Notre Dame From A Notre Dame Guy…

Sure, I could spew a bunch of really smart-sounding talking points about Notre Dame. So could Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale. Perhaps even Digger Phelps would offer insight, if this were 1984.

But no, we’re fortunate enough to have Rakes Of Mallow, a Golden Domer blog, provide Irish Info for us. Full disclosure–they sought out CAA: LAMM (as well as Kish and Steinberg, linky lines on the right) for some Mason info. I didn’t do any work. Click over there to see the three of us provide Mason info for their fans.

Side note: I chuckled that when asked, Steinberg and I–completely random and without sharing one word–came up with Kevin McHale as a comparable player to Will Thomas.

Anyway, here’s what the Mallows say about Notre Dame:

1. We know Harangody is good, and McAlarney can shoot. But why is Notre Dame so successful? What’s the style of play?

Notre Dame’s strength is their offense, especially when they’re able to get going in transition and take advantages of lapses in the opponent’s defense for three’s and easy lay-ups.  Unlike in previous years, when the half-court attack was more perimeter based, the Irish now employ Big East Player of the Year as their inside balance to Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers three point shooting.  Adding another factor into the mix is the penetration and slashing ability of Zach Hillesland and Tory Jackson, two guys of very different sizes who both excel at crashing the boards and getting into the lane.  The Irish defense has been pretty solid this season, but that’s not what they hang their hat on.

2. What are NDs weaknesses?

Neither Jackson or McAlarney are tall in the backcourt, meaning that opposing guards usually have a size advantage that benefits them on both ends of the court.  The biggest weakness the Irish have is their perimeter defense.  Whether it’s coming off dribble-drive penetration or a pick and roll, opposing guards get into the lane and force bad rotations, meaning someone is probably getting an open three.  There’s just a lack of athleticism on this team, and while there’s enough offensive talent to make up for that in scoring the ball, it’s more of a struggle in stopping the opposition.

3. George Mason wins if…

Will Thomas gets Harangody into foul trouble, Notre Dame doesn’t box out and Folarin Campbell, John Vaughan and Dre Smith hit the open threes I’m sure they’ll get off of each other’s penetration and double downs on Thomas.  I don’t think there’s a more important factor in this game than which one of the big men get into foul trouble first, and either one of them leaving the game could really tip the rebounding scale one way or the other. 

4. Notre Dame cannot lose if…

They hit their threes and clean up on the glass.  There seems to be a rather direct correlation for George Mason that in their wins, they’re crashing the glass hard and getting offensive boards.  If the Irish protect the paint on both ends of the floor, using their size as an advantage and containing Thomas, they should have some success.  From what I’ve been told about the Patriots, their perimeter defense isn’t super strong, meaning that if Rob Kurz, Ayers, McAlarney, Jackson and even Luke Zeller can hit their threes, the Irish offense should put up enough points that their defensive troubles won’t matter.

5. How do you see the game going?

I think you’ll see the Irish come out with guns blazing, maybe stake themselves to an early lead, get a quick foul or two on Will Thomas and make all the Irish fans feel good with a comfortable halftime lead.  In the second half, the five seed’s focus will lapse, the Patriots will crash the boards with the energy the underdog brings to the game and will hit some threes with the poise of the experienced squad that they are.  It’ll turn into a dog fight in the end, with Harangody and Thomas trading blows down low, but Tory Jackson will make a couple big plays down the stretch and give the Irish a very slim victory.

6. We’ve got our own mid major thing going. How does Notre Dame look at teams like George Mason? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being scared to death, how nervous are Irish fans with this matchup?

Irish fans are used to being terrified of mid-majors after last season’s Winthrop draw, so they’re slightly more at ease with George Mason, but that’s no slight to the Patriots.  I don’t think I’ve been confident going into a game all season, and after researching George Mason, I’m definitely somewhere in the 9.5 range.  Irish fans think their team can win this game, but I assure you very few – if any – partisans are treating this like any sort of walk in the park. 


~ by mglitos on March 19, 2008.

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