Sunday, December 13, 2009

Loyola Marymount 87, Notre Dame 85

Well, got that one wrong. The Irish were outscored 5-0 in the final minute, with a Jarred DuBois three providing the final dagger with eight seconds left. For sure LMU is better than last year, but this is still certainly a vastly inferior team. We just didn't play anything like a good major conference program today. Four game winning streak down the drain.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Obviously, the calls for Coach Brey's head will come out after this loss. That's completely understandable, just try to be objective with your analysis. Venting is fine, just be constructive and give us your ideas on what is going wrong and how you think we can fix it.


Anonymous said...

If you schedule this many creampuffs in your nonconference slate I think that the team ultimatelty loses interst and falls asleep. You end up getting bitten and that's what I believe happened tonight. Notre Dame has everything to lose, like any chance at an at-large NCAA bid, and nothing to gain from these games. Also, when you finally do meet a squad from an elite conference, ala Northwestern, you're team is completely unprepaired for their speed, defensive intensity and passing skills. I'm trying to remember how bad we were in the 90s and before Brey arrived, but on the heels of last years disgraceful seven game losing streak and this awful loss I'm starting to lose my patience. Maybe Jack Swarbuck is too?

lucid said...

I watched the first half and assumed we'd win it - and had a holiday party to go to... Christ! They played terrible defense in the first half, but I assumed they would do what they have in most of the games this year and lock down for the first 10 minutes of the second and take it away. Apparently that didn't happen.

I love Luke, but he gave up so many easy points in the first half. It really drove me nuts. Abro was bad in his rotations and off the dribble D tonight. He's never been great, but tonight, he was really off on the D.

The team as a whole looked slow - much slower than usual.

I do wish I had watched the second half so I could pinpoint what really sucked... but, you know, first holiday party thrown by a good friend since his child was born 2 year ago - had to go.

Doc Hoople said...

I've been watching Brey for almost ten years and this is what I expect. Sub par defense, somewhat better during the Cross years. Playing not to loose rather than win at the end of games. Almost no rotation. Having big troubles with teams that are athletic. Most good coaches would have called timeout with eight seconds to go and set up a play that they thought would allow them to get off a good look. Not Brey, its always drive the lane with your point guard and pray. It's been a long time since I've heard the unrest from the fans that sit around us. When they come. It is so much more fun when everyone is enthused.

Anonymous said...

Why is Jonathan Peoples still in th rotation? Is there anybody out there that still believes we shouldn't get Brooks out there into the fray? Hansbrough couldn't guard a dead man. Hard to believe but I think McAlarney was a better defender. BE guards will feast on us. And how about the 5-6 run out baskets they scored last night? Do you think after 2 or 3 that maybe Mike would have told a guard to get back.
Max Good was entertaining. He was coaching his pants off the whole game, even to the point of demonstrating positioning with gis assistants during the middle of the game.

DJ said...

Brey is who he is. He has never emphasized defense, except possibly during the Cross years (and I submit Cross was brought in to work with the big men, more than to work with defense). His end-of-game strategy is painfully predictable. His recruiting is less than ambitious (if you describe your program as "mid-major", and treat it so, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy).

He won't change. And this will never get this program where it needs to be -- an annual challenger for top four in the Big East, and Sweet 16. So if he is to stay, it has to be made clear to him that he doesn't deserve to stay, that there are no better options out there.

But Swarbrick needs to re-hire that search firm to begin the search. With luck, he can interview his favorite candidates at the Final Four -- right in his home town.

Meghan said...

I really want someone to explain to Harangody that he is NOT a 3-point shooter. I was very frustrated by how little he dominated the inside. If he doesn't get more aggressive, we are going to get eaten alive in the Big East.

memento said...

Notre Dame's problems begin with Mike Brey in the offseason. He recruite 3 star players in a 5 star league. He rationalizes all this by saying he goes after 4 year guys not 1 and done. Well Mike, other big time Big East coaches recruit the best talent year in and year out without missing a beat....Brey also has a defeatist attitude when it comes to Notre Dame basketball, who can forget (although I would love to), some of his infamous quotes of the past...on Notre Dame making the N.C.A.A. tournament a few years back..."well, at least we got access", say what?...or this one.."we shouldn't expect to make the tournament every year, it's not realistic", not exactly Knute Rockne inspiring....Notre Dame shouldn't settle for mediocrity on any level, and that's precisely what Mike Brey represents.