Monday, February 28, 2005

For The Irish Basketball Eyes That May Not Be Smiling...

This is the grit of our point guard next year. If he can come in and adjust to the college game, Chris Quinn gets to play the two and we just keep on rolling.

Oh, and if you want the two reasons for why we lost yesterday other than we played Wake Forest-style defense on the perimeter and everyone on UCLA was shooting insanely well while we were mostly cold?

1) Ben Howland deciding to double the post after Torin Francis scored the first two Irish bucks going one-on-one against Bruin defenders. It wasn't a pretty double-team, but just like Howland's old team Pitt did to us, they confused our big men to the point we couldn't get open shots out of our open players.

2) The way UCLA managed the switches the Irish were making on screens during the second half. Anytime there was a mismatch, like UCLA's center Fey against our shooting guard Quinn, UCLA would exploit it and pound it inside immediately. That helped to keep the margin wide as we attempted the ill-fated comeback.

One other key to the Irish loss was that we didn't bring in Russel Carter soon enough. I'm not one of those insane people thank somehow think Russel should be starting, because the young Mr. Carter is still inconsistent. But Brey must play him early, say six or seven minutes into the game, and see if his head is screwed on.

If he plays well, like he did yesterday or in the first Syracuse game, ride him as long as you can. If he thinks the "Spalding" on the ball really says "Snake" and begins tossing it directly into the arms of defenders, get him out of there. I'd rather have Carter in there than Israel, who other than on-the-ball defense brings absolutely nothing to the table save reckless athleticism.

We started sliding back onto the bubble, but a win over Rutgers makes it almost sure while a win over Pitt clinches it, regardless of how the Big East tournament goes. We're just inconsistent enough to maybe make some noise in the tournament, so hopefully we get in.

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