Monday, September 12, 2011

MIA in Milwaukee

WOW! Last Saturday's 26 point blowout at Marquette was very painful to watch to say the least. 24 turnovers, 39.7% FG shooting, including a season low 21.1% 3pt. FG shooting, left a sour taste in many Irish fan's mouths. The only bright spot in this contest was the dominant play of Luke Harangody. Luke recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 29 points and 14 rebounds.

One of the more disturbing trends playing out this season is the play of Junior swingman Ryan Ayers. I hate throwing players under the bus, but Ayers' play has to be addressed. For two seasons now, we've heard how Ryan just lights it up in practice and is one of the best shooters on the team, period! I'm not denying that he isn't a good shooter. When he actually does shoot the rock, he generally makes it. On Saturday, he was non existent; not that it would have made a huge difference in the game because of the Irish's poor shooting, but, MAN, can't he penetrate or shoot the damn ball? 0-for-3 shooting, one assist, one steal, and two rebounds, is not going to cut it in the Big East. Ayers is supposed to be a leader on this team, so he better start playing like one soon. Good news for him is that Cincinnati comes to town tomorrow night. If you recall, Ayers had a career day hitting on four treys in a key conference road win for the Irish last season. Maybe this will be his breakout game to ignite his season.

Now for all the Brey, nay-sayers. Yes this was an awful loss. In fact it was Brey's worst loss as head coach for the Irish. The previous worst for Brey's boys was last season's 66-48 loss at Georgetown. Overall during his tenure here in South Bend, Brey has lost a total of 81 games, which roughly averages about 10 losses per season. Out of his 81 losses, 21 (25.9%) of them have been by 10 points or more,
6 (7%)of those losses were by 15 points or more, while 15 (18.5%) of those losses were between 14 and 10 points. 39 (48%) of Brey's losses have been by five points or less, and 21 (25.9%) losses were between nine points and six points. 25 (30.8%) of his losses have been at the JACC, 16 (19.7%) are at a neutral site, and 40 (49.3%) have been at visiting arenas. To sum it up, Brey's squad has been very competitive during losses and rarely lose at home, which could not be said during the John MacLeod years.

74 percent of Mike Brey's squad's losses were by 10 points or less. 74 PERCENT, people! I know that he doesn't have a lot to show for it, but in one of the best leagues, year-in and year-out, I do believe he deserves a little bit of slack too! He's the first coach in ND history to lead the Irish to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, which includes a Sweet 16 appearance, and a Big East West Division Title. On a football first campus, men's hoops has basically been the red-headed stepchild of the athletic department. Playing in one of the worst facilities in the conference and amongst BCS confence schools, it would be very difficult to field a Top 25 program every single year.

What makes it even worse is the fact, that the athletic department and upper administration don't care about some of the Olympic sports, such as, men's and women's hoops, and the perennial Top 10 ice hockey program. So you mean to tell me, ND cannot build a new basketball arena, like Pittsburgh, and also build a separate ice hockey arena for a much deserving program? Don't tell me there isn't space on campus, because that's hogwash. I'll leave that debate for another day. But to get back to my original point, is that Mike Brey is a good coach and is the right man for this job.

I do post a question for all of Brey's critics,namely, Georgia Irish, you putz!. Name me someone (other than Bobby Knight, Coach K., Bill Self, Roy Williams, etc.) who can do better with what we have? I bet the list will be very short, to say the least.

Mike Brey and his squad are still on track to have a phenomenal year. I don't see anymore losses like the one that took place Saturday happening again anytime soon; and that's a fact!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Irish Look to Extend Streak at the JACC

Tonight's matchup with the Providence Friars is very intriguing. Although the Friars are 12-7 overall and 3-4 in league play, including losing two straight, Providence has a well balanced offensive attack this season. Five different players are averaging more than 10 points per game and six players have recorded 20 or more points in a game this season for the Friars. But tonight will not be the night for Providence.

Away from the friendly confines of the Dukin Donuts Arena, Providence is 1-4. The last contest was a 71-64 loss at the Carrier Dome to a Syracuse squad that has only six healthy scholarship players! Yes, SIX scholarship players. To their credit, Providence did beat UConn in Hartford 77-65 on January 17. So which Friar squad will show up tonight, the one that beat Connecticut, or the one that has lost at Syracuse and DePaul? My money is on the latter!

Providence reminds me a lot like Cincinnati. They've got some quickness and some size, but nothing too overbearing. The Friars' leading scorer is Manhattan transfer Jeff Xavier. Xavier is averaging 13.1 points per contest, while Geoffrey McDermott is their all-around guy (ala Rob Kurz) with 10.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. PC's big man, 6-11 Randall Hanke, should not give Irish stud Luke Harangody too much trouble. Hanke is only averaging 3.2 rebounds per contest, YIKES!

The Friars lead the Big East in 3 pt. field goals made per game at 8, but that is very misleading. Providence is chucking up around 25 to 30 shots behind the arc a night. And only hitting at 38% is not that great too! The Friars live and die by the three point shot. Good thing the Irish have excelled in holding their opponents to 32.7% from 3 pt. territory.

Notre Dame, once again, needs to get it going from the get-go. Look for Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers to pick up where they left off on Saturday against Villanova. Ayers, who came off the bench with 10 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes, looked great hitting the trey and driving the lane to create scoring opportunities. McAlarney is becoming deadly from long range and in the lane with his driving one handed floaters. Good things definitely happen when he has the ball in his hands.

Rob Kurz, Luke Harangody, and Zach Hillesland will control the boards and will dominant down low, as Providence doesn't have the height or man power to stop the Irish. Look for Kurz to have a breakout performance, while Harangody will put up another double-double game. Hillesland is good for his usual six to seven boards, and four assists. Maybe he'll get some more poster dunk opportunities.

Overall, I don't see the Irish letting this one slip through their fingers. The streak is intact for another game, as they will take over sole possession of second place in the Big East standings.

Prediction: Notre Dame 86 Providence 71

Baseline Bits:

~ Notre Dame leads the all-time series 11-9 and has won four straight against the Friars, including last season’s 81-78 victory at the Joyce Center. Providence is 4-6 all-time at the Joyce Center. Its last win in the series came at the Joyce Center when the Friars defeated Notre Dame 73-58. Since the Irish joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, there have been 15 meetings between the two schools during the regular season and in tournament competition. In BIG EAST play, Notre Dame holds a 9-6 edge.

~ Notre Dame ranks in the top five of the NCAA statistics in two categories: assists (6th-18.9) and rebounding margin (7th-9.1).

~ Tonight’s game against Providence is the first of consecutive home matchups in less than 48 hours as the Irish will play host to the DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday night at 6:00 pm.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Latest on the Poodle

USC Coach Pete Carroll refused to answer reporters' questions about a possible return to the NFL while all signs continued to indicate that offensive lineman Chilo Rachal was on his way to turning pro. Carroll's name had been linked to at least two NFL openings last week while he was on vacation in Hawaii. He reportedly spoke with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank at least once about the team's search for a head coach. He also has been mentioned in media reports as a possible candidate to succeed Joe Gibbs with the Washington Redskins. "I'm not talking about anything," Carroll said Monday upon his arrival at Heritage Hall. "I'm not commenting about anything."

Click on the title to get the LA Times article.

In fear of being thrown up against Vick's dogs in the fighting ring, the Poodle has pretty much written off the ATL. With Joe Gibbs retiring last week, Carroll is very interested in hearing what the Redskins have to offer.

Ding, dong, the Poodle will be gone! You can take that to the bank.

The Worldwide Leader in BS

Poor, poor, Dana. I really feel sorry for you. Not only are you Mr. Ed's and John Kerry's love child, but a week long vacation from your hosting gig on ESPN's First Take, must be rough. So once again, ESPN dropped the ball on this one.

It took ESPN a little over a week to finally address this issue, since the parent company got flooded with a bunch of emails. These emails were not only from Notre Dame alums and fans, but from Christians! That's the whole issue here. Yes, she mentioned F#$% Notre Dame, but she said F@!* Jesus. She opened up a can of worms there.

This is not a Notre Dame or Catholic thing. Rather it's a Christianity thing. A follower of Jesus thing! ESPN and Jacobson failed to mention that in their sorry attempt at an apology:

Dana Jacobson, co-host of ESPN2's "First Take," is currently being disciplined for remarks made at a Jan. 11 celebrity roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.

Her characterizations of the Notre Dame football program, which have been criticized by a Catholic organization, were deemed "inappropriate" by the network, which issued the following statement from Jacobson:

"I am sorry. My remarks about Notre Dame were foolish and insensitive. I respect all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by my poorly chosen words. I also deeply regret the embarrassment I've caused ESPN and Mike and Mike.

"My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I am. I won't make excuses for my behavior, but I do hope I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment."

ESPN is not the only one that missed the point on this too. South Bend Tribune columnist and Charlie Weis hater, Jeff Carroll talked about this Jacobson debacle and Catholicism. Yes, the Catholic Church didn't look at Jacobson's remarks lightly, but folks of Catholic faith are not the only ones that had an issue with this. Click on the title to get Carroll's article.

I don't think a slap on the wrist or sweeping it under the rug, like ESPN tried to do, is justifiable. Her comments were just as bad as Don Imus' when he called the Rutgers women's basketball team nappy headed ho's! It really didn't matter to me that she said F$%& Notre Dame, however, I have a real big problem when she said F#@& Jesus. That's totally uncalled for.

Just watch the video.

You'll have to download it, but you can see that Ms. Jacobson meant what she said. I don't buy her or ESPN apology one bit!

Also, if you had a Christian call out a Jewish person like that, or a specifically a Notre Dame person say something like that, LORD Help us! It would be plastered all over the television 24/7! Bigotry, especially Catholic bigotry has been tolerated for so long. It's about time someone stood up for it.

People need to take responsibility for their actions. Ms. Jacobson needs to do more than bury her head in the sand and give a bogus apology. Plus I don't think a one week absence does this any justice. If Imus was fired, then so should Jacobson!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fighting Irish Do It Again: 60 Minutes Away from First National Championship

Notre Dame continues it magical ride with a 5-4 overtime win over favored Michigan. At 5:44 of overtime, Dan Venard’s shot was stopped by Hogan, but he left a big rebound for Calle Ridderwall, who beat the Michigan goaltender low-stick.

The fourth line and third set of “D” come through for the Irish, who will play Boston College on Saturday for all the marbles. This will be the first all-private school matchup in the championship since 1985, when RPI played Providence in Detroit. It will be the 10th all-private school matchup overall. This will also be the first all-Catholic school matchup in the NCAA hockey final, and Notre Dame’s first appearance in the national championship game.

By the Numbers:

Jeff Jackson is now 6-1 in the Frozen Four as a coach. Jackson has never lost a semifinal game at the Frozen Four.

“I’m just fortunate that we’ve had the opportunity,” said Jackson. “You try to get your team prepared to peak at the right time. I can’t say that happened this year, but we turned the corner and we’re back on the rise again, and there’s no easy way to bottle peaking. The biggest thing is getting your team to believe in something.”

More NCAA 09 To Wet Your Appetite

Here's another ND pic for the upcoming NCAA 09 game. Unlike last year's version, the Irish have their alternate "Green" jersey's to choose from. Who knows, maybe you'll have better luck with the Green?

I don't know about you, but I wish the college football season would come soon!

Buzz Around Team Camps 12/5/08

Here's the lastest Buzz Around Team Camps for this Friday, December 5th:

San Diego St. via
Former Texas A&M and Alabama head football coach Dennis Franchione has had contact with San Diego State representatives about the vacant head coaching position there, according to a source close to the situation.

Franchione could not be reached for comment yesterday. Sources said others who have been contacted about the position include UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz, former Minnesota coach Glen Mason and Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen.

Andersen was named Utah State's new coach yesterday. Martz declined to comment when asked about it Wednesday. Mason's agent didn't confirm or deny involvement, instead referring questions about it to SDSU. Walker has made his interest known and is believed to have an interview set up soon.

Franchione, 57, resigned from A&M last year. He failed to meet expectations at A&M with a 32-28 record over five seasons but before that had developed a reputation as a program-builder at New Mexico and TCU.

SDSU is seeking a replacement for Chuck Long, who was fired Nov. 22. The Atlanta-based firm Parker Executive Search is assisting SDSU with the search.

Michigan via
The crowd was relatively small, the speeches were short, and the University of Michigan football team wrapped up its 88th annual bust about two hours quicker than usual.

After a 3-9 season, the Michigan awards banquet on Thursday was, for the most part, a perfunctory affair.

School president Mary Sue Coleman addressed the audience of more than 700 and explained that "transitions are hard. We're in it for the long run."

McGuffie a No Show via
When members of the Michigan football team took their seats at the annual football bust Thursday night, Sam McGuffie was absent from the group. The reason for his absence was unclear.

Coach Rich Rodriguez spoke before the team filed into the Laurel Manor, but said he would not address personnel issues or the status of assistant coaches.

Last week, Rodriguez said that McGuffie was dealing with some family issues at home in Texas, but said he expected that the running back would return to the Wolverines next season.

Carson Butler was also missing from the banquet Thursday night. Butler, who just completed his junior season, had lost his starting job at tight end and moved to the defensive line during the '08 season.

Running back Avery Horn was also not in attendance.

Rodriguez also said Thursday he expected to sign a full 25-member recruiting class this offseason, an estimate higher than the 20 to 23 he projected last week shortly after the season ended.

Purdue via
Danny Hope has moved quickly to form his first staff as Purdue's head football coach, hiring two new assistants and promoting a graduate assistant Monday.

Gary Nord is the new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, replacing Ed Zaunbrecher. Shawn Clark takes over offensive line coaching duties from Hope and departing assistant John McDonell, who was in charge of tight ends and offensive tackles under retiring coach Joe Tiller.

In addition to the two hires, Hope has elevated J.B. Gibboney to special teams coordinator, relieving defensive tackles coach Mark Hagen of those duties.

Indications are there will be no further changes to the staff, unless one or more of the current assistants leave for another job.

North Carolina via
North Carolina's football team appears to be the choice of the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.

"I think the chances are good that it's going to happen," said Will Webb, the executive director of the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He added that an offer had not yet been formally made to the university.

UNC officials could not be reached for comment. UNC (8-4) is likely to play No. 23 Pittsburgh or West Virginia in the Dec. 27 game at Bank of America Stadium.

Washington via
Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies wanted to wait a few more days to make their marriage official. But a search that began Oct. 27 when it was announced that Tyrone Willingham would not be back next season culminated Thursday when the Huskies decided to offer their head football coaching position to Sarkisian, an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at USC.

The Huskies may make it official at a news conference on Sunday, said a well-placed source. And they had hoped that the news would wait until then.

An ESPN report broke the news about 6:30 p.m. Neither Sarkisian nor Washington athletic director Scott Woodward would confirm the report when talking later with reporters.

Pittsburgh via
Since the Gator Bowl invited Clemson, North Carolina is now the most likely ACC representative in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. That's good news for Pitt because it pushes Rutgers -- who has already played the Tar Heels -- out of the mix for that bowl and squarely into the Bowl. Pitt still needs Rutgers to beat Louisville tonight to keep Notre Dame out of the mix, but if the Scarlet Knights win, the developments with North Carolina virtually guarantee that Pitt is headed to the Sun Bowl regardless of what happens Saturday against Connecticut. West Virginia appears headed to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. But if the Sun takes West Virginia, Pitt would go to the Meineke Bowl as opposed to the bowl.

Navy via
It is becoming more and more likely that Navy's opponent in the EagleBank Bowl will be Wake Forest.

Ball State's decision to decline an offer to play Boise State in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl greatly increased that possibility. It now appears the Humanitarian Bowl will select Maryland and the way the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference is sorting out Wake Forest may be the only team left for the EagleBank Bowl.

Syracuse via
LSU football coach Les Miles has apparently inquired about bringing former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson to Baton Rouge as his defensive coordinator. Contacted Thursday night, Robinson did not deny the contact about the LSU job, though he said the information might be "reaching a little bit." He said he's weighing all his options.

"I don't see myself having the ability to do something right now," Robinson said. "First of all, I want to continue to work on our coaches to help them (find new jobs). Secondly, I have to weigh all my options. That's going to take some time."

Robinson indicated he's received other coaching inquiries. He said there have "been some calls about certain things. I'm not in a position at this time to make a decision."

At the same time, he said he is putting his own professional opportunities on hold, which "might remove me from some situations, possibly," he said. "That's where I'm at."

Southern Cal via
Safety Kevin Ellison (knee) completed the full practice and said he would play against UCLA. Coach Pete Carroll said a decision on whether Ellison might start ahead of Will Harris would be made at game time. . . . Fullback Stanley Havili, still nursing two sprained ankles, practiced and said he would play.

Safety Advisory via
The Pasadena Police Department on Thursday issued a safety advisory for Saturday at the sold-out Rose Bowl, where UCLA will host USC in football.

In a news release, police announced they would be taking a "zero tolerance policy to drunk and disorderly conduct both inside the stadium and on the grounds surrounding the Rose Bowl."

That includes areas used for tailgate parties.

"We recognize that there are longtime traditions in relation to this well-known crosstown rivalry," Police Chief Bernard Melekian said, "but our mission is to ensure public safety."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Accolades Start To Flow For Irish Hoops

A 33 game home court winning streak, sole possession of 2nd place in one of the best conferences in the country, a current three game winning streak, as well as, one of the best inside-outside duos in the country, Notre Dame's men's basketball team is finally getting their props! Yesterday, the Irish were ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively, in both the ESPN/USAToday and AP polls. The team is not the only one getting attention though.

Big man Luke Harangody was awarded his second Big East Player of the Week honors. After registering his 11th double-double of the season, Harangody is now averaging double figures in both points and rebounds. In fact, he is currently 29th in the country in scoring (20.4 ppg), and 18th in rebounds (10.0 rpg). If Luke can keep this up, not only should he be the Big East Player of the Year, but he will most likely make some All-America lists.

After their hard fought victories last week, ND has also moved up the RPI ratings at 40. Even though the Irish are currently second place in the conference standings, six conference foes are ahead of them in the RPI rankings. Below is a breakdown of the conference standings, win-loss record, conf. win-loss record, and current RPI and SOS rankings:

1. Georgetown 18-2, 8-1, 6 RPI 51 SOS
2. Notre Dame 16-4, 6-2, 40 RPI 93 SOS
3. Connecticut 16-5, 6-3, 16 RPI 7 SOS
Marquette 15-4, 6-3, 17 RPI 47 SOS
Louisville 16-6, 6-3, 37 RPI 32 SOS
6. Syracuse 16-7, 6-4, 34 RPI 6 SOS
7. Pittsburgh 16-5, 5-4, 19 RPI 37 SOS
W. Virginia 15-6, 5-4, 41 RPI 46 SOS
Seton Hall 15-7, 5-4, 45 RPI 50 SOS
10. Cincinnati 10-12, 5-5, 84 RPI 3 SOS
11. DePaul 9-12, 4-5, 126 RPI 21 SOS
12. Providence 12-9, 3-6, 65 RPI 24 SOS
Villanova 13-7, 3-6, 74 RPI 83 SOS
14. St. John's 8-12, 2-7, 137 RPI 17 SOS
15. Rutgers 10-13, 2-8, 169 RPI 87 SOS
16. S. Florida 10-12, 1-8, 150 RPI 72 SOS

Key Irish opponents, Kansas State and Baylor, are 28th and 32nd, according to the RPI.

With 10 games remaining on the regular season slate and a little over six weeks before Selection Sunday, Notre Dame is in good shape. In all the 31 projected NCAA brackets, the Irish are a lock as a 6th seed. ND was as high as a number 4 seed (Schmolik 64 and CBS Sportsline), and as low as 13th (Joey Bracket Buster). Possible opponents could be UMass, Miami, or UNLV. Big East member, Syracuse, is the other current 11th seed.

ESPN's Bracketologist, Joe Lunardi did have some decent things to say during his weekly chat, but would like to see more from the Irish.

Travis (DC): Enough ACC questions!! Notre Dame is 16-4 overall and 6-2 in conference with the two losses on the road at G-Town and Marquette. If Luke Harangody continues his 20 and 10 pace for the rest of the season and the Irish keep on winning, how high of a seed do you think they can get?

Joe Lunardi: (2:43 PM ET ) What I'll be watching most closely is how well N.D. plays on the road. The Irish have one true road win, at fading Villanova and will need to show better against the other top teams in the conference (away from home) to be seeded accordingly.

Well the Irish will get their chance to shine on the road against two traditional powers, Connecticut (Feb. 13) and Louisville (Feb. 28). Their home slate isn't a pushover either with Saturday's contest against Marquette, and then back-to-back games with Pittsburgh (Feb. 21) and Syracuse (Feb. 24). A 2-2 split or 3-1 record versus those teams will propel the Irish even farther up the ratings chain.

Here is the breakdown of the current NCAA Tournament seedings for the eight Big East teams. Seton Hall is listed as one of the last teams left out in all of the brackets. Lunardi placed the Irish 6th in the Midwest against former Cinderella, George Mason, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

2. Georgetown
5. Marquette
5. Pittsburgh
5. Connecticut
6. Notre Dame
8. Louisville
9. West Virginia
11. Syracuse

With the Irish making their debut in both the AP and ESPN/USAToday polls, that makes five Big East teams ranked, which is the most in the nation. The Big 12 and Big 10 are next with four teams ranked. Kansas State checks out at 20th (AP) and 24th (ESPN/USAToday).

Georgetown 6 (AP), 6 (ESPN), 5-2 (v.1-50 RPI), 0-0 (vs. 51-100), 9-1 (last 10 games)
UConn 19 , 19 , 5-4 , 1-1 , 7-3
Marquette 16 , 16 , 3-5 , 2-0 , 6-4
Pittsburgh 21 , 25 , 3-2 , 2-2 , 6-4
Notre Dame 22 , 21 , 3-3 , 3-1 , 8-2
Syracuse NR , NR , 1-5 , 3-2 , 6-4
Louisville NR , NR , 4-5 , 1-1 , 8-2

As you can see, the Irish compare quite well against their Big East counterparts. It's now down to the final stretch during these last ten games. I predicted before the season started that the Irish would be in store for 22 wins. With remaining games against Rutgers, St. John's, and South Florida, I'm going to up their regular season total to 24. So when the conference tournament comes around, the Irish will have another first round bye with a 14-4 league mark and an overall record of 24-6. For the record, I see the Irish losing on the road to both Connecticut and Louisville, and also see ND going undefeated at the JACC (37 straight). Hey, I'm an alum and I'm bias, so don't shit in my cheerios!

Tomorrow will be another big road contest against Seton Hall. Even though the Pirates are 5-5 in their last ten games, 1-6 against Top 50 teams, and have most of their wins against the lower tier of the conference; this is a trap game for the Irish. But with a solid group that is playing some of its best basketball, Notre Dame will prevail and set their sights on Marquette.