Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Here's hoping that your 2009 went well and that 2010 will be even better.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Notre Dame 93, Providence 78

Solid win to start the conference season. A great first half had the Irish looking at a blowout victory, but the team let Providence sneak back into it with sloppy play out of the break. Once the dust settled, however, you can chalk this one down as a solid Irish win led by some unexpected individual performances on offense.

In the first half, Irish shooting was red hot (well above 50% from the floor) and the home team stretched its lead to 21 by the buzzer. Providence came back with a 13-1 run to start the second period, helped in a large way by some bad decision making from ND players on offense.

Notre Dame Possessions in the Second Half:
  • Tim Abromaitis fouled (23 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Luke Harangody missed jumper (20 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Abromaitis missed layup (3 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Tory Jackson missed three pointer (30 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Harangody missed jumper (19 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Ben Hansbrough missed three pointer (30 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Ty Nash missed layup (24 seconds left on shot clock)
  • Harangody fouled on putback- 2 missed FT
  • Nash turnover (24 seconds left on shot clock)
In a critical four minute stretch, Notre Dame went 0-6 from the floor, 1-4 from the foul line, and turned the ball over once. Even with three offensive rebounds, the Irish managed only one point in six trips down the floor. With such a big lead, all we needed to do was drain the clock and look for good scoring opportunities. Instead, seven of our eight shooting attempts (including the two on which ND players were fouled) came with well over half the shot clock remaining. That's poor clock management and shot selection. The result? A 21-point steamrolling decreased rapidly into an 11 point lead, making this game competitive once again.

In the final sixteen minutes, however, the team woke up and refused to let the Friars get any closer. Though the margin never allowed Coach Brey to rest any of his core players (with the exception of a 3 minute stretch by Carleton Scott, this was clearly a six-man rotation), a double-digit win to start the Big East slate is certainly a good result.

Five players finished in double-digits scoring, a great demonstration of balanced scoring that could bode well for the future. Our All-American looked awful all night, but Jonathan Peoples made a big splash off the bench with a career-high and team-high 23 points. Abro was great in his first Big East start and Ben Hansbrough and Tory Jackson proved to be a very unselfish backcourt tandem.

Tory played all 40 minutes, scoring 11 points and dishing out 7 assists. He missed both of his three point attempts, but was 4-5 inside the arc and found some success taking the ball to the basket.

Ben Hansbrough helped out with 11 assists of his own. Unlike Tory, he looked a bit out of control at times and turned it over on four occasions. Of course, a 2.75 assist-to-turnover ratio is still pretty damn good. He struggled from beyond the arc, even with some good looks. 1-5 out there, though he did get a few from the line and inside the arc to finish with 10 points. 8 rebounds for the night, as well, a near triple-double. I have said previously that Tory Jackson could be the second guy for Notre Dame to pick up a triple-double in the school's history, but Hansbrough just might beat him to it.

Abro had 22 points in his frist significant minutes playing in the conference. 5-8 beyond the arc, 8-14 from the floor. Chip in 7 rebounds, 4 of which came on offense. He did struggle with the ball on a few occasions, like Hansbrough, and turned the ball over 5 times.

Ty Nash was the only starter with fewer than 10 points for the night, but had a very successful game with 8 points and 8 boards. That's the kind of game we need from him in conference contests this year.

Luke Harangody was just awful. Bad shot selection the whole game, 6-21 for the night, and a horrid performance from the foul line. He gave away seven points on free throws alone. He did finish with 19 points because he attempted so many shots, but it really was an inefficient night for the big guy. 13 rebounds was a highlight, however, including 5 on offense. With the team clicking without him, I wish Coach Brey or someone would have pulled Luke aside and told him to stop wasting possessions with off-balance looks out there. It's rare, but there are games where Gody is a negative influence out there. Tonight was one of those occasions.

Peeps finished with 23, 6-7 from the field. He had a career-high scoring by the end of the first half and sunk all five three pointers. Throw in 6 rebounds for good measure. For a guy who has struggled so much this season, it was good to see him pull through for us tonight. Carleton Scott played just three minutes. This is a six-man rotation. I don't envy how these guys will be feeling by the end of a long Big East season.

Led by Gody, the team struggled shooting free throws with an uncharacteristicly low 61%. The game was won with great shooting in the first half and 50% from the beyond the arc for the night. Providence isn't that great as a team, though, and we'll find out a lot about how the Irish stack up with really good Big East competition at UCONN on Saturday.

Providence In-Game

Congrats to Cincy for taking down 10th ranked UCONN tonight. This conference is looking much deeper than anyone thought at the beginning of the year after three top ten teams struggled against unranked opponents.

EDIT: HUGE first half for the Irish. Peoples 5-5 from three. What a great start to conference play.

Providence Preview

A pair of really great contests in the Big East today. Both Marquette and Seton Hall looked much better than anyone expected as they took West Virginia and Syracuse down to the wire. Providence awaits the Irish tomorrow, one of the few teams that statistically ranks lower than ND in this conference.

Pomeroy Ranking- 92nd
Record- 8-4
"Best" Win- George Washington (ranked 96th)
Worst Loss- Iona (ranked 130th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 94-86

Key Players-
#21 Jamine Peterson- 6'6", 230 lbs.- 17.8 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 31.1% 3PA
#2 Marshon Brooks- 6'5", 190 lbs.- 15.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 43.8% 3PA
#4 Sharaud Curry- 5'10", 170 lbs.- 13.0 PPG, 4.2 APG, 23.9% 3PA

Scouting Report-

Attack the offensive glass as well as anyone (2nd in the country).
Reliable with the basketball (19th fewest turnovers)
Don't force a lot of turnovers on defense.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Big East Preview: Part II

Big East Teams (By Pomeroy Ranking)-

Syracuse (4th)-

Jim Boeheim's squad hopped onto the national radar with a 16 point win over North Carolina back in November. Syracuse was ranked 24th at the time, the Tar Heels 4th in the nation. The Orange also boast wins over Cal and 11th-ranked Florida (starting the Gators three-game losing streak). The 2-3 zone has been strong this year, ranking 11th in the nation in defensive efficiency. On offense, Syracuse leads the country in effective field goal percentage. The top four scorers on the team have shot 60% or better on the year. It's hard to lose when a guy like Wesley Johnson (Iowa State transfer) has been unstoppable from all over the floor, including 52.4% from three-point range.

West Virginia (5th)-

The other unbeaten team in the Big East boasts a pair of nonconference victories over Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and now a victory over Seton Hall. Last year's edition of the Mountaineers finished the season ranked in the top ten by Ken Pomeroy, but the statistical dominance didn't exactly lead to the kind of success Bob Huggins wants to see in Morgantown. This season should be more successful in the win column. As the Irish learned last year, this program loves to dominate the offensive glass. They are ranked fourth in offensive rebounding percentage this season, led by Devin Ebanks (17 boards against Seton Hall) and Kevin Jones (14 in that game, as well).

Georgetown (18th)-

After a very disappointing 2009, the Hoyas are back near the top of the conference. Wins over Butler, Washington, and Temple have given this squad some credibility. The loss to Old Dominion was a bit disappointing, but the Monarchs are certainly a mid-major team to watch this year. Greg Monroe is starting to look like the player he was hyped to be out of high school, averaging a double-double, and a stable of good guards have the team playing great defense. They won't beat a lot of teams in a shootout, as evidenced by their 46-45 snorefest with Temple, but the Princeton offense does just enough to make this team a winner.

Villanova (30th)-

The preseason favorite has been less than impressive in stretches this year, but they still hold onto a top ten spot in the polls. Jay Wright has been compared to Mike Brey throughout their Big East careers and has taken the clear advantage over the last few seasons with his superb results in the postseason and recruiting. He entered this year with a fantastic opportunity to take the Big East title and mark himself as one of the elite coaches in college basketball. Now the Wildcats find themselves on a tier below looking up at the top two schools. Like ND, they have a very potent offense but struggle on the defensive end of the ball (92nd). The lone loss was to a talented Temple team.

Marquette (31st)-

Outplaying their expectations, the Golden Eagles boast a neutral-site win against Xavier and have performed better than expected in their three losses, including an away contest to intrastate rival Wisconsin. They have combined a top 25 offense with a workable D to leap from a probable NIT bid to competing for a Big East top four finish. Jimmy Butler has been fantastic, ranking 5th in the country with a 142.1 offensive rating.

Pittsburgh (36th)-

Bad loss to Indiana, blown out by Texas, and nothing too exciting the rest of the way. Bad offensively (109th) with a top 20 D. One of the slowest teams in the country, with just 63.3 possessions per game.

Seton Hall (39th)-

Jeremy Hazell is the big star here. He's the second highest scorer in the league with 21.9 points per game. They don't turn the ball over a lot and play pretty solid defense. Yet another Big East team that played Temple, losing 71-65.

Connecticut (41st)-

Lost their two games against good opponents (Duke and Kentucky). Gavin Edwards and Co. block a lot of shots on defense, even without Hasheem Thabeet.

Louisville (45th)-

Surpisingly weak defense so far for a Rick Pitino-coached team. Bad losses at home to Charlotte and Western Carolina. No real nonconference opponents of note.

South Florida (51st)-

Bad loss at home to Central Michigan with no really tough nonconference competition. Pretty much above average as a team across the board.

St. John's (59th)-

Beat Temple, making the Owls 2-2 against the Big East. Lost to Cornell and Duke. D.J. Kennedy has been very good so far this year (16.7 PPG).

Cincinnati (60th)-

Lost to good mid-majors Xavier, Gonzaga, and UAB. Boast a top-25 D but are pretty average scoring the ball.

Notre Dame (77th)-

And here we are. Easily the biggest differential between our strength (offense- 4th) and weakness (defense- 256th). Worst D in the conference, and it ain't even close.

Providence (86th)-

Lost to Iona and BC at home. Jamine Peterson scores 17.8 per game.

Rutgers (171st)-

Block a lot of shots and have held opponents to just 40.5% inside the arc (average nationwide is 47.7%). Mike Rosario is amongst the league's top scorers.

DePaul (188th)-

Just a hair better than last year's awful team. Lost to American and Florida Gulf Coast. Jerry Wainwright is on his way out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big East Preview

West Virginia takes the early lead in the Big East after an overtime win against Seton Hall. The Irish kick off their conference slate on Wednesday.

Once again, the preseason coaches poll from October:


1. Villanova (10)


2. West Virginia (5)


3. Connecticut (1)


4. Louisville


5. Georgetown


6. Syracuse


7. Cincinnati


8. Notre Dame


9. Pittsburgh


10. Seton Hall


11. St. John's


12. Marquette


13. Providence


14. USF


15. Rutgers


16. DePaul


*First-place votes in parentheses

2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year

Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame (Player of the Year), F, Sr., 6-8, 255, Schererville, Ind.

Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati, G, Sr., 6-1, 190, Indianapolis, Ind.

Greg Monroe, Georgetown, C, So., 6-11, 247, New Orleans, La.

Lazar Hayward, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 225, Buffalo, N.Y.

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Herndon, Va.

Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-7, 225, Newark, N.J.

2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team

Jerome Dyson, Connecticut, G, Sr., 6-3, 190, Potomac, Md.

Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, So., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.

Samardo Samuels, Louisville, F, So., 6-9, 260, Trelawny, Jamaica

Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-5, 185, Bronx, N.Y.

Dominique Jones, USF, G, Jr., 6-4, 205, Lake Wales, Fla.

Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, F, So., 6-9, 210, Long Island City, N.Y.

  • a tie in the balloting created six positions

2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention

Stanley Robinson, Connecticut, F, Sr., 6-9, 210, Birmingham, Ala.

Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse, C, Sr., 6-9, 275, Lanham, Md

Non-Conference Scoring Leader-

Luke Harangody- ND- 24.2 PPG

Non-Conference Rebounding Leader-

Herb Pope- Seton Hall- 11.8 RPG

Non-Conference Assists Leader-

Kemba Walker- Connecticut- 6.3 APG

Non-Conference Steals Leader-

Andy Rautins- Syracuse- 2.7 SPG

Non-Conference Three Point Percentage Leader-

Darius Johnson-Odom- Marquette- 55.6%

Notre Dame Statistical Leaders-

  • Tory Jackson/Ben Hansbrough- 1st and 2nd in Assist to Turnover Ratio
  • Luke Harangody- 1st in Defensive Rebounds
  • Tim Abromaitis- 1st in Free Throw Percentage

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Congratulations to Marshall University for creating the absolute worst school commercial in the country. Of course, I've now watched different variations of it six times and the little ukulele ditty is now stuck in my head, so who's the fool?

After Marshall/Ohio is over, we do have a couple interesting bowl games on tap today, capped off by USC/BC. Now, that's a tough call on who to support.

West Virginia/Seton Hall is a great basketball option, as well. It's on CBS at 3:30. I will try to get in a Big East preview tomorrow or Monday before the conference slate kicks off in full force Tuesday.

Tomorrow will also be dominated by the NFL, as my Broncos have a chance to clinch a playoff spot at Philly, provided a lot of other things go their way. So enjoy a little more time off from hoops this weekend. The season begins in earnest next week.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

And a very happy holiday season to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Around the Country

Texas rolled against Michigan State in a battle of Top Ten teams last night. Christmas will give us a couple of days away from the hardwood, with West Virginia and Seton Hall starting off the Big East season on Saturday. The Hawaii Bowl is tomorrow night, though Nevada and Southern Methodist don't make that great a matchup. Saturday presents two schools Irish fans love to hate, SC and Boston College, in the ever-prestigious Emerald Bowl. Should make for something decent to play in the background at your holiday parties.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Notre Dame 101, Bucknell 69

Good win for the Irish. Jack Nolan mentioned that the team focused on defense in the pregame shootaround, which is nice to hear. The D was spot-on tonight while the regulars remained on the floor. Once the freshmen entered, both teams got a little sloppy, but that is to be expected.

We pushed the tempo throughout the game, with Luke Harangody chipping in to lead a couple fast breaks. I'd much rather see him learn the art of the quick outlet pass. Let the small guys do the dribbling, Luke. As a whole, however, I was pleased with the team's ability to score in transition. Yes the quick pace led to an unacceptably high 17 turnovers, but the Irish made up for it a bit by getting high percentage shots all night. Almost 60% from the floor is fantasic. They also made half of their attempts from beyond the arc. 28 assists on 37 baskets demonstrated the unselfish play of a Mike Brey-coached team.

The energy on defense was nice to see. A few of Bucknell's three pointers came in garbage time with the reserves reacting too slowly, but the rest of the night showcased some of the best defensive effort we've seen all season. Bucknell's 34% field goal shooting is eight points lower than their season average, which is especially surprising due to the breakneck pace of the contest.

Tory Jackson had a bit of a quiet night. 6 points, just 2 assists and 1 turnover. All three of his shooting attempts came from three-point range. He now boasts 1000 points and 500 assists for his career.

Ben Hansbrough was fantastic, even with that stomach virus. 16 points, 5 assists, a perfect night from the charity stripe and good shooting overall. For a guy who almost sat out the game, he put forth a nice effort and now has a good to get healthy for the Big East.

Tim Abromaitis was great, as usual. He finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds and scored in a variety of ways. The three pointers were falling, as they have much of this season, but almost half of his field goal attempts came from inside the arc. He capped off one drive to the basket with a rather aggressive dunk. Atta boy, Tim.

Ty Nash also showed off a lot of determination on the offensive end of the floor that had been lacking until the last couple of games. He only scored 5 points, but seemed willing to take it to the basket consistently. Of course, that aggression also led to 4 turnovers. If he can be a force in the paint without getting reckless, the Irish offense will add another wrinkle to its attack. His rebounding total was great (7), yet it marked his lowest total of the past three contests. He has made a much larger impact in the past week and a half than has been expected from him.

Harangody has yet another double-double, with 20 and 11. He chipped in with 5 assists and 3 turnovers. The positive assist-to-turnover ratio is a bit surprising due to his frequent leading of fast breaks. He seemed a bit more reckless live, so kudos to him for dishing out so many good scoring opportunities. Luke missed both three-point attempts, but was otherwise 8-10 from the floor. Throw in four made free throws for good measure.

Lots of activity off the bench. Peoples played great in extended time with Hansbrough sick. 7 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, with a perfect night shooting. Carleton Scott contibuted in multiple statistical categories, 5 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Cooley and Broghammer each had 5 points. Little Harangody had 8 rebounds in pretty limited playing time, hopefully that leads to a bright future for him. The Hammer chipped in with 3 boards and finished off one possession with an impressive tomahawk jam. Walkons Kopko and Andree each got in the scorebook with Tim's two points putting the Irish over the century mark. The most impressive reserve tonight, however, was Joey Brooks. I mentioned at the half that he could be a defensive stopper in just two to three minute spurts if Coach Brey wanted to use him in that kind of role, but he was also great on offense tonight as well. 12 points on 3-5 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the line.

The stats in the post so far are from the always-unreliable ESPN gamecast. I'll edit as necessary when the official boxscore becomes available. Great win for the team and a nice way to finish off the nonconference slate. We're 11-2, compared to 9-2 at this point a year ago. Time for a few days to go home and enjoy the holidays before Big East action starts.

Bucknell at the Half

Very nice first period of action at the JACC tonight. Great movement on offense, with a few nice backdoor cuts thrown in. Defense has looked fantastic so far. Bucknell is just shooting 24% from the field. They have missed on a few open looks, but the Irish defense has certainly played a positive role so far.

Ben Hansbrough has beaten off the stomach flu with 14 points on a perfect half of shooting (4-4 FG, 2-2 3PA, 4-4 FT). Carleton Scott demonstrated a nice touch from beyond the arc. He could be a factor on offense if that becomes a consistent part of his arsenal. Even Joey Brooks got into the game in the first half and made a difference. He forced a Bryan Cohen travel with a really heady trap with two seconds left in the half. He could make a pretty solid impact with that defensive intensity if given just 6-8 minutes a game.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bucknell Preview

Pomeroy Ranking- 215th
Record- 4-7
"Best" Win- Delaware (ranked 267th)
Worst Loss- Binghamton (ranked 295th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 86-70

Key Players-
#13 Darryl Shazier- 6'0", 178 lbs.- 11.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, 35.6% 3PA
#24 Patrick Behan- 6'8", 229 lbs.- 10.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 27.5% 3PA
#22 Bryan Cohen- 6'5", 199 lbs.- 9.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 42.9% 3PA

Scouting Report-

Not very active on defense, getting very few steals (342nd in the country).
Shoot the ball well from the foul line (74% as a team).
Small on the wing with 6'3" Stephen Tyree. He is a very effective scorer when given the opportunity but only shoots it about four times a game.

Central Florida Almost Knocks off the Huskies

UCF gave Connecticut a scare yesterday in Hartford. The Knights built up a nine point lead and kept it close until the wheels fell off with six minutes to play. Marcus Jordan had a career high 13 points to lead the away team. That marked the third loss to a Big East opponent this season to Central Florida, the other two being a four point affair at South Florida and the 90-72 beating in the JACC a couple weeks ago.

We're almost into conference play and currently the Big East ranks third in Pomeroy's league standings. Just three schools (Syracuse, West Virginia, and Georgetown) have earned top 25 status so far. The Irish rank third to last.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Notre Dame 84, UCLA 73

Good win for the Irish as they took control early in the second half and never let it get too close the rest of way. However, we still haven't played a legitimately good team to date and some of the same issues continue to surface. Glad to put Loyola Marymount in the past and get a double-digit win over a rival, but this team's fate lies ahead in conference play.

With Tory Jackson focusing on the Bruins' only accomplished shooter (Michael Roll), Malcolm Lee had a career-high 29 by hitting four of his six three-point attempts. He entered the contest with a three-point percentage below thirty. Several of those made baskets were wide-open looks as the Irish D failed to actively rotate in a zone or was too slow to close out on the perimeter.

UCLA led for the majority of the first half and the game stayed tight through the break, but a quick 8-2 run after halftime put the Irish in charge the rest of the way. The one major positive in nonconference play is how Notre Dame has consistently improved in the second halves of games. Time will tell if that can continue against good competition.

Jackson did his best impression as a defensive stopper against Roll, but he gave up six inches just by stepping on the floor. That's a tough matchup, but we certainly didn't have any better options. On offense, Tory was a bit out of control, with 5 turnovers. He also offered up a bunch of wild shots, finishing four of twelve from the field. He was 29% inside the arc, partially due to the physical nature of the game under the hoop. He just isn't big enough to finish at the basket when a ref like Jim Burr is periodically swallowing his whistle.

Ben Hansbrough was very efficient. 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. He made five of the seven shots he attempted and completed a very nice four-point play. Also chipped in with three steals, including one in transition that led to a Notre Dame fastbreak going the other way. He seems like a high-risk, high-reward player on D. He's certainly not consistent enough to be a lockdown defender, but gets his share of big plays. Tonight marks his fourth multiple steal game of the year, matching Kyle McAlarney's total from all of last season.

Tim Abromaitis had 17 points, shooting five of eight from the field. Add in 5 rebounds, a nice total from the small forward position. He collected three fouls, but a couple of those were a bit ticky-tack.

Ty Nash added in 11 points and 8 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive end. Every starter finished with double digit scoring, a great display of unselfishness on offense. This team does seem to have a greater ability to spread out the scoring than last year's outfit, which could make a difference if Big East teams decide to key in on Harangody.

Luke got his 23 points, but was quite frustrating to watch. I can't imagine a good reason for our All-American forward to be catching the basketball 25 feet away from the basket. He consistently attempted to generate the offense from the perimeter, which really limits the team's effectiveness. When he sticks to the inside, at least within a dribble and a spin move from the basket, he can be unstoppable.

Off the bench, Peoples had an effective sixteen minutes. 9 points and 3 rebounds. Carleton Scott only played eight minutes and had 3 rebounds and an assist without attempting a shot.

Nice win, but once again the Irish needed to make it a high-scoring contest. We'll see what happens against some good defenses.

Friday, December 18, 2009

UCLA Preview

In another year, this would have been a great game. Even last season, when the Irish were pounded 89-63, the UCLA matchup provided a nice yearly nonconference opponent that Notre Dame has been lacking for some time. This year, with ND struggling and the Bruins 3-6, the University is going to be very hardpressed to fill three-quarters of the Joyce Center in the continuation of a series that has meant so much to both programs.

Yesterday, news broke that UCLA will be without starting forward James Keefe, who separated his shoulder in a lopsided win over New Mexico State. The 6'8", 235 lbs. Keefe was the most likely candidate to guard Luke Harangody, which should give Luke a bit more freedom tomorrow. Additionally, sophomore forward Drew Gordon decided to leave the team and seek a transfer at the beginning of the month.

Pomeroy Ranking- 146th
Record- 3-6
"Best" Win- New Mexico State (ranked 206th)
Worst Loss- Cal. State Fullerton (ranked 218th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 76-67

Key Players-
#20 Michael Roll- 6'5", 200 lbs.- 14.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 39.6% 3PA
#3 Malcolm Lee- 6'4", 191 lbs.- 13.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 5.1 RPG, 27.5% 3PA
#11 Reeves Nelson- 6'8", 228 lbs.- 8.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG

Scouting Report-

Only one player (Roll) boasts an offensive rating over 100. Six of the seven guys in Notre Dame's rotation have been more efficient than any guy on UCLA's roster.
The Bruins have been dreadful from beyond the arc as a team (28.2%). Roll is the only guy who could give us trouble on the petimeter.
UCLA rarely gets to the foul line as a team and does not take advantage when they do (56.5%).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nonconference Notes: Frontcourt


Tim Abromaitis- The surprise of the season so far, our young redshirt sophomore has really blossomed in an expanded role. Now starting at small forward, he has scored in the double digits in all but one contest. His 15.7 points per game rank him fifteenth in the Big East, no small feat when playing alongside the leading scorer in the conference. He has been incredibly efficient on offense (his offensive rating is 8th in the country) and has only used about 21% of team possessions when on the floor. Defense proved to be a bit of a struggle against Loyola Marymount, but there is nothing to complain about his performance on the offensive end (57% FG, 93% FT, 49% 3P).

Ty Nash- Has been up and down. Field goal percentage has improved a bit, but he continues to be a liability from the foul line. Rebounding has been rather disappointing. We need a starting power forward who can consistently pull down 7 or 8 a game. Nash has only managed more than five on two occasions. He has also racked up a lot of fouls, demonstrating that he needs some help stopping guys with his feet rather than his body.

Luke Harangody- By far the best player on the roster and one of the most talented guys in program history. He leads the conference in scoring and is fourth in rebounding. Overall field goal percentage is improved and he has been able to get more baskets inside than a year ago (though time will tell if he can keep it up). Of course, his annoying tendency to drift to the perimeter has been well documented. He has almost equaled his three point attempts from last year already and is only sinking 30%. Needs to also show a bit more focus on defense (along with the rest of the team) and stop complaining to the refs when calls don't go his way. Sometimes he seems to let his frustration make him ineffective for a couple series.

Off the Bench-

Carleton Scott- Another nice addition to the rotation this year. He has put in a few very good performances but has also disappeared in a few contests. If he can be more consistent in racking up the boards and providing some scoring off the bench, he could give Nash a run for the starting job.

Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, Jack Cooley- The freshman have just gotten mopup time so far and it looks like none of them will crack the rotation in conference play. That's a shame because a deeper bench would allow the starters to expend more energy on both ends of the floor. A guy like Brooks could be a solid defensive stopper if given enough minutes.

Nonconference Notes: Backcourt

With only two nonconference games to go, a few midseason comments:

Starting Guards-

Tory Jackson- The senior point guard has been very efficient handling the ball so far. Though it has come against easy competition, Jackson has averaged over five assists per game. His 4.67 assist to turnover ratio is simply obscene. Scoring has been an issue, however. His two-point shooting percentage of 40% is by far the worst on the tam. Drawing up ineffective last minute plays for him won't help that any.

Ben Hansbrough- Has struggled at times to mesh with Jackson. The most athletic shooting guard we've had in a while, his style seems to conflict a bit with Tory. Can't argue with the results on offense, however. Take away his egglaying performance against Northwestern and he's shooting 56% from three point land. Even with that 0-7 effort, he has posted career bests in three-point percentage, points per game, and assists. On defense, he has struggled along with everyone else, but certainly has more potential than K-Mac.

Off the Bench-

Jonathan Peoples- Started the first eight games and has been terrible all year. His offensive efficiency (96.6) is 13 points lower than anybody else. The fact that his stats actually indicate a marginal improvement over last year's ineptitude indicate just how awful he was under the radar last season. Has failed to score in four games despite averaging 17.5 minutes in those contests. Somehow he managed to convince Coach Brey that he was talented enough to start for a Big East team despite being one of the most unathletic guards in the country.

EDIT: Originally I had intended to hand out grades to each player. Unfortunately, that's pretty tough to do (except for Peoples). We're a top 25 team on offense and everyone has had their share of failures on D.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eleven Games In

This week I'll focus a little bit on looking back to what has already occurred. We are a little past the one-third mark of the season and the overall picture for the year is beginning to clear itself up. Of course, we won't know a whole lot about this team until it faces Big East competition (one of the many issues of such a weak nonconference schedule) but a few things are for sure.
  1. This is the worst team defensively that Mike Brey has coached at Notre Dame, by far. 05-06 (Chris Quinn's senior year) used to hold that claim to fame. That season, the Irish finished 120th in defensive efficiency. So far, we are 251st this year. In 2007 and 2008 (when ND made the NCAA Tournament) that ranking was in the 40s.
  2. As usual, the Irish are careful with the ball and don't force any turnovers. A year ago, Notre Dame boasted the lowest turnover percentage in the nation... on both offense and defense. While this year's squad is not quite so extraordinary, in still ranks in the bottom 40 in terms of turnovers forced while claiming the 13th best turnover percentage on offense.
  3. Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough have been very efficient on offense, ranking 8th and 20th nationally in points per possession used. The offense has relied on Luke Harangody a bit less than the last two seasons, when he ranked in the top ten of possessions used, and he has improved his efficiency dramatically (even with his annoying tendency to drift to the perimeter).
  4. The rest of the year could get ugly. Ken Pomeroy projects ND's final record to be 17-14 with a 6-12 record in the Big East.
As always, Pomeroy's website is one of the best with regards to all basketball stats.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Comments on Mike Brey

Good comments, all. Obviously last night was extremely disappointing not only in that it added an extra tally to our loss column, but it projects pretty terribly for the rest of the season. We saw a lot of the same issues that have plagued Notre Dame teams in the Mike Brey era: porous defense, a lack of aggression and toughness, and a tendency to desert the post on offense in favor of a perimeter attack. It's year ten and Coach Brey isn't going to change who he is at this point.

In fairness, Brey has accomplished a lot here. His career winning percentage is the second best (to Digger Phelps) of any coach at ND since the '40s. From the depths of the John MacLeod era, during which just making the NIT was an accomplishment, the Irish made it back to the Sweet Sixteen by Coach Brey's third year. To be sure, he was helped by Matt Doherty's single season as well as MacLeod's recruiting, but it took a coaching change to get Notre Dame to the next level. We might be at that point again.

Irish fans should expect a program that contends for the top 4 in the Big East and a Sweet Sixteen big year in and year out. NCAA tournament appearances should be old hat by now. If the team fails to make the Big Dance this year, it will be a huge waste of one of the greatest players in Notre Dame history. To think that Luke Harangody's junior and senior seasons might end in the NIT is a pity.

Hopefully this ends up being just a black mark on an otherwise solid season. However, all analysis both subjective and objective (we're 247th in defensive efficiency) points towards a very disappointing year.

Loyola Marymount 87, Notre Dame 85

Well, got that one wrong. The Irish were outscored 5-0 in the final minute, with a Jarred DuBois three providing the final dagger with eight seconds left. For sure LMU is better than last year, but this is still certainly a vastly inferior team. We just didn't play anything like a good major conference program today. Four game winning streak down the drain.

This will most likely end up as our worst non-conference loss since 2004. I'm not sure if the Irish were caught looking forward to finals, UCLA, or just plain unmotivated but it was completely unacceptable. We have a week to fix whatever went wrong, but even a win against a 2-6 Bruins on Saturday would not make up for this at all. Bad defense, sloppy rebounding, and just an overall lack of toughness threw this game away against an untalented, but spirited, squad. In the last few possessions, we played tight and resorted to the point guard isolation play that has had very little success since the days of Chris Thomas.

Tory Jackson couldn't put the ball in the basket all night and completely choked with twenty-two seconds to go and the Irish up by one. Not that the fault is all his, though. In the last couple possessions, I would much rather get the ball into the hands of our best player and look for high-percentage shots than just milk the clock. Counting on a 5'11" point guard to create a scoring opportunity in the lane with the shot clock winding down is pretty foolhardy.

Ben Hansbrough played very well. Obviously the turnover with a minute to go and a chance to seal the game was an issue, but statistically he had a very nice night. 14 points, 9 assists, 5-8 shooting.

Tim Abromatis also shot very well. He 23 points, 5 rebounds, and made half of his attempts from long range. However, he also was a big defensive liability. Backdoor cuts, getting beaten on the ball, lots of issues for him and everyone else. It's just a program flaw when Loyola Marymount can hit 52% of their shots against you.

Ty Nash was another one of the culprits on defense, but also contributed well on the offensive side of the ball. 13 points, 9 boards, the majority of which came on offense. He also picked up 4 personal fouls and was unable to move his feet fast enough to play good defense without getting overly physical.

Harangody played pretty well, but his three missed three pointers were wasted possessions in the second half. 24 points, 11 rebounds. To be honest, the biggest issues I have are with the team as a whole. Not a lot of personal complaints here.

We learned tonight that this squad will only go seven deep in close contests. Even a seven-man rotation is stretching it a bit, as the starters all played nearly the whole game and stayed in when it counted. 10 useless minutes for Peoples, Scott was a bit more helpful in his seven on the floor.

Overall, it comes down to this:
  1. Same issues we've always had on defense. A Mike Brey coached program has and will always focus on running a very efficient offensive game. He just doesn't focus on the other side of the ball. Tonight, it really showed.
  2. Mid-major programs see road games like this as a chance to pick up a big upset. We fell into the trap of letting them outhustle us all night. They wanted it more and they took it with a willingness to get after loose balls and push people around for rebounds.
  3. Our endgame strategy is downright horrendous. In the final minute (at the start of which, we led by 3), the Irish completely wasted three possessions. With an emphasis on wasting time instead of continuing to look for scoring opportunities, Ben Hansbrough turned the ball over, Tory Jackson took an offbalance jumper, and we couldn't get the ball inbounded out of a timeout. I don't mind Coach Brey allowing Tory to try to make something happen in transition at the end of the game, but everything else we did pointed to horrendous coaching. I really don't blame the players as much as the coaches tonight.
Obviously, the calls for Coach Brey's head will come out after this loss. That's completely understandable, just try to be objective with your analysis. Venting is fine, just be constructive and give us your ideas on what is going wrong and how you think we can fix it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Loyola Marymount Preview

One more game before finals week. Bring on the 3-7 Lions. The scariest part of this game? Even with losses to teams like Montana, Wyoming, and UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount outranks UCLA by Ken Pomeroy's statistics.

Seton Hall transfer Larry Davis has missed the past five games and should sit out again with a swollen Achilles tendon. He was the second highest scorer at the time with 13.2 a game.

#34 Drew Viney has been the surprising star of the team. He sat out last year after transferring from Oregon and has been red hot so far. 17.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 53% from long range (single-handedly propelling the Lions to 30th in the nation in three-point percentage). He's 6'7", which creates a big mismatch on the wing.

#1 Vernon Teel, who broke his foot in last year's contest, has been shooting the ball very well and filling up the stat sheet. With twelve points, six assists, and five rebounds per game, he controls everything LMU does on both ends of the floor.

With the injury bug striking freshmen big Edgar Garibay, #32 Tim Diederichs is back in the starting lineup. However, he clearly has not earned the respect of coach Max Good. After playing a lot his freshman year, his minutes have fallen through the floor the past two seasons. Even as a starter, he has averaged eight minutes his last two games.

Remember last season, the Irish stopped at LMU on its way to Maui and struggled through a 65-54 jetlagged win. Coach Bill Bayno had the program feeling positive when he was hired, but he left after three games and the team ended up as one of the worst in the country. Even with an early win over USC, the Lions have a ways to go. This should be an easy win.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brian Kelly

Welcome to the university. Best of luck taking this program back to where it needs to be.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Notre Dame 93, IUPUI 70

Never in doubt, which is nice for a change. The Irish fired on all cylinders on offense throughout and put the game away early with some really good defense. IUPUI shot below 40% from the field for the game and wouldn't have been within 30 if Nobles and Young hadn't shot well from beyond the arc.

Tory Jackson was able to play, which was great to see. He wasn't terribly effective, but that knee might still have been bothering him a little bit. He'll have to suck it up again with a game on Saturday, but then will get a full week to rest before UCLA. 5 points and 4 assists, but his shot was off all night, even from the foul line.

With Jackson a little dinged up, the team did a great job spreading the ball around. Five guys finished with at least three assists. Ben Hansbrough had 5. He also shot very well, his first really good game from three point range since St. Francis, the second contest of the year. He had a season high 22 points on 6-8 shooting.

Tim Abromaitis was great once again. He joined in with Hansbrough in attacking the zone with deadeye long range shooting. He scored 18 and made half of his three point shots. After the game, he talked about how the team was able to play high-intensity defense from the get-go and keep this from turning into another fight. Indeed, that was nice to see. We're not going to hold every team to 22 in the first half, but good defense can really set the tone from the tip.

Ty Nash played pretty well again. He's not going to be a star out there, but he focused on playing a big role in the paint and was did his part. He had a decent night on offense with 8 points on 4-6 shooting and pulled down 5 boards.

Luke Harangody was successful against IUPUI's smaller forwards, but really didn't have to do too much. That's a good sign for Notre Dame. 16 points on only 12 shots, his fewest attempts of the season. He took what the defense gave him, but allowed our other players to contribute. The more we can spread scoring around, the better the Irish will play against good competition. On defense, he finished with 5 blocks which ties his career-high. Also 11 rebounds, as ND controlled the boards very nicely.

Off the bench, Peoples wasn't too bad. He had 6 points and 6 rebounds, but was very cold on a few three-point attempts. Carleton Scott had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and showed off that athleticism with a few blocks. With Jackson healthy, the rotation stayed pretty much the same until mopup time. Broghammer played seven late minutes and had a couple nice dunks. Joey Brooks picked up 5 quick points as well. Cooley had a couple assists and we even saw the walkons for a couple minutes a piece.

Whereas the Irish showed a complete inability to attack Northwestern's 1-3-1, they played IUPUI's matchup zone well all night. Panther coach Ron Hunter said we were the best team they've played all year, a nice compliment considering that Kansas State is a pretty solid team. He also mentioned how Hansbrough and Abro will keep teams from doubling Harangody.

The preview played itself out pretty well. Nobles and Young both shot well. Glenn picked up 19 points, but had his second worst shooting night of the year. He's a talented player and probably would have had more if we hadn't gotten him into foul trouble. Still, nice job overall on defense. The Irish held IUPUI twelve percentage points lower than their season average and grabbed eight more rebounds. Twenty-two assists, another nice sign of spreading the ball around, double-digits in team blocks. Great game all the way around.

IUPUI Preview

What do you get when you cross an institution that currently has a basketball team ranked #5 in the nation with a school that boasts five national championships? Apparently a mediocre Summit League squad in Indianapolis. That doesn't seem quite right...

The full power of IU and Purdue have combined and will be propelled towards South Bend tonight. Duck and cover, everyone. The Jaguars are 7-2, their best win coming in overtime against Georgia State. This is a team with an even shorter bench than the Irish, so no need to memorize a wide range of players. There are three guys you want to know:

#23 Robert Glenn is a skinny 6'7" forward. Good luck living up to your 18.3 points per game with a 195 pound body against a Big East team. He leads the team at 6.3 rebounds per contest as well and is pretty unreliable with the ball in his hands (averaging 3.7 turnovers). Gameplan: use Luke Harangody to hold down the post and make Glenn beat you by taking the ball to the hoop. Force him to take contested drives to the post, take away easy buckets, and let him make his inevitable mistakes.

#5 Alex Young is a pretty decent shooting guard. He's hitting 38% of his three-point attempts this season, which is significantly better than last year. If he gets hot, that 6'5" frame will be a bit tough to defend. Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis will have their defensive skills tested.

#1 Leroy Nobles is similar to Young, but a better shooter with a bit of a more conservative trigger finger. Again, either Ben or Tim will have the first crack at this guy, but look at Carleton Scott to get some good minutes.

Jonathan Peoples could be the starting point guard tonight with Tory Jackson's injury, leaving open the possibility of a Mike Broghammer or Joey Brooks getting serious time in the rotation. I'd like to see the freshmen get a little more experience and we could have some of that tonight.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


First of all, apologies for not posting yesterday. You see, Jack Swarbrick called and apparently he has this job opening so I had to fly into New York for an interview this morning...

I got an e-mail this morning from a recent ND grad who contributes to this blog and had a very nice write-up on the basketball season yesterday. Thrown-in are a few quotes from Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Finally, a few more comments on the game Sunday. There were a few things I neglected to touch on in the main post. Obviously Tim Abromaitis starting is a very good sign. I've lavished praise on the young man from Alumni Hall enough this season already, but once again it seems that the coaches have found a diamond in the recruiting rough. Our competition for this guy came from strictly academic powerhouses (Princeton, Penn, Yale, Rice, and a very bad Northwestern program), so this just seems to be a good scouting job by our staff. His teeth will be cut in Big East play and it is far too early to annoint him the next great Irish player, but I really like what I've seen so far. Now if he had just gotten any experience in his first two years...

One last note on recruiting, it looks like the football coaches have zeroed in on the guy to replace Manti Teo at middle linebacker.

EDIT: Big mistake. Abro started in place of Peoples, not Nash. I missed the start of Sunday's game and had to ask about the starting lineup. Very sorry about the mix-up.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Notre Dame 90, Central Florida 72

Holy Tim Abromaitis, Batman. The most impressive player of the season turned into a star today with 31 points in an incredibly well-rounded performance. LaPhonso Ellis was right all along about this guy.

Tory Jackson played very well in 27 minutes before leaving the game with an injury. Thankfully, the team continued without him and was able to keep up a strong offensive performance throughout. Jackson scored only 4 points, but had 9 assists with zero turnovers on the day. It's hard to have a better day distributing the ball than that.

Ben Hansbrough scored 11, but was a little careless with the ball. I do like him a lot, but he can be a bit of a bad fit with Tory in the backcourt. Of course, we don't really have any other options in the backcourt, so here's to the two guys getting more comfortable as the year goes on.

Jonathan Peoples- 20 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST- No reason to waste any more blog space on that...

Abro really was fantastic today. Yes he did score 31, but only nine of those points came on three pointers. Unlike a Ryan Ayers or some other marginal player who has a breakout game, Tim showed an ability to score in a wide variety of ways. He was 8-9 from the line and shot 59% from the floor. Throw in 4 rebounds for a nice well-rounded performance. Keep an eye on this guy in the future, he has the potential to be a star.

Luke Harangody was just as good, but we expect that kind of performance from him. 29 points, 7 rebounds. He was perfect from the charity stripe and very efficient from the floor. Missed a pair of three pointers, but still finished with one of his better performances on the year.

Carleton Scott had another very solid game with 6 points and 7 assists. He has really found a role as a statsheet filler and is starting to earn a much larger role in the rotation. Ty Nash was great, too. 7 points, 5 rebounds. Hard to complain about anyone today. Except Jonathan Peoples... but let's not ruin the moment by dwelling on him.

Even our defensive performance was pretty solid today. The stats don't show it, but as a whole our guys showed more intensity on D. We're not going to hang 90 on everyone, so the team has to play well on both ends of the floor.

Very good game against a team that I thought could give us a little trouble. Nice job, guys. Hopefully Michael was impressed.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Central Florida Preview

Back to basketball. Central Florida comes to town tomorrow at noon. They have a win over a bad major conference team to their credit (Auburn) and only one loss, so they could provide decent competition.

The Knights have a reasonably deep bench, playing eight guys for 17 minutes per game or more and none more than 30. Last season, almost all of their scoring came from Jermaine Taylor, who scored 26.2 a contest. #11 Isaac Sosa is the highest returning scorer, averaging 8.2 last year in only 19.7 minutes per game. His playing time has increased significantly and he now boasts the most points on the team. A terrific shooter, he is 16th in the country in three point percentage (51.3%).

#15 Dave Diakite will give Jonathan Peoples trouble. At 6'6", 215 lbs., he has a height advantage over our third guard and likes to crash the boards. He has two double-doubles on the season and has pulled down three or more offensive rebounds in over half his games. The Irish better be careful or this guy will single-handedly lead to a bunch of second-chance points.

There are a bunch of other role players in the rotation, with no one really sticking out. #12 Taylor Young and #3 A.J. Rompza are both reliable point guards who see significant playing time. #25 A.J. Tyler and #33 Keith Clanton are their main guys in the post, but look for #13 Jakub Kusmieruk in spurts. He is 7'4" and has played in every game this season but clearly is not polished enough to merit significant playing time (only 6.9 MPG).

Michael's son Marcus Jordan comes off the bench. The only real thing he has accomplished so far this year was wearing his dad's shoes.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Football Post

The Civil War was a classic last night. Congratulations to the Ducks and good luck against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

There are a couple good hoops games on tomorrow (obviously UNC/Kentucky with Wake at Gonzaga at 5:30 is a nice under-the-radar matchup), but it is the last real football Saturday so I will have my TV tuned into a few championship games. Cincy at Pitt could be interesting, if only to see Brian Kelly. He seems the be the best really possible choice at this point (more on Stoops later), so we should get to know the guy. The SEC Championship at 4 will be the game of the day, of course. Cheer for the Tide and hope Urban Meyer hears God calling him home between now and the Sugar Bowl.

As for your daily unsubstantiated rumor around campus, word is that multiple football players leaked Bob Stoops' imminent hiring on Facebook and Twitter today. Take that for a grain of salt, but if our new coach comes from Norman over the weekend, you heard it here first.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Intro Video

Reposting this link from NDNation on the new introduction video for home games. The first few games in Purcell Pavilion were met with merciful simplicity, but of course that did not last long. The Harry Potter theme isn't exactly my style.

In the Big East, South Florida is in trouble. Guard Anthony Carter will be suspended after failing a second drug test (enter Kyle McAlarney reference and schools' drug policy comparisons here). The Bulls are also under investigation for some other alleged violations.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Around the Country

A few days between games for the first time in a while, so I'm at a loss for things to discuss. So... how about that Tiger?

The Big Ten/ACC Challenge ends tonight. If Duke or Florida State can pull out a road win at Wisconsin or OSU, the Midwest will fall for the umpteenth straight time. In other news, Kansas treated a nobody OOC opponent the way you're supposed to, 98-31 drubbing.

And then there's the football coaching search. If the announcement comes in the next two days, my money's on Stoops (even with all the non-denial denials). If this thing comes next week, it'll be Kelly. Longer than that and we're in trouble. Honestly, I like this year's crop of candidates much more than the former employee. Hopefully we'll land the right guy this time.

And about Coach Brey, I'll wait until an NIT bid is locked in before I start calling for his head around here. There's still plenty of basketball to be played (though I definitely understand the frustration... our continued lack of defensive concentration, short bench, and pathetic non-conference scheduling have been magnified by the fact that this team might not be all that great).

For those of you who are ready to make a change, any ideas on a possible replacement? Though I'm not ready to demand his removal, I don't mind throwing a few possible candidates' names out there.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Notre Dame 80, Idaho State 70

Final score was much too close for a cupcake game like this, but the Irish were leading by 20 with two minutes to go. To be honest, I'd rather have the final score make the contest seem competitive if that is the price for a freshman or two getting serious playing time.

This game mirrored Kennesaw State a bit. First half was very disappointing, but the team looked rejuvenated coming out of the break with improved defense. This may have been our best game on offense of the year, so it is a little disheartening that the reserves slacked off a bit in the final minute to take away from what should have been a decent margin of victory. To be fair, the Bengals did well to knock down their shots in the last seconds.

Tory Jackson was kind of quiet. He picked up 8 points and 3 assists in 30 minutes with 2 steals and no turnovers. Went 3-7 from the field for a solid night, but nothing spectacular.

Ben Hansbrough made most of his 14 points from the charity stripe. Not a great night shooting from the field, but grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. I like how he can contribute in a variety of ways outside of just shooting three pointers. He's in a bit of a different mold from our last few shooting guards.

Jonathan Peoples was disappointing once again. Hopefully he is ok after sustaining what looked like a bad fall on his neck. He did earn 4 assists to just one turnover, but was dreadful on defense. Contributed nothing shooting the ball, as well. There are times when he looks like the slowest guy on the court.

Ty Nash continues to see his minutes cut by Abro and Scott. He did perform pretty well tonight with 7 points and 4 rebounds. 3-5 from the field. Made one of his two free throw attempts.

Luke Harangody becomes the first player in Irish history with 2000 points and 1000 rebounds. Congrats to him. 27 and 12 tonight, with a couple steals to boot. Drained both of his three point attempts and shot 71% overall. Just about flawless.

Abro and Scott both played over 20 minutes, which was nice to see. Tim had his first single-digit scoring game of the year, but still dropped 9. He was not hot from three point land, but was still able to be successful inside the arc. Carleton scored 8 on a perfect shooting night. Mike Broghammer played 9 minutes and earned 3 points and rebounds. He needs to cut down on the fouling, however. Some experience for Brooks and Cooley, 4 and 3 minutes each.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Idaho State Preview

Long Beach State did beat UCLA yesterday... scary that the 49ers might be our best nonconference opponent.

Idaho State is certainly no Long Beach, so we should be ok. The Bengals have gotten pounded by three good teams, beaten a pair of bad ones, and dropped a game at Bradley. Hopefully we're better than Bradley.

#1 Amorrow Morgan is the clear leader of this team, as they return no one else who averaged more than 6.6 points a game last season. He is 6'5", 210lbs. and has scored 17.7 per while playing almost every minute of the Bengals' six contests so far. He displayed a decent three point shot last season, making 35% of his attempts, but is only 5-20 this year. He plays sort of a point forward role and the offense has run through him in the past (3.7 assists in '08-'09).

Juco transfer #2 Broderick Gilchrest will give Morgan more of a traditional point guard to help out in the backcourt. Gilchrest started his collegiate career two seasons ago at Middle Tennessee State, but stopped off last year at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas before making his second switch to Idaho State. Like Morgan, Rolando Little, and Sherrod Baldwin, he hails from Memphis. Kind of an weird recruiting hub for a team in the middle of nowhere.

#21 Demetrius Monroe is the only other player who averages more than 20 minutes per game. He is the team's leading rebounder and a very efficient scorer from inside. A bit undersized at just 200 lbs, he may have a little trouble holding off Harangody in the post. Yet another reason for Luke to keep his game inside.

Games This Week

A few contests to check out:

#21 Maryland @ Indiana- Tuesday 7:30 ESPN2
#2 Michigan State @ #11 UNC- Tuesday 9 PM ESPN
#11 UNC @ #5 Kentucky- Saturday 12:30 PM CBS

Michigan State will drop a bit after losing to Florida, but these should still be some good games to watch. The ACC has won the ACC/Big Ten "Challenge" every year, but there is usually still good competition.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Notre Dame 64, Saint Louis 52

Nice to get a win, but this one was a little too close against a mediocre Billiken team. Now it's back to playing cupcakes until UCLA comes to town on the 19th. Then again, the Bruins are 2-3...

Tory Jackson struggled a bit, as the Irish uncharacteristically turned the ball over 15 times. He scored 7, but was only 1-5 from the field. He picked up most of his points from the charity stripe. 2 assists with 3 turnovers in 35 minutes, as well.

Ben Hansbrough was much improved shooting the ball today, as he went away from the long range shot to attack the basket. That's something Kyle McAlarney was never able to do a year ago and will really benefit Ben down the road. He scored 14 and had 5 assists. I'd like to see him find a good mix of driving the basket to go with his outside game so we don't see another game like last night. After you miss two or three, take the ball to the hoop and get a little confidence back before going back to attempting contested threes. 4 turnovers were an issue, however. Aggressive offense is great, but you have to be in control.

Peoples was decent, definitely a step-up from his recent performances, but was once again outshadowed by Abromaitis. 5 points, 6 reounds for Peoples. He was 2-3 from the field, a nice shooting night. However, one shot attempt per ten minutes is not a very good contribution from any player, especially a starter.

Ty Nash was similarly ineffective on offense, but came through with a very nice night on the boards. He recorded only official two shot attempts. Fouled on multiple occasions, he showcased another very frustrating night from line, missing half of his eight shots. He really has to figure that out. What very well could been a double-digit scoring performance was watered down because he could not figure out how to accomplish the most basic of basketball tasks as well as a fifth grader. Spend some more time in the gym, kid. On the plus side, he did finish with 10 rebounds, 3 on offense. That's his game. If he can be the most aggressive player on the court in going after loose balls, he can play a very important role for us.

Harangody played went back to basics a bit, which was nice to see. He did attempt two three pointers, but made one so it's hard to be too frustrated about that tonight. 18 points, 9 rebounds (4 on offense). Once again, I want to point out the improvement on the offensive glass. This is a very important aspect of the game in which we struggled mightily a year ago. Of course, Saint Louis' Willie Reed was much better in this category than anyone in a Notre Dame uniform, but we still showed a little closer to the effort I'd like to see.

Abro had another nice night. 12 points, 4 rebounds, made half his shots from the field and all of his attempts from the foul line. Seven straight double-digit scoring games, the only guy other than Harangody who can boast that stat. Carleton Scott had only 2 points and rebounds in a pretty ho-hum 14 minutes.

The Irish defense held Saint Louis to only 30% from the field, partially due to poor Billiken shooting, but it's always worth mentioning when Notre Dame plays devent defense.

Last game of the Charlie Weis era tonight. Good riddance, let's hope we land someone who can take us to the next level.

EDIT: The only thing worse than this season was watching Stanford rush the field after beating a 6-6 team...

Northwestern 72, Notre Dame 58

Well, that was pretty disappointing. While the final score doesn't demonstrate that it actually was somewhat competitive in the second half, it ended up being no worse than we deserved with a complete inability to handle the 1-3-1.

Tory Jackson was the player of the game for ND. 11 points, 4 assists, no turnovers. He was the only guy to shoot consistently from beyond the arc, making three of his five attempts. Really not a whole lot of complaints on how he handled himself. He was not as active as usual in taking the ball to the paint, but Northwestern's defense really did not set up opportunities for such play.

Ben Hansbrough was one of the many disappointments. His shot was completely gone. 0-7 from three-point land, 1-10 overall. Props to the Wildcats for negating any open looks all night, but at some point you have to rely on your players to stop jacking up low percentage shots when they aren't falling. Be patient and learn to break down a zone or you'll lose to any half-decent NIT squad that plays a 1-3-1.

Not going to waste space on Jonathan Peoples. At least he only played 15 minutes last night. He and Ty Nash are starters in name only now.

Nash did pick up 5 boards, but also played just 15 minutes. There is absolutely no reason to keep giving these two guys the honor of being the first on the floor when two substitutes are clearly better options at this point. Let's see if either Ty or Johnny can be an effective 6th man.

Which brings us to Luke Harangody. Seriously, Luke? You are a national player of the year candidate. You are one of the best big men in the country and in our school's history. The one thing you are not is a shooting guard. Starting tonight, please do not attempt another three pointer during a competitive contest. An 0-6 night makes him 31% from beyond the arc for the year. He needs to stick to the post and mid-range game that has been so effective the last two seasons. His current style is wasting far too many possessions. One last thing... if you don't get a call, quit whining about it and just run back to play defense. Constant appeals to the referees just make you look weak.

Off the bench Abromaitis struggled with his shot a bit, but looked much better in comparison to the rest of the squad. He was the second highest scorer with 13 points and pulled down 5 rebounds, 4 on offense. Carleton Scott had 7 and 8 (including 4 offensive rebounds). Both played about 25 minutes. I love to see both of them crashing the offensive glass. Last year, we left a lot of second-chance points by the wayside. It's about time a couple guys made an effort to rebound on both ends of the floor, especially with the best rebounder in the Big East imitating a blind Reggie Miller. Both should be starting.

Listen, it's not the end of the world. One game does not a season make, and all that. This squad will ultimately be judged in its ability (or inability) to make the NCAA Tournament, which relies heavily on how it performs in conference play. If we go 10-8 in the Big East and pick up a first-round BET win, this loss will be forgotten.

What is scary is the way we lost last night. The 1-3-1 is a fairly easy zone to use, at least in spurts. West Virginia likes it a lot, which spells disaster when the Mountaineers come in town. Any other program with half-decent scouting will see this performance and manufacture their own zone defense to shut off our offensive flow. Until we prove otherwise this team has met its kryptonite, much like when Ohio State shut down K-Mac a year ago. Future opponents will learn from this. We better learn how to react.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Northwestern Preview

It's a late fall afternoon in South Bend, Indiana. The boys have been putting in a great effort on the gridiron and a Notre Dame victory is in sight. The Band of the Fighting Irish begins to play the "1812 Overture" and a chant is heard from the student section. It's quiet at first, but grows louder. Eventually the entire stadium is joining in, "Stoops, Stoops, Stoops..."

We can dream can't we? At the very least, the whole coaching issue should be resolved within a week.

As for the basketball team, a contest with Northwestern is on the menu tonight in Chicago. The Wildcats are 3-1, with a loss to their only quality opponent (Butler). Look out for #22 Michael Thompson, the diminutive hometown shooting guard (16.0 PPG) and forward #24 John Shurna, who leads the team with 7 rebounds per game.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We'll see if a Northwestern preview happens today. If not, enjoy a day off from the blog and some time with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What We Have Learned

Five games into the year, we are starting to figure out a few things about this team.
  1. Jonathan Peoples is not a starting small forward. He is not big enough to defend taller forwards and not quick enough to play against other Big East guards consistently. His ballhandling skills and decision making have been called into question as well. Not a bad choice as a backup point guard for 15 minutes a game, but definitely not starter-quality, especially out of position.
  2. Tim Abromaitis is the real deal. The redshirt junior should be starting at small forward right now and may take that spot very soon. He is a pretty talented three point shooter, but also demonstrates an athleticism and court sense that make him a much more complete player than Ryan Ayers was a year ago. He has been pegged into the power forward position a bit as Ty Nash struggles, but is much more suited for the 3.
  3. Luke Harangody is the real deal. Of course he is. Even though a tendency to stick to the perimeter has proven frustrating so far, we need to take a step back and just enjoy this guy. He will finish his career as one of the top three or four players to ever attend Our Lady's University. This is pretty cool to watch.
  4. The team has a lot of upside, but will ultimately be judged by how the inexperienced players grow into their roles. We know Harangody and Tory Jackson. Ben Hansbrough is starting to look like a great replacement for Kyle McAlarney, but the other two positions are up in the air. Can Abro be a 30 minute-per-game guy and average 15 points? Is Carleton Scott able to focus on defense and rebounding and be a stat sheet filler the way Zach Hillesland used to be (before his senior year)? Will a guy like Joey Brooks be able to crack the lineup to give the starters more rest and provide an extra focus on defense? Those three players (Abro, Scott, and Brooks) hold the keys to success this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Notre Dame 80, Kennesaw State 62

The Irish fell to the usual trap of catering to the opponent's style of play for the first half of tonight's game and made Kennesaw State look a whole lot more competitive than they should. However, solid defense throughout and an awakened second half offensive attack eventually won the day.

Tory Jackson had a very solid game at the point, finishing with 5 assists and rebounds. He struggled shooting the ball a little bit, but did not turn it over and had a very nice shot block on defense.

Ben Hansbrough had a very quiet game, as well. He scored 5, his lowest total in an Irish jersey, but helped out with handling the ball. 4 assists, no turnovers. I really like him as a backcourt partner with Tory. He is confident, very smart, and seems to have earned the respect of his teammates. Like Kyle McAlarney, he is a shooting guard who can be called upon the run the offense in spurts.

Time to sit Johnny Peoples. Unlike his fellow guards, Peeeps was absolutely terrible handling the ball. His 5 turnovers included a couple lazy passes that displayed a surprising carelessness. 8 points on a good shooting night, but he has to be done as a starter. He has never been good enough to be more than a role player for the Irish.

Ty Nash also struggled tonight. For whatever reason, he continues to lack a finishing ability close to the basket. Even wideopen layups are missing. With Abro and Scott looking so good in the last couple of games, Peoples is not the only starter who should be worried.

Luke Harangody carried the team with a Player of the Year-caliber performance. However, I would really like to see better scoring distribution in these nonconference games. You can't just lean on Luke every night and expect to be successful. He did finish with a big double-double (29 and 15) and now has over 1000 rebounds in his great career. Congratulations and good luck to him as he draws closer to the career school records in points and boards.

Off the bench, Abromaitis was very solid once again. Tim had his fifth straight game of double-digit scoring. He should start on Friday. Carleton Scott had 7 points and a big career-high 11 rebounds, many of which came on offense to keep scoring chances alive. After struggling in the first couple of contests, he seems to have found his way and would also be a much more valuable starter at the 3 than Peoples. If Nash continues to struggle, we might see more of Abromaitis playing alongside Scott as a Kurz-like power forward. I like Tim more as a small forward, but both guys are earning additional playing time.

One final nit about the game, Luke needs to stop messing around on the perimeter so much. With Nash struggling, we really do not have another scoring threat in the post. Let's focus on getting some points inside and let the three-point shooters do their thing outside the arc.

While this game was a bit more competitive than I hoped, there is something to be said about facing adversity this early. Our more inexperienced players like Scott and Abro are getting valuable playing time in reasonably tough contests while staying in the win column. Notre Dame is now ranked #23 in the AP poll, a pretty cool feat I overlooked earlier, but obviously pretty meaningless until we play a couple legit teams. Northwestern could provide solid competition next.

Kennesaw State Preview

Congrats to Liberty's Sam Chelanga for taking home the NCAA cross country crown yesterday. This mention is somewhat timely since we played their basketball team Sunday, but also just a lame attempt to give the sport a little extra press.

Another random note. The Irish are currently ranked 104th by Ken Pomeroy, a spot behind Long Beach State. Hmm, interesting...

Ok, on to Kennesaw State. The Owls were 7-22 a year ago and one of the worst teams in Division 1 basketball (ranked 338 out of 344 by Pomeroy). This scheduling is getting comical.

This season, they boast wins over North Greenville and North Georgia. Powerhouses both. They fell to Saint Louis on Sunday, a possible future opponent in the Chicago tournament.

Senior #30 Jon-Michael Nickerson leads the team with 16.3 PPG. He has made 5 of 6 three point attempts, but shot less than 30% outside a year ago. He is tall and quick enough to give Peoples problems on the wing, so we may see more zone tonight.

#2 Markeith Cummings seems to be a pretty talented redshirt freshman. He's another tall and skinny guy (6'7", 210 lbs.) and is the leading rebounder on the squad. 15.7 and 7.7 per contest.

#1 Kurtis Woods and #3 Kelvin McConnell like to let it fly from beyond the arc. McConnell is the more accomplished of the two. His career percentage is close to 40%. Woods was just 31% last season. McConnell and #5 Spencer Dixon split ball-handling responsibilities, averaging 2.7 and 2.3 assists a piece.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Notre Dame 91, Liberty 72

Good minutes for the freshmen as Luke Harangody carried the offense throughout an offensive shootout that raised a few more questions about our defensive ability.

Tory Jackson had a pretty solid night. He was the only guy who played over 30 minutes tonight, a nice change of pace for an easy nonconference game. 9 points, 4 assists. He struggled a bit from the field and the line (3-6 on free throws) but only turned the ball over twice.

Ben Hansbrough left the game early with a tight back and more issues with that ankle. Doesn't sound too serious and this is the time to take care of a few nicks before the Thanksgiving tourney in Chicago. He only scored 6 points before exiting midway through the second half.

Ho-hum Jonathan Peoples once again looked like the weakest starter. He was outscored again by Tim Abromaitis and finished with a pedestrian 8 and 3.

Ty Nash took advantage of his 17 minutes on the floor. A career-high scoring output with 12, but he could have added to that total with an improved shot from the charity stripe. He picked up 3 fouls while in the game, which is not necessarily a negative. I like that we have one guy who is willing to throw his body around inside. After the game, he mentioned that the team needed to loosen up on defense. A pretty good judgment.

Harangody also made sure to get to foul line as much as possible. Coach Brey wanted to slow down the game and focus on getting easy points while racking up fouls for the other side. For the most part, it really worked. Gody was perfect on his ten attempts. Chipped in a pair of three pointers and 9 rebounds for a great statistical night in just 28 minutes.

Off the bench, Notre Dame went ten deep for the most part. Abro scored 12 and went 2-3 from beyond the arc. Another very nice output. 4 points and 6 rebounds for Scott in 17 minutes. Nice job for him, as well. Carleton bounced back well from struggling against Long Beach. I was also happy to see Joey Brooks get serious minutes. 4 and 4 in the 12 minutes. He can also be a defensive stopper on a team that really needs a couple of guys who can focus on the other end of the floor. Mike Broghammer and Jack Cooley struggled to put the ball in the basket, but both put in a good day's work. Ten minutes in a game like today is much more helpful in the development of a young player than what we have seen recently. Let's keep it up.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Liberty Preview

Give me Liberty or...

The Flames come into town a wounded team, having been crushed in consecutive contests by Clemson (79-39) and Old Dominion (73-41). Shooting has been a bit of an issue. They only managed 28% from the floor on Thursday. Obviously Seth Curry's transfer has disrupted the program, resulting in the departure of Ritchie McKay, who took a step down to become an assistant at Virginia (his first non-head coaching position since 1995). Dale Layer, a McKay assistant at multiple schools who led Colorado State from 2000-07, came back to emphasize defense and spread out the scoring distribution. It hasn't worked so far.

Senior #11 Tyler Ohman is the only player who averages dougle digit numbers in points. He has 14.8 per game through four contests. He has a good shooting touch and has finished each of the two previous seasons above 40% from beyond the arc. He is also good for 5 rebounds a game.

#25 Jesse Sanders helps Ohman out with ball handling responsibilities. A year ago, he was a reliable point guard with a 2.4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio. This season he has had some trouble, averaging 4.3 turnovers per.

#10 Evan Gordan is the third-highest scorer at 6.3 a game. All three of these guards average 5.3 rebounds, tied for most on the team. There really does not seem to be a reliable big man, as 6'9" Tyler Baker (5.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and 6'11" Carter McMasters (3.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG) are the only two guys taller than 6'6".

Friday, November 20, 2009


Villanova survived against a very good Dayton team today. The 21st ranked Flyers beat Georgia Tech yesterday and almost pulled off their second upset of the week. Brian Gregory's team is looking very good already. A home-and-home series with this program usually pops up as a possibility every once in a while, but again we see some evidence for why the Irish will most likely avoid such a matchup. What a shame, I'd love to see Coach Brey fill our nonconference slate with decent Catholic midmajor schools such as this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Notre Dame 82, Long Beach State 62

While the first half gave plenty of cause for concern, Notre Dame showed a ton of ability in the end and put away a talented 49er team with ease. If we can see a lot more of the interior offense and commitment to defense the rest of the year, this squad could surprise some folks. Of course, more lackluster effort like what we gave in the first twenty minutes will bring us down.

Tory Jackson had some trouble against Long Beach's defensive pressure. On multiple occasions Dan Monson broke out a really great surprise halfcourt trap which caused multiple turnovers or Notre Dame timeouts. The overall athleticism from the other team gave our offense fits and kept Irish defenders on their heels for the whole first half. Tory did settle down nicely in the second period, but his troubles mirrored the rest of the team when we were struggling.

Of all the Notre Dame players, Ben Hansbrough was the only one who did not seem flustered by Long Beach's constant up-tempo game and press defense. Irish basketball teams have an irritating habit of letting the opponent dictate pace and tonight was no different. The 49ers wanted to run and we went right with them. On multiple occasions, the savvy Mississippi State transfer took the ball and motioned to his teammates to settle down and slow the pace before starting the offense. Great heads-up play by Hansbrough to see that the team was out of its element (a ridiculously high 16 turnovers tonight) and forcing things on both ends of the floor. Ben also showed a little toughness in playing through two injuries, including a rolled ankle that needed additional in-game taping.

Jonathan Peoples was decent, but overshadowed by Abromaitis again. He scored 10 and shot pretty well in 34 minutes, but he just looked slow against the talent of Long Beach. He's the least atheltic of our three guards and not a terrific ball-handler. Since Hansbrough showed his reliability as a floor general tonight, I'm really having trouble seeing how Peoples helps the team as a starter. Let him come off the bench to spell both guard positions, but there's no reason to have a slow combo guard get 30+ minutes a night.

Nash displayed some good effort on the boards and scoring in the paint, but once again he lost a lot of minutes to Abromaitis. There is no reason why these two guys cannot start next to each other. With Harangody playing more on the perimeter, we need a player who can move bodies around in the interior. Tyrone is the only rotation man who has that ability.

Luke displayed an annoying tendency to stick to the outside at the beginning of the game, which hurt our offense from the start. He is good out there and has a future as a small forward at the next level, but has to stop acting like this season is a year-long NBA tryout. For our offense to be effective, we need a guy who can consistently score in the post. Once Harangody stopped taking 15+ foot jumpers and moved towards the hoop, the Irish became pretty efficient offensively. That's no coincidence.

Abro was the only player to earn real minutes off the bench. 22 for the redshirt sophomore, scoring 11 on red-hot shooting (4-5, 3-3 from downtown). He seems like the real deal and could be a big difference maker this season. If Scott Martin's injury was the opportunity this guy needed to step into the rotation and become a reliable player, the Irish may have a little luck after all. Carleton Scott was benched after some ill-advised shooting and never really looked comfortable out there. I guess the only thing scarier than a seven-man rotation is a... six-man team? Hopefully he can figure out whatever was wrong tonight. Just a little extra junk time for the three freshmen as well.

I was hoping for a double-digit win tonight against a very solid mid-major squad and the team pulled it off with much more ease than could be expected in the first half. This is a win a team can build off of, so let's hope they learn from the experience and get better from here. Coach Brey says this squad has the greatest potential to improve of any he has coached. Hopefully they will live up to that billing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Long Beach State Preview

Tomorrow will bring one of the more interesting nonconference games for the Irish this year. The 49ers are in town, a young but experienced squad that has been picked to win the Big West. Apparently Long Beach called up Coach Brey to get this on the schedule, so they are surely not lacking in confidence.

Against Pepperdine last night, the 49ers came back strong with a big second half to blow open what had been a close contest. Though they really struggled on the boards (30 rebounds to Pepperdine's 47), Long Beach won the game with solid defense. 18 turnovers forced and a 31% shooting percentage allowed.

So who are these guys?

#21 Larry Anderson is the team's high scorer so far. A 6'6" wing with a deft shooting touch, the sophomore has averaged 19 points in his two games this year. Last season, he shot 40% from beyond the arc. He and fellow classmate T.J. Robinson were the most efficient scorers on the team a year ago.

#15 Robinson is the closest thing Long Beach has to a post player. He is the tallest starter at 6'7" and averages 10.5 rebounds per contest, but is very skinny at 210 pounds. Harangody should have a field day one on one in the post, so expect lots of switching and double teams tomorrow night.

#22 Casper Ware is the third sophomore starter on the team. A pass-first point guard, Ware dished out 6 assists last night but finished with only 3 points to show for himself. His is small (5'9", 170 lbs.) but quick enough to give more physical point guards (Jonathan Peoples) trouble.

#2 Eugene Phelps and #33 Stephan Gilling round out the starting five. Phelps is yet another sophomore and has only played 15 minutes per contest. Talk about bigtime foul trouble. 9 fouls in 30 minutes on the floor so far. Gilling is the old man of the group, a fifth-year senior who has been a great deep threat in the past. Coach Dan Monson has to hope that the Colorado State transfer will get back the shooting touch he displayed at Fort Collins.

Monson, the guy who put Gonzaga on the map with its Elite Eight campaign in 1999, really has Long Beach State headed in the right direction. After 6 wins in '08, he improved to 15-14 a year ago and is poised to take the next step with a great core of underclassmen. His last three recruiting classes have included one three-star player a piece (Anderson, Jules Montgomery, and Jacob Thomas), a nice haul for such a small program. Even though he didn't get it done at Minnesota, you have to think this guy will get another shot at a higher level very soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Basketball Marathon

We're in the middle of a College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon for you ESPN addicts. I can't imagine having to play a game at 6 in the morning, but I guess the chance to play on national TV is a decent reward for some of these schools.

A couple really good games on right now. Hofstra looks to take down Connecticut with six minutes remaining, Gonzaga has an early lead on Michigan State, and UNC-Ashville is staying tight with Tennessee... oh, nevermind.

I'll cheer for the underdog. Come on Pride!

Notre Dame 95, St. Francis 72

Solid win, if not as great as Saturday. We showed a lot of offensive firepower, but the defense certainly leaves some questions. I mentioned in the preview that St. Francis would not be a very good three point shooting team, but they really came through, going 13-19. Lots of open looks from beyond the arc.

Tory Jackson showed why I believe he will finish with a triple double at some point this year. 9 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds. Really good all-around game.

Ben Hansbrough had 18 and 7. I mentioned at halftime how he looks like a better point guard than Peoples and the stats seems to showcase his ability to distribute. I love how we now have a shooting guard who can take it into the paint.

Peoples was pretty depressing. Only 4 points in 24 minutes. With Abromaitis looking so good, it's only a matter of time before he loses his starting spot.

Ty Nash lost more minutes than Peoples to Abro tonight, which is surprising. Tim looks much more like a small forward and I would hate to take our rotation's one true post presence away from teaming with Harangody. Just 18 minutes for Ty, but he took advantage and scored 11.

Harangody finished with 27 and 9. A very good game to be sure, but once again the offense performed really well without having to rely too much on Luke. We'll need that against better teams.

Off the bench, Abro scored 17 with 5 boards in 27 minutes. Starter-like playing time, if not actually getting to take warmups off before the tip. He could be our second best player by the end of the year. 5 points, 4 rebounds for a solid Carleton Scott. Garbage time for Brooks, Cooley, and Broghammer. A seven man rotation scares me, so I really hope that Coach Brey is just waiting for one of the freshmen to earn 8-10 a game. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

Monday, November 16, 2009

St. Francis Halftime

A little in-game blogging:
  1. I can't believe I have not commented on this yet, but the new arena really looks great. Add in the proposed standalone practice gym and our facilities will finally approach the quality seen at high-major basketball schools around the country.
  2. I don't know how long this will last, but the decision to have only one championship banner (women's national championship) in the rafters is a good one. No more celebrating just making the Tournament sounds good to me.
  3. Once the Jonathan Peoples experiment ends (please God, let it end), this team could very well be better at every position than last year. Jackson and Harangody are back and presumably improved with time and Ty Nash is a better post guy than the very disappointing Zach Hillesland.
  4. At one of the other two positions, I'm really starting to like Ben Hansbrough. He looks to drive a lot more than K-Mac (which is more than, say, never) and really resembles Kyle's shooting ability. #23 was a good choice. He is a better passer and more athletic than Jonathan Peoples and could very well run the point in Tory Jackson's absence. A great first half transition stop on defense showed off what he can do on the other side of the floor, as well.
  5. Tim Abromaitis is also very fun to watch. If he finally does move into the final starting spot, he looks to be more complete player than last year's small forward, Ryan Ayers.
  6. Even with all of this improvement and what seems to be a potent offense, this could still very well be an NIT team. Last year's squad finished nowhere near the Sweet Sixteen predictions that were thrown its way. You have to think we'll find some holes in this version of the Irish, too.
  7. The first issue seems to be on defense, where we still look very disappointing even with all of that extra athleticism. This is clearly a coaching defect. Coach Brey has never been a stickler for D and there is no reason for him to change now. We'll have to outscore a bunch of people, as usual.
EDIT: And welcome to the show, Jordan Cornette. The former player takes LaPhonso Ellis' spot calling radio broadcasts of the Irish.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

St. Francis Preview

Game two tomorrow. St. Francis comes into town off of a 65-61 win over American University on Friday. The box score from that contest tells us two things: 6'6" wing Devin Sweetney is the star of the show and the rest of the team will do their collective best to chip in by heaving shots from long range. A couple of these three point specialists were simply awful against the Eagles. Sorena Orandi and Anthony Ervin went 0-10 from downtown. No idea if Ervin, a freshman, has the talent to take so many outside shots, but Orandi shot 15% from three point range a year ago. Pass the ball, young man.

#1 Sweetney and #33 Will Felder carried the team with over half of the Red Flash's scoring between them. Felder, another freshman, scored 17 off the bench. Sweetney overcame a 5-14 shooting night to finish with 21 points. Don't expect a repeat performance from the senior, however. He got lucky by knocking down half of his attempts from long range. His highest three point percentage in a season? 26%.

Another easy win in store? Let's hope so. Another easy start with a more complete second half would be very nice. Let's go Irish.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Notre Dame 86, North Florida 65

Very, very good win to start the year. North Florida did outscore the Irish by ten in the second half, but a 47-16 lead at the break allowed Coach Brey to play every guy on the bench, including Mike Broghammer and Jack Cooley for nine minutes a piece.

Tory Jackson was just about flawless from the point guard position. 9 points, 7 assists running the offense. He only turned the ball over once and shot 3-4 from the field, all three point attempts. He was only on the floor for 27 minutes, his second shortest non-injury shortened stint since sophomore year. It's nice to see our floor leader get a break out there for once.

Ben Hansbrough really impressed with his ability to knock down three pointers. The whole team was on fire today, but Hansbrough led the way with a 5-5 outing. 19 points in the contest, plus 4 assists to boot. If he can continue to stretch the defense with outside shooting, our additional athelticism in the rotation could lead to a more potent offense overall than last season.

Jonathan Peoples earned another start and played rather well. 11 points, 3 assists with some solid three point shooting, as well. This is about as good as it gets for Johnny, however, and I hope to see Tim Abromaitis get more playing time after a very strong game today.

Ty Nash had a bit of a ho-hum performance in the post. 4 points, 3 rebounds in 24 minutes. He did grab 3 steals and looked like one of our better defenders out there all day. He did miss half of his free throw attempts, a major problem last year.

Luke Harangody also struggled a bit with his scoring, which just made our 21-point win all the more impressive. 19 points and 7 assists, but most of his scoring came from the charity stripe. In sharp contrast to Nash, 'Gody was silky smooth from the line, knocking down all nine shots he attempted. That's what a veteran big man does when his game is a bit off (5-12 from the field). He drew fouls, picked up some free points for the team, and kept the Ospreys from ever making this a close contest.

Off the bench, Abro looked great. 13 points, 4 rebounds in just 21 minutes. He shot 3-4 from beyond the arc and also knocked down a couple shots inside the arc. More opportunities for this guy, please. LaPhonso Ellis, our radio commentator who will soon be moving to ESPN, has liked him from the start. I would not be surprised to see the Alumni Hall resident in the starting lineup before the beginning of conference play. Carleton Scott struggled a bit, missing his three attempts from long range. It is increasingly looking like only Tim has a shot of knocking Peoples out of the starting lineup. Broghammer and Cooley played rather well in their nine minutes a piece, some good experience for both guys. Joey Brooks played four minutes, the walk-ons two. Thomas Knight did not see the floor, I have to think he will redshirt.

Next game is Monday. Another easy win and wide playing time distribution will put us on the right track for the Chicago tournament.