Decent, if not dominating win to start the Big East schedule. Road wins are always tough in this league (just see Pitt at Rutgers), so any W is a good one. Now we're 1-0 and should come home unbeaten with the top homecourt winning streak in the nation (after BYU's game against Wake Forest).
I'll keep it somewhat short tonight with New Year's festivities, but should give a better follow-up while watching football tomorrow.
DePaul was hot and took advantage of our zone. Not bad defense, they just knocked down open looks. When a team is shooting 41% on the season (27% from three), you let them take those jumpers. Tucker made his looks tonight and went 4-6 from three. He's a 32% guy, so it was unlucky to see him go off like that.
On offense, we were well rounded and balanced. It's good to see Hillesland get into the action so well. 17 points for him. All starters in double figures. Let's keep that balance when we play tougher teams.
Rebounding was a huge improvement tonight. Outrebounding any team by double digits in this conference is very impressive. DePaul came into the game with very similar season averages on the boards and we clearly outplayed them in that aspect of the game.
A respectable 70% from the line also demonstrates an improvement in an earlier weakness. Everyone except Zach Hillesland looked confident on the stripe, which makes one wonder what is wrong with Zach. However, his poor performance shooting free throws only put a slight damper on what was otherwise a career night.
Tory Jackson looked a little wild in the second half, which may have kept Notre Dame from extending its lead into the upper teens. However, his numbers were more than impressive. 12 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists. He forced some shots (4-12 shooting), but I liked the intensity. Let's see if he can find a happy medium between distributor and ballhog.
McAlarney was a little cold, but it was nice to see how the team performed without him leading the scoring. 4-11 shooting for 13 points. He also took over the ballhandling duties a bit and dished out 6 assists.
Ryan Ayers seems to be growing with every game, He was a confident shooter on the wing and took advantage of open looks. 14 points on 4-7 three point shooting. With Mac cold, we needed another guy to stretch the defense. We got that.
Hillesland was very impressive. A career high 17 points. He consistently drove the lane and forced the issue. He is the only true slasher in our eight-man rotation. Tory is too small and Carleton Scott does not receive enough minutes yet. If he can fix that free throw problem he can be dangerous, but sooner or later some team is going to start a hack-a-Zach campaign.
Luke Harangody is Luke Harangody. It's nice to have our best player be so darn consistent. 26 points, 16 rebounds. He added 7 offensive boards to our total, something that was lacking earlier in the year. Did turn the ball over 4 times, but passing out of the double team is his only weakness on offense right now.
The bench play was a little disappointing. A seven man rotation with Peoples and zeller only getting 9 minutes each. That's not too bad considering the long layoff since our last game. The starters were ready to play 40 minutes. Peoples and Zeller did finish with 5 points and 3 rebounds each, good work in little time.
Defense did seem a bit lacksidasical at times. Throw out Tucker's numbers, we were playing off of him and he got hot. The same strategy will see him shoot 30% more often than 57%. Koshwal's big numbers do concern me a bit. The zone should make inside scoring more difficult, but we are a bit slow on the defensive end. It seemed like we were simply concerned with outscoring DePaul. It worked, but might not against better competition. Still, as the favorite it is to our benefit to increase the number of possessions. We won't lose to DePaul when scoring 90 points.
Good first league win. The easy ones are over, so let's get used to appreciating any victory. Another solid performance against St. John's would make me feel pretty good going into the G'Town game.