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Game #14: Notre Dame 65, St. John's 71

Box score

Black and Green Irish Men's Basketball Report:

That was embarrassing. No excuses, you don't lose to a team like St. John's if you plan on succeeding this year. In Big East play, there's no moping after wins or sugarcoating losses....

All of a sudden Monday is as close to must-win as a game gets this early in conference play. Two straight losses could derail our season a bit and significantly limit chances for a top-4 finish.

Lenn Robbins at the NY Post:

"It's been a long time coming," said power forward Justin Burrell of the Bronx, who bounced back from a five-shot performance in a 75-54 loss at Providence to score 18 points, grab six rebounds and force Irish forward Luke Harangody (28 points, 12 boards) right so often he might vote Republican....

And Paris Horne knitted himself into a sweater and wrapped up Mike McAlarney, holding the Notre Dame sniper from Staten Island to 4-for-12 shooting overall and 1-for-5 on 3-pointers. The Storm held the Big East's highest-scoring team to almost 20 points below its season average.

"They were very aware of hugging our shooters," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "We had to work hard to get our looks."

Roberts (58-71 in his St. John's career) has worked his rear end off at his dream job. The Queens native is in the final year of his original deal and many weren't eager about waiting until next season for St. John's to make its move.

"This should shut everyone up," prize recruit Omari Lawrence told The Post. "He works hard and you can see the guys like playing for him."

St John's defeats Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden 2009

Roger Rubin at the NY Daily News:

During his five seasons running the Johnnies, Roberts' teams have taken down six Top 25 teams, and this is the highest-ranked team they've downed. He called this "probably the best" victory and pointed to the ensemble effort the Johnnies crafted without top returning scorer Anthony Mason Jr., who is out for the season, and starting point guard Malik Boothe, who is recovering from hand surgery.

Roberts' strategy for attacking the Fighting Irish was to have 6-8 forward/center Justin Burrell take on returning Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody inside with little help. The rest of the squad would try to take away Notre Dame's potent outside game. It especially worked in the final minutes....

Harangody had 28 points on 12-for-24 shooting and 14 rebounds, but the Irish went 4-for-17 from beyond the arc, their worst perimeter effort of the season.

Mike Ogle from the New York Times

[There were] jousts of celebration — chest bumps and high-fives between teammates — as well as pushes from Garden security trying to clear the couple of dozen fans in red who had stormed the court. It was a welcome scene in a building that has recently had overwhelming numbers of opposing fans.

Burrell plays with a mask to protect fractures he sustained last month. He fiddles with the mask during games, taking it off whenever possible. He tried to sneak onto the court without the mask to shoot free throws after a timeout during the second half, but Roberts caught him and made him put it back on....

When Burrell made two free throws to make it a two-possession game with 39.3 seconds remaining, he marched backward to midcourt, his fists pointed at the rafters, then knelt down and twice smacked the St. John’s logo.... Mason and Boothe made sure to get in on the celebrating. Mason sent a flurry of text messages to the team manager from his home in Tennessee, and Boothe yelled encouragement to his teammates from the bench.

Arthur Staple at the NY Newsday:

"There weren't any miracles out there," Roberts said he told his players. "We handled the ball like --, 18 turnovers to 10 assists ... There was no us making 12 threes out of nowhere. It was us playing hard, playing hard and giving ourselves a chance to win."

Roberts has preached that consistency of effort since he arrived in Jamaica, but the results have been bad, and certainly far from consistent. There was a brutal 75-54 loss to a mediocre Providence team to open Big East play Wednesday. But yesterday, even without Malik Boothe for the third straight game, St. John's didn't panic.

Facing an Irish team that has some of the best three-point shooters in the nation - led by Kyle McAlarney, who seemed to bring most of Staten Island into the Garden - the Red Storm stayed disciplined on defense.

Roberts dunk vs Notre DameZachary Braziller at Five Boro Sports:

D.J. Kennedy knows the reaction his St. John’s men’s basketball team’s shocking, 71-65 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame will draw when word spreads nationwide.

The Red Storm got lucky. The Irish had an off night. It was an aberration. And the sophomore forward, who had 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, doesn’t care....

"He can be a double-double guy in this league night in and night out," ND coach Mike Brey said of the 6-foot-8 Burrell. "I was very impressed with their personnel. Those kids really fought hard."

also see: St. John's must back up upset with more inspired play.

Michael Rothstein at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

A boy in the blue Knicks jacket wandered around the tunnels underneath the Madison Square Garden stands late Saturday afternoon, continually asking his father the same question.

"How did this happen," the kid asked. "How did this happen?"

Notre Dame didn’t need to ask itself that question after a 71-65 loss to St. John’s. The Irish knew the answer all too well.

When No. 7 Notre Dame struggles to rebound, the Irish struggle to win.

Irish Eyes (

"In this league," said senior forward Zach Hillesland, "life or death is rebounding."

In a startling early-season development, the Irish were mugged in Manhattan by a team that played nothing but underclassmen. St. John’s, coming off a 21-point conference opening loss to Providence on New Year’s Eve, was the aggressor from start to finish Saturday afternoon and upset the temporarily No. 7 ranked Irish, 71-65.

The Red Storm (10-4 overall, 1-1 Big East) beat Notre Dame (10-3, 1-1) off the glass, 41-30. It also extended its defense effectively enough to hold the Irish to a season-low four three-point field goals.

...this is supposed to be Notre Dame’s time and this unquestionably qualifies as a bad loss. Particularly when you can consider what comes next.

If current form holds, the next 10 games will be, tangibly, the most difficult scheduling stretch in the history of Notre Dame basketball. The Irish will play eight of the 10 against programs currently ranked in the Top 25 of the ESPN/USA TODAY rankings, starting Monday at home versus Georgetown.

Chris Rich at AOL Fanhouse:

There was no reason to believe they wouldn't blow out St. John's.

Well, except for the fact that Notre Dame only has one real player inside, and if they aren't making perimeter shots -- especially the threes -- they are in trouble....

St. John's got their offense inside... It was St. John's guards and wing forwards attacking the basket that did it. Forward D.J. Kennedy put in 20 points and continually got to the rim. Notre Dame had no one on the outside that could keep him in front.

Todd Burlage at Blue and

If there were ever any doubts about how difficult things will be on the road in the Big East this season, they were laid to rest Saturday when Notre Dame was dumped 71-65 by St. John’s at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

On paper, this seemed like a gimme for the veteran Irish, considering St. John’s started four sophomores and one freshman. St. John’s didn’t get the memo.

The Red Storm used a familiar formula to beat the Irish – win the board battle, defend the three-point line, and let Luke Harangody try to win things by himself.

Check, check and check mate....

The most telling statistic – and one to watch all year – was the rebounding totals. The Irish gave up 15 offensive rebounds and lost the board battle 41-30. When opponents can win the rebounding battle convincingly, and keep the score down, Notre Dame will be in trouble this season.