Monday, March 02, 2009

Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60

Embarrassing. The Irish killed any reasonable chance of an NCAA berth with a lackluster effort in the second half tonight. Need at least three (most likely four after this performance) wins in the Big East Tournament to even be considered for an at-large bid. Good luck with that.

15 turnovers, most of them just stupid telegraphed passes, and awful free throw shooting killed any possible offensive flow. The defense was horrendous as well in the second half, allowing easy Villanova three pointers to disrupt any chance of an Irish run before our offense completely collapsed.

Tory Jackson was awful. 4 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, not a terrible primary stat line. However he killed the Irish with 5 really dumb turnovers. Allowed Scottie Reynolds to score 23 points on 6 wide open three pointers. Add in a 1-8 shooting night for a dismal performance all the way around.

Kyle McAlarney was just as bad. 5 points, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers. 2-7 shooting, not a factor from downtown (1-3). He got beat a few times on defense, but was not the primary problem.

Ryan Ayers was the lone bright spot. 25 points, 7-10 from beyond the arc. 4 assists, 4 rebounds, just 1 turnover. His lights-out shooting kept the Irish in it for a while, but not long enough.

Ty Nash was solid in his first start. 4 points and 11 rebounds in a career-high 25 minutes. At the very least he was not Zach Hillesland. He finished as the high rebounder in the game (and the only one in double figures) and used some hustle and muscle not seen in the ND high post all year. Needs to improve interior defense (Dante Cunningham backed him down all game) and free throw shooting (he is dreadful from the line), but should be a starter the rest of the year.

Luke Harangody was absent in the most important game of the Irish season. I doubt he will be re-elected as Big East Player of the Year and until the last couple of games I thought that was a shame. However, he has finished without a double double in three of the last four games and been a limited factor offensively. The Player of the Year must rise to the challenge when his team's season is on the line. Luke did last year. Unfortunately, he just has not seemed the same guy over the last few games. 18 and 7 tonight, but managed only as many defensive boards (3) as Kyle McAlarney. You gotta be better than that.

Peoples was the only factor off the bench with 25 minutes. Villanova plays three or four guards all game, so no real surprise there. He was solid on the boards and handling the ball, but terrible shooting it. Zeller played just 7 minutes, a nice show of confidence in Ty Nash. You knew the game was over when Carleton Scott came in for the final 2 minutes.

This is probably the final death knell of what has been a very disappointing season. I'll wait until after everything is well and truly done to write the obituary, however.

Speaking of which (wow, what a dreadful segue), condolences to the family of Forrest "Woody" Miller. Miller covered Irish basketball for a long time for the South Bend Tribune, but I will always know him as the cantankerous old man who sat next to me in the press box of the South Bend Silver Hawks. All kidding aside, Woody, you will be missed. You were a big part of the job that made my last two summers pretty damn fun.

Beat St. John's and then show some fight in the BET. The nice thing about conference tourneys is that you always control your own destiny. Let's actually show some heart over the next week and a half.


Craig said...

The most interesting thing for me, looking at the stats after the fact, is that the only thing Villanova does especially well is earn free throws. They hardly got any before we started fouling tonight, but if anything, I thought the refs were still generous to Villanova calling the game. It was really only out of character for them on the offensive end, on the defensive end, the one area where they're low-ranked is giving up FTs. They give up a lot.

Craig said...

Addendum: Although they do especially well at earning FTs, I don't mean to give the impression that they're not good in other areas; they're a very well-rounded team both offensively and defensively with their ranks in just about every tempo-free category in the top 100 in the country. As I said, the only thing they do poorly is give up FTs, and we saw that tonight as ND drew a ton of fouls (and drew a ton more that weren't called).

Anonymous said...


It's all been said but here are some random thoughts. Tory Jackson's terrible shot at the end of the first half killed us. We are up 32-29 and have a chance to go into halftime up 5 or 6 with momentum. What does Jackson do? Shoots a three early in the clock, misses, Villanova hits a three to tie going into the locker room. Good, even mediocre, point guards have a better understanding of time and score than that.

Why doesn't Brey keep his team on those stupid little stools and do some coaching during the TV timeouts? Every time he sends his team out to stand around and do nothing in the middle of the court for 2 minutes while the other coach continues to, well, coach his players. Is there nothing he can tell this team?

Our ball movement is horrid. We dribble, dribble, dribble and are still 25 feet away from the basket. There were times tonight when all 5 guys were standing outside the 3 point line at the same time. At one point Brey had 4 guards and Harangody in the game and, surprise, Villanova scored on an easy follow up.

We are what we are - not a real good team right now and getting outcoached night in and night out.

Bryan said...

I haven't been able to post this year b/c the comments are blocked at work. But I have been following.

Let's just say that I hate watching this team and its effort, and as always, completely blame Brey. It is a utter disgrace that is even came to this and I will never trust a Top ten Mike Brey team again. The program has peaked and will never be more than first round fodder under Brey, and there is now ample evidence to support this. May be time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Never seen a team with so much potential just die like we did. Say what you want but Ayers, Mac, Tory, and Luke is a great nucleus of players that should at least make the tourney

BlackandGreen said...

Absolutely a team with this talent and experience should make the Tournament and have a legitimate shot at the Sweet 16 or better. In many ways, this year resembles Chris Thomas' senior season: lots of expectations, flashes of greatness, and an eventual bad ending.

Coach Brey will get another year for outperforming low expectations to win the Big East Coach of the Year in '07 and '08, as well he should, but another year in the NITs should seal his departure. At the very least, the past decade has been a huge improvement over the 90s. Still if we can't get to that next level, which should be the #1 goal, changes have to be made.

Craig said...

Anon #1, that three attempt by Tory wasn't horrible. It let us play two for one. If I remember right, we threw that away by fouling, which reset the shot clock; the foul is a bigger sin than the quick shot.

Anon #2, it's a nice starting point, but we didn't have the right glue guys. As a recruiting failure, it's on Brey, but it doesn't reflect on his game-to-game coaching. (Not to mention that both Ayers and KMac have significant limitations in their games, which allow teams with the right parts to game-plan against us...)

Anonymous said...

I've been a defender of Brey many times in the past, but I really feel that this season is all on Brey. He regressed in his coaching this year. He didn't fully sort out his personnel until it was too late. He didn't realize early enough that neither Zack nor Zeller could be depended on to play the 4 for any length of time. He didn't take a chance on developing the young guys so that they could fit properly into the flow of the offense and contribute from the start of the conference season - of course knowing full well that he had a ton of Saturday/Monday turnarounds where balanced minutes would be necessary for guys to perform to their abilities.

A terrible disappointment all around for a team that really did have the potential to go far.

ugh... comfortably numb. I really hope Luke comes back - he's seemed in the last 4 games like he's ready to move on, but I hope he realizes that he will have a better supporting cast next year - and one that will likely help get him better placement in the draft.

BlackandGreen said...

Craig, I originally thought the same thing when Tory took the shot at the end of the first half (and that may have been his reasoning), however the shot came way too early for a two-for-one opportunity. He took it with 1:04 remaining and 'Nova responded with a three with 49 seconds left, giving them the actual two-for-one opportunity. That's terrible clock management by a veteran point guard. You don't take a three pointer eight seconds into the shot clock like that when you have a chance to put the opponent on its heels going into the half.

I agree that we are limited by one trick ponies like Ayers and McAlarney, however we were also really hurt by an attempt to make Hillesland into a Big East power forward. Clearly Ty Nash is the better option and allows us to be more steady on both ends of the floor. We get a lot of help at that position next year, but it comes one year too late. As it was assembled, this team was able to go toe-to-toe with the giants in a few games (Louisville, @ UCONN), but clearly cannot achieve any level of acceptable sustained success.

I can't imagine Harangody will leave this year. His draft stock has been hurt by how awful the team has been and his inability to step up in big games. He was a second round pick going into this season and certainly hasn't moved up any. I thought that he might go pro if this season ended really well and next season was predicted to be worse. However, you can't get any worse (from a pro scout's perspective) than this season. Better come back next year and see if we can turn it around.

Anonymous said...

Craig-We aren't good or smart enough to play 2 for 1, particularly Tory Jackson and the decisions he made last night. That shot was a monumentally bad shot that had a very negative impact on the flow of the game and, ultimately, the outcome.

Anonymous said...

"I thought the refs were still generous to Villanova calling the game."

I hate to disagree with you on this one craig, but we our first foul came 9 minutes into the game and in the second half we didn't foul them until 13 minutes into the half...if anything we got all the calls last night and still couldn't keep it close

Craig said...

I'm not qualified all that well to talk about what we were getting away with, but I am qualified to say that Villanova's strategy appeared to be dare the refs to call every foul they committed. And I think the numbers on Villanova's conceded FT rate backs me up on that... they always commit a lot of fouls. And while I'm on the subject, our conceded FT rate is one of the lowest in the country... given the numbers, the foul disparity is not necessarily unreasonable.

I felt like the refs started out calling the fouls, then got a look at the disparity in fouls called (and got Wright in their ear) and chickened out.

Considering how comprehensively we were beaten in the last ten minutes of the game, I doubt the officiating altered the outcome of the game, but there were some really bad missed calls (like Ayers getting whacked in the face as he tried to rebound).

BlackandGreen said...

You use a great example to back up your point, Craig. That was pretty blatant under the basket.

Villanova plays physical basketball and racks up the fouls as a result. We don't foul a lot and (though we also don't usually draw fouls) the foul disparity was not that surprising.

However, we got plenty of chances from the line and squandered them. Sure there were some missed calls, but they by no means justify allowing a 17-1 run at home.

Anonymous said...

My goodness I wish we had Tom Crean. That IU team played with heart and soul last night against MSU. I hope the boys were watching. Yes, IU is severely outgunned every night they take the court. That doesn't mean they don't scrape, fight and claw until the end. With the exception of the Louisville game we never matched their intensity all year. That is on the coach. I've said it before - the starters were never worried about losing PT. If they know that their PT is secure I believe that the coach loses alot of leverage. The emergence of Nash came way too late - the damage was already done and we were in desperation mode.