Thursday, February 15, 2007

Notre Dame Men's Basketball 81, Providence 78

It was a battle between the Big East's top scoring teams. In the end, both teams scored their season average - which is a good thing for #1 scoring Notre Dame.
At the start of the game, things didn't look good for the Irish. The Friars were simply running over, around, and through the home team, on offense and on defense. Colin Falls, going for the school record for made three pointers with his father in the stands, was tight. Rob Kurz learned (or maybe he didn't learn) several times that sometime's it's better to go up soft for a layup, rather than trying to dunk through two or three defenders' hands. Notre Dame was able to scrape back, but at the half still trailed by four.
Then they started attacking Providence's 2-3 zone. Luke Harangody positioned himself just outside of the key and behind the basket itself. It was a strategy that had worked well for other teams against Notre Dame's 2-3, and it worked well for Luke, too. Not only was Harangody able to find passers as the cut to the basket, but he was also able to muscle up a few shots as well. Zach Hillesland played the high post at the top of the key - a spot that Tom Timmermans mastered. But Hillesland has an extra dimension to his game that The Urban Tombrero didn't - an ability to cut to the basket and make plays off the dribble. Russell Carter completed the zone-busting trifecta by nailing several key three-pointers from the right wing.
The Irish looked to have a comfortable lead late in the game, but they still tried to lose it. On offense, the team gave the ball to Falls - their best free throw shooter - in the backcourt. However, they didn't have a plan for getting the ball up the court, and it almost cost them again. On defense, the team when foul-crazy, giving the Friars a chance to come back while the clock was stopped. And despite going to the line 29 times as a team, the Irish only made 19 of their own free throw attempts.
But in the end, Notre Dame improved to 16-0 at home. Unfortunately for the Irish, the RPI formula was changed recently to heavily favor road wins. ND has only 1 Big East away win this season, but they'll look to improve on that Sunday against a Cincinnati team that has only one Big East win overall this season.