAlarney entered the game 20 points away from 1,000 on the career. He will most likely eclipse that mark Monday against Savannah State after a 14 point game tonight. That will be a well deserved honor for a guy who worked hard to get to where he is today.

The Irish controlled every facet of the game, including a nice offensive rebounding boost that was lacking against BU. Notre Dame outrebounded the Hornets by 9 on offense and 17 overall. Compare that with Connecticut, where DSU won the offensive rebounding battle by 5 and lost the overall board total by 6. Keep those numbers in mind when the Huskies come to South Bend.

Delaware State hit a good number of three pointers, because we sat back in a lot of zone in the second half. Before you criticize Coach Brey's reliance on the 2-3 and 3-2, remember that those defenses were critical to holding the Hornets to 9-26 (35%) shooting inside the arc. That's an incredible number, especially since DSU only had one trip to the charity stripe.

Tory Jackson handled the point well. Six assists to two turnovers, part of a fantanstic ball handling day by the Irish. Kyle McAlarney scored only 14 points, but was efficient when he took the shots. No need to force anything today, he just let the game come to him.

On the wing, Ryan Ayers finally looked like a scorer. 18 points, but three of those shots came on midrange jumpers. He looked to attack today, which makes him a very dangerous player. Hopefully we will see more of that confidence later in the season. Also added 5 rebounds and 4 assists, the best all-around game he has had in a Notre Dame uniform.

In the frontcourt, Luke Harangody was just plain efficient. 8-12 shooting, 20 points and 8 rebounds in just 27 minutes. He sat a bunch down the stretch and could have easily had a double double in a more competitive contest. Zach Hillesland also contributed in the high post with his standard 6 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assist night. Any night where he gets more than 5 in each category is a good overall effort.

Just one more thing to say about Harangody, the guy has some heart. He broke the scorer's table at the end of the first half diving to save a ball from going out of bounds in the closing seconds. The score was 39-21. What a fantastic player to have on the team. He truly is a treat to watch and must be respected for the work he puts in every night.

Off the bench, it was a very good night all around. Peoples played 18 minutes and overcame a poor shooting night with 3 assists and 2 steals. Luke Zeller also did not shoot well, but pulled down three rebounds.

The players of the night, however, were Ty Nash and Carleton Scott. Nash played a bit in the first half and really shined in the second. 14 minutes, a career high 10 points and five rebounds. More impressive than just his rebounding prowess, however, was the way he attacked the basket. Nash drew four fouls and was 6-8 from the foul line. From all accounts, he is vastly improved in that aspect and can bring a hard-nosed deminsion to the team with his ability to get to the rim. More minutes, please!

Scott played very well in extended second half minutes. 13 minutes, six points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal. He had an opportunity to play alongside the starters for a while and really fit in well. Still needs a bit of seasoning, but should have a bright future.

Great win start to finish tonight. We should be in the top ten again on Monday and look to win easily on Monday to close out the pre-Big East schedule. Savannah State does have a decent RPI and played Michigan tough, but was also pummelled 100-38 by Georgetown. Let's put them away early.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shakeup Saturday

A good day in college basketball deserves a dramatic ESPN-esque title.

Already Lost:

#5 Texas
#7 Xavier
#9 Louisville

Will Fall:

#2 UCONN or #9 Gonzaga
#11 Syracuse* or #21 Memphis
#20 Davidson

*Orange should take a hit in the rankings win or lose today due to their being upset by Cleveland State at home.

With an Irish win (knock on wood), we're looking at being ranked 7th or 8th in the nation. If we can hold that into the Big East season, our exposure as a national program will get a nice boost and help out recruiting. Also should lift the team's self-confidence a bit over the holidays.

Let's get a solid win tonight.

Tyler Hansbrough

Congrats to Tyler Hansbrough for becoming the top scorer in Carolina history. He truly is a fantastic player and seemingly a solid human being. Certainly deserving of the honor.

Still, I have a problem with this. Watch the video, including the shot to break the record a few times. Having the opportunity to listen to ESPN Radio for the first time in ages, I heard a lot about this shot. Several analysts repeated some version of this line: "It's fitting that that was the shot to break the record. It's a good example of his sometimes ugly, but hardnosed style. Blah, blah, blah..."

While that is very true (Hansbrough works his tail off and often looks a bit out of control on the floor), it is also a travel. Seriously, watch it again! One dribble, pivot, pivot again, shot. You can't move that pivot foot. I don't care if you are "Psycho T" or Patrick Moody, let's just get the officials to call real violations instead of the ticky-tack stuff that gets too much emphasis and ruins the flow of the game. For the most oft-replayed shot of the game to be such a blatant travel is very unfortunate.

To his credit, Scott Van Pelt (probably my favorite ESPN talking head) addressed this on his radio show with Mike Tirico saying the rest of the ACC will tell you "Hansbrough walks on damn near every play." It's an unfortunate reality that the best players get calls, especially on a special night like last night. While that can fly in the NBA, which is all about star promotion and selling tickets, it has to stop in college hoops. Tyler Hansbrough is fantastic player, there is no need to let him off easy and cheapen his night by swallowing your whistle every time he moves that pivot foot.

Enough of a rant, I also thought it interesting how Van Pelt broke down Hansbrough's professional future, because I think his weaknesses are very similar to Luke Harangody. Hansbrough is too small to bang inside against the multiple seven footers on NBA rosters. He will have to play a lot facing the basket and extending the game with a consistent fifteen to twenty foot jumper. Hansbrough has an inch and a bit more athleticism than 'Gody, but I think a similar pro ceiling. Both could be solid rotation guys, but not stars in the league. Still, you never know and with the work ethic of both players, we could be pleasantly surprised.

EDIT: Wow, it's been a negative Friday. Sorry about that, folks. Hopefully things will be all bright and sunny tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Syracuse Rolls Over

You have to be kidding me.

In an action that completely reinforces its history of caving to thugs and coach Jim Boeheim's ridiculous sense of justice (Billy Edelin, anyone?), Syracuse has suspended Eric Devendorf for the rest of the semester.

This semester. As in the one that ended last Friday.

That's right, Eric Devendorf's actions were found to be so despicable that the school is sending him home for Christmas, just like every other non-athlete. What a punishment.

Devendorf could be reinstated on January 12th, the beginning of the spring semester. Just in time to play Georgetown (what a coincidence).

Don't get your hopes up and expect anything more serious from either the university or the basketball team. Devendorf receive no more than this slap on the wrist for his contemptable behavior. The Orange should lose on Saturday against Memphis, but they will most likely remain unbeaten the rest of the way while Devo sits out.

You stay classy, Syracuse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Naismith Watch List

Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney have been named among the 50 best players in college basketball due to their inclusion in the watch list for the Naismith player of the year award. Congratulations to both of them.

Mac and 'Gody were among eleven Big East players mentioned. The others being:
  • Jeff Adrien- Connecticut
  • DeJuan Blair- Pittsburgh
  • Earl Clark- Louisville
  • Dominic James- Marquette
  • Jerel McNeal- Marquette
  • A.J. Price- Connecticut
  • Scottie Reynolds- Villanova
  • Hasheem Thabeet- Connecticut
  • Sam Young- Pittsburgh
Good representation for the league on that list and nice to see ND get the sort of respect of a UCONN, a Marquette, or a Pittsburgh with multiple players.

Obviously its still early and watch lists don't really mean a whole lot in the end. However, good to see our players and conference get the respect they deserve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Double-A Zone

As mentioned here, Howard Smith is an NCAA employee and writer for the Double-A Zone, the official blog for the NCAA. He and Ryan Powell will be attended Saturday's game as part of a four day trip to cover 11 games in the "Indiana Basketball Extravaganza." Enjoy the game, gentlemen.

EDIT: They will be filming their travels and will post it here.

Delaware State Info

Sorry, but finals week simply is not a good time for interesting information and catchy titles. There's just not a whole lot going on. The players have to take exams for all the classes they've enjoyed so much this semester while the coaches alternate between game planning and watching re-runs of Judge Judy. A whole week between Boston University and Delaware State. Yech. At least there is a quick turnaround to Savannah State next Monday.

Mike Brey faced Delaware State four times during his career coaching the First State's larger university, winning every time. This season's version of the Hornets is coming off of three postseason appearances in four years. In 2005, they won the MEAC and lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Things do not look so promising this season, as DSU carries a 2-12 record into the Joyce Center.

They do boast the #25 strongest schedule in the land, having played Ohio State, West Virginia, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Maryland on the road, losing by an average of 30 points. They are undefeated in conference play already, having beaten Maryland Eastern Shore at home.

Greg Jackson coaches the Hornets, having taken the reigns the same year as Brey started at Notre Dame. His son is a sophomore on the team. Surprisingly enough, he is neither the Greg Jackson who runs an ultimate fighting camp nor the former NFL safety. Just plain old Greg the Coach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Games this Week

Marquette and Tennessee tonight. Good chance for the Warriors to pick up another quality win for the Big East.

A lot of schools are on/around their final exams, so there are not a ton of good basketball games. There is this poor attempt at an "SEC/Big East Challenge," but South Florida/Vanderbilt isn't going to get anyone excited.

Saturday is when you want to watch. #22 Michigan State at #5 Texas at 2 on CBS. Another chance for the Horns to pick up a win. #7 Xavier at #6 Duke, same time, same channel. #2 UCONN plays #7 Gonzaga in the second half of the double header alongside #20 Davidson at #18 Purdue. #11 Syracuse at #21 Memphis at 6 on ESPN as the Orange try to bounce back. Of course, the Irish play host to Delaware State at 7.

Some big games this weekend, if you can wait that long. 5 games between ranked foes, all on national television. Just try to survive the midweek trash until then.

Monday, December 15, 2008

To Further Poke Fun at the Orange

Before they lost to Cleveland State (Cleveland State!), a Syracuse blog picked this item up. In other news, has a sale on Doug Gottlieb memorabilia.

Irish Fall in Polls

Notre Dame actually dropped a bit in the Coaches Poll following Saturday's win over Boston University. Future opponents Syracuse, UCLA, and Georgetown move up with wins over Long Beach State, DePaul, (not exactly quality opponents) and Memphis. Can't say I agree with the selection of UCLA over us (same record, loss to Texas), but Georgetown moving up makes a little sense. The Irish are now 14th in the country, dropping only one spot due to losses by 'Nova and Tennessee.

Ken Pomeroy now has Georgetown at #1 in the nation and the Irish at #30. Notre Dame is the 7th highest ranked team in the Big East. Of course, none of this really matters in the end. Simply put, we just have to win to move up. With eight ranked teams in the Big East, there will be amble opportunity to turn heads.

EDIT: In the AP poll, the Irish remain 12th. Syracuse jumps as they are unbeaten, but UCLA and Georgetown are 14th and 15th. Tennessee falls to 16th and Villanova was already ranked below ND in last week's poll. We actually gained a sizable amount of votes in the AP poll and hold a considerable lead over 13th ranked Purdue.

EDIT #2: Note to all voters who placed Syracuse above Notre Dame: You were wrong. Syracuse falls to Cleveland State 72-69. Take that Devendorf!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jai Lucas

Apparently Florida guard Jai Lucas is interested in playing for Notre Dame. While I would shy away from picking up a guy who wants to be more of a centerpiece of the offense, we do need a true point guard. Lucas was a four star guy out of high school and can play two-and-a-half years starting next January. If he has a good head on his shoulders (many NBA kids do: see Ryan Ayers and Stephen Curry), I would love to see him wearing blue and gold.

The first half season would be tricky, as Tory Jackson will be finishing his senior year. If Lucas is happy with coming off the bench (a Jackson-Hansbrough backcourt pairing is most likely) for just a little bit, he could make an excellent two year starter at the point (provided he stays five years in college). In 2010, a Jackson-Hansbrough-Lucas three guard lineup would also be very deadly, especially with Lucas' shooting ability.

Coach Brey's effort in recruiting transfers is very heartening (Alex Legion, Hansbrough, and Martin in the last year). If he can't land the most talented players out of high school, he keeps working to improve the team quickly through players who can step in right away. That will trickle down to high school recruiting when kids can see that players who have a second chance to make a school decision consistently pick ND and have success here.

Of course, transfers could always be a problem as well. In hindsight, we were lucky to not land Legion (nicknamed Kobe for how he doesn't pass or play defense). No need to add a Chris Thomas-type with such a mature and unselfish team already put together.

Thoughts From Yesterday

It was a game of two very different halves.

...and that's a good thing. The Irish used halftime to make adjustments and come out invigorated in the second half. While the first 20 minutes was a display of everything that can go wrong with this Notre Dame team, the Irish outscored Boston by 13 and outrebounded them by six in the second half. That is very good, no matter who you play. The team showed more fire on defense and attacked the rim with the ball. While Mike Brey teams have been criticized for not making enough adjustments, that could certainly not be argued here.

Take away Boston's second half three-point barrage and we win by a decent margin.

While the first half demonstrated how the Irish can be beaten by a team that attacks the offensive glass, Notre Dame took away second chances after halftime. Boston had to rely on shooting 53% (8-15) from beyond the arc to delay the inevitable. Corey Lowe used a very effective step back dribble to give himself space and actually hit those shots in the second half. Without a hot shooting streak, it would have been more evident that the Irish outplayed Boston in almost all second half aspects.

Harangody needs some help on the glass.

Luke finished with ten more boards than anyone else on the team. The second half gap in rebounding was primarily due to his superior positioning and heart going after the ball. Hillesland needs to step up and get those boards, as well as Nash off the bench. As mentioned in the comments of the last post, Brey had difficulty playing Nash against such a small Boston lineup. Even Zeller was held to only 11 minutes. Against bigger Big East teams, he should see a chance to make an impact. Hopefully.

We really looked bad in the first half and that could be a blueprint for defeating the Irish in league play. Attack for offensive rebounds, double team Harangody when he gets to the post, shadow McAlarney all over the court. If the halves were inverted, we would be talking about how the Irish nearly blew a big halftime lead. As it stands, they came back and really stepped up their game when it counted. Other teams have bad days too (Texas, Tennessee, Kansas), the key is to pull out the win and learn from it. We won, now let's fix the problems we had in the first half yesterday.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Notre Dame 74, Boston U. 67

Like Eastern Michigan last year and Lehigh the year prior, the Irish struggled at home against a hot-shooting cupcake. Still, we fared better than Tennessee today and got the win.

Have to love the heart on this team. In the second half, heads were never down amidst the onslaught of Terrier threes. Instead, the team was fired up and fought valiantly to the final buzzer. Anything short of the 110% they gave today would have resulted in a loss. Thanks for the effort, guys.

Still, you have to take a step back to look at what went wrong in the first period (and for much of the second half). Before everyone takes a swing at the team for underperforming against a low-major squad, we need to give credit where credit is due. BU came out firing from the start and played a strategy that we will not see much in the Big East. Fire away from downtown, hit a decent amount of those shots, and hope to trade twos for threes until the end. It nearly won the game today and might win them a game or two in March. This is a lineup that could get hot and win a couple shockers against 3 or 4 seeds.

If Kyle McAlarney had the moves of Corey Lowe, he would be unstoppable. Lowe created his own looks with a nice little step back dribble that worked to perfection throughout the game. Credit K-Mac and the other defenders on Lowe, that was just a tough move to stop. If he shot his average 42% from long range (rather than 4-14), Boston wins.

In the first half, the Irish had a lot of trouble rebounding. Boston outrebounded ND 17-11 on the offensive glass, but as Lucid mentioned in the comments, that was partly due to a lot of long boards going over the heads of our big men. Overall, the Terriers won the rebounding battle 44-37. Not good when playing a team with not a lot of team height.

On offense, we played decently well. 44% from the floor, just a touch under the season average. Only seven turnovers, a good sign. Our three-point percentage was right where it normally stands and we finished with a good number of assists. All around, a pretty solid offensive game.

The defense was a bit dodgy, in addition to Boston's supremacy on the offensive glass. Still, we held BU to 37% shooting, one of our better performances, and picked up a solid amount of steals and blocks. If they were not so heavily reliant on three-point shooting (attempted 12 more than our average opponent so far), we could have won by more. 37% goes a long way when you get three points for every make.

The foul shooting was also nicely improved (aside from Hillesland). McAlarney and Harangody were solid as usual and Tory looked surprisingly confident knocking down a pair. I just do not know how to fix Zach's problem. A good balance of scoring, but no real second rebounder. Tory had a rough shooting night, but everyone else was respectable.

Jackson also dished out five assists to two turnovers. He scored six on two of nine shooting. Two for two from the foul line. 3 rebounds, plus a couple battles under the offensive glass that did not turn out our way but were still nice to see.

McAlarney was 4-9 from three point range. The Terrier defense did a nice job keeping him in check and Kyle responded well with 16 points in the flow of the game. His confident stroke on a few open looks in the second half kept the Boston lead from gaining too much momentum.

Ayers provided 10 points and five rebounds. Also had two steals and a block. That stat line is perfect from him, we just need it consistently with the possibility of more with a cold night from the scorers.

Aside from Hillesland's foul shooting troubles, he played pretty well. 11 points, 4 rebounds. The most encouraging stats are his three steals and three assists. Those steals literally came with number 33 ripping the ball out of the hands of Terrier ball-handlers. Good work, Zach.

Harangody had 23 and 15, a nice day at the office. He really took over the rebounding duties in the second half and fought tooth and nail. The first line in the AP write-up says it all. He is getting a little better in passing out of the double-team, but a few times it was just more effective to go through it and finish strong in the post. As long as he makes it work, no complaints here.

With such a tight game, Nash and Scott saw very little playing time (Nash two minutes, Scott none at all). Unfortunately, that is how it might be in tough conference contests. The guys off the bench who did play a bit, Zeller and Peoples, contributed a little but nothing special.

Altogether, the only real black mark in this game was our poor rebounding. Still, much of that came in the first half (we actually won the rebounding battle by six in the second), so some adjustments were made. Boston is a good team that should win their conference. If they can get hot at the right time, look out. There's is the exact formula for Cinderella success in March: hustle, hard work, and a ton of three point shooting.

Though this was a bit of a wakeup call, it was a good chance for the team to play in front of an excited home crowd. Instead of getting negative, the bench erupted after every big shot, even while trailing. Ben Hansbrough led some cheering and walked off the court with his shirt half untucked from all the excitement. Good to see the new guy get into it.

Have to like the makeup of this team. Not their best performance, but they showed grit and will bounce back nicely. Time for finals now. They can get back to business in a week.

Georgetown/Memphis Part II

We in South Bend did get to see the closing ten seconds of the game in DC before switching back to Verne Lundquist and Greg Anthony try to keep the viewers' interest in a really bad game.

About the Hoyas. Before Jesse Sapp miraculously tossed the ball through the hoop in celebration, Georgetown was 3-20 from downtown. Without Roy Hibbert, Georgetown really does not have a post presence. 6'11" frosh Monroe scored 9 of his 13 from the charity stripe. As long as the Irish can rely on Harangody to play good interior defense with no double-team help while closing out the shooters, we should be able to take down this team at the Joyce Center.

EDIT: You'll see a new link to the right side. Click on it to go to my profile at, a fantastic resource for hoops junkies. I will be relying on box scores and other information from this site a bit in the future.

Stuff like this:


And this:

So cool! Christmas come early for a blogger. I'll spare you the rest and have some more fun (while figuring how to format this stuff) on my own time.


Great game in DC today. Watch on CBS if you get a chance. I'll recap it a bit following the contest.

EDIT: Great. 30 seconds left with G'Town up one and the local station goes to a contest between two storied programs who haven't been collectively this bad, well... ever (Kentucky and Indiana).

I just missed Memphis force overtime. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

At least I don't have to watch one of the refs consistently call attention to himself. The Ted Valentine look-alike (his greatness was not there, thankfully) consistently called bad charges to go with a 10 second whistle blow to announce palming (who calls palming?!) while players on both teams switched pivot feet with regularity. Let the players play and stop being such a diva.

Back to a real game on CBS thankfully. Wait, no! You want me to watch Kentucky destroy Indiana. Why?! There are only three minutes left in a game between two Sweet 16 contenders, but I'm forced to watch some JV team play at Rupp Arena.

14-0 Kentucky. Whoo-hoo.

More on the game I'm not allowed to watch. Neither team has really played well today, with Memphis forcing Georgetown out of its half-court game. The Hoyas have been extremely good on both sides of the ball this year, making them a top five team by Ken Pomeroy rankings, but will certainly fall win or lose after this one.

22-4 Kentucky. Go Hoosiers!

Now looks like Georgetown will win, a good W for the Big East. I'll start a new post now.

Free Press

Rob Kurz and Sean Kearney were talked up a bit on ESPN tonight for the Warriors/Rockets game. Good for Kurz, a guy who worked his way onto an NBA roster and faced down Yao Ming for a bit tonight (and blocked the 7'3" all-star). The commentator spoke about receiving a text from his "good friend" ND associate head coach Sean Kearney. Kearney has been a fantastic part of Mike Brey's teams over the years and could have had his own head gig a long time ago. Props to both of those guys who were little-known but still very integral parts of our team last year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Boston University Preview

As previously mentioned, the Terriers will always hold a special place in my heart for all our virtual games won in NCAA March Madness. However, I will have no trouble picking a team to support on Saturday as the Irish look to bounce back from their second loss a week ago.

Boston U. is 5-3 and ranked 170th by Ken Pomeroy. Following a tough loss to George Washington to start the season, the Terriers rolled off three straight wins against weaker competition. The last four games have been split between wins over Ivy League squads and losses to Mount St. Mary's and Marshall.

BU is pretty average at... everything. Ranked 152nd on offense and 202nd on defense. Only one of the "four factors" places them in the top 100, as they force a respectable amount of turnovers on defense.

Corey Lowe, John Holland, and Jake O'Brien all average double digits in scoring. All three stroke it from downtown, making over 40% each. No good rebounders on the squad, as the 6'5" Holland averages the most at 5.3 a contest. This is partially due to a lack of height. The frontcourt is made of 6'8" O'Brien and 6'6" Wolff to go with Holland. Harangody should have no problem down low and hopefully Luke Zeller can use his height advantage to bang around inside a bit more than usual.

Should be another good win over a cupcake, but Boston is a solid team that could win the America East. Not a terrible game for the RPI. Let's put this away early and see some more of Scott and Nash on the floor.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on the Devendorf Story

For those of you who have been following it, the story of the Syracuse guard soon-to-be-suspended goes something like this. Eric Devendorf was at a party on Halloween night. The party was at a fraternity. Eric had too much to drink was and asked to leave. Eric took offense and beat the guy to the ground on the front lawn. Frat boy's girlfriend shows up and tries to intervene. Devendorf yells at her and (allegedly) strikes her in the face before going back to beating up the boyfriend. Not exactly a class act.

Of course, Jim Boeheim is appalled... that the judicial board suspended Devendorf for the year. What a shame!

In the end, does it really matter if Devendorf physically assaulted Kimberly Smith on Halloween night? Shouldn't simply beating a guy to a bloody pulp and screaming at his girlfriend make him a jerk? Regardless of the legal ramifications of his actions, Eric Devendorf is a Grade A punk. Props to the university for actually taking action against the guy (who was reportedly already on probation for earlier fighting issues).

Is Eric Devendorf a criminal? Maybe not, as no charges were handed down, but avoiding prosecution does not make one a saint or worthy of avoiding punishment from the school. Once again, thanks to Syracuse for actually showing a little backbone and teaching this guy a lesson. Hopefully he can learn from this and come back a better man.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eric Devendorf Suspended for Rest of Year

Syracuse's starting shooting guard has been kicked out of the university, pending appeal, for allegedly punching a twenty-year-old girl in the face. Classy.

Of course, in accordance with Jim Boeheim's seven-strikes-and-you're-out rule, Devendorf will continue to play until his appeal is heard. Word on the street does not sound good, however, for the redshirt junior from Bay City, Michigan.

Devendorf is averaging 14.1 points in eight games this year. He is traditionally a strong three-point shooter, but is down to 32% so far this season.

Devendorf jumped onto the national scene with a fantastic Big East Tournament his freshman year, leading the Orange to a longshot conference title alongside Gerry McNamara. No worries for his fans, however, you haven't seen the last of this guy. He'll be back next season after receiving a hardship waiver after last year's injury.

Things to Ponder

Can North Carolina be beaten?

Can Stephen Curry be stopped?

Can I still buy that U.S. Senate seat I've always wanted for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Floor Time

Eight games into the basketball season, the rotation has become pretty apparent.

First, a couple notes about the team's performance. Aside from the obvious, our offense has been scoring at a very impressive rate (third in the nation). Scoring 84.0 points a game (19th) is pretty good too. Defense is a different story, where we place out of the top 100 on efficiency. We struggle a bit on the boards, out of the 100 in receiving and giving up offensive rebounds. If a change in the rotation needs to be made, there has to be an added focus on defense and rebounding.

Enter Tyrone Nash. The 6'8" sophomore has shown the ability to be tough in the post in spurts and plays with a single-minded focus on the issues we need to fix. What I want for Christmas is additional playing time for Ty Nash or improved work on the boards by guys like Zeller and Hillesland. Heck, give me both.

Minutes per game so far-
  1. Jackson- 33.8
  2. McAlarney- 35.0
  3. Ayers- 29.4
  4. Hillesland- 24.9
  5. Harangody- 31.8 (6 games)
  • Peoples- 16.1
  • Zeller- 19.0
  • Nash- 10.6
  • Scott- 8.4 (5 games)
The distribution is better than last season (though playing time will trend towards the starters as we enter Big East play). Last year, Ayers and Hillesland split time starting/off the bench at 25 and 22 minutes a game. The only two other significant players, Zeller and Peoples, averaged 11 a game.

Ideally I'd like to see something more like this:
  1. Jackson- 32
  2. McAlarney- 35
  3. Ayers- 30
  4. Hillesland- 25
  5. Harangody- 30 (Not a slight to the big man, as this was his average last year. He needs to stay fresh and out of foul trouble.)
  • Peoples- 10
  • Zeller- 15
  • Nash- 15
  • Scott- 8
That adds up to 200, right? Here's why I like this distribution: the starters get their normal time (with some opportunities to rest when they need it), the bench guys get enough time on the floor to establish a bit of a rhythm, and there is a good proportion of smalls to bigs (keeping the kinds of matchups we want on the floor).

Peoples is really just a reliable ballhandler on the floor. His ten minutes should be mostly spent spelling Jackson on the floor, with just a couple minutes alongside Tory with Mac on the bench.

Zeller has never established himself as a post player in four years at Notre Dame. While he has added some strength this year, he is clearly still most comfortable on the perimeter. Not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to understand how to use him. Luke should spend almost all of his time at the 4 in the high post, playing alongside a Harangody or Nash (guys who can establish themselves as rebounders).

With Nash only averaging below eleven minutes a game so far, it is unlikely we will see him get more playing time against conference foes (he played 3 against Texas and UNC). Still, he is grabbing rebounds at a rate of 12.2 per 40 minutes (compare to Zeller's 11.3 and Hillesland's 10.5). That kind of instant impact should be rewarded with more playing time. Tell Ty to forget about scoring for a bit and focus on rebounding and defense and you will get a very good role player.

Scott may lose minutes against good conference teams and that is a shame. Carleton adds a very interesting, if raw, ability that can mix up things on both ends of the floor. Give him just eight minutes a game to play the 2 or the 3. His slasher style is unlike anything else we can offer. A little extra experience will help him down the road and give the team an added bounce in its step with him on the floor.

Perhaps the most obvious problem in the early season is our lack of consistent free throw shooting. Under 60% from the line this year, it could cost us some games (some would argue it already has) if we cannot improve across the board. Most importantly, we need a reliable lineup to close out games with the lead.

Free Throw Lineup-
  1. Jackson- The best ballhandler is also the worst shooter, not a good combination. He needs to be on the floor due to his ability to keep the other team from creating turnovers, but should not be option #1 to shoot.
  2. McAlarney- Great shooter in all aspects, needs the be the first option to get the ball in foul situations.
  3. Peoples- Go with the three guard lineup to take Hillesland off the floor and get another good ballhander who can shoot free throws.
  4. Ayers- Not a good 4 on defense, can be substituted by Hillesland on that end of the floor but needs to see action due to his 75% average from the line last year.
  5. Harangody- A coach's dream in the closing minutes, the star big man can stay on the floor as a good foul shooter when the game is on the line.

Bob Knight

I can't stand him as a coach, but Bob Knight really is a fantastic analyst. A bit of an awkward talker and looks miserable on the screen, but he has plenty of intelligent things to add to the conversation.

Knight made a very astute comment about Harangody getting healthy and how he was still under the weather against OSU. Digger's obvious response was that he finished with 25 and 16 and mentioned McAlarney's poor shooting percentage. If Phelps had watched the game (and I love the guy for his connection to ND, but he clearly had a knowledge of Saturday's contest that was limited to the box score), he would have understood that Ohio State let Harangody bang around down low all night while shadowing Mac with full energy. Knight's response to Digger was "Notre Dame will be a completely different team with him healthy." I certainly agree, and it will be nice to see Gody playing to his full ability.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Video From Saturday

Howard Smith, an employee for the NCAA and poster on the NCAA's official blog, has sent a link to a video from Saturday's game. It was very nice of him to share this and I'm sure Ohio State fans will enjoy watching it as well. Yeah, thanks a lot Howard...

Laptop Jumps, Listed in Critical but Stable Condition

My computer attempted a swan dive off the desk last night, putting it in the hospital for the next couple of days, so my posting ability might be hampered slightly. However, I will persevere and continue working to find good topics for the blog and better psychiatrists for my suicide-attempting Lenovo.

Our drop in the polls was not as life-threatening as originally feared. Placing 12th in the AP and 13th in the Coaches' means that ND should enter Big East play very close to or just inside the top 10. Ohio State moves up to 21st and Carolina is still unanimous.

Not a whole lot of news beyond that. The Cubs are still interested in Jake Peavy and the Broncos lost another running back for the season (that's six!), but you don't really care about that, do you?

In terms of basketball, nothing big tonight. Tomorrow, West Virginia has a shot to knock off Davidson and Texas plays Villanova in an interesting matchup. The first game will help our RPI and reputation if West Virginia wins. RPI not as much an issue in the second, but I will selfishly cheer for Texas so we can hop back over the Wildcats in the Coaches Poll. Additionally, a little boost to our OOC strength of schedule is always nice.

No more really good games until Saturday, when Georgetown and Memphis square off, but we will have Boston University to deal with then. The Terriers will always have a special place in my heart due to their being my team of choice on the XBox. 3 virtual national titles and 4 pretend national player of the year awards later, they're still not that great in real life.

Well, That Wasn't So Bad... Was It?

Gary Parrish's less than scientific "poll" has the Irish dropping one spot to tenth (right behind OSU). We'll find out the other results tomorrow, but I'd love to see similar placements (unlikely, and insignificant, but still encouraging). At the very least, Parrish's list shows how much respect the Buckeyes have among some national sports writers (which translates to a smaller drop in ranking for the Irish).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's Sunday...

...and I clearly don't have any ideas for a catchy title.

First things first, as always. Polls come out tomorrow, but I expect us to land in the 10-15 range. That's what happened to Michigan State (from fifth) after losing to Maryland. Thanks to MSU and UCLA losing again this week, our drop should be lessened a bit. Unbeaten Xavier, Wake, Syracuse, and Villanova should jump us, but we will most likely stay ahead of a few one-loss teams and be the top ranked two loss team in the country (hooray).

While interesting, polls have absolutely no meaning, especially this early in the year. Far more important is winning a national championship (weak segue, I'll admit), just like the lady soccer Irish are attempting to accomplish today. 2 PM ESPN2 against North Carolina. Take a quick break from endless NFL coverage to see a very good team representing this school. It'll certainly cheer you up from last night's performance.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ohio State 67, Notre Dame 62

The Buckeyes knocked off their second ranked team in a row by shutting down Kyle McAlarney. Luke Harangody had a heroic effort coming off of a bout of pneumonia, but the rest of the team rode a lackluster rebounding performance to a disappointing loss.

If we shot just over 75% from the line, this really well could have been a victory, so blame Tory Jackson's awful foul shooting for part of this loss. Can't blame him too much, though, as he provided the only outside threat down the stretch.

Ohio State's press forced some turnovers and kept our offense from getting in synch most of the game. The Buckeyes connected on a bunch of second chances with ten offensive rebounds. Simply unacceptable to give a team like that so many opportunities to finish off possessions.

Though good defense and Jackson's hot hand gave ND a chance to tie inside of ten seconds left, sloppy play allowed Ohio State to expand a lead to ten points and essentially put this game away midway through the second half. Though a Duke loss slightly lowers the sting of this one, it certainly looks like the Irish will enter Big East play outside the top 10.

Jackson finished with 13 points and 5 assists. Also added four rebounds. He was awful inside the arc and at the line, making just 1 of 6 two point shots. I like Tory being aggressive, but he has to make those driving layups. If he can't finish, dribble penetration is just as effective as turning the ball over. Still, props to the little guy for scoring ten of our last fourteen points. This is a blowout without his effort.

Mac never got off to his usual production. 6 points on 3-11 shooting (0-6 from three). We just can't win against good teams without offensive balance and he is the most reliable outside threat. For as much as Luke Harangody gives the Irish, he cannot carry the team to victory by himself. Kyle will have more nights like this in the future and its a shame he couldn't produce tonight.

Ayers shot well, but he didn't give us the kind of effort we needed with a defense taking Kyle out of the game. After scoring 35 against South Dakota, he took twelve fewer shots and scored only nine points. He has the ability to be a prolific scorer, but can get too tentative in bad situations. Eight other players took as many shots or more than Ayers did in 34 minutes tonight, including a whole lineup of Buckeyes. That's not going to get the job done without help from the shooting guard.

Hillesland disappeared a bit. 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Played just over half the game. I know Harangody took a lot of boards tonight, but a better effort by Zach could have evened the playing field a bit. Five Ohio State players finished with more rebounds. That's not a good showing by a Big East power forward.

Harangody was a hero and gave a truly gutsy performance. 25 points, 16 rebounds in what had to be a very difficult 36 minutes. He out hustled the rest of the team all afternoon. Without Luke, this game would have been a complete embarrassment. With him, it just lands in the disappointment category.

No real production off the bench. A combined five points, five rebounds, and two assists between 31 minutes of Zeller, Nash, and Peoples. That's not good enough. Zeller did add a steal and two blocks, a nice contribution, but still not enough to really give a boost of energy as a reserve. Those three need to be instant game-changers when they step on the floor. Not so much tonight.

Evan Turner went off for 28 points, a career-high. It's never a good thing to see the Irish give an opposing player the game of a lifetime. Other than Turner, the Buckeyes focused on strong D and crashing the boards. It worked. Notre Dame was held below 40% shooting overall and beyond the arc. A six rebound advantage (three more on the offensive glass) kept OSU's lead down the stretch and allowed them to pull away midway through the second half.

It's disappointing, mostly because of what might have been with a win. Instead of spending Christmas in the top 5, we should be happy to stay top 10 (unlikely). Time to regroup against the cupcakes, make sure Gody is completely recovered, and use opportunities against Big East foes to restake our place amongst the nation's elite.

Halftime in Indianapolis

Down two at the half, not exactly where you want to be against an unranked team. But that's where we stand after such a poor half on offense.

However, there are some positive things to look forward to in the second half. Harangody has been great with a double double in the first half (15 and 11). We have outrebounded a team that counts on controlling the glass. And a few players are due to get hot, especially Kyle McAlarney (0-3 from beyond the arc).

Problems in the first half surround the way Ohio State has controlled the pace of this game. We are playing Big Ten basketball: poor shooting, good defense, and limited possessions. The Buckeyes held us in check with a good press that really took the team out of its rhythm. None of the scorers are shooting well (35% as a team). However, foul trouble for Ohio State (4 guys with two or more fouls) could mean better looks for the Irish in the second half.

It's only a two point deficit and K-Mac has to start making shots, but another half of playing to OSU's strength could spell a loss.

Harangody Back for Ohio State

I hope he is 100%, but I trust Coach Brey's judgment. Nice gamesmanship by Brey earlier in the week if Gody is truly in the starting lineup.

Friday, December 05, 2008

More Tempo-Free Stats

I like to throw these things in a post every once in a while. At first, it can have a sort of death-by-numbers effect, especially if this is your first taste.

Over at NDNation, poster Final_Flanner has an exceptional spreadsheet breaking down individual statistics from Notre Dame players under Mike Brey's tenure (post here).

For a more in-depth explanation than I can give you on these numbers, check here. I also highly recommend
Basketball on Paper by Dean Oliver, the best book available on the topic and one that I am currently rereading.

"What should I care?" You must be asking this right now. You know Chris Thomas was a ballhog who couldn't hit the side of the barn with his terrible shot selection. On the other hand, Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody are offensive stalwarts who can do no wrong. Fair enough, but an added knowledge about tempo-free stats and the reality they represent will give you an increased appreciation for the game. Bear with me,
I'll bring this home.

Four stats tell you everything about the game of basketball (taken directly from Big Ten Wonk):

1. Shooting. Effective FG pct. (eFG pct.) = (FGM + (0.5 x 3PM))/FGA. (Read more here.)
2. Offensive Rebounding. Oreb pct. = team orebs/(team orebs + opponent drebs). (Read more here.)
3. Turnovers. TO pct. = TOs/possessions.
4. Free Throws. Free throw proficiency = FTM/FGA.

Don't worry too much about "eFG." It's just common sense, weighting three point field goals a little bit more because of the added point value. Offensive rebounding is clear, a team with more chances per possession does better than a team with one shot per trip down the floor. Turnovers: you can't score if you can't shoot. And foul shots, free chances to add points. There, now you know how to break down a box score more effectively than 95% of analysts who get paid to do that stuff on televsion. If a team loses in all four categories (or even three most of the time), they lose the game.

Let's take a look at what Final_Flanner has to offer. You already saw eFG% so now you just need to know PPWS (Oliver has somewhat different calculations, but they can be a pain to figure out. Points Per Weighted Shot is an effective tool to see how efficiently a player scores per field goal and free throw attempt.

PPWS = PTS/(FGA + (0.475 x FTA))

There you go. Plug the formula into a grpahing calculator if you'd like to figure the numbers out yourself (the only good use for those things aside from playing Super Mario knock-offs) or just let others do the dirty work for you. Simply put, a player with a high PPWS is more effective on offense and deserves to take more shots than a player with a low PPWS. Now take another look at the spreadsheet of last season.

Instantly, you will have a couple questions:

Wait, you're saying Jonathan Peoples and Tim Abromaitis are better players than Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody?

Certainly not. While these stats are a fantastic way to compare players with similar abilities and playing time, they sometimes require a reality check. Peoples (and to a greater extent, Abro) received fewer minutes than Harangody and, as a result, fewer shots. When he did have his chances, he converted very efficiently, making him an excellent player off the bench. With more playing time, his PPWS would undoubtedly go down. Some story with Ryan Ayers. Though Ayers played a lot, he took very few shots (and made a big percentage due to his conservative shot selection).

Is eFG% or PPWS better at describing player performance?

Another good question. You're an excellent pupil. eFG% tends to favor three points shooters (as evidenced by Mac, Ayers, and Peoples leading by a wide margin). PPWS is better at bridging the gap between positions, though I would use eFG% when comparing two big time shooters.

What do the other numbers mean?

% Shots on the right side describes the percentage of possessions (with the player in the game) in which a player shot the ball. The higher the percentage, the more likely the other stats will dip a little (due to fatigue and the decrease of hot streaks). Though Harangody was only the third most effective scorer among the starting lineup of Mac, Tory, Kurz, and Ayers, he took shots on 37% of his possessions. Therefore, he was extremely valuable as an offensive weapon. As for the others, rebounding, steal, and block percentage (reb%, steal%, block%) is pretty self-explanatory. Same with assists and turnovers per 100 possessions. Free throw rate calculate how often a player gets to the line.

I'll refer to these stats a bit as the season goes on. Ken Pomeroy usually does a pretty good job posting similar stats on his site as the year goes on as well. Of course, I won't abandon the good old points and rebounds per game for you old timers (in part because I am too lazy to calculate all of this stuff every time).

So there you go. Didn't think you would be getting a math lesson today? Too bad. Back to the normal stuff later with a big game tomorrow. Have a good weekend!

EDIT: It's 16 degrees in South Bend. Just awful.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Harangody Out for Ohio State

Per ESPN, Coach Brey will not rush Gody back to action and will most likely hold him out on Saturday.

While obviously a 50% Harangody would help the team tremendously, there is a lot to lose by rushing him back too soon. A loss Saturday without Harangody will not hurt too much come seeding time (especially after showing how good we can be with him), but struggling through the Big East schedule could be fatal to hopes of a deep run in March.

In the article, there is no direct quote but a reference that "the coach is planning to keep him out Saturday." Therefore, I wouldn't be shocked to see Harangody dress and be a game-time decision. Still, one must expect the worst and look for Luke Zeller in the lineup against Ohio State. We have done well enough against cupcakes without Gody, so all is not lost.

Though Ohio State has two seven footers on the roster, their starting lineup looks a lot like ours in terms of size. We'll need some more strong shooting by Mac and Ayers to offset the loss of scoring in the paint. With a little help from Tory Jackson and a combination of Hillesland, Zeller, and Nash (even Scott in important minutes), we should be fine on offense. If Hillesland, Zeller, and Nash can also help out on the boards, most of Harangody's stats can be picked up.

Preview tomorrow and we'll see how things turn out Saturday. Obviously playing without an All-American against a good team away from home will be difficult but this team should be able to rally and pick up the production.

EDIT: As I wrote this, a USC player was just ejected for punching Blake Griffin in a tender area. Ouch. Fight on you punks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mac in the Staten Island Paper

Great article on Mac's shooting lately and video of the Carolina game.

Games to Watch

Tonight- North Carolina vs. Michigan State in Detroit-

Any chance to see how another ranked team plays the Tar Heels should be interesting. This is pretty much a home game for Tom Izzo's squad, but one has to think Carolina will roll (provided Tyler Hansbrough is healthy). If they can give MSU the same treatment that the Irish received in Maui, Coach Brey will have added confidence on our ability to be a national power.

Tomorrow- UCLA at Texas-

Hook 'em Horns. Texas plays another opponent ranked one slot below it, this time at home. This game is of added importance due to our scheduled contest against the Bruins in February. We will see how those two teams stack up.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ACC/Big Ten "Challenge"

As esteemed poet Robert Plant once said:

Lots of people talking
Few of them know
Big Ten Basketball
Was created below.

The league that brought you the 47-39 shootout (I'm stretching to pick my least favorite box score, but you get the idea) deserves to be embarrassed by a vastly superior (if overrated in its own rate) conference every year. By large margins. Repeatedly.

That's why I have no problem for supporting teams like Duke and Carolina this time of the year. Lay it on the Paint Crew, Dookies.

I'm really negative today, aren't I? Time to step away from the keyboard...

Notre Dame 102, South Dakota 76

Luke Harangody has pneumonia and the rest of the campus has been stricken with a mysterious case of Rehireweis Syndrome, that terrible malady that causes you to lose to vastly inferior opponents.

Okay, so the Irish didn't lose the whole game, but it played an extended period of bad basketball for the first time all season. We should not be outscored in a half by a transitional program... ever.

It wasn't all bad obviously as Notre Dame exits with a 26 point win without its best player and set a new school record for three point shots made. At the first media timeout, the Irish were on pace for 200 points. Ryan Ayers really stepped up today and scored 25 in the first half. Kyle McAlarney was not far behind him, as it seemed clear that the solo three point record would be in jeopardy, though the record breaker was certainly yet to be decided.

At halftime, Coach Brey came up with a strategy straight from the still-football coach: "Let's make these guys feel good and give them something to tell the family about back home." That's probably not how the talk went, but the results seemed like it. South Dakota started knocking down open looks from outside and the Irish were sloppy on both ends of the floor. Though it never got really competitive, the Coyotes outscored us 46-42. The team should not be happy.

Tory Jackson spread the ball around, but was rahter erratic at times. 0-6 from the floor, he forced shots on drives and turned the ball over three times. He did get those ten assists and two steals, but it feels like he plays to the level of competition. His decision-making was not at its best today.

Kyle McAlarney was on fire in the first half and drilled a few good shots late, but was uncharacteristically tentative to start the second period. Clearly, Coach Brey told the players to slow down a bit and run the offense. That makes some sense, as we gain nothing from playing street ball against a bad team. However, we don't gain a whole lot from playing poor organized basketball either.

Ryan Ayers really stepped up his game with 35 points on 9-14 shooting from beyond the arc. He also had six rebounds in 33 minutes. He, like McAlarney, also failed to take open shots in the second half. Mac's school record would have been gone easily if Ayers played both halves with authority.

Zach Hillesland played like a big time power forward against Creighton transfer Steve Smith. Smith is 6'11", 254 pounds, and sweats... a lot. Hillesland and a veriety of other smaller defenders seemed to keep him pretty well in check, until one sees that the seemingly-imposing big man set career highs with minutes, points, and rebounds. Nonetheless, I can't complain with 6 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals.

Luke Zeller had 8 and 6, but didn't shoot exceptionally well and did not stick out in 22 minutes. Hillesland is clearly the first choice in the paint and Ty Nash saw a lot of action and had better numbers than Zeller in five less minutes.

Off the bench, Peoples did not shoot well but finished with 4 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Scott and Nash were better, scoring 7 and 9. Nash also had 8 rebounds and is starting to look like a serious player in the post.

First half, Irish shot 55% from the floor (61% 3PA). South Dakota 34% (22%). Second half, Irish 39% (36%). Coyotes 59% (64%). That tells the story right there. Give the Coyotes credit for strong shooting in the second period, but they were open and we were not. Need to step up that defense a lot against Ohio State, who just beat Miami.

It's a win, it counts in the record (if not the RPI), and everyone stayed healthy for Saturday. LH looked good walking around and acknowledged the student section at the end of the game, but a decision on him will not come out until probably Thursday.

As for that football team, no I won't go there...

Monday, December 01, 2008

South Dakota Preview

Sagarin Predictor- ND by 27.53
  • ND- Sagarin- 8th, Pomeroy-30th
  • South Dakota- Sagarin- 305th, Pomeroy- NR
A couple of tempo-free stats to chew on (though it is still too early to take these numbers too seriously):

The Irish have one of the best offenses in the country, ranking fifth in adjusted efficiency. Notre Dame scores 125.8 points per 100 possessions, slightly above North Carolina and below Tennessee's 128.8. The defense has not been so strong, at 162nd nationally. Last year's rankings were 22nd and 42nd, respectively.

Looking forward to Ohio State on Saturday, the Irish will go up against the second best defense in the country. While Ohio State barely ranks in the top 100 on offense, its D allows only 71.5 points per 100 possessions (case in point, OSU's dreadfully boring 59-22 win over Samford). We will learn more about this team after Tuesday when they play #22 Miami.

Speaking of rankings, the Irish moved up a spot to #7 in the Coaches' Poll. Gonzaga and Oklahoma jumped us by remaining unbeaten and defeating top opponents in Tennessee and Purdue. Ohio State is 28th, receiving 32 votes.

EDIT: McAlarney made the Big East weekly honor roll and a record 8 Big East teams are currently ranked in the AP poll (ND is 7th there too).

Post Between Games

Zach Hillesland is blogging for the New York Times. Quite a step up from Kyle McAlarney's South Bend Tribune blog this summer. His first "Dispatch From a Domer" is here.

If you want to go to Saturday's game against Ohio State, tickets are now 20% off. Unfortunately I will not be able to make it, but watching Gonzaga in the first contest followed by the Irish should be pretty interesting.

Polls are not out yet, but I will try to announce those when they are updated.

Tomorrow's opponent is first year D1 team South Dakota. They are not very good and Notre Dame is the only high-major school on their schedule. Should be another opportunity for Nash and Scott to log serious minutes.