Saturday, January 31, 2009

Looking Forward

5 straight loses.  That's a fact and it's not going to change.  The Irish can do two things from here on out because they have the talent to do it.  They can forget about that skid and win the rest of their winnable games (21-9 my prediction) or they can let this skid ruin their whole season and just play mediocre like they have been.  

The fate of the team is still in their hands.  Every single one of the games coming up except one are "winnable."  Meaning their is a decent chance that the game can be won.  The game at UConn is not very winnable.  The upcoming game at UCLA will be very tough, but still winnable. If the Irish can win every game but UConn, which isn't by an means an impossible task then they could still end up a 4 or 5 seed in the tournament.  The goal should not be to make the NCAA, it should be to get a good rank in it. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Lose Hope

I am going to say it straight,  the outcome for tomorrows game does not look bright at this point.  But while the schedule is not going to get any easier,  it certainly is going to simmer down a little bit.  The final stretch of 5 straight top 25 opponents comes to an end tomorrow.  And I know that we were not hoping for a 0-5 or even a 1-4 record, but it will soon will be the past.  The Irish, no matter what, are going on, going strong and going all the way to the very last game.  

Here is the rest of the schedule and my predictions-

at Pitt- L
at Cinn- W
at UCLA - W
vs Louisville- W
vs South Florida- W
at WVU- W
at Providence- W
vs Rutgers- W
vs Villanova- W
vs St. John's W

That's a 21-9 record.  Not great, but not bad in this conference.  I know this is optimistic, but I really do still think the recent addition of Nash into the line-up will have a huge effect on the performance of the team.  If the Irish do finish this strong and have a strong performance in the Big East I could see a 4, 5 or 6 seed in the tournament.  It's not over yet, and with everyone counting the Irish out right now, I still believe they still have some fight left in them.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Marquette defeats Notre Dame

#8 Marquette: 71
#22 Notre Dame: 64

The Irish needed a win and they got another frustrating loss.  Look everyone knows the negatives, 3-5 Big East record, likely dropping out of the top 25, and upcoming probable loss pittsburgh.  I am going to focus on the positives of this game and moving forward I am more optimistic than yesterday about the team's chances going forward.

For one, Jonathan Peoples and Luke Zeller started.  People's really impressed me tonight, he had 8 points including two big 3s.  I always hated on him, but he looked like the obvious choice to start over Ayers.  Ayers is ice cold, his shot has no arc.  If Ayers can't shoot he sucks.   I have no comment for Hillesland's dreadful performance.  Luke Zeller played real well, hit few 3s and played strong defense for the most part.  He should start for the remainder of the season. 

Tyrone Nash did not do much, but he did play alot which was good to see.  You know. he played overall better than Ayers and Hillesland.  Out hustled them at least.  It was great to see him in there and extend the depth.

Ayers and Hillesland combined for a total of zero points.  They are really disgusting me right now.  I don't know what happened, you would think pulling them out of the starting line-up would get them going.  It didn't apparantly.

Gody carried the team, scored over 30 points and had 15 rebounds.  Simple as that.  Mac was shut down, and he cant help that when he is being face guarded.  That's when people like Ayers and Hillesland have to take advantage of the pressure on McAlarney and score themselves.  

A loss to Pittsburgh will be a major blow  If the Irish don't pick it up, it's NIT time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Change to the Starting Line-up

This is exactly what the team needs right now.  You know, everyone seems to have written the Irish off, but I am still optimistic for the team's chances down the road.  This team has real talent and their fate is in their hands.  The have very tough games coming up, but what if they win them?  Everything will change.  Head coach Mike Brey stated through a spokesperson today that the starting line-up will change for the game against Marquette.  Brey didn't go any more specific than that.

Really the only realistic move would be to put Luke Zeller instead of either Hillesland or Ayers.  That would create a mismatch against Marquette.  I can't see Jonathan People's going to the starting line-up seeing how he is absolutely terrible. 

A gutsy move for Brey would be to put Nash in the line-up in the forward position.  That would light a spark under Ayers and Hillesland and tell them to pick up their game.  Nash also deserves more playing time,  he went all out and scored 8 points in the two minutes he played yesterday.  Brey did state that he wants to play his sophomores more (meaning Nash and Scott).  Look for at least one of them, probably Nash, to get a decent amount of time in the first half tomorrow.  

The most important thing right now is to put an end to this three game slide.  Despite the rankings, this team has the talent to compete with Marquette.  A win is crucial tomorrow.

Streak Snapped, Rethinking Needed

#3 UConn: 69
#19 Notre Dame: 61

The most frustrating thing about this loss isn't that the 45 game home winning streak has come to end, although that sure is up there. It's that the Irish played good defense for once, and the loss came down to shooting. The Irish hoisted a ton of 3s and only made 29% of them and only shot 32% from inside the arc, thats a miserable shooting performance. That is something you can't really help though, you can control how much effort you are putting in on defense but you can't help it if your not hitting your shots. It's a shame that the loss was because of one of the only poor shooting performances of the year.

Harangody had a good game against Thabeet. Thabeet did get a few blocks, but Gody stepped out a lot to take jumpers and hit two 3 pointers. Bringing Thabeet out really takes away his presence down low, which is the only thing that he has going for him. Gody finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, another double-double.

K-Mac hit his first three 3s and then was done. He went ice cold from everywhere, but that's something that sucks but it's not really in his control. He took good shots too, they just were not falling. Give partial credit to UConn for making him work so much to get open.

Adrien seems to determined to make himself a personal enemy of Notre Dame. I don't know why, maybe it's just his nature to talk trash anytime he gets. He said another comment after the game, something about telling the fans to be quiet because this is UConn's gym now. Yeah okay, Adrien. Living in CT, I have the displeasure of seeing him play all the time and he is no better than the average post-player, you would think with a mouth so big that he could at least back it up.

Let me just say one more thing, Tyrone Nash had 8 points in 2 minutes of playing time. That says it all play him more. The kids are tired down the stretch and it shows. Nash wasn't afraid to take it right to the hoop. Nash had more points than Zeller (15 minutes of PT), Jonathan Peoples (11 minutes), Ryan Ayers (35 minutes), Zach Hillesland (29 minutes) and was just a basket away from Jackson and McAlarney. So give the kid some time, he out scored his two position players, Hillesland and Ayers, in two minutes while they had the whole game.

Rethinking is needed, and Tyrone Nash would move the barely 7 man rotation to 8, and finally give kids a break. If something is not done soon, the Irish could move to a bubble team, then to a team on the outside looking in, and then to for sure NIT. Losing like this can't happen even if it is against good teams. Expect the Irish to be un-ranked on Monday. But, Monday is another big night and once again Notre Dame are the underdogs, it's at home vs Marquette. So it will be a challenge to get 1 in a row.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UConn Talks Trash Before the Big Game/ BLACK OUT

" I played Luke Harangody and he was not tough.  " - Hasheem Thabeet

" It's going to feel good to break Notre Dame's home winning streak. " - Jeff Adrien 

Notre Dame responded with class to the tough talk from UConn.  

Luke Harangody said that he understands that quotes are often taken out of context.  Thabeet did apologize for his comment, but it still looms in the air to motivate the Luke.  Harangody said "It gives me a little motivation"  but went on to say that he won't be taking it that seriously.  

Kyle McAlarney responded to Adrien's comment's by first stating that it is amazing that people think they can just say something like that, even after all of their wins at home.  He then said about Adrien's comments,  "Thats just the nature of the game,  that's the way it goes and it's our job to disprove that.  

This shaping up to be one for the ages.  On top of this new momentum,  the game is also the annual BLACK OUT game.  The first 10,000 fans will be given black Irish tee shirts to wear,  everyone else wear black!   Big game. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Irish lose to Syracuse

#8 Syracuse: 93
#12 Notre Dame: 74

Gody 25, K-Mac, 24

The first thing I want to say is all is not lost. I mean really the things I have heard since this loss are ridiculous, and the fact that they are coming from the "fans" really annoys me. I have heard "I see us going 3-10 from here on out" and "the team is terrible." It seems like everyone has lost there confidence is the teams ability to win. The fact of the matter is that the last two games were against two ranked teams on the road. I understand that you need to be able to win road games in this league, but cut the team a break. Anyone that was expecting a 6-0 start in the toughest conference the NCAA has ever seen is crazy. 4-2 would be understandable, but there was one loss the team shouldn't of had, that's it.

I do however, realize the team did not play up to there standards today. Stronger defense needs to take place, if they can't hit their shots all the time.

There is no where to look but forward at this point. The team will look to defend the longest home-court winning streak in the country against Connecticut, and if UConn wants to win they are going to have to be bring it and be nothing short of perfect. After two loses, the Irish are not about to concede their home-court winning streak without a hard fight.

Meet you in South Bend, Connecticut.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Irish fall at Louisville in OT

#23Louisville: 87
#13Notre Dame: 73

Notre Dame lost for one reason is this contest.  Fatigue.  The bench has not been deep all year, but it really showed tonight.  After regulation no one had anything left in the tank.  Jonathan Peoples was absolutely horrible tonight.  He seemed to turn it over whenever he got the ball. which caused no rest for Mac or Jackson.  

The team played great though for the first 4o minutes.  Harangody had 28 points and Kyle McAlarney had 19.  The Irish played their A game on the road vs a tough team in a  tough atmosphere.  

The loss was just due to fatigue.  With only 1 reliable bench player (Zeller),  the Irish are going to get even more tired down the road.  The road ahead is going to get tough.  This game belonged to the Irish,  but once it went into OT everyone was already running on empty. 

The Irish play at Syracuse over the weekend, which will be another tough game.  Rest up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Irish Beat Seton Hall

#13 Notre Dame:  88
Seton Hall: 79

45 straight wins at home.  The Irish should have won by more but a win is a win.  I was still very surprised that the Pirates were threatening the home court streak even in the second half.  

Gody's energy and double-double carried the team to a win that is very important considering the next games ahead.

Monday, January 5, 2009


#13 Notre Dame: 73
#9 Georgetown: 67

The Irish needed a win and they got it.  Coming off a bad loss to St. Johns (ugh), the Irish were able to keep the steak alive when they knocked off the No. 9 Hoyas in a game that the Irish really controlled the whole way.  The streak is now the longest active home-court winning streak in the country.  BYU held that title previously until their streak was snapped by Wake Forest on Saturday.  The key to victory today was that the Irish set the tempo and made Georgetown play the way they wanted to play.

Harangody played real well tonight, and scored 31 points and had 14 rebounds.  Another game with a double-double.  He did it all with foul trouble all game.  He got 2 early fouls in the first half and then in 2 more early in the second half.  He played physically with 4 fouls but stayed controlled.   If he fouled out, the Irish would not have won.  At one point in the game Harangody had scored the last 15 points for the Irish.

Kyle McAlarney had a good game which is sure to boost his morale after a few disappointing games.  He finished with 17 points and shot the ball real well for how tightly he was guarded all game.  It is really impressive to score that many points when someone is on you every second.
The Irish are off until saturday when they play Seton Hall at home on Saturday.  That needs to be a win, because the stretch after that game is unbelievably difficult.

Irish Next 6 Games:
1/10: VS Seton Hall
1/12: AT #24 Louisville
1/17: AT #11 Syracuse
1/24: VS #5 UConn
1/26: VS #18 Marquette
1/31: AT #1 Pittsburgh

To get another idea of how tough the schedule is,  Pitt (if they stay their current rank) will be Notre Dame's SECOND game against a #1 team.  It's going to be a tough rest of January, every game from here on out is crucial.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Are you kidding me?

St. John's: 71 
# 7 Notre Dame: 65

It's almost laughable that this could happen.  St. John's is not by anyones standards a good basketball team.  They are not bound to make the tournament or even the NIT.  There's no excuse that a team coming off a 3 game losing streak (including a blow out loss against Providence) should be able to even compete with the #7 team in the country.  Every decent team that they played they lost bad, until today.  Ridiculous.  You can't afford to lose games like this.  

I have to think there are 4 main reasons why the game was lost today:

Out rebounded by 11.  It's hard to find anybody on the team but Gody who had any rebounds. No boxing out.  They just worked harder, simple as that.

Reason #2: DEFENSE
The Irish played defense worse than a high school JV team this game.  I mean they let everyone in the lane and didn't check any cutters.  One time really made me angry was that one of the St. John's players got an offensive rebound around 7 feet out, the Irish players just looked at him and he takes an uncontested jump shot from like lay-up range.  He missed it but still,  I didn't think it was possible against a division 1 basketball program to have time to collect yourself after a rebound and then shoot a 7 foot jumper uncontested.  Terrible defense. 

Reason #3:  NO SCORING
Aside from Harangody, no one did much.  I find it hard to believe that 65 points were even scored.  I said this after Ohio State and will say it again.  When one of the Irish stars (Gody and K-Mac) is shut down the team has a hard time winning.  Kyle McAlarney finished with 10 points but went 1-5 from deep.  Gody had 28 points and 14 bounds, obviously this loss was not one him.  

Reason #4:  Outworked
Once again aside from Luke, the team was outworked.  It seemed that Harangody was the only Irish player bringing any energy to the team.

Harangody is excused from all of the reasons but defense.  He needs to work on his defense.  The guards of St. John's were driving in and challenging him all day and kept scoring over him. 

Monday's game is now even more important than it already was.  Georgetown is also coming off a loss so they should be hungry for a win as well.  One advantage for the Irish is that the game is at home, where the 43 game in a row streak is being threatened by the strong Hoya team.  Pending the final outcome of BYU vs #6 Wake Forrest, the Irish could come home to defend the longest active home-court winning streak.

To end this embarrassing day on a good note,  practically every top 25 team lost this week so there might not be as big a drop in the polls as their normally would be.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

DePaul falls to the Irish, 92-82

# 7 Notre Dame: 92
DePaul: 82

Zach Hillesland was the star of the game tonight.  He contributed a career high 17 points and provided a lot of energy from his unexpected performance which is 11 points over his season average.  Typically, the Irish get their points from Gody down low and from the long ball.  However, Hillesland's 17 tonight came mostly from slashing and taking his man off the dribble.  The new way of scoring for the team really fired up and excited the team.  The game was very fast paced which worked in Hillesland's favor as well.

Harangody provided the usual, 26 points and 16 rebounds.  Harangody had a few nice hustle plays to get some of his hoops.  He was one of five Irish players to score in double figures tonight.  The other 3 starters scored in double figures,  Jackson with 12, K-Mac with 13, and Ayers with 14.  Tonight was an overall balanced attack from the team.  

The depth of the team is not great and looking at the box score tonight you can see that.  All but 10 points for the Irish came from the starters.  Luke Zeller had 5 and so did Jonathan Peoples.  Teams that want to go deep into March need their bench players to contribute more than just 10 points combined.
Enough negatives, the Irish have won their first Big East game.  With a look forward,  it is essential that the team capitalizes when it plays teams like DePaul and upcoming St. John's.  The road is going to be tough ahead and you can't afford to lose to teams that you are better than in this conference. 

Against St. John's I would personally like to see Tyrone Nash and Charleton Scott get more minutes.  St. John's is awful, so give them a chance.  I still have trouble understanding why Peoples gets more playing time than either of them.  All I really see Peoples do is turn it over and miss lay-ups.  And also, the starters need a break.  They were used a lot against DePaul and when you play in a league this tough they are not many chances to get a break, but when you do get one you have to take advantage of it.