Tag Archives: Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame 50 Pitt 45

image from kentuckysportsradio.com

Game Recap

I’m not sure what I think about this one.  Both teams seemed willing to play slightly slower than a snail’s pace, so that’s how it went.  In a game like that, the more efficient team at both ends wins.  Notre Dame was the more efficient team.  They won, and they deserved it.  That much is obvious.  Should Pitt have pushed the tempo a bit more?  I don’t think so as evidenced by the fact that they were in it until the very last possession.  My diagnosis is this: Pitt took some 3’s in the first half, and they just weren’t falling.  Good teams (maybe well coached teams is more of what I want to say there) admit when it’s not their night to play the game they want to and find a way to win anyway.  Pitt made an attempt at that by trying to be more aggressive driving the lane, and it worked sometimes and resulted in forced shots other times.  It wasn’t perfect, but it kept Pitt in the game.  That’s for sure.  But I’m almost positive that if Pitt hits a few 3’s, this is a totally different game.  Notre Dame deserved that game because they made the Panthers one dimensional.  The Irish frontcourt did a wonderful job sealing off the low post, so when the shots didn’t fall the only option left was taking your man off the dribble.  If they make some shots and put some pressure on Notre Dame at two fronts, they can put Notre Dame on their heels a bit.  I have a sinking suspicion that when Notre Dame gets down by more than 5 or 10 for the first time that the tendency to run and gun will surface again and it’ll be a hard freight train to stop.  But I guess we’ll see whenever that happens.  Some other random thoughts:

  • Pitt didn’t get much in the way of bench points.  You have to temper your expectations with the final score, but it still wasn’t a real great showing.
  • The best argument for Pitt speeding up the tempo in this game?  Notre Dame only went 7 players deep (even with a foul out).  An up and down game really wears guys out.
  • Jay Bilas made a big deal about the switching on the ball screens.  I saw it too, and I’m a big Jay Bilas fan, but I’m not sure it was that huge of a deal.  Pitt switches a lot like that, and their guards are usually very good at guarding bigger guys.  This game they got their lunch eaten, but there’s not much you can do there.  The other options are to not hedge on screens and allow some open 3’s, or play zone and allow some open 3’s.  Neither one sounded all that good, either.  The bigger hole in Pitt’s defense that I saw was the uncontested layups when a guy was too eager to double team late in a shot clock.
  • I’m sure this is the type of game that non-Big East fans tuned out.  That’s fine.  This was a game where you had to appreciate the defense: the screens, the switching, the help side, etc.  Most people don’t have the patience for that.  Their loss.

So that’s pretty much it until selection Sunday.  I think the consensus for Pitt is a 3 or 4 seed.  We’ll have to see.  If they could ever play consistently, they’d be Final Four material.  I’m not holding out hope for that, though.  Which is why as a Pitt fan I’ll take that 3/4 seed and say ‘Thank You’.

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2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

 

image from scrapetv.com

 

Previous Posts

#16 DePaul

#15 USF

#14 Providence

#13 Rutgers

#12 St. John’s

#11 Cincinnati

#10 Seton Hall

#9 Marquette

#8 Syracuse

#7 Pitt

Last Year In A Nutshell:

21-15 (8-10 Big East)

Lost in the final four of the NIT to Penn St. (were a #2 seed)

Coach: Mike Brey

If I Were Coach Brey I Would Start:

Luke Harangody (F, Sr.) – No, he didn’t graduate yet (I know.  I’m just as surprised).  Huge guy in the post.  Double double machine.

Tory Jackson (G, Sr.) – Returning starter at the point.  Very quick and can provide a little bit of scoring.  Also a decent rebounder for a guard.  Very good defensively as well.

Ben Hansbrough (G, Sr.) – Yes, he’s Tyler’s brother.  Mississippi St. transfer. More of a physical guard who’s a decent shooter.

Scott Martin (G/F, Jr.) – Will play in the 4 spot.  Very good defensive player.  Can play away from the basket and is actually a bit of a shooting threat as well.

Jonathan Peoples (G, Sr.) – Probably won’t start all season, but may start out there because of experience.  He’s another point guard who is more of the classic distributor guard.

Other Key Contributors:

Joey Brooks (G, Fr.) – Will mostly play the wing.  Very strong and physical for a swing man, which will play nicely in the Big East.  Mostly a shooting threat.

Tyrone Nash (G/F, Jr.) – Role player inside.  Mostly a defensive specialist.  Not a great rebounder.

Carleton Scott (F, Jr.) – Long body.  Can step out and make a jump shot.  Not a bad defender.

Tim Abromaitis (F, Jr.) – Big guy who can play physically, but can also shot very well and may play on the wing a bit.

Overall Thoughts:

Notre Dame is once again going to be centered around Luke Harangody.  They’ve kept an inside outside punch going with him and a standout guard over the past few years.  Last year it was Kyle McAlarney.  This year it will have to be Tory Jackson.  The Irish are a very thin at the guard position, but they’ve got a ton of frontcourt players who have been sitting and waiting their turn.  Notre Dame will rely on their freshmen a bit less than most of the rest of the conference, but there is still some question marks because they lost a lot of significant number of minutes from last year.

Offensively, the name of the game in South Bend has always been balance.  That shouldn’t change much this year.  What most likely will change is the reliance on the outside shot.  This year’s backcourt seems to be more of a ballhandling, flashy style than in years past.  A lot of that comes from Jackson.  Notre Dame does some shooters in the frontcourt this year, however.  So I wouldn’t start to pack in the defenses against them quite yet.  The problem for the Irish last year was defense.  They allowed 70.7 points per game which was 12th in the Big East.  Some of that had to do with the lack of aggression on defense, and some of it was due to the lack of athleticism and quickness.   The good news is that most of the players stepping up seem to be an upgrade on the defensive end.  That’s probably the main reason I’ve put the Irish this high.  The one thing I will say about the Notre Dame defense is that it has always been physical, and I definitely see that continuing.

Overall, I think the major flaw with this team is depth.  Especially in the backcourt.  However, I see them stepping up their defense and remaining balanced on offense, so I say stock up on the Irish.  Combine that with the drop-off that many other teams in the league will see, and it could be a very good year for Notre Dame.  Keep an eye on the injury status, because the Irish can’t afford to lose anybody this year.  Also keep an eye on whether or not the lack of quickness that has hurt them in the past will hurt them again.

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