Saturday, December 19, 2009

Notre Dame 84, UCLA 73

Good win for the Irish as they took control early in the second half and never let it get too close the rest of way. However, we still haven't played a legitimately good team to date and some of the same issues continue to surface. Glad to put Loyola Marymount in the past and get a double-digit win over a rival, but this team's fate lies ahead in conference play.

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.


lucid said...

I have to say it - for the second game in a row, Luke played atrocious defense. Yes on the whole - particularly in the second half - the team defense was almost acceptable, but jesus, Luke looked horrible much of the time.

I really want this team to succeed, not just because I'm a die-hard Irish fan, but because there are a lot of interesting pieces to this team, and elements that a Brey team has never had [like a penchant for dribble penetration by multiple players]. They really do need to lock down on the D though & someone really needs to tell Luke that he's gotta lay wood on the defensive side of the ball. He knows how to play while in foul trouble, so he shouldn't be playing that way the whole game.

Anonymous said...

All in all a good day. Any day you beat UCLA it's a good day. Scott played well and Tory played some D when it was needed. I respect Tory and how he has sacrificed offensively to play D for the team so far this year. Hansbrough and Harangody were God awful on D and must at least make an attempt or this team will go nowhere this year. Peoples got some junk early and made a contribution, although he was terrible in the second half. The short bench appears to be Brey's calling card - no matter how much we whine. As far as the crowd goes - where are the 20's and 30 somethings? The non-student demographic can probably tell you all about the game with UCLA in 1974 - they were there.

lucid said...

Anon - Hansbrough is an interesting case on defense. He's very good on the ball and comes up with a significant number of steals, but his off the ball defense is terrible. He never closes on shooters coming off rotations. There were times today where it looked like it wasn't a recognition issue [which might be understandable playing with a new team], but just pure laziness.

Then again, don't get me started on Luke's post 'defense'.

What drives me crazy is that there have been several instances this year, including parts of this game, where the team actually plays good defense. I don't understand how it goes from good to terrible within the span of minutes. It seems like there is no in between.

Anonymous said...

Breys in trouble and he knows it...

We are about down to a six man rotation? What does Scott do wrong that he can't stay on the floor more than a few minutes? I'm a big Luke fan but there is know way he will make it in the pro's. His defense is horrible. Nash will get eaten alive by the big men in the Big East. This is a flustrating team to watch.

Mattare said...

For a lot of fans that aren't at ND now or in the South Bend area this was the first opportunity to see the boys in action. All in all it was a good win, but not surprisingly there were a lot of chinks in the armor revealed.

If Brey finds a way to make this unit successful in the Big East I'll be absolutely shocked and will acknowledge that perhaps the constant pats on the back he gets from the talking heads are deserved.

Unforunately I just don't see it happening. Here's hoping I'm totally wrong.