Saturday, March 28, 2009

View From the Opponent's Bench, Part II

Thanks again to Devon Edwards from Check out his site and read his answers to the questions below as we prepare for Tuesday's game.

Who besides Talor Battle do the Irish have to worry about and what will Battle bring to the table on Tuesday (besides his own web site)?

Well, Penn State relied all season on their "big three," Battle, guard Stanley Pringle, and power forward Jamelle Cornley. Each bring a different aspect of the game to the forefront. Battle, our all-big ten point guard, is without a doubt Penn State's best all-around player, who excels both from behind the arc and in driving to the hoop. He's really good at sucking in the defense and finding an open Nittany Lion for a quick two. Pringle is a lights-out three point shooter (48% from the year, tops in the Big Ten), who is a phenomenal on-the-ball defender, and can drive if given an inch. Cornley is listed at 6'5, but is probably closer to 6'4. That said, he's an absolute beast, checking in at around 240 pounds of pure muscle. That alone makes him a phenomenal inside presence, but he's one of the toughest mo-fo's in the NCAA. He just doesn't know the definition of giving up. He's also a pretty nifty shooter from outside and can create his own shot on occasion, though it looks really ugly.

38-33, seriously? Convince me that's good defense and not just terrible basketball.

Well, the Big Ten brand of basketball tends to favor low scoring games, and it's mainly due to the molasses-slow tempo that our teams tend to favor. Take our teams out of the conference, and you see that they're better scorers than they look. For instance, Penn State didn't top 73 points in conference, but bested that number nine times in non-conference play. That said, watching that game was absolutely painful, even for a fan of the winning team. It's not unusual for a couple shooters on a team to have an off-day, but both teams were having off days. They shot a combined 6-33 from downtown, and not much better from inside the arc. But the fact that Illinois shot a grand total of zero free throws shot by Illinois tells you that if Penn State didn't play lock-down defense, then the refs weren't calling much.

How good do you think the Big Ten was this year and how many bids did they deserve?

I think the Big Ten deserved every one of the seven bids it got, but it's very interesting to look at the breakdown of the bottom few teams in the conference that made the tournament. You look at Michigan and Minnesota and you see three phenomenal pre-conference wins, against UCLA, Duke, and Louisville, but little else. Then you take a look at Penn State and see that we really cleaned up against the top few teams in the conference (4-2 against Michigan State, Purdue, and Illinois). I'm not too bitter that we weren't in the tournament, but I feel like Penn State deserved to be in. As far as the top few teams, there's not a lot of elite teams, but Michigan State is, as you see, an elite eight team, and Purdue might have been the same if it weren't for a tough matchup with UConn. Illinois was probably overrated throughout the year, but I do think we were the second best conference, top to bottom, next to the Big East.

What do you think the Lions need to do to win on Tuesday?

Penn State has a very athletic team, and some very decent depth, so the key to winning and advancing to the NIT Finals will be running up and down the court and beating Notre Dame in a high scoring game. If we can push the tempo, create fast breaks, and force turnovers, like Penn State did against Florida, I don't think there will be too much resistance. Frankly, I think Penn State matches up well with the Irish, because we tend to guard the three point line well, and Cornley, small as he is, is a tough body to move in the low post. Penn State is at their best in an up-tempo game, which tends to implement itself in close games or when trailing. Almost all of Penn State's big wins came after a double digit deficit, because once Penn State gets up they tend to hold the ball for 30 seconds and jack up a three. If they can keep the intensity up for 40 minutes, well, I think that Notre Dame should be an easier beat than Florida. not to mention Michigan State.


Anonymous said...

Devon sounds a little too sure psu will beat ND even better than Florida. They won by 9 points, and Florida was horrible in that game.
I really enjoy his excuse that Purdue would be in the elite 8, but they were in a "tough matchup with UConn". If Purdue were truly as good as Devon THINKS the big 11 teams are, the matchup wouldn't have been "tough". Stop making excuses. The Big East teams are just THAT good this year.
I don't care about psu's wins against Illinois, Mich State or Purdue. None of them made it to the NCAA final four, so big deal. And the 4 wins they have over those "ranked big 11 teams" were by no more than 5 points.
Does "Penn State Devon" know that the unathletic Irish played the #1 seeds in the NCAA tourney 6 times? How many #1 seeds did you play this year? NONE.
Gimme a break; Psu-ers are so full of themselves ALL the time. I live in the dreadful heart of lions' country, and their fans are so pompous.
GO IRISH, beat psu!!!

BlackandGreen said...

Due to Devon's help on this post and the possibility of the Irish losing Tuesday, I'll hold my tongue for now.

But I'm pretty sure you're right...

Devon Edwards said...

Hey, "Anonymous." What's cracking?

I'm a lifelong Syracuse fan, to be honest with you, (still hurts, losing to the Okies) and I more than understand the strength and depth of the Big East. You guys are a hell of a basketball conference.

That said, I think Notre Dame is a great matchup for Penn State. Outside of Harangody, there's little inside presence, and if Penn State does anything well it's defend the perimeter. We'll struggle to contain Harangody, in all likelihood, but I don't think he'll get much help from McAlarney or Ayers.

I've been watching Big East basketball all year "anonymous" and while I'm not going to doubt the strength of Villanova, Pitt, Louisville, UConn, etc, I think their strength comes from length and athleticism. I see Notre Dame as more of a Big Ten style of offense, slower, whiter, and more reliant on the outside shot.

I am pretty confident, "Anonymous," but I'm hardly sure of a win. All I can say is, don't sleep on the Lions, because they are a talented team. You seem to me to be pretty smug, not atypical for a Notre Dame fan. Full of ourselves, are Penn State fans? Hardly. We came into this season expecting nothing, unlike you guys who were sure you had a Sweet 16 team. That's what would make knocking you off that much sweeter.

Penn State has what it takes to win, just as they do against most teams in the NCAA. Florida has a very talented team, don't sell them short too. Same goes for Michigan State, Purdue, and Illinois. No, top to bottom, the Big East is a superior conference. But the Big Ten is hardly the America East Conference.

Good luck on Tuesday, but don't sell the Lions short. At the very least, I promise you it'll be a good game.

Anonymous said...

Devon, Anonymous here:
I am not selling the Lions short, but I am entitled to my opinion. I am not smug as you think, just tired of Penn State acting so mighty every time they have a match up against ND whether it's football, basketball or another sport. Most Penn Staters here HATE the Irish and have no respect for them at all.
Don't sell the Irish short. They are just as talented and hungry for a tourney win as the Lions. And I am not the typical Irish fan who expected ND to make it to the Sweet 16. I will cheer for the Irish no matter what situation they're in. And yes, the Lions looked good against Florida just as ND looked good against Kentucky.
But as I said, living in the midst of Penn Staters is tough when you're an Irish supporter. When I saw ND was in the NIT and Penn State as well, I was hoping for this matchup. So good luck on Tuesday, it WILL be a great game.

Devon Edwards said...

Wait, what's that? Michigan State beat Louisville? But I thought the Big East was so ungodly awesome nobody from the Big Ten would have a chance?

Uh oh, watch out Domers.

Anonymous said...

The Irish blew out Louisville in their last meeting.

Go Irish

Anonymous said...

Wait, what's that\? The Big East had a record performance for a conference in the tourney this year? (Different Anon here)

Anonymous said...

actually devon, based on both your questions and answers, you sound like an asshole

BlackandGreen said...

Alright, that's unnecessary. Give the guy a break. He supports his team and has given evidence to show that Penn State (and the Big Ten) are worthy of respect. If his comments come across as a little biting, perhaps that is because most of the comments in this post (and others throughout the blog) have been pretty critical of Penn State and the conference as a whole.

Devon answered questions from me for this post and followed up to support his views. I am grateful for his help. If you disagree with what he says, please tell us why. Resorting to name-calling makes you look juvenile now and, worse, idiotic should the Irish lose Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify. I didnt mean to call him an asshole, rather just say he was acting like one. I read both Q&A's, and it seemed like your answers were clear, and while a bit homerish (to be expected on both sides)were for the most part fairly objective. While his questions and answers took any possible shot at the Irish, and made it seemed like we should be honored to even share the court with the mighty lions. A bunch of slow unathletic white guys? Im sorry but I take offense to that.

Maybe asshole wasnt the right word. But he seemed very arrogant. Im sorry that is just my opinion. I didnt mean to come off so harsh.

Devon Edwards said...

Oh, I'll readily admit to being brash and arrogant, but what's the point of writing for a blog if you can't be a little homer-ish? It's called trash talk my man.
Trust me, I know Notre Dame is a good team. You guys won me some money a couple times this year. I just like the matchup a lot for our Nittany Lions. If you guys [somehow] come up with a win tonight, I'll be ready to eat crow.

Anonymous said...

there is a difference between being a homer, and taking shots at another team.

Devon Edwards said...

No disrespect is intended to Notre Dame. Truth be told, I actually grew up as ND football fan. My dad had a friend named Jim O'Rourke, who felt that his bloodline enabled him to root for the Irish instead of his alma mater (Buffalo) and we'd go over and watch the games on NBC every Saturday.
Now, I realize the error of my ways. But I'm not a Notre Dame hater. It's more fun when you guys are good, anyway.