A great effort on the road goes to waste as the Irish attack wore down in the final minutes. As frustrating as it is to let a three point game get out of hand in the final five minutes, the whole contest seemed to follow Connecticut's season theme of playing down to lesser opponents. Ultimately, it's hard to win a lot of games when you allow 50% shooting from the floor on defense.
Once again, our bench was comically short. It has to be pretty frustrating for the freshmen to only get a minute of mopup time once we're out of contention in a Big East game. I guess it's best to hope we don't see them at all (unless in the unlikely event we have a few blowouts go our way the rest of the year). The minutes distribution amongst our veterans was also a bit perplexing. With Ty Nash only playing 21 minutes, we played a small lineup for half of the game. No wonder the rebounding numbers favored the Huskies. Even though Nash was ineffective in the second half, we can't rely on Jonathan Peoples and Tim Abromaitis to win the rebound battle over bigger and more athletic Big East forwards. That's where a few good minutes from a guy like Broghammer would be golden.
The preview focused on how Connecticut stops strong offenses with its shot blocking ability. Tonight was pretty close to the norm. The Huskies blocked eleven Notre Dame field goal attempts, two more than their season average. Partially as a result of that the Irish managed only 40% from the field, even though they made a pretty decent average of three-point attempts.
Tory Jackson played 40 minutes with 8 assists and only 2 turnovers. Unfortunately, he struggled to create baskets himself. His six points came on two three pointers, with nothing close to the basket. He's just a couple inches too small to get to the rim a la Jerome Dyson or even Kemba Walker. Sure he's an 1000-point scorer, but his four-year starting career will most likely end with only one season averaging double-digits.
Ben Hansbrough fouled out after 38 decent minutes. Like Jackson, his points came from the perimeter. Three of his layup attempts were blocked, and he finished 1-6 on two-pointers for the game. We just don't have a real Big East driving threat in the backcourt.
Abro struggled against Stanley Robinson's good defense and looked a bit spooked in his first game against really tough man defense. It was a good learning experience, but one that should have taken place a year or two ago. This game was a good example of why young players should get a taste of real playing time before they are thrust into the regular rotation. 8 points on 3-9 shooting, he'll get it back together.
Ty Nash had 11 and 8, but only one basket in the second half. His minutes were slashed and he really was not a factor when it mattered. Maybe he isn't the answer full-time, but we need someone in the same mold to help out Luke Harangody in the paint (especially as he continues to play like a wing). Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott are much better suited at the 3, so why not give one of the freshman bigs a shot?
Harangody was solid, but continues to feel too comfortable on the arc. He made one of four three point attempts, right on his season average. He has now exceeded the number of three-point attempts from last year. That's very bad. 31 points and 9 rebounds is a great bottom line, but our offense suffers when Luke takes twice as many shots as anyone else. On defense, his post D has really taken a hit this year. He struggles in the post against big guys.
No bench points. Peoples played 12 turnover-filled minutes. Scott passed out two assists and blocked one shot.
On to South Florida. A loss here and we're behind the eight-ball already.