Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pittsburgh 93, Notre Dame 80

We are what we are. Great first half supported by strong three point shooting (especially by Luke Zeller) showed off the potential of this season. Second half getting killed on the boards and cracking to defensive pressure demonstrated why it will be a struggle to make the Tournament. 3-6 now, have to go at least 6-3 the rest of the way. Only real good news is that the hardest part of our conference schedule is over.

Tory Jackson was very disappointing. No points, did pick up 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, but his decision making was not befitting of an upperclassman floor leader. 5 turnovers with a string of just bad decision making. Telegraphed passes, out-of-control drives, not a scoring threat whatsoever. You expect better from an experienced point guard.

K-Mac was no better or worse than he has been most of the conference season. Made a few threes when he got open, but forced some shots and finished 3-9 overall. Did add 6 assists and rebounds, a surprisingly well-rounded game for the senior shooting guard.

Jonathan Peoples is a starter in name only. Clearly Brey does not trust him, only giving out 12 minutes today. He was an understandable addition against the three-guard lineup of Marquette, but adds nothing against most other teams. Please replace him next Wednesday.

Luke Zeller was fantastic in the first half, showing off the sweet stroke that has been inconsistent throughout his career. 18 points on 6-9 shooting. Pitt made some good changes at the half to keep him from getting so many open looks. I like that the Irish didn't throw up 22 threes in the second half, but we needed to be more aggressive looking for shots than we were. It's one thing to emphasize shooting threes in the flow of the game, but another to give up on our biggest first half strength. Zeller might be a solid starting 3, especially since he should have done better than zero rebounds as a power forward.

Luke Harangody is, as always, the heart and soul of the team. Pitt sold out to stop him in the first half but defended the perimeter more in the final 20 minutes. Harangody bounced back and was our only source of offense. Give DeJuan Blair credit, he's a fantastic player. 27 points, 11 rebounds is a solid game even with a below-average shooting performance.

Off the bench. Hillesland and Ayers played better. Hillesland scored at the end of the first half, a really nice last second play. Overall he used his athleticism better than he has in a while, driving for layups along the baseline. He still forces the dribble too much and did not rebound, but 12 points is a good game. Ayers played well with 10 points in 23 minutes, but did not add much in the other stats. Nash was agressive and worked hard, but hasn't shown a whole lot in extended minutes the last two games. Maybe this is the performance that he has shown in practice and the reason for not getting PT earlier.

Props to Harangody for a good rebounding game, he can't grab them all. Expecially when the rest of the team quits blocking out on the defensive glass. Blair finished with 11 offensive boards and Pitt won this game with second chance points.

No rebounding, the team cracked to defensive pressure especially at the beginning of the second half (this always seems to happen, a sign of poor coaching at the break... we come out too timid while the other team fights for 40 minutes). We're a bubble team for sure.

There are still plenty of games to be played, but things do not feel too good after a five game losing streak.


Golden Monkey said...

Notre Dame wins:
USC Upstate
Loyola Marymount
South Dakota
Boston U.
Delaware St.
Savannah St.
Georgetown (tied with us in B.E.)
Seton Hall
Please tell me why you have been so high on this team? Some resume for the Big Dance!

Doc Hoople said...

Your best critique that I've read this year. I'm saying that after you deleted my last post. Thinking maybe you don't handle constructive criticism very well?

samsuckalovich said...

If only Brey's teams could play the other Big East teams in

Would we dare think BIG EAST CHAMPS?

Craig said...

The rebounding performance was eminently predictable for anyone paying attention to the teams' profiles coming into the game. Pitt's offense is basically built on Blair's offensive rebounding (it's the one thing they do exceptionally well, and Blair is the one player who's exceptionally good at it).

BlackandGreen said...

Doc Hoople-

Not sure which post you're referring to. I did delete two today, but it's pretty rare that I have to do anything like that. My apologies as long as it wasn't along the lines of "this team sucks." I don't mind criticism (actually it's the driving force behind a good blog) as long as you can back it up with facts.

Anonymous said...

It has become increasingly apparent that this eam is flawed (thank you Captain Obvious!). Jackson's performance yesterday was as bad as it gets. How about having McAlarney play some point? 3 turnovers in the first minute of the second half were inexcusable for a Div. 1 team. Game, set, match and possibly season.

BlackandGreen said...

McAlarney does put in a decent amount of time playing the point. The Irish do have a history of pairing two strong ball handlers (see Mac/Quinn and Thomas/Quinn to a lesser extent).

The problem with having Kyle handle point guard duties more often is that his game is focused on making threes when he gets open. Much of our offense is based on setting double screens to free him. Have him run the point and much of that disappears along with Tory Jackson's creation ability (he's the only real "playmaker" on the team, though he can be very frustrating).

I think you need to sit Tory down and tell him to slow the pace. Never take the ball past the halfcourt stripe with more than 27-28 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Our turnovers result from a tendency to force plays (see Harangody's one-on-two fast break and several telegraphed passes). Slow down, relax, and let it come in the flow of the game.