I’ve watched ND play probably 10-12 times this year, and to be honest, I think it was one of their better games. It might be hard to believe that, considering they were playing without Gody, but they played more like a TEAM last night. As productive as Gody is, he doesn’t really make his teammates better, except maybe bailing them out with a tough rebound or good finish.
ND is more inconsistent than we are. I was really surprised that their guards didn’t wear down against us (Abromaitis did, but not Hansbrough or Jackson). I thought we should have thrown a different press at them later in the 2nd half, but that’s just me. I also thought we shouldn’t have bellied up as close to them on defense as we did. A lot of fouls on drives to the basket that I think we simply didn’t need to commit. But to ND’s credit, they made a lot of tough shots, I can think of 5 or 6 where I was like “damn, that’s a really tough shot”.
Perhaps the most impressive player on the court last night was Tory Jackson for ND. The boxscore says he ended up with 5 TOs, but I only remember the one he had when Siva was guarding him and the 10-second violation. And to play 50 minutes against that press, and to not recall more turnovers, is down right impressive. He’s the player we needed to foul out, not any of their big men, because fouls or not, they couldn’t stop Samuels. Jackson played about as well as he could.
With regards to UL, this team is terribly inconsistent and not mentally tough. However, I still think they’re a good team. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw that Harangody was out for the game. For some reason, we just don’t match up well with ND. Since we’ve joined the Big East, we’ve gone 4-2 against them, but all four wins have been at home, and been close, while we’ve been blown out in South Bend.
2005-06: win by 3, in OT, Dean hits 3 to send it to OT at buzzer
2006-07: lose by 16 @ND
2007-08: win by 5, withstanding a furious rally, probably our best performance against them
2008-09: win in OT at home, I forget what happened when we played them in south bend
2009-10: gutsy performance, a please god let us win baby type of win
I’m torn about whether I want to simply say “a win is a win” or do I want to admit this team is just above average. Certainly they’re not consistent, as evidenced by winning/hanging tough on the road against 3 top 10 teams, but getting beat (handily) by the likes of Western Carolina and St. John’s. And I guess that’s the maddening part about it – I want them to decide whether they’re good or simply mediocre, so I can adjust my expectations accordingly. It seems like my thoughts for this team change after every game (which I suppose is part of the fun).
At this point, we’re squarely in the tournament, IMO. If the season ended right now, we’re dancing. That said, we have multiple games left during which we can either play our way into a better seed, or play our way out of the tournament. 2-2 over the next four would mean either two road victories over teams we’re fighting against for at-large spots, or two victories over top-4 seed teams that would seal our inclusion in the tournament, or any combination therein. 1-3 and I start to get worried, we might need two victories in the BET. 0-4 and we’ll need to at least make the BET finals. 3-1 or 4-0 means we’re fighting for better seeding.