This result was not unexpected, as the Irish were not able to penetrate the zone without their floor leader and turned the ball over way too much in a poor first half. Let’s get right into what to take away from this one.
*Hopefully Demetrius Jackson is back on Sunday, because the Irish looked lost for stretches of this game defensively (not surprising) and offensively (somewhat surprising). Not only did they miss his penetration against the zone and ability to create his own shot, but they also lacked the defensive intensity that he typically gives them.
*I’m not down at all on the Irish even though they were never in this one. Having had two hamstring pulls myself, holding DJ out of this one was the right move. I hope he plays Sunday, but would not be surprised if they hold him out of that one too with a big week lurking with games at Miami and against UNC. Problem is, they may not beat Wake without him and a four-game losing streak then looks very possible.
*I’m happy we never have to see Trevor Cooney again (I probably just jinxed it and he will put up 35 against us in the ACC tournament). The dude flat out kills ND.
*Boeheim certainly has Brey’s number. For as good as Brey has been against Coach K the last three years, this was Jimmy B’s fourth straight win over the Irish. Brey’s last win over Boeheim was when Connaughton was a freshman, and Cuse came to South Bend undefeated and #1 in the country. In the four losses, ND has scored 47, 55, 60 and 66 points, with two by double digits. Even in the win four years ago, the Irish only scored 67. The zone has been tough for Brey to solve, as he hasn’t cracked 70 in the last five games.
*The positive from tonight…V.J. Beachem. 22 points, aggressive moves to create his own shot, and he knocked down some triples to try to give ND some momentum. They just could not get a stop when they needed it to cut the lead to single digits.
*The start of the game was reminiscent of the Duke loss last year. The Irish started this one up 5-0, and Cuse reeled off a 23-1 run to take a 17-point lead nine minutes in. Interestingly, Brey subbed out Auguste, and the Irish outscored Cuse 13-8 over the next four minutes. When Auguste returned for the last 6+ minutes, the Irish were outscored by 8, until the Vasturia half-court heave to end the half.
*Auguste took a step backwards defensively tonight as he was often out of position to help on Syracuse’s drives to the basket. To be fair, while this blog clearly is a Bonz supporter, his defense was pretty poor tonight also. Roberson and Lydon had their way with the Irish bigs.
*Hopefully the two treys that Matt Ryan hit at the end of the game give him some confidence, because he was atrocious to that point. At one stretch he was 0-7 from deep, which put him at 4 for his last 22 (18.2%).
*ND came into the game 1st in the country in fewest turnovers per game at 9.2. They had nine first half turnovers, which Cuse converted into 18 points. While the two turnovers in the second half certainly were better, the Irish just dug too deep of a hole for themselves due to carelessness with the ball early.
*I’m still confused why Matt Ryan received a technical foul when Malachi Richardson chest bumped him and got in his face. I guess it was for Ryan saying “What the *%$# is your problem?”
*Auguste 2-6 from the line…so much for improvement in that area. If he throws up one more spinning, weak, left-handed layup, I may throw the remote at my television. Zach, it never goes in. Take the ball up strong. Dunk the ball in traffic for once (not off a pick and roll).
*If the Irish refuse to play defense on Sunday, Wake will shred them. As you can tell, I am very worried about Sunday (even if DJ plays).
*I don’t like the sound of this quote. ”We were a little rudderless at times without Demetrius, no question,” Brey said, ”and we may have to keep playing without him for a while.” Yikes.