Well the at least on the scoreboard the conventional wisdom turned out to be true. Notre Dame (now with a record of 10-2) held serve on their home court to beat the Bruins by a score of 84-73. Bruins now fall to a record of 3-7 with no chance of getting back to .500 before the start of the Pac-10 conference season.
For the Bruins there were some bright spots this afternoon. They came out on fire, shooting lights out on offense while playing classic Ben Ball defense on the other ends of the court. Our defense was suffocating early on as we were putting on vintage display of Howland defense with quick rotations, intense double teams while securing our rebounds. We were also getting our offense started with our intense defense. Things were working as we were in the lead late in the first half.
Then some of the old habits (by usual suspects) kicked on. Jerime Anderson turned the ball over in a careless possession that resulted in 4 point turn around. We also let Luke Harangody get confidence (after he missed his first shots) with a perfect execution via an inbound play. Late in the first half our defensive intensity just sagged off (and it was probably not a coincidence that it happened after Reeves Nelson had to sit down with 2 fouls) allowing Notre Dame to finish the half with a 40-36 lead.
In the second half, Notre Dame went on a run thanks to lazy defensive efforts from the entire team and the usual bricks from Nikola Dragovic on the offensive side. Dragovic had yet another pathetic game making only 4 out of his 12 shots and essentially shooting us out of the game early in the second half. Thanks to a spectacular effort from Malcolm Lee, who had a career day with 29 points, 4 assists and 3 steals, Bruins made it close but it just wasn’t enough. Here is the box score and more thoughts after the jump.
I think on the whole the effort of our team was encouraging as they clearly built on the confidence building blowout against New Mexico State. They did show poise, composure and desire early on to start the game. However, they didn’t get it done at the end because of not being able to maintain their defensive intensity.
Jerime Anderson’s effort was not encouraging but he is a sophomore. Perhaps someday he will realize he needs to play within his athletic ability and not hurt his team with going for the spectacular play. As for Dragovic, there isn’t much to add to this point. Sure he got some rebounds and made some shots here and there, but the only thing consistent about him is how he continues to hurt our team with awful defensive effort, careless and unfocused plays on offense, and just horrific shooting in general. We are not going anywhere this season if Dragovic continues to waste minutes that could be allocated to other younger players with more talent and upside in the team. Not to mention Dragovic with his pathetic defensive effort continue to serve as a poor example of what a Ben Ball warrior should be performing on the court.
Anyway, as I said up top despite the loss, there were some positive signs in today’s loss. I can see a core emerging in this team around the leadership of Michael Roll and the natural talent and ability of Lee, Nelson and Honeycutt. I hope in the coming games Howland allows those guys – especially Honeycutt – give them bigger roles, while limiting the minutes of Dragovic and Anderson. With those guys leading the way at least the Bruins showed some fight in their first true road game of the season.
With that I will leave the analysis up to you. Fire up your thoughts in this post-game thread. If you have extensive reflections to share please put them up in a separate fanpost. Enjoy your Saturday as best as you can despite the (not so unexpected) loss in South Bend.