Monday, March 12, 2012

Let the Postseason Awards Begin

As no surprise, Notre Dame sophomore Luke Harangody was unanimously selected to the Big East Conference First-Team. Harangody averaged a league-leading 21.0 points and 10.3 rebounds, which was second in the BIG EAST. He was even more productive in conference games, averaging 23.3 points and 11.3 boards. Both figures led the league.

Also joining Luke on the First-Team is junior sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney. This season has turned out to be some redemption for the Staten Island, NY, product. It has been well documented the past two seasons of McAlarney's suspension from the school; and now to have the season that he is having makes this even more bittersweet.

Three others were unanimous First-Team selections along with Harangody: Connecticut's A.J. Price, Louisville's David Padgett, and repeat unanimous selection Roy Hibbert. Even though Harangody should win the Player of the Year hands down, Price, Padgett, and Hibbert, are Luke's competition to take home the individual hardware. Below is the statistical numbers of each candidate.

A.J. Price
Points: 14.7 overall (14th); 16.1 conference (11th)
Assists: 5.9 overall (2nd) (23rd nationally); 5.89 conference (2nd)
Asst/TO Ratio: 2.43 overall (4th); 2.76 conference (4th)

David Padgett
Points: 11.7 overall; 12.1 conference (29th)
FG%: 68.3 conference (1st)
Blocked Shots: 24 conference (9th)

Roy Hibbert
Points: 13.6 overall (19th); 14.4 conference (17th)
Rebounding: 6.4 overall (19th); 6.5 conference (16th)
FG%: 60.0 overall (4th) (13th nationally); 58.5 conference (4th)
Blocked Shots: 70 overall (3rd) (28th nationally); 46 conference (2nd)

Points: 21.0 overall (1st) (21st nationally); 23.3 conference (1st)
Rebounding: 10.3 overall (2nd) (14th nationally); 11.3 conference (1st)
FG%: 51.7 overall (9th); 49.8 conference (12th)
FT%: 76.8 overall (11th); 76.8 conference (15th)
Blocked Shots: 20 conference (15th)

Unless Cincinnati Head Coach Nick Cronin has jedi mind tricks and can sway the votes to Louisville's David Padgett, Harangody will be Notre Dame's second Big East Player of the Year. Now if he can add Tournament MVP to his resume, I wouldn't mind that either!

One snub that I thought that deserves mention is that of Rob Kurz being left off. Kurz at least deserved to be on the Honorable Mention. Here are Rob's numbers:

Points: 12.7 overall (25th); 11.8 conference (30th)
Rebounding: 7.5 overall (11th); 7.3 conference (10th)
FT%: 85 overall (2nd); 88.9 conference (2nd)
Blocked Shots: 40 overall (10th); 24 conference (9th)

The lone senior put forth a great season and still has a lot left to do before his time is done at Notre Dame. How about a Big East Tournament Championship and a long run in the NCAA Tournament?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Irish Go for the Triple Play

A win, is a win, no matter how you can take it. Yesterday's contest against Rutgers was no different. In what turned out to be a wild and wacky weekend of college basketball not only in the Big East, but overall throughout the Division I ranks, Notre Dame inched closer to that coveted first round bye in the conference tournament.

With Georgetown's loss at Syracuse and Connecticut needing a last second shot in overtime to beat South Florida, the Irish are one game out of first place in the Big East. Louisville is tied with the Hoyas at 10-3, while the Huskies are in third with Notre Dame at 9-3. A slew of teams with five losses (Marquette, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Cincinnati) are looking on the outside of the top four.
But with the next three games slated for each of these teams, anything can happen.

Notre Dame's next three opponents of Pittsburgh (6th), Syracuse (9th), and Louisville (T-1st) are a combined 24-14 in league action. Below is a look at the remaining top eight team’s next three contests:


@ Providence (T-13th)
Cincinnati (T-6th)
St. John's (T-13th)

15-23 combined league mark


Syracuse (9th)
@ Pittsburgh (6th)
Notre Dame (T-3rd)

23-14 combined league mark


DePaul (T-10th)
@ Villanova (T-10th)
@ Rutgers (16th)

12-26 combined league mark


@ St. John's (T-13th)
Rutgers (16th)
@ Villanova (T-10th)

13-26 combined league mark


@ Notre Dame (T-3rd)
Louisville (T-1st)
Cincinnati (T-6th)

26-11 combined league mark

West Virginia

@ Villanova (T-10th)
Providence (T-13th)
@ DePaul (T-10th)

14-23 combined league mark


South Florida (15th)
@ Georgetown (T-1st)
@ Pittsburgh (T-6th)

21-17 combined league mark

So these next three games are vitally important for Mike Brey's boys. A 3-0 sweep would be gravy and would almost likely give the Irish one of the four bye slots. Even a 2-1 mark in these three games against RPI Top 50 teams will give them some breathing room. This season, Notre Dame is 4-4 vs. Top 50 teams, which is tied for third-best in the league with Georgetown. Connecticut (6-4) and Louisville (5-4) are the tops in the Big East.

This will definitely be an important week and a half for Notre Dame, not only in maintintaining their current home court winning streak, but keeping pace with the Hoyas, Cardinals, and Huskies for the league lead. Notre Dame will take a win any way they can get it, especially now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Savior of Ann Arbor?

You gotta love the spirit in Michigan fans. After not getting their man Les Miles, and then their second choice, Rutgers' Greg Schiano; Michigan found their man in West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez. The Wolverine faithful are happy to get Rodriguez and are feeling that their program is going to be at elite status real soon. Are you kidding me? Rodriguez is a fine coach, but he's not a miracle worker.

Let's start off with the facts. 1) Lloyd Carr is sixth among active coaches in winning percentage (75.2%), while Rodriguez is at 62.1%; 2) Prior to this season, Rodriguez had 8 wins over Top 25 programs in his six seasons at West Virginia. That's an average of 1.3 wins a year over ranked opponents. If you count this season, where he had a victory over Cincinnati, his average drops to 1.28; 3) While Rich is on a two game bowl winning streak, he still has a .400 record; 4) Since the departure of Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech to the ACC, West Virginia has reaped the benefits of a mediocre Big East. Rodriguez's overall record versus' Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech is 2-2, 0-3, and 2-3, respectively. So he's a respectable .500 against the big three of the former Big East. Currently he's 4-3 against his Backyard Brawl opponent, Pittsburgh, and 1-2 against South Florida; and 5) West Virginia's SOS is not what I call formidable. Starting with his first year at WVU in 2001, WVU's SOS has been 35th, 54th, 56th, 65th, 63rd, 37th, and currently 42nd. The Mountaineers have faced the likes of Ohio, Kent State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Central Florida, East Carolina, James Madison, Wofford, and Eastern Washington in their out of conference slate.

In case you are wondering, Rodriguez is 0-1 against the Irish, a 34-24 loss in 2001. I'm not going to compare Charlie Weis to Rodriguez. But if insist, Rodriguez's record in three seasons was 20-17, while Charlie's is 22-15. The schedule is not close whatsoever, as well as, bowl teams played. So you can throw that one out the window, Meeechigan fans.

I think Rodriguez is a fine coach, but I don't think he'll get Michigan to the promise land anytime soon. Heck, I'm not sure if he'll be the one to get the Wolverines past Ohio State. Good luck Michigan, you'll need it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

IBB Weekly Motivator: Week 11

Here's one for all the gamers out there. With NCAA 09 coming out in a few weeks, and depending on what gaming console you have, everyone and their mother has been busy making custom covers for their games. I bet, no pun intended Mr. Vick, no one will have this one!

Coming up later this week are some ND custom covers for their NCAA 09 games.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shark Tales

During his off season, I got the pleasure of seeing Jeff Samardzija at a few home games this past season. After having the season we had, it would have been nice to have a sure handed receiver like Jeff around, that's for sure. One thing that has been great is his daily blogs on his website:

His latest piece talks about this past season and his take on things. As for someone that knows the team and the coaching staff and, more importantly, the ins and outs of college football; I'll take his word. Here's what Jeff had to say:

"What's going on everybody. Figured it was about time that I checked in again with another Blog. That and I was getting heat from my manager/full-time brother to fill you in on what has been going on and whats planned. First things first, the 2007 ND season has just wrapped up. Sure I'm hearing all the groaning about how this was the "worst ND team ever" and how people are jumping off the bandwagon. Heck our plumber told me he hasn't seen a worse ND team in 46 year, so it has to be true. I say take it easy everyone. I'm not a history guy, but I don't think ND has ever had that many true freshman and soph on the field at one time. The o-line, which is probably the most important spot on the field, had all first and second year players. I remember back in high school when I started as a true freshman...We were a super young team with mainly soph and junior players. My good friend was the QB and also a freshman. We were the first true freshman to ever start on varsity at Valpo High. With that being said, we got destroyed all season. The papers were all over us as the worst Valpo team ever, and why would a team start so many young guys? We heard it all. Well what happened our junior and senior years? We made it to the State and Semi-State finals. Go figure. So just hang in there ND fans, you'll be impressed with these guys soon enough..."

The Shark is gearing up for another season with the Cubs farm system. It won't be too long before we see Jeff pitching in Wrigley!

Go Cubs and Go Irish!

Note: Click on the title to see Jeff's entire blog entry

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hawaii Five-O Pt. 3: The Magnum P.I. Edition

The continuation of our six part series of the 2008 Hawaii Warrior Football season takes us to games five and six. After dropping two straight to Oregon State and lowly San Jose State at home, Hawaii started to gain some momentum beginning at Fresno State.

The Warriors pulled off the improbable with a 32-29 overtime win over No. 22 Fresno State, which saw Hawaii surrender a 17-point second-half lead and survive a last-minute field goal attempt by the Bulldogs to win the game in regulation.

Hawaii was out gained by Fresno State, 522-342, but won the turnover battle. A week after turning the ball over six times and losing on a last-minute field goal to San Jose State, Hawaii turned the tables at Fresno. The Warriors took advantage of six Bulldog turnovers to lead for nearly the entire game. The Warriors intercepted three Bulldog passes, including two picks by Keao Monteilh, and recovered three fumbles. UH turned four of those turnovers into 20 points.

The Warriors rushed for a season-high 172 yards, led by Quarterback Inoke Funaki's 79 yards. He also threw for 170 yards and 2 scores.

What was even more impressive was this was the first-ever Hawaii road win over a ranked opponent. Fresno State was 22nd coming into this matchup.

Game six saw the Warriors return back to Aloha Stadium for Homecoming against WAC foe Louisiana Tech. Once again Hawaii got off to a fast start and created opportunistic turnovers to beat the Bulldogs24-14.

The Warriors produced four turnovers—two fumbles and two interceptions— sealing its second straight WAC win. Funaki moved the Hawaii offense by passing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. The junior completed 16-of-27 and finished with a career-high 224 yards.

The Warriors out-gained the Bulldogs 402-358 yards and allowed just 52 yards of total offense by Louisiana Tech in the second half, until the final drive with the game already decided.

As you can see, Hawaii is starting to gel as a team and protecting the football, while creating turnovers. Plus they are gaining needed leadership on offense from Fuanki.

Tomorrow we'll dive into the second half of the season with recaps of the Boise State and Nevada games.