Saturday, January 03, 2009

Notre Dame's Bad Defense Strikes Again

St. John's 71, #10 Notre Dame 65
Notre Dame's defense continues to be its achilles hell, and it finally caught up with them in the form of a bad loss. The final scores aren't that high, but neither of these two teams are very uptempo. Besides, Notre Dame did force a lot of turnovers (18, while only committing 11 of their own). Their failure came in guarding St. John's players off the dribble, who seemed to get to the rim at will, especially at the key points in the game. For the Johnnies, the stat sheet was stuffed most by rising star D.J. Kennedy (20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists), but the difference in this game was Paris Horne, who played the part of Kyle McAlarney's shadow for the entire game. With McAlarney held to 10 points, and with Tory Jackson merely playing okay, Luke Harangody just was not capable of winning the game by himself. The St. John's guards simply outplayed the Notre Dame guards, and they rode the Garden crowd to arguably the biggest win in the Norm Roberts tenure in New York. That said, the Irish will have better days, and they get a great chance to bounce back on Monday night when Georgetown comes to town. They have lost a lot of ground on the Big East leaders, but they're still in the mix for fourth or fifth place in the conference. St. John's, meanwhile, has to prove that this game wasn't a fluke. They are slightly improving every single season under Norm Roberts, but a slight improvement over last year won't even get them close to the Tournament this year.

West Virginia 92, Seton Hall 66
A nice job by West Virginia to take care of business here. They grabbed the lead early in the game, and just squeezed the life out of Seton Hall. The Mountaineers were obviously powered by Alex Ruoff and De'Sean Butler (a combined 36 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists), which is pretty normal, but West Virginia is also one of the deeper teams in the Big East. And depth is very important during such a brutal schedule, where getting the wins you're supposed to get (like this one here) is so important. West Virginia has one of the tougher Big East schedules, but I would think that a 9-9 record would be enough for the Tournament. For Seton Hall, those November victories over USC and Virginia Tech are really feeling like the distant past. You can never count a team out of the Big East, where you can turn your season around with any single big win, but the at-large hopes of the Pirates are really on life support. Their next three games are against Villanova, Notre Dame and UConn, and I don't think it's really going out on a limb to say that Seton Hall needs to pull at least one upset among those three games. An 0-5 start in the Big East would essentially end their Tournament hopes.

No comments: