A poor shooting debacle.
Boy, that was an ugly piece of work. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish cruised, 74-55 over the visiting Red Storm.
Granted, St. John's has seen far, far uglier. But this is not the way the team should end the regular season after a pair of wins. It was a 19-point blowout that wasn't close except for a few moments near half. And by "close," I mean within 10 points.
I almost wrote "pints," which is how much beer it would require to take a sense of progress from this game.
Maybe the good St. John's wins were near-flukes, unsustainable by this collection of talent and coaching. Because having 3 more (or 4 if Lance Stephenson comes) guards will do what, exactly, to the defense on Luke Harangody? A little more depth to wear down opposing guards? Offensive players who are probably not as good defensively as D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne?
It's hard to keep up the energy, though, when the team can't score and is struggling to stay close. Once again, Coach Roberts takes a time out in the last two minutes when the players don't get back on defense (Harangody beat the whole team back for a dunk). That is admirable, but I wish he didn't have to constantly call that last-minute time out. Young team, sure... but is that tactic drilling "play hard" into their heads?
Here's hoping DJ Kennedy's cramped calf is okay; he fell awkwardly and rolled in pain late in the second half.
As for the game, a look back at the 5 Keys from yesterday's pregame:
Bring That Energy: There was some energy in the Red Storm, for sure. But Luke Harangody had enough pep to power his own team. It's hard to fault the effort in the first half, though. And Justin Burrell looked for his shots and rebounded better than he has for much of the year. BUT. There was a play in the second half where a ball was bouncing out of bounds. Kyle McAlarney ran it down, tossed it back in bounds as Paris Horne (I think) pulled up and watched it go... then watched it end up in the hands of Ryan Ayers who scored. Just terrible effort there. The announcers said they thought St. John's looked gassed... it's hard to see that in the team, and it goes against the "they always play hard" narrative that follows Norm Roberts' squad. B-
Defensive Principles: The was a 33-point Luke Harangody holler at the rafters performance. But McAlarney was held mostly in check (3-11, 8 points) but he made plays, dishing out 5 assists. Ryan Ayers, however, had a very good game, with 15 points, 4 assists, and 4-6 from the three-point arc. The principles might have been there, but the execution could have been improved. C+
Set Up and Hit It: Wow. With the defense and lack of forced turnovers, St. John's would have needed to shoot like a completely different team. They shot like a different team... but they hit those shots, especially the threes - like a team even worse than they are. 1-10 from beyond the arc for Horne; 1-6 beyond the arc for Kennedy. Horne took 19 shots and made 4 of them... he had good looks and the shots looked mostly decent, but wow, that is some execution Fail.
If they could have hit more outside shots, Burrell might have had more room to operate down low. 6-14 from the field with 5-8 from the free throw line could have been more. Sean Evans and Rob Thomas also didn't get the rolls to fall. Credit to Burrell, but everyone else - including TyShwan Edmondson's requisite airball - played poorly, and I'm sorry to the Irish, but it wasn't all the effect of their defense. D-.
Bangin': Evans had 16(!) rebounds; Burrell had 8, Thomas had 7, and all three contributed on the offensive glass. I can't say this was a terrible performance, but they could have done a better job keeping Harangody off the glass. Here is where Dele Coker's absence loomed a little; he could have provided a bigger, banging body to slow down Harangody with. Tomas Jasiulionis played a game 11 minutes, but besides his time, nothing showed up on the statsheet. B+.
Don't Make Them Look Good: Notre Dame looked great; they had offensive flow, a good number of assisted baskets, made solid scoring runs, and the fans loved McAlarney's save of the ball going out of bounds mentioned above. I think St. John's didn't do half enough to ugly up the game, as evidenced by the offensive efficiency numbers, the lack of turnovers forced, and the general fait accompli feeling of the game. F.
No NY Media traveled to the game.
Notre Dame Official site: quotes
St. John's Head Coach Norm Roberts
On how the game went...
"Give Notre Dame a lot of credit. They played very well at home. (Luke) Harangody was very, very good tonight. We did not do a very good job of guarding him, but he scored away from the basket and he scored in close. He did a very good job for them. I thought we did a decent job on the perimeter players. We let (Ryan) Ayers get free a couple of times for shots. We also had a lot of shots, we had a lot of easy shots early and didn't make them and against a great scoring team like that you have to make shots."
Black and Green Irish Report: Notre Dame 74, St. John's 55
Chicago Tribune: Notre Dame takes solace in 74-55 triumph over St. John's
Irish Eyes/ Scout.com - Irish Send Seniors Out Right
AP/ Yahoo Sports: Harangody’s 31 points paces Notre Dame to win