Over the weekend the Irish kept its fading tournament hopes alive with a 69-67 2OT win over Louisville. This was the first time the Irish had won in the state of Kentucky since 1980. More importantly these are the type of wins that put a team into the big dance. Notre Dame now sits 10-6 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Even though its still early, Notre Dame can't afford to lose more than seven games from here on out til the Big East tournament. Last year only five at-large team made the tournament with 14 losses and one of those teams was Marquette who had an RPI of 64 and an SOS of 30. This year Notre Dame currently ranks 104 in the RPI and its SOS is 87. For Notre Dame to make the dance they will have to go 10-8 in the conference and win a game at the Big East tournament. That would put the Irish at 20-13 and 10-8 overall which would almost be a lock for the tournament. However the Irish still have games against five ranked opponents, not including road trips to West Virginia, Villinova, and St. Johns.
The end to a very disappointing season came tuesday night in a 59-67 loss to Penn State in the NIT semi finals at the Madison Square Garden. No one expected us to be playing in the NIT semi finals and I don't mean that in a good way. The Irish at the start of the year seemed destined for at least the Sweet Sixteen. What went wrong? What went well?
Luke Harangody: If someone were tell me before the year that he was going to average 23 ppg and almost 12 rpg, I would have been expecting a huge year for the Irish. The only thing was the gody's shooting percentages went down from a year ago. In the 07-08 year he shot .500 and in 08-09 he shot .459. I am guessing the one of the reason his percentages went down were because he would try to force shot and carry the team through long stretches of the game. Overall this season individually was a mild disappointment based on expectations going into league play.
Zach Hillesland: He completely failed at filling Rob Kurz spot on the starting lineup. He could not rebound at the same level as Kurz could. Which ultimately was one of the big reasons of failure this year. He was just not nearly strong enough. Overall: HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT
Ryan Ayers: Well he didnt do really good but he didnt do really bad. The only thing that stopped him from being one of the best players in the Big East was his inability to drive at the bucket. He actually shot the three worse by percentages this season than he did last. Overall: He was at best so-so this year.
Kyle McAlarney (K-Mac or McAmazing): The highlight of his year came in a losing effort against UNC in Maui when he drained 10 3's and had a career high 39 points. After that game teams started guarding him very tightly. This made it very hard for him to get open and square up towards the hoop. Overall: to me it was a disappointment I felt he could have averaged 18-20 points a game.
Tory Jackson (T-Jack): He did pretty good at controlling the team but he did not do as well as last season when he averaged 5.8 assists. I felt he could have drove more and not have settled for so many free throw line jumpers. He improved his free throw shooting from last season but still shot 63% from the charity stripe. Overall: so-so.
Luke Zeller (LZ): Some people might have expected him to fill Rob Kurz shoes but i definitely did not expect him to do that because that was not his role on the team. His role on the team was to come of the bench and to hit some big shots when we needed him. He only got to play 14 minutes a game but he certainly deserved to play more than Hillesland. Overall: its hard to say he did good by only getting 4 ppg and 2 rpg but its hard to say he did bad by only getting 14 minutes a game. He did so-so.
Ty Nash: I cannot wait to see what this kid can do next year. He probably should have been starting at the start of the season. By watching him and seeing his low post moves I think he can average 16 and 8 next season. He has to improve at the free throw line though. He definitely deserved more than a 11 minutes a game, he should have gotten at least more than 22 minutes a game which Hillesland got. Overall: He should so much potential this year i say this year he did good.
Jonathan Peoples: He came in the game when we needed him to and he either did good or alright but it never seemed like he did bad. I see him potentially competing for a starting job next year or the first guard to come off the bench. Overall: so-so
Carleton Scott: Well its hard to say very much about a guy who played 4 minutes a game. Next year he will be a key piece to the puzzle. Overall: Cannot be determined
Tom Kopko: Well he played 2 minutes a game thats pretty much all i can say. Next year i cannot see him playing any more than how Peoples played this year. Overall: Cannot be determined
Tim Andree: He played the least on the team other than the players who cannot play because they just transfered. He play under 2 minutes a game. Next year i dont see him playing very much either. Overall: Cannot be determined
The Irish defeated the Kentucky Wildcats earlier this evening 77-67. It twas the last game ever played at the Joyce Center, next year it will become the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish played outstanding tonight with Ryan Ayers knocking down three pointers (4-7) and Luke Harangody showing why he shouldve been BE player of the year with 30 points and 11 rebounds. A stat that goes unnoticed for big man is assists and Luke Harangody had 4 assists which is pretty great for a big man. I would talk more about this game and the upcoming game against Penn State right now but i should really being doing my Homework instead.
Notre Dame will play either Kentucky or Creighton in the elite eight of the NIT. If Kentucky wins then the Irish will be able to play one more final home game, but if Creighton wins then the Irish will have to travel Creighton. The Irish will play on Wednesday though. The Kentucky and Creighton game will be finished later today. Right now Creighton is up 33 to 31 at half time.
So yesterday the Irish basketball team obviously didn't make the NCAA tournament. Instead the Irish will be playing in the NIT. They got a reasonable 2 seed in a 32 team tournament. The Irish will play at 9et Tuesday against a respectable UAB team. Here is the NIT schedule at ESPN.
The Fighting Irish lost last night to the West Virginia Mountaineers 79-68. After fallin to the Mountaineers the Irish have to go 4-1 the rest of the regular season and do atleast some work in th Big East Tournament to have a shot at the big dance.
The Irish failed to do the little things last night like box out/rebound, free-throw shooting, not closing out/pressuring shooters, and they put the Mountaineers in the bonus early in the 2nd half. The Irish were out rebounded 40-28 and let the Mountaineers grab 15 offensive boards. If we could have just gotten about 12 of those offenive boards that WVU got from us, thats 12 more possesions for us. If we score on a third of those possesions (6 points), that would have prevented WVU from second chance points and that would have been a win for ND. We shot 10-20 from the free throw line, unacceptable. Alex Ruoff made four three pointers and finished with 24 points, much of that because of not closing out on shooters and not even putting a hand up.
I dont think the Irish will be making the tourney after the loss last night unless they go 4-1 with only loss to Uconn. After doing that i believe the Irish have to win at least one maybe two games in the Big East tourney. The next game is against Providence this saturday.
Oh i just wanted to put this in here. Oregon made it to the dance last year has a 8 seed last year with a 18-12 overall record and a 9-9 conference record. This years Big East is better than last years Pac Ten
The Irish are on the bubble. I believe we need to win 6 out of the last 7 games with the only loss at #1 UCONN to have a decent shot at the tournament. That would mean big wins at west virginia and providence, also a huge win against #13 Villinova at home. Do I think it is possible? YES, for sure. We definitely have the talent level to beat anyone as we proved that by beating #7 Louisville by 33. If we were to win 6 out of last 7 our overall record would be 19-11 and a pretty decent conference record of 10-8. Notre Dame's RPI is not very high and our strength of schedule is not very high even though i believe it is a top five hardest schedule in the nation. I do not know how they do the strength of schedule because we have played 12 ranked teams after playing Louisville. The Irish have/going to have played many good teams that are not ranked like Cincinnati, West Virginia, Ohio State, Providence.
game to go:
South Florida 2/15 2:00 (all times ET)
@ West Virginia 2/18 7:00
@ Providence 2/21 12:00
Rutgers 2/25 7:00 (on ESPNU)
@ #1 Uconn 2/28 2:00 (CBS)
#13 Villinova 3/2 7:00 (ESPN)
St. Johns 3/6 7:00
The Key for the Irish to win these games: DEFENSE. Irish actually played defense against Louiville and look what happened, Irish won by 33.
The Key players' for the Irish to win these games: I was going to just say Kyle McAlarney because of outside shooting but then I had to include Ryan Ayers. When McAlarney and Ayers start shooting the ball well then that opens up so much for Luke Harangody. When they are shooting well it takes off the double teams off of Harangody. So then teams only can put one man on Harangody. Everyone knows "The Gody" can destroy anyone mano e mano.
The Fighting Irish destroyed the number 7th ranked Louisville Cardinals by 33 on Thursday night, 90-57. The Irish had lost 7 straight prior to this slaughter. The Gody went for 32 points and 17 rebounds, while McAmazing (McAlarney) and Ayer cobined for 10 threes. Ayers went 5-7 from downtown and ended up with 19 points. McAlarney went 5-9 from behind the arc for 21 points, McAlarney made a three with 8:32 left while getting fouled for the 4 point play. Jackson had a big night with 14 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
The Fighting Irish defeated the Georgetown Hoyas 73-67 to extend the Irish's home winning streak to 44 games. The Fighting Irish have defeated everybody to come into Joyce Center since they lost to Butler on november 13, 2006. They have now beat every Big East team at home in this streak except the Rutgers, who the Irish will play February 25. The Irish also got to snap their 5 game skid vs. the Hoyas dating back to February 16, 2005 at home.
The key thing the Irish did to win this game was defense. They allowed only 67 points to a good Georgetown team that has Dajuan Summers and Greg Monroe. The Irish forced the Hoyas to shoot 41.7% from the field and 22.2% from behind the arc.
Harangody led the Irish and the game in points with a season high 31 points. Harangody was 11-19 from the field and 9-9 from the charity stripe. McAlarney (McAmazing) had 17 points and was 5-11 from three point land. Tory Jackson lead the Irish in assists with 7 and had 10 points.
The Irish showcased their potential to be a top 5 team in the nation if they play like that game after game. They will at least be at the top of the Big East all year long with Pitt and UCONN. They just have to do what they do best and thats score, and then they just have to play some decent defense. Then the Irish can compete with any team in the nation.
The Fighting Irish will try to extend their home winning streak to 45 this saturday against the Seton Hall Pirates.
Notre Dame defeated Depaul 92-82 on tuesday night at the All State arena on the Depaul University Campus. Notre Dame did two out of the three things that will make them a good team in the Big East. They shot the ball tremendous, had another big man step up other than Harangody, but they played aweful defense.
The Fighting Irish were shooting the lights out. The Irish were shooting a great 52.2% from the field and were spectacular from three by shooting 40% from behind the line. Mr. Zach Hillesland was 8-11 from the field working the post, which gets on to my next point.
The Irish established another big man in that game in Zach Hillesland. Has i said he was 8-11 from the field, got to the line times but did not convert by shooting 1-5 from the line. Hillesland ended with a career high 17 points. By Hillesland playing good it helped take pressure off Harangody. It helped allow Harangody to get 26 points and grab 16 rebounds.
On the other hand Notre Dame did really bad on defense by allowing 82 points to a decent Depaul team. But if they really want to win the Big East and make a run in the tourney they will need to pick up their Defense. They allowed the Blue Demons shoot 52.3% percent from the field and 41.7% from three.
Overall I feel the Irish were rather impressive. Mike Brey will go back to South Bend and with his coaches they will discuss a plan to make the Irish defense better. If the Irish pick up their defense i think they are the best team in the Big East.
Notre Dame going into Big East is not in the best shape but they are in good shape. Notre didn't play has good as they should've in non-conference but they got through it with only two losses to Ohio State and UNC. There are a few things Notre Dame has to do to be successful in the Big East.
- Establish another big man. Notre Dame bases its team around Luke Harangody and thats a good idea. Notre Dame just has to establish another big man in the paint to take the pressure and the double teams off Harangody. Last year ND had Rob Kurz to take some pressure off and more teams were unaware of THE GODY. There are a few people in mind that could take off pressure down low.
Zach Hillesland the senior starter at power forward. He has not been very productive this year only averaging 6.3 points a game and 6.2 rebounds a game. But with his body size (6-9 and 233 pounds) and with his individual skills i think he can at least take off some pressure down.
Luke Zeller former McDonalds high school all-american (he is a bust). Zeller could take some pressure off with his height and ability to shoot the 3. But he is just not nearly physical enough to match up against the big east powers like Dajaun Blair (pitt), Jeff Adrian and Hasheem Thabeet (Uconn), Greg Monroe (Georgetown), and many more.
- More consistent shooting.The second game the Irish lost this year was against Ohio State, during that game the irish were 36% from the field and 38% from three. While McAlarney and Ayers were a combined 3-13 (23%) from 3 and them combined are 80-170 (47%) from three this year.
- DEFENSE clap clap DEFENSE. The Irish really need to pick up if they want to contend for a big east title. Early this year I am sure you remember the Hawaii Invitiational championship against UNC. Harangody couldn't stop Hansbrough to save his life and Tory Jackson couldnt' keep up and in front of Lawson. Their points against average isnt bad so far but that because they have only played two good teams texas got 80 points and UNC got 102.
Overall in the Big East i see the Irish finishing 3rd or 4th.