True to form, a scrappy, well-coached, untalented Notre Dame team gave the Cards everything they wanted, but the home crowd made the difference and Notre Dame's historic losing streak in Kentucky continued as the Cards won in overtim-...wait, what?
It's not time to panic yet. Yet. Brey's offense is our nemesis, and we are lucky we didn't get blown out honestly. They had open 3 after open 3 just clank badly. Cooley did his Harangody impression to score on a variety of dinks and banks. Russ inexplicably went for the steal and gave up a wide open shot with less than 30 seconds to play. And equally inexplicably, the coaches (I guess?) decided that getting easy points every time by having Gorgui or Chane beat their man inside was not the preferred offense, and instead having Siva run the same play over and over that everyone (including Coach Brey, obv) knew was coming that would result in an out of control drive to the basket or a piping hot feed to Rak Buckles flying at the basket at 45 MPH from the baseline in perhaps the least likely person/spot on the floor to result in points for our team would be better.
So this is a classic Notre Dame - Louisville game. And ND played waaaaaaay better than us the whole time and we still should have won. So ya, it sucked, but let's not panic yet.
Except. Except. Here's why panic may be appropriate:
1) If we lose the ability (or the confidence) to win close home games, then I'm not sure how we can play to keep games close and expect to make the tournament, much less go deep in it. Whatever happened last year and through the beginning of this year, we always thought that we had a good chance to win somehow, someway at the end. If that goes....yikes.
2) The offense. I tweeted this, but my favorite play of the whole game was when the back pick actually worked and Kuric was WIDE OPEN for the alley oop. The crowd made that anticipation noise because we've all seen that play so many times over the last few years, and then Siva didn't throw it??!?!?! Anyway, when that was the highlight of the night on offense, there are serious problems. Russ barely played in the first half, and Russ is a guy that is going to miss shots, but he scores a lot because he takes a lot of shots, and it is inexcusable that Notre Dame would OUTSHOOT us. Those guys are terrible! At least Russ takes it to the other team, our guys have become too passive and too risk averse. Russ don't care.
Anyway, the offense is clearly a problem, Chris Smith is lost, we have not been able to get our transition game going STILL, guys aren't getting open looks (which I think is mostly schematic but also on Chris/Kuric to some extent) and Gorgui is still very raw and doesn't look to score enough for the advantages he has. Next year Gorgui should make a HUGE leap on offense. But it's not next year yet.
3) The defense. Again, Notre Dame has always had us figured out, but we've usually been able to score with them because they are terrible on defense. They kept getting open 3s against the zone, but other teams have shot amazing against us from 3 all year too. Our defense can look dominant at times, but on a night like this, we needed a couple big stops and just didn't get them. But we would have won by 20 if we had played better on offense.
4) Lots of guys have regressed from December. Not sure what happened to Swop but he's a liability out there. I've never been a big fan of him getting minutes, although the NewSwop we got early in the year was great. We're relying on Rak way too much for where he is after being out so long. Chris Smith (see above) and Kuric need to do more. Siva's still got issues, and we are basically 7-8 deep right now. I tweeted the Kuric/Smith thing: but who did they give their scholarships for? Why do we have 15 guys if half of them don't play?
Whatever. Still a TON of time left this season, but momentum is a helluva a drug. And right now, we are getting a heavy dose of the bad stuff.