Sunday, November 4, 2012
Trap Game Awaits Irish in New Jersey
Even though Seton Hall is 15-7 overall and 5-4 in league play, the Pirates pose a great challenge for the Irish tonight. Mike Brey has stressed to his team after the DePaul game not to overlook Seton Hall before Saturday's rematch with Marquette. The Pirates had won five straight prior to their loss last Saturday at Georgetown.
This will be the fifth time that the Pirates have faced a ranked opponent. So far Seton Hall is 1-3 in those games. They defeated #23 Virginia, 74-60, on Nov. 24 and lost to #15 Marquette, 61-56, on Jan. 8 and #20 Pittsburgh, 84-70, on Jan. 12. Then lost their contest with the Hoyas. Virginia, by the way, is currently the last place team in the ACC with an overall record of 11-9, while Pittsburgh has lost three of their last five games; which includes losses at Cincinnati and home to Rutgers!
Tonight's game features a matchup of the top two scorers in the BIG EAST Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody and Seton Hall’s Brian Laing. Cool hand Luke is averaging 28.3 points and 12.7 rebounds in last three games. Laing is leading the Pirates with 19.3 points per contest. Shutting the senior captain down might not be as big as a concern as shutting down the rest of the Pirates. Seton Hall is one of the top scoring teams in the country with an 80.9 average. They're also good with the ball and making good decisions, with a 10.2 turnover average, which is fifth in the nation.
Seton Hall can be a streaky team from the floor, but the Irish will try and force the Pirates to shoot from the outside, as they are one of the worst 3 point shooting teams at 33.6%. Look for Coach Brey to confuse Seton Hall with different defensive looks.
The key to tonight's contest, like all the Irish away games, is to get off to a good start. Just like their win over Villanova, the Irish have to establish the inside with Harangody and Rob Kurz. Kurz will be very instrumental on the offensive boards for second chance opportunities, as he has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in nine games this season. Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson have to keep their composure getting the ball in the right hands, as the Pirates are very pesky on defense. Look for Zach Hillesland to get plenty of tries taking the ball up the court.
Ryan Ayers has played with a lot more confidence as of late since Brey has made him the first off the bench. The fourth-leading scorer has netted double figures in seven contests, including two straight against Villanova and Providence. If Ayers can get it going from the outside, the Irish should be in good shape.
Notre Dame will come out swinging and not look back in this one. The Irish have won four straight, including last season’s 88-76 win at the Joyce Center.
Prediction: Notre Dame 79 Seton Hall 66
~ Notre Dame’s current three-game BIG EAST regular-season win streak is its longest of the season.
~ The Irish are off to their best start in BIG EAST play since 2002-03 when that squad was 7-2 through its first nine games.
~ Notre Dame leads the all-time series 13-7.