Wednesday, February 18, 2009

West Virginia 79, Notre Dame 68

Sometimes it's easy to break down a game. We played decent defense, average offense, and got killed on the boards. If we shot better free throws (10-20) and had some heart under the basket, this could have been a good win. We didn't and now Saturday is do or die.

Allowing an opponent to shoot 44% from the field is not too bad, especially for a Notre Dame team. If the Irish had kept West Virginia to one shot per possession, it would have been a very good outing. Instead, the Mountaineers grabbed 44 rebounds (17 on offense) to 32 for the Irish. 17 second chances. 17 possessions that should have ended with no points for Bob Huggins' team.

There's a reason Huggins never loses when his team shoots better than their opponents from the field. You know a Bob Huggins team will always outwork the competition on the glass and play tough. They did just that tonight.

Tory Jackson had a really rough game. 6 points, but no assists or rebounds. He's usually the kind of guy to help out on the glass. That could have been a good addition in this game. No assists from a point guard? Not acceptable no matter how many points you score.

McAlarney missed a few open looks, finishing with 12 points on 2-8 from beyond the arc. He really was a defensive liability, however, letting Alex Ruoff get free for several of his 24 points. His lack of quickness will be a problem at the next level, where you have to create your own shots and match-up some of the most athletic guys on the planet.

Ryan Ayers scored 8 points with 4 assists. Zach Hillesland scored 2 points and grabbed 6 rebounds 27 foul shortened minutes. We're not going to win with only two players scoring in double figures. Ayers was a big factor against Louisville and we really could have used that tonight. 6 rebounds is a good night for Zach, but it is never acceptable to have three guys on the other team (two with fewer minutes) outrebound your power forward.

Luke Harangody picked up from a tough first half to carry the team in the second period. 26 points, 13 rebounds. Missed more free throws than usual, but was a good performer in a hostile environment. Just like during the losing streak, Luke did his best.

Why only 9 minutes for Ty Nash? The tough sophomore grabbed 4 boards in limited minutes. In a game where rebounding was the difference between winning and losing, how can Ryan Ayers play 35 minutes? Move Hillesland to the 3 and let Nash bang down low. Jonathan Peoples scored eight points early on, but was not a factor for the final three-fourths of the game. Zeller and Scott with only token minutes.

We knew going in that this would be a long shot and it is not the end of the world. Frustrating? Absolutely. A win tonight would have been huge and it was there for the taking.

Now Providence is must win. They lost by 18 at Louisville tonight. 4-1 the rest of the way to feel confident on Selection Sunday.


Craig said...

Like Pitt, WVU is a team where about the only thing they do remarkably well on offense is rebound and protect the ball. Well, OK, in Pitt's case, they also shoot really well, which I think owes a lot to their offensive rebounding, whereas WVU doesn't shoot particularly well at all but makes do due to second chances. Unlike Pitt, they don't do it by having any one player be exceptionally good at it, it seems more like a team effort.

Anyway, the point is, as frustrating as it was to see us get killed on the boards while one of our better rebounders (and energy guys) was stapled to the bench, it shouldn't have been surprising. It's what WVU does to teams.

Speaking of Ty Nash, I'm a little mystified at how he's not seeing more time. He's our second-most efficient guy on offense, the best offensive rebounder, second-best defensive rebounder (behind Harangody who's an elite talent in that category), best steal guy, second-best at drawing fouls and best at drawing free throws (a mixed blessing where he's only making them at a 60% clip). Maybe he was messing up our offensive flow, but it sure didn't look like it was flowing much without him in there.

Anonymous said...

4-1 the rest of the way would still have me nervous come selection sunday. a win or 2 in nyc would make me feel alot better

Anonymous said...

We can look at Oregon last year as a precedent. they were 18-12, 9-9 in the pac 10. lost in the first round in the pac 10 tourney, and got in as an 8 seed

BlackandGreen said...

The Big East is far more respected than last year's Pac 10. If we're 9-9 and are the 8th seed in the BET, we should be fine but a win over the 9th seed would put all fears to rest. 9th seed in the BET would require a win over DePaul at the very least (and then the 8/9 matchup).

Have to get to 9-9 first, however.

Anonymous said...

A while ago i was reading about how oregon made it last year compared to this years Notre Dame. Oregon had like the lowest RPI to ever make tourney and ND's this year is lower than that. I totally forget where i saw this, i think bubble watch on ESPN, or during a ND game.