Saturday, May 12, 2012

Storm Warnings Won’t Stop Irish From Making History

Notre Dame could make history tonight when they face St. John’s for the last home contest this season at the JACC. With a win tonight the Irish will be the first Big East team to have two undefeated home seasons. What makes this even more impressive is the fact this conference had such great teams like the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas of the mid-80’s and the Syracuse Orangemen squads of the mid-to-late 80’s with players Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly, and Derrick Coleman.

The lone senior, Captain Rob Kurz, will be making his final appearance at home against a St. John’s squad that has lost their last three road contests. The Red Storm is now 3-8 in away games overall in 2007-08 and 2-5 on the road in BIG EAST play. The Red Storm’s road wins at USF and Rutgers in early February marked the first back-to-back BIG EAST victories away from home in five seasons, since 2002-03. But the Irish won’t take St. John’s lightly, that’s for sure.

The Red Storm is one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the Big East (5th) averaging 34.1 rpg. They’re also 6th in both scoring defense (65.9 ppg) and 3pt. FG% defense (34.3%). So the Irish will have to get out the gates early and squelch any idea of a St. John’s upset!

Look for Luke Harangody to solidify his grip of Big East Player of the Year honors with another double-double performance. Zach Hillesland will be counted on to help break the Red Storm’s pesky pressure defense, while Ryan Ayers looks to keep his hot hand going. Kurz will make a grand exit tonight with another workman-like game of double digit points and near double-digit boards.

The JACC court is the remedy for Kyle McAlarney’s shooting woes. The two-time Big East Player of the Week might challenge his 3pt. FG made record tonight. Look for Tory Jackson to control the game from the get-go with his play. Also keep an eye for Jonathan Peoples to have some sort of impact in tonight’s contest. Peoples has stepped it up when the team has needed him.

Two undefeated home seasons is on the line tonight, as well as, momentum heading towards the Big East Tournament next week. Don’t look for a let down tonight. The Irish will set it on cruise control.

Prediction: Notre Dame 88 St. John’s 67

Baseline Bits:

~ Tonight’s matchup will mark the 32nd meeting between the two schools with the Irish holding a 17-14 advantage in the series. The Red Storm was victorious in the last meeting between the two schools, who have met on only one other occasion since the 2004-05 season, as they earned a 71-68 victory at Madison Square
Garden on January 23, 2007.

~ St. John’s is 3-6 all-time against Notre Dame at the Joyce Center and has lost three straight. In their last visit to the Joyce Center, the Red Storm dropped a 67-66 setback on January 15, 2005. The last St. John’s win at the Joyce Center was a 57-53 victory on February 24, 1999.

~ Notre Dame tops the nation in assists with 19.1 per game and has dished off 20-plus assists in 12 games.

~ During the Irish’s current 17-game Big East home court winning streak, Notre Dame has played every single league squad except for Georgetown and tonight’s opponent, St. John’s.

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