St. John's (11-18, 5-12) loses to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (23-6, 13-4), 68-55, in South Bend.
There were times, watching last night's game, that I thought St. John's didn't thoroughly suck. And there was some hope in the players. Then I looked at the box score. Notre 28% from beyond the arc. On the good side, St. John's slowed the game down appropriately (though this is because Notre Dame's defense doesn't look for steals) to about 63 possessions. And I think they fought hard.
But they gave up too many easy/ transition shots to Notre Dame's senior forward Rob Kurz. He and Harangody both played hard, and it showed. I was fully impressed with Harangody's game-- blocked or altered a few shots down low, threw down an emphatic dunk to finish a break, and even when bumped got that sweet roll on most of his shots. He looks like a perfect villain in an 80's teen movie-- outgrown buzz cut, close-in eyes, like a guy you don't want to get angry.
Whoever works on individual offense with the Irish team should be applauded. They might have come to the Notre Dame campus with that soft touch, though. I was going to finish with "I want a ballplayer with a soft touch," but there's no way to make that sound less suspect.
Justin Burrell played smart, didn't force things. Though his post moves are just screaming for "walk calls," and the Irish fans sounded apoplectic that he didn't get more of those calls. He had an assist and NO turnovers, which is a great step. Kennedy rebounded the ball well, played a decent "glue guy" game.
And I was fully impressed with Dele Coker, though fouling out in 14 minutes is NOT good. But he wrangled with Harangody, even earning a double foul and ticking off Notre Dame's big man. Coker got decent position, and he pulled down 5 rebounds in 14 minutes. That's a rate of about 9 rebounds in 32 minutes. That's also 9 fouls in 32 minutes, so he's got to cut down on those; but we got to see what kind of impact Coker can have, and how he's raw. His season numbers hold this up too-- he has potential to be an excellent rebounder, but he makes too many mistakes of aggression to show it. Which was his reputation in high school... the coaching staff has to hammer some bad habits out of him.
Eugene Lawrence was decent, dishing out 4 assists and pulling down 3 rebounds (with 3 turnovers).
Horne ran the break well, but had troubles finishing. Mason Jr. let the game come to him for a while, but took some crappy shots close in... and went 1-8 inside the arc. Malik Boothe's jump shot needs WORK. Larry Wright was okay in his ten minutes, and didn't get a chance to heat up; his defense, was, well, foul-ridden garbage; he seemed out of sorts, because I've seen him play better. Sean Evans has to stop dribbling.
And coaching-wise, the Johnnies played tough and physical, but they couldn't keep up with the sweet-shooting Irish. They're a team that has to be outscored to lose; and the top teams have been able to outscore them because they're not physical on defense.
It's funny that a 13 point loss has good aspects... next year's team will be better. Or there will be changes.