Thursday, December 31, 2009
Happy New Year
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Notre Dame 93, Providence 78
In the first half, Irish shooting was red hot (well above 50% from the floor) and the home team stretched its lead to 21 by the buzzer. Providence came back with a 13-1 run to start the second period, helped in a large way by some bad decision making from ND players on offense.
Notre Dame Possessions in the Second Half:
- Tim Abromaitis fouled (23 seconds left on shot clock)
- Luke Harangody missed jumper (20 seconds left on shot clock)
- Abromaitis missed layup (3 seconds left on shot clock)
- Tory Jackson missed three pointer (30 seconds left on shot clock)
- Harangody missed jumper (19 seconds left on shot clock)
- Ben Hansbrough missed three pointer (30 seconds left on shot clock)
- Ty Nash missed layup (24 seconds left on shot clock)
- Harangody fouled on putback- 2 missed FT
- Nash turnover (24 seconds left on shot clock)
In the final sixteen minutes, however, the team woke up and refused to let the Friars get any closer. Though the margin never allowed Coach Brey to rest any of his core players (with the exception of a 3 minute stretch by Carleton Scott, this was clearly a six-man rotation), a double-digit win to start the Big East slate is certainly a good result.
Five players finished in double-digits scoring, a great demonstration of balanced scoring that could bode well for the future. Our All-American looked awful all night, but Jonathan Peoples made a big splash off the bench with a career-high and team-high 23 points. Abro was great in his first Big East start and Ben Hansbrough and Tory Jackson proved to be a very unselfish backcourt tandem.
Tory played all 40 minutes, scoring 11 points and dishing out 7 assists. He missed both of his three point attempts, but was 4-5 inside the arc and found some success taking the ball to the basket.
Ben Hansbrough helped out with 11 assists of his own. Unlike Tory, he looked a bit out of control at times and turned it over on four occasions. Of course, a 2.75 assist-to-turnover ratio is still pretty damn good. He struggled from beyond the arc, even with some good looks. 1-5 out there, though he did get a few from the line and inside the arc to finish with 10 points. 8 rebounds for the night, as well, a near triple-double. I have said previously that Tory Jackson could be the second guy for Notre Dame to pick up a triple-double in the school's history, but Hansbrough just might beat him to it.
Abro had 22 points in his frist significant minutes playing in the conference. 5-8 beyond the arc, 8-14 from the floor. Chip in 7 rebounds, 4 of which came on offense. He did struggle with the ball on a few occasions, like Hansbrough, and turned the ball over 5 times.
Ty Nash was the only starter with fewer than 10 points for the night, but had a very successful game with 8 points and 8 boards. That's the kind of game we need from him in conference contests this year.
Luke Harangody was just awful. Bad shot selection the whole game, 6-21 for the night, and a horrid performance from the foul line. He gave away seven points on free throws alone. He did finish with 19 points because he attempted so many shots, but it really was an inefficient night for the big guy. 13 rebounds was a highlight, however, including 5 on offense. With the team clicking without him, I wish Coach Brey or someone would have pulled Luke aside and told him to stop wasting possessions with off-balance looks out there. It's rare, but there are games where Gody is a negative influence out there. Tonight was one of those occasions.
Peeps finished with 23, 6-7 from the field. He had a career-high scoring by the end of the first half and sunk all five three pointers. Throw in 6 rebounds for good measure. For a guy who has struggled so much this season, it was good to see him pull through for us tonight. Carleton Scott played just three minutes. This is a six-man rotation. I don't envy how these guys will be feeling by the end of a long Big East season.
Led by Gody, the team struggled shooting free throws with an uncharacteristicly low 61%. The game was won with great shooting in the first half and 50% from the beyond the arc for the night. Providence isn't that great as a team, though, and we'll find out a lot about how the Irish stack up with really good Big East competition at UCONN on Saturday.
EDIT: HUGE first half for the Irish. Peoples 5-5 from three. What a great start to conference play.
Pomeroy Ranking- 92nd
"Best" Win- George Washington (ranked 96th)
Worst Loss- Iona (ranked 130th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 94-86
#21 Jamine Peterson- 6'6", 230 lbs.- 17.8 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 31.1% 3PA
#2 Marshon Brooks- 6'5", 190 lbs.- 15.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 43.8% 3PA
#4 Sharaud Curry- 5'10", 170 lbs.- 13.0 PPG, 4.2 APG, 23.9% 3PA
Attack the offensive glass as well as anyone (2nd in the country).
Reliable with the basketball (19th fewest turnovers)
Don't force a lot of turnovers on defense.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Big East Preview: Part II
Jim Boeheim's squad hopped onto the national radar with a 16 point win over North Carolina back in November. Syracuse was ranked 24th at the time, the Tar Heels 4th in the nation. The Orange also boast wins over Cal and 11th-ranked Florida (starting the Gators three-game losing streak). The 2-3 zone has been strong this year, ranking 11th in the nation in defensive efficiency. On offense, Syracuse leads the country in effective field goal percentage. The top four scorers on the team have shot 60% or better on the year. It's hard to lose when a guy like Wesley Johnson (Iowa State transfer) has been unstoppable from all over the floor, including 52.4% from three-point range.
West Virginia (5th)-
The other unbeaten team in the Big East boasts a pair of nonconference victories over Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and now a victory over Seton Hall. Last year's edition of the Mountaineers finished the season ranked in the top ten by Ken Pomeroy, but the statistical dominance didn't exactly lead to the kind of success Bob Huggins wants to see in Morgantown. This season should be more successful in the win column. As the Irish learned last year, this program loves to dominate the offensive glass. They are ranked fourth in offensive rebounding percentage this season, led by Devin Ebanks (17 boards against Seton Hall) and Kevin Jones (14 in that game, as well).
After a very disappointing 2009, the Hoyas are back near the top of the conference. Wins over Butler, Washington, and Temple have given this squad some credibility. The loss to Old Dominion was a bit disappointing, but the Monarchs are certainly a mid-major team to watch this year. Greg Monroe is starting to look like the player he was hyped to be out of high school, averaging a double-double, and a stable of good guards have the team playing great defense. They won't beat a lot of teams in a shootout, as evidenced by their 46-45 snorefest with Temple, but the Princeton offense does just enough to make this team a winner.
The preseason favorite has been less than impressive in stretches this year, but they still hold onto a top ten spot in the polls. Jay Wright has been compared to Mike Brey throughout their Big East careers and has taken the clear advantage over the last few seasons with his superb results in the postseason and recruiting. He entered this year with a fantastic opportunity to take the Big East title and mark himself as one of the elite coaches in college basketball. Now the Wildcats find themselves on a tier below looking up at the top two schools. Like ND, they have a very potent offense but struggle on the defensive end of the ball (92nd). The lone loss was to a talented Temple team.
Outplaying their expectations, the Golden Eagles boast a neutral-site win against Xavier and have performed better than expected in their three losses, including an away contest to intrastate rival Wisconsin. They have combined a top 25 offense with a workable D to leap from a probable NIT bid to competing for a Big East top four finish. Jimmy Butler has been fantastic, ranking 5th in the country with a 142.1 offensive rating.
Bad loss to Indiana, blown out by Texas, and nothing too exciting the rest of the way. Bad offensively (109th) with a top 20 D. One of the slowest teams in the country, with just 63.3 possessions per game.
Seton Hall (39th)-
Jeremy Hazell is the big star here. He's the second highest scorer in the league with 21.9 points per game. They don't turn the ball over a lot and play pretty solid defense. Yet another Big East team that played Temple, losing 71-65.
Lost their two games against good opponents (Duke and Kentucky). Gavin Edwards and Co. block a lot of shots on defense, even without Hasheem Thabeet.
Surpisingly weak defense so far for a Rick Pitino-coached team. Bad losses at home to Charlotte and Western Carolina. No real nonconference opponents of note.
South Florida (51st)-
Bad loss at home to Central Michigan with no really tough nonconference competition. Pretty much above average as a team across the board.
St. John's (59th)-
Beat Temple, making the Owls 2-2 against the Big East. Lost to Cornell and Duke. D.J. Kennedy has been very good so far this year (16.7 PPG).
Lost to good mid-majors Xavier, Gonzaga, and UAB. Boast a top-25 D but are pretty average scoring the ball.
Notre Dame (77th)-
And here we are. Easily the biggest differential between our strength (offense- 4th) and weakness (defense- 256th). Worst D in the conference, and it ain't even close.
Lost to Iona and BC at home. Jamine Peterson scores 17.8 per game.
Block a lot of shots and have held opponents to just 40.5% inside the arc (average nationwide is 47.7%). Mike Rosario is amongst the league's top scorers.
Just a hair better than last year's awful team. Lost to American and Florida Gulf Coast. Jerry Wainwright is on his way out.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Big East Preview
Once again, the preseason coaches poll from October:
1. Villanova (10)
2. West Virginia (5)
3. Connecticut (1)
8. Notre Dame
10. Seton Hall
11. St. John's
*First-place votes in parentheses
2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame (Player of the Year), F, Sr., 6-8, 255, Schererville, Ind.
Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati, G, Sr., 6-1, 190, Indianapolis, Ind.
Greg Monroe, Georgetown, C, So., 6-11, 247, New Orleans, La.
Lazar Hayward, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 225, Buffalo, N.Y.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Herndon, Va.
Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-7, 225, Newark, N.J.
2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Jerome Dyson, Connecticut, G, Sr., 6-3, 190, Potomac, Md.
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, So., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Samardo Samuels, Louisville, F, So., 6-9, 260, Trelawny, Jamaica
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-5, 185, Bronx, N.Y.
Dominique Jones, USF, G, Jr., 6-4, 205, Lake Wales, Fla.
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, F, So., 6-9, 210, Long Island City, N.Y.
- a tie in the balloting created six positions
2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Stanley Robinson, Connecticut, F, Sr., 6-9, 210, Birmingham, Ala.Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse, C, Sr., 6-9, 275, Lanham, Md
Non-Conference Scoring Leader-
Luke Harangody- ND- 24.2 PPG
Non-Conference Rebounding Leader-
Herb Pope- Seton Hall- 11.8 RPG
Non-Conference Assists Leader-
Kemba Walker- Connecticut- 6.3 APG
Non-Conference Steals Leader-
Andy Rautins- Syracuse- 2.7 SPG
Non-Conference Three Point Percentage Leader-
Darius Johnson-Odom- Marquette- 55.6%
Notre Dame Statistical Leaders-
- Tory Jackson/Ben Hansbrough- 1st and 2nd in Assist to Turnover Ratio
- Luke Harangody- 1st in Defensive Rebounds
- Tim Abromaitis- 1st in Free Throw Percentage
Saturday, December 26, 2009
After Marshall/Ohio is over, we do have a couple interesting bowl games on tap today, capped off by USC/BC. Now, that's a tough call on who to support.
West Virginia/Seton Hall is a great basketball option, as well. It's on CBS at 3:30. I will try to get in a Big East preview tomorrow or Monday before the conference slate kicks off in full force Tuesday.
Tomorrow will also be dominated by the NFL, as my Broncos have a chance to clinch a playoff spot at Philly, provided a lot of other things go their way. So enjoy a little more time off from hoops this weekend. The season begins in earnest next week.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Around the Country
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Notre Dame 101, Bucknell 69
We pushed the tempo throughout the game, with Luke Harangody chipping in to lead a couple fast breaks. I'd much rather see him learn the art of the quick outlet pass. Let the small guys do the dribbling, Luke. As a whole, however, I was pleased with the team's ability to score in transition. Yes the quick pace led to an unacceptably high 17 turnovers, but the Irish made up for it a bit by getting high percentage shots all night. Almost 60% from the floor is fantasic. They also made half of their attempts from beyond the arc. 28 assists on 37 baskets demonstrated the unselfish play of a Mike Brey-coached team.
The energy on defense was nice to see. A few of Bucknell's three pointers came in garbage time with the reserves reacting too slowly, but the rest of the night showcased some of the best defensive effort we've seen all season. Bucknell's 34% field goal shooting is eight points lower than their season average, which is especially surprising due to the breakneck pace of the contest.
Tory Jackson had a bit of a quiet night. 6 points, just 2 assists and 1 turnover. All three of his shooting attempts came from three-point range. He now boasts 1000 points and 500 assists for his career.
Ben Hansbrough was fantastic, even with that stomach virus. 16 points, 5 assists, a perfect night from the charity stripe and good shooting overall. For a guy who almost sat out the game, he put forth a nice effort and now has a good to get healthy for the Big East.
Tim Abromaitis was great, as usual. He finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds and scored in a variety of ways. The three pointers were falling, as they have much of this season, but almost half of his field goal attempts came from inside the arc. He capped off one drive to the basket with a rather aggressive dunk. Atta boy, Tim.
Ty Nash also showed off a lot of determination on the offensive end of the floor that had been lacking until the last couple of games. He only scored 5 points, but seemed willing to take it to the basket consistently. Of course, that aggression also led to 4 turnovers. If he can be a force in the paint without getting reckless, the Irish offense will add another wrinkle to its attack. His rebounding total was great (7), yet it marked his lowest total of the past three contests. He has made a much larger impact in the past week and a half than has been expected from him.
Harangody has yet another double-double, with 20 and 11. He chipped in with 5 assists and 3 turnovers. The positive assist-to-turnover ratio is a bit surprising due to his frequent leading of fast breaks. He seemed a bit more reckless live, so kudos to him for dishing out so many good scoring opportunities. Luke missed both three-point attempts, but was otherwise 8-10 from the floor. Throw in four made free throws for good measure.
Lots of activity off the bench. Peoples played great in extended time with Hansbrough sick. 7 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, with a perfect night shooting. Carleton Scott contibuted in multiple statistical categories, 5 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Cooley and Broghammer each had 5 points. Little Harangody had 8 rebounds in pretty limited playing time, hopefully that leads to a bright future for him. The Hammer chipped in with 3 boards and finished off one possession with an impressive tomahawk jam. Walkons Kopko and Andree each got in the scorebook with Tim's two points putting the Irish over the century mark. The most impressive reserve tonight, however, was Joey Brooks. I mentioned at the half that he could be a defensive stopper in just two to three minute spurts if Coach Brey wanted to use him in that kind of role, but he was also great on offense tonight as well. 12 points on 3-5 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the line.
The stats in the post so far are from the always-unreliable ESPN gamecast. I'll edit as necessary when the official boxscore becomes available. Great win for the team and a nice way to finish off the nonconference slate. We're 11-2, compared to 9-2 at this point a year ago. Time for a few days to go home and enjoy the holidays before Big East action starts.
Bucknell at the Half
Ben Hansbrough has beaten off the stomach flu with 14 points on a perfect half of shooting (4-4 FG, 2-2 3PA, 4-4 FT). Carleton Scott demonstrated a nice touch from beyond the arc. He could be a factor on offense if that becomes a consistent part of his arsenal. Even Joey Brooks got into the game in the first half and made a difference. He forced a Bryan Cohen travel with a really heady trap with two seconds left in the half. He could make a pretty solid impact with that defensive intensity if given just 6-8 minutes a game.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Pomeroy Ranking- 215th
"Best" Win- Delaware (ranked 267th)
Worst Loss- Binghamton (ranked 295th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 86-70
#13 Darryl Shazier- 6'0", 178 lbs.- 11.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, 35.6% 3PA
#24 Patrick Behan- 6'8", 229 lbs.- 10.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 27.5% 3PA
#22 Bryan Cohen- 6'5", 199 lbs.- 9.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 42.9% 3PA
Not very active on defense, getting very few steals (342nd in the country).
Shoot the ball well from the foul line (74% as a team).
Small on the wing with 6'3" Stephen Tyree. He is a very effective scorer when given the opportunity but only shoots it about four times a game.
Central Florida Almost Knocks off the Huskies
We're almost into conference play and currently the Big East ranks third in Pomeroy's league standings. Just three schools (Syracuse, West Virginia, and Georgetown) have earned top 25 status so far. The Irish rank third to last.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Notre Dame 84, UCLA 73
With Tory Jackson focusing on the Bruins' only accomplished shooter (Michael Roll), Malcolm Lee had a career-high 29 by hitting four of his six three-point attempts. He entered the contest with a three-point percentage below thirty. Several of those made baskets were wide-open looks as the Irish D failed to actively rotate in a zone or was too slow to close out on the perimeter.
UCLA led for the majority of the first half and the game stayed tight through the break, but a quick 8-2 run after halftime put the Irish in charge the rest of the way. The one major positive in nonconference play is how Notre Dame has consistently improved in the second halves of games. Time will tell if that can continue against good competition.
Jackson did his best impression as a defensive stopper against Roll, but he gave up six inches just by stepping on the floor. That's a tough matchup, but we certainly didn't have any better options. On offense, Tory was a bit out of control, with 5 turnovers. He also offered up a bunch of wild shots, finishing four of twelve from the field. He was 29% inside the arc, partially due to the physical nature of the game under the hoop. He just isn't big enough to finish at the basket when a ref like Jim Burr is periodically swallowing his whistle.
Ben Hansbrough was very efficient. 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. He made five of the seven shots he attempted and completed a very nice four-point play. Also chipped in with three steals, including one in transition that led to a Notre Dame fastbreak going the other way. He seems like a high-risk, high-reward player on D. He's certainly not consistent enough to be a lockdown defender, but gets his share of big plays. Tonight marks his fourth multiple steal game of the year, matching Kyle McAlarney's total from all of last season.
Tim Abromaitis had 17 points, shooting five of eight from the field. Add in 5 rebounds, a nice total from the small forward position. He collected three fouls, but a couple of those were a bit ticky-tack.
Ty Nash added in 11 points and 8 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive end. Every starter finished with double digit scoring, a great display of unselfishness on offense. This team does seem to have a greater ability to spread out the scoring than last year's outfit, which could make a difference if Big East teams decide to key in on Harangody.
Luke got his 23 points, but was quite frustrating to watch. I can't imagine a good reason for our All-American forward to be catching the basketball 25 feet away from the basket. He consistently attempted to generate the offense from the perimeter, which really limits the team's effectiveness. When he sticks to the inside, at least within a dribble and a spin move from the basket, he can be unstoppable.
Off the bench, Peoples had an effective sixteen minutes. 9 points and 3 rebounds. Carleton Scott only played eight minutes and had 3 rebounds and an assist without attempting a shot.
Nice win, but once again the Irish needed to make it a high-scoring contest. We'll see what happens against some good defenses.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Yesterday, news broke that UCLA will be without starting forward James Keefe, who separated his shoulder in a lopsided win over New Mexico State. The 6'8", 235 lbs. Keefe was the most likely candidate to guard Luke Harangody, which should give Luke a bit more freedom tomorrow. Additionally, sophomore forward Drew Gordon decided to leave the team and seek a transfer at the beginning of the month.
Pomeroy Ranking- 146th
"Best" Win- New Mexico State (ranked 206th)
Worst Loss- Cal. State Fullerton (ranked 218th)
Pomeroy Prediction- ND 76-67
#20 Michael Roll- 6'5", 200 lbs.- 14.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 39.6% 3PA
#3 Malcolm Lee- 6'4", 191 lbs.- 13.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 5.1 RPG, 27.5% 3PA
#11 Reeves Nelson- 6'8", 228 lbs.- 8.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG
Only one player (Roll) boasts an offensive rating over 100. Six of the seven guys in Notre Dame's rotation have been more efficient than any guy on UCLA's roster.
The Bruins have been dreadful from beyond the arc as a team (28.2%). Roll is the only guy who could give us trouble on the petimeter.
UCLA rarely gets to the foul line as a team and does not take advantage when they do (56.5%).
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Nonconference Notes: Frontcourt
Tim Abromaitis- The surprise of the season so far, our young redshirt sophomore has really blossomed in an expanded role. Now starting at small forward, he has scored in the double digits in all but one contest. His 15.7 points per game rank him fifteenth in the Big East, no small feat when playing alongside the leading scorer in the conference. He has been incredibly efficient on offense (his offensive rating is 8th in the country) and has only used about 21% of team possessions when on the floor. Defense proved to be a bit of a struggle against Loyola Marymount, but there is nothing to complain about his performance on the offensive end (57% FG, 93% FT, 49% 3P).
Ty Nash- Has been up and down. Field goal percentage has improved a bit, but he continues to be a liability from the foul line. Rebounding has been rather disappointing. We need a starting power forward who can consistently pull down 7 or 8 a game. Nash has only managed more than five on two occasions. He has also racked up a lot of fouls, demonstrating that he needs some help stopping guys with his feet rather than his body.
Luke Harangody- By far the best player on the roster and one of the most talented guys in program history. He leads the conference in scoring and is fourth in rebounding. Overall field goal percentage is improved and he has been able to get more baskets inside than a year ago (though time will tell if he can keep it up). Of course, his annoying tendency to drift to the perimeter has been well documented. He has almost equaled his three point attempts from last year already and is only sinking 30%. Needs to also show a bit more focus on defense (along with the rest of the team) and stop complaining to the refs when calls don't go his way. Sometimes he seems to let his frustration make him ineffective for a couple series.
Off the Bench-
Carleton Scott- Another nice addition to the rotation this year. He has put in a few very good performances but has also disappeared in a few contests. If he can be more consistent in racking up the boards and providing some scoring off the bench, he could give Nash a run for the starting job.
Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, Jack Cooley- The freshman have just gotten mopup time so far and it looks like none of them will crack the rotation in conference play. That's a shame because a deeper bench would allow the starters to expend more energy on both ends of the floor. A guy like Brooks could be a solid defensive stopper if given enough minutes.
Nonconference Notes: Backcourt
Tory Jackson- The senior point guard has been very efficient handling the ball so far. Though it has come against easy competition, Jackson has averaged over five assists per game. His 4.67 assist to turnover ratio is simply obscene. Scoring has been an issue, however. His two-point shooting percentage of 40% is by far the worst on the tam. Drawing up ineffective last minute plays for him won't help that any.
Ben Hansbrough- Has struggled at times to mesh with Jackson. The most athletic shooting guard we've had in a while, his style seems to conflict a bit with Tory. Can't argue with the results on offense, however. Take away his egglaying performance against Northwestern and he's shooting 56% from three point land. Even with that 0-7 effort, he has posted career bests in three-point percentage, points per game, and assists. On defense, he has struggled along with everyone else, but certainly has more potential than K-Mac.
Off the Bench-
Jonathan Peoples- Started the first eight games and has been terrible all year. His offensive efficiency (96.6) is 13 points lower than anybody else. The fact that his stats actually indicate a marginal improvement over last year's ineptitude indicate just how awful he was under the radar last season. Has failed to score in four games despite averaging 17.5 minutes in those contests. Somehow he managed to convince Coach Brey that he was talented enough to start for a Big East team despite being one of the most unathletic guards in the country.
EDIT: Originally I had intended to hand out grades to each player. Unfortunately, that's pretty tough to do (except for Peoples). We're a top 25 team on offense and everyone has had their share of failures on D.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Eleven Games In
- This is the worst team defensively that Mike Brey has coached at Notre Dame, by far. 05-06 (Chris Quinn's senior year) used to hold that claim to fame. That season, the Irish finished 120th in defensive efficiency. So far, we are 251st this year. In 2007 and 2008 (when ND made the NCAA Tournament) that ranking was in the 40s.
- As usual, the Irish are careful with the ball and don't force any turnovers. A year ago, Notre Dame boasted the lowest turnover percentage in the nation... on both offense and defense. While this year's squad is not quite so extraordinary, in still ranks in the bottom 40 in terms of turnovers forced while claiming the 13th best turnover percentage on offense.
- Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough have been very efficient on offense, ranking 8th and 20th nationally in points per possession used. The offense has relied on Luke Harangody a bit less than the last two seasons, when he ranked in the top ten of possessions used, and he has improved his efficiency dramatically (even with his annoying tendency to drift to the perimeter).
- The rest of the year could get ugly. Ken Pomeroy projects ND's final record to be 17-14 with a 6-12 record in the Big East.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Comments on Mike Brey
In fairness, Brey has accomplished a lot here. His career winning percentage is the second best (to Digger Phelps) of any coach at ND since the '40s. From the depths of the John MacLeod era, during which just making the NIT was an accomplishment, the Irish made it back to the Sweet Sixteen by Coach Brey's third year. To be sure, he was helped by Matt Doherty's single season as well as MacLeod's recruiting, but it took a coaching change to get Notre Dame to the next level. We might be at that point again.
Irish fans should expect a program that contends for the top 4 in the Big East and a Sweet Sixteen big year in and year out. NCAA tournament appearances should be old hat by now. If the team fails to make the Big Dance this year, it will be a huge waste of one of the greatest players in Notre Dame history. To think that Luke Harangody's junior and senior seasons might end in the NIT is a pity.
Hopefully this ends up being just a black mark on an otherwise solid season. However, all analysis both subjective and objective (we're 247th in defensive efficiency) points towards a very disappointing year.
Loyola Marymount 87, Notre Dame 85
This will most likely end up as our worst non-conference loss since 2004. I'm not sure if the Irish were caught looking forward to finals, UCLA, or just plain unmotivated but it was completely unacceptable. We have a week to fix whatever went wrong, but even a win against a 2-6 Bruins on Saturday would not make up for this at all. Bad defense, sloppy rebounding, and just an overall lack of toughness threw this game away against an untalented, but spirited, squad. In the last few possessions, we played tight and resorted to the point guard isolation play that has had very little success since the days of Chris Thomas.
Tory Jackson couldn't put the ball in the basket all night and completely choked with twenty-two seconds to go and the Irish up by one. Not that the fault is all his, though. In the last couple possessions, I would much rather get the ball into the hands of our best player and look for high-percentage shots than just milk the clock. Counting on a 5'11" point guard to create a scoring opportunity in the lane with the shot clock winding down is pretty foolhardy.
Ben Hansbrough played very well. Obviously the turnover with a minute to go and a chance to seal the game was an issue, but statistically he had a very nice night. 14 points, 9 assists, 5-8 shooting.
Tim Abromatis also shot very well. He 23 points, 5 rebounds, and made half of his attempts from long range. However, he also was a big defensive liability. Backdoor cuts, getting beaten on the ball, lots of issues for him and everyone else. It's just a program flaw when Loyola Marymount can hit 52% of their shots against you.
Ty Nash was another one of the culprits on defense, but also contributed well on the offensive side of the ball. 13 points, 9 boards, the majority of which came on offense. He also picked up 4 personal fouls and was unable to move his feet fast enough to play good defense without getting overly physical.
Harangody played pretty well, but his three missed three pointers were wasted possessions in the second half. 24 points, 11 rebounds. To be honest, the biggest issues I have are with the team as a whole. Not a lot of personal complaints here.
We learned tonight that this squad will only go seven deep in close contests. Even a seven-man rotation is stretching it a bit, as the starters all played nearly the whole game and stayed in when it counted. 10 useless minutes for Peoples, Scott was a bit more helpful in his seven on the floor.
Overall, it comes down to this:
- Same issues we've always had on defense. A Mike Brey coached program has and will always focus on running a very efficient offensive game. He just doesn't focus on the other side of the ball. Tonight, it really showed.
- Mid-major programs see road games like this as a chance to pick up a big upset. We fell into the trap of letting them outhustle us all night. They wanted it more and they took it with a willingness to get after loose balls and push people around for rebounds.
- Our endgame strategy is downright horrendous. In the final minute (at the start of which, we led by 3), the Irish completely wasted three possessions. With an emphasis on wasting time instead of continuing to look for scoring opportunities, Ben Hansbrough turned the ball over, Tory Jackson took an offbalance jumper, and we couldn't get the ball inbounded out of a timeout. I don't mind Coach Brey allowing Tory to try to make something happen in transition at the end of the game, but everything else we did pointed to horrendous coaching. I really don't blame the players as much as the coaches tonight.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Loyola Marymount Preview
Seton Hall transfer Larry Davis has missed the past five games and should sit out again with a swollen Achilles tendon. He was the second highest scorer at the time with 13.2 a game.
#34 Drew Viney has been the surprising star of the team. He sat out last year after transferring from Oregon and has been red hot so far. 17.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 53% from long range (single-handedly propelling the Lions to 30th in the nation in three-point percentage). He's 6'7", which creates a big mismatch on the wing.
#1 Vernon Teel, who broke his foot in last year's contest, has been shooting the ball very well and filling up the stat sheet. With twelve points, six assists, and five rebounds per game, he controls everything LMU does on both ends of the floor.
With the injury bug striking freshmen big Edgar Garibay, #32 Tim Diederichs is back in the starting lineup. However, he clearly has not earned the respect of coach Max Good. After playing a lot his freshman year, his minutes have fallen through the floor the past two seasons. Even as a starter, he has averaged eight minutes his last two games.
Remember last season, the Irish stopped at LMU on its way to Maui and struggled through a 65-54 jetlagged win. Coach Bill Bayno had the program feeling positive when he was hired, but he left after three games and the team ended up as one of the worst in the country. Even with an early win over USC, the Lions have a ways to go. This should be an easy win.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Notre Dame 93, IUPUI 70
Tory Jackson was able to play, which was great to see. He wasn't terribly effective, but that knee might still have been bothering him a little bit. He'll have to suck it up again with a game on Saturday, but then will get a full week to rest before UCLA. 5 points and 4 assists, but his shot was off all night, even from the foul line.
With Jackson a little dinged up, the team did a great job spreading the ball around. Five guys finished with at least three assists. Ben Hansbrough had 5. He also shot very well, his first really good game from three point range since St. Francis, the second contest of the year. He had a season high 22 points on 6-8 shooting.
Tim Abromaitis was great once again. He joined in with Hansbrough in attacking the zone with deadeye long range shooting. He scored 18 and made half of his three point shots. After the game, he talked about how the team was able to play high-intensity defense from the get-go and keep this from turning into another fight. Indeed, that was nice to see. We're not going to hold every team to 22 in the first half, but good defense can really set the tone from the tip.
Ty Nash played pretty well again. He's not going to be a star out there, but he focused on playing a big role in the paint and was did his part. He had a decent night on offense with 8 points on 4-6 shooting and pulled down 5 boards.
Luke Harangody was successful against IUPUI's smaller forwards, but really didn't have to do too much. That's a good sign for Notre Dame. 16 points on only 12 shots, his fewest attempts of the season. He took what the defense gave him, but allowed our other players to contribute. The more we can spread scoring around, the better the Irish will play against good competition. On defense, he finished with 5 blocks which ties his career-high. Also 11 rebounds, as ND controlled the boards very nicely.
Off the bench, Peoples wasn't too bad. He had 6 points and 6 rebounds, but was very cold on a few three-point attempts. Carleton Scott had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and showed off that athleticism with a few blocks. With Jackson healthy, the rotation stayed pretty much the same until mopup time. Broghammer played seven late minutes and had a couple nice dunks. Joey Brooks picked up 5 quick points as well. Cooley had a couple assists and we even saw the walkons for a couple minutes a piece.
Whereas the Irish showed a complete inability to attack Northwestern's 1-3-1, they played IUPUI's matchup zone well all night. Panther coach Ron Hunter said we were the best team they've played all year, a nice compliment considering that Kansas State is a pretty solid team. He also mentioned how Hansbrough and Abro will keep teams from doubling Harangody.
The preview played itself out pretty well. Nobles and Young both shot well. Glenn picked up 19 points, but had his second worst shooting night of the year. He's a talented player and probably would have had more if we hadn't gotten him into foul trouble. Still, nice job overall on defense. The Irish held IUPUI twelve percentage points lower than their season average and grabbed eight more rebounds. Twenty-two assists, another nice sign of spreading the ball around, double-digits in team blocks. Great game all the way around.
The full power of IU and Purdue have combined and will be propelled towards South Bend tonight. Duck and cover, everyone. The Jaguars are 7-2, their best win coming in overtime against Georgia State. This is a team with an even shorter bench than the Irish, so no need to memorize a wide range of players. There are three guys you want to know:
#23 Robert Glenn is a skinny 6'7" forward. Good luck living up to your 18.3 points per game with a 195 pound body against a Big East team. He leads the team at 6.3 rebounds per contest as well and is pretty unreliable with the ball in his hands (averaging 3.7 turnovers). Gameplan: use Luke Harangody to hold down the post and make Glenn beat you by taking the ball to the hoop. Force him to take contested drives to the post, take away easy buckets, and let him make his inevitable mistakes.
#5 Alex Young is a pretty decent shooting guard. He's hitting 38% of his three-point attempts this season, which is significantly better than last year. If he gets hot, that 6'5" frame will be a bit tough to defend. Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis will have their defensive skills tested.
#1 Leroy Nobles is similar to Young, but a better shooter with a bit of a more conservative trigger finger. Again, either Ben or Tim will have the first crack at this guy, but look at Carleton Scott to get some good minutes.
Jonathan Peoples could be the starting point guard tonight with Tory Jackson's injury, leaving open the possibility of a Mike Broghammer or Joey Brooks getting serious time in the rotation. I'd like to see the freshmen get a little more experience and we could have some of that tonight.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I got an e-mail this morning from a recent ND grad who contributes to this blog and had a very nice write-up on the basketball season yesterday. Thrown-in are a few quotes from Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Finally, a few more comments on the game Sunday. There were a few things I neglected to touch on in the main post. Obviously Tim Abromaitis starting is a very good sign. I've lavished praise on the young man from Alumni Hall enough this season already, but once again it seems that the coaches have found a diamond in the recruiting rough. Our competition for this guy came from strictly academic powerhouses (Princeton, Penn, Yale, Rice, and a very bad Northwestern program), so this just seems to be a good scouting job by our staff. His teeth will be cut in Big East play and it is far too early to annoint him the next great Irish player, but I really like what I've seen so far. Now if he had just gotten any experience in his first two years...
One last note on recruiting, it looks like the football coaches have zeroed in on the guy to replace Manti Teo at middle linebacker.
EDIT: Big mistake. Abro started in place of Peoples, not Nash. I missed the start of Sunday's game and had to ask about the starting lineup. Very sorry about the mix-up.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Notre Dame 90, Central Florida 72
Tory Jackson played very well in 27 minutes before leaving the game with an injury. Thankfully, the team continued without him and was able to keep up a strong offensive performance throughout. Jackson scored only 4 points, but had 9 assists with zero turnovers on the day. It's hard to have a better day distributing the ball than that.
Ben Hansbrough scored 11, but was a little careless with the ball. I do like him a lot, but he can be a bit of a bad fit with Tory in the backcourt. Of course, we don't really have any other options in the backcourt, so here's to the two guys getting more comfortable as the year goes on.
Jonathan Peoples- 20 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST- No reason to waste any more blog space on that...
Abro really was fantastic today. Yes he did score 31, but only nine of those points came on three pointers. Unlike a Ryan Ayers or some other marginal player who has a breakout game, Tim showed an ability to score in a wide variety of ways. He was 8-9 from the line and shot 59% from the floor. Throw in 4 rebounds for a nice well-rounded performance. Keep an eye on this guy in the future, he has the potential to be a star.
Luke Harangody was just as good, but we expect that kind of performance from him. 29 points, 7 rebounds. He was perfect from the charity stripe and very efficient from the floor. Missed a pair of three pointers, but still finished with one of his better performances on the year.
Carleton Scott had another very solid game with 6 points and 7 assists. He has really found a role as a statsheet filler and is starting to earn a much larger role in the rotation. Ty Nash was great, too. 7 points, 5 rebounds. Hard to complain about anyone today. Except Jonathan Peoples... but let's not ruin the moment by dwelling on him.
Even our defensive performance was pretty solid today. The stats don't show it, but as a whole our guys showed more intensity on D. We're not going to hang 90 on everyone, so the team has to play well on both ends of the floor.
Very good game against a team that I thought could give us a little trouble. Nice job, guys. Hopefully Michael was impressed.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Central Florida Preview
The Knights have a reasonably deep bench, playing eight guys for 17 minutes per game or more and none more than 30. Last season, almost all of their scoring came from Jermaine Taylor, who scored 26.2 a contest. #11 Isaac Sosa is the highest returning scorer, averaging 8.2 last year in only 19.7 minutes per game. His playing time has increased significantly and he now boasts the most points on the team. A terrific shooter, he is 16th in the country in three point percentage (51.3%).
#15 Dave Diakite will give Jonathan Peoples trouble. At 6'6", 215 lbs., he has a height advantage over our third guard and likes to crash the boards. He has two double-doubles on the season and has pulled down three or more offensive rebounds in over half his games. The Irish better be careful or this guy will single-handedly lead to a bunch of second-chance points.
There are a bunch of other role players in the rotation, with no one really sticking out. #12 Taylor Young and #3 A.J. Rompza are both reliable point guards who see significant playing time. #25 A.J. Tyler and #33 Keith Clanton are their main guys in the post, but look for #13 Jakub Kusmieruk in spurts. He is 7'4" and has played in every game this season but clearly is not polished enough to merit significant playing time (only 6.9 MPG).
Michael's son Marcus Jordan comes off the bench. The only real thing he has accomplished so far this year was wearing his dad's shoes.
Friday, December 04, 2009
There are a couple good hoops games on tomorrow (obviously UNC/Kentucky with Wake at Gonzaga at 5:30 is a nice under-the-radar matchup), but it is the last real football Saturday so I will have my TV tuned into a few championship games. Cincy at Pitt could be interesting, if only to see Brian Kelly. He seems the be the best really possible choice at this point (more on Stoops later), so we should get to know the guy. The SEC Championship at 4 will be the game of the day, of course. Cheer for the Tide and hope Urban Meyer hears God calling him home between now and the Sugar Bowl.
As for your daily unsubstantiated rumor around campus, word is that multiple football players leaked Bob Stoops' imminent hiring on Facebook and Twitter today. Take that for a grain of salt, but if our new coach comes from Norman over the weekend, you heard it here first.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
New Intro Video
In the Big East, South Florida is in trouble. Guard Anthony Carter will be suspended after failing a second drug test (enter Kyle McAlarney reference and schools' drug policy comparisons here). The Bulls are also under investigation for some other alleged violations.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Around the Country
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge ends tonight. If Duke or Florida State can pull out a road win at Wisconsin or OSU, the Midwest will fall for the umpteenth straight time. In other news, Kansas treated a nobody OOC opponent the way you're supposed to, 98-31 drubbing.
And then there's the football coaching search. If the announcement comes in the next two days, my money's on Stoops (even with all the non-denial denials). If this thing comes next week, it'll be Kelly. Longer than that and we're in trouble. Honestly, I like this year's crop of candidates much more than the former employee. Hopefully we'll land the right guy this time.
And about Coach Brey, I'll wait until an NIT bid is locked in before I start calling for his head around here. There's still plenty of basketball to be played (though I definitely understand the frustration... our continued lack of defensive concentration, short bench, and pathetic non-conference scheduling have been magnified by the fact that this team might not be all that great).
For those of you who are ready to make a change, any ideas on a possible replacement? Though I'm not ready to demand his removal, I don't mind throwing a few possible candidates' names out there.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Notre Dame 80, Idaho State 70
This game mirrored Kennesaw State a bit. First half was very disappointing, but the team looked rejuvenated coming out of the break with improved defense. This may have been our best game on offense of the year, so it is a little disheartening that the reserves slacked off a bit in the final minute to take away from what should have been a decent margin of victory. To be fair, the Bengals did well to knock down their shots in the last seconds.
Tory Jackson was kind of quiet. He picked up 8 points and 3 assists in 30 minutes with 2 steals and no turnovers. Went 3-7 from the field for a solid night, but nothing spectacular.
Ben Hansbrough made most of his 14 points from the charity stripe. Not a great night shooting from the field, but grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. I like how he can contribute in a variety of ways outside of just shooting three pointers. He's in a bit of a different mold from our last few shooting guards.
Jonathan Peoples was disappointing once again. Hopefully he is ok after sustaining what looked like a bad fall on his neck. He did earn 4 assists to just one turnover, but was dreadful on defense. Contributed nothing shooting the ball, as well. There are times when he looks like the slowest guy on the court.
Ty Nash continues to see his minutes cut by Abro and Scott. He did perform pretty well tonight with 7 points and 4 rebounds. 3-5 from the field. Made one of his two free throw attempts.
Luke Harangody becomes the first player in Irish history with 2000 points and 1000 rebounds. Congrats to him. 27 and 12 tonight, with a couple steals to boot. Drained both of his three point attempts and shot 71% overall. Just about flawless.
Abro and Scott both played over 20 minutes, which was nice to see. Tim had his first single-digit scoring game of the year, but still dropped 9. He was not hot from three point land, but was still able to be successful inside the arc. Carleton scored 8 on a perfect shooting night. Mike Broghammer played 9 minutes and earned 3 points and rebounds. He needs to cut down on the fouling, however. Some experience for Brooks and Cooley, 4 and 3 minutes each.