Thursday, February 08, 2007

DePaul 67, Notre Dame Men's Basketball 66

The 11-0 start looked typical for the high scoring '06-'07 Notre Dame men's team. But then the Irish reverted to the mistakes that have dogged Mike Brey throughout his tenure: no hustle, poor rebounding, and ill-advised jump shots.
Down midway through the second half, the team once again fed off the energy of their senior leaders, Russell Carter and Colin Falls. With under a minute left to play, Notre Dame was in position to win. Leading by one, Tory Jackson dribbled into the frontcourt and was fouled with just under 30 seconds left in the game. If Notre Dame had been in the bonus, this would have been a smart play for DePaul; Jackson is just a 59% free throw shooter, so DePaul would have gotten the ball back down by at most three with plenty of time to play. Instead, it was only DePaul's 6th foul of the half, meaning the Irish retained posession and now didn't have to worry about the shot clock. So things looked good for the Irish.
The ball was inbounded to Colin Falls just beyond midcourt. Falls dribbled to his left, and had the ball stolen. A quick pass gave Wilson Chandler the chance to dunk home his game-leading 24th and 25th points, and more importantly gave DePaul a 67-66 lead with 16 seconds left.
Notre Dame called time out to set up a play in the frontcourt. Apparently that play didn't go as planned, as Tory Jackson spent 10 seconds dribbling around without direction. Jackson fumbled a pass that barely got Luke Zeller at the top of the circle. With a full 6 seconds left, Zeller showed his inexperience by throwing up a desperation three.
But then, it looked like fate was on Notre Dame's side, as the ball deflected to Rob Kurz alone under the basket. Three Depaul players quickly converged on Kurz and in a flurry of contact were able to block Kurz' shot as time expired. I would like to argue that what's called a foul in the first 39 minutes should be called a foul in the last one minute. But on the same token, Notre Dame should never put itself in a position to need a last second shot to win this game.