Friday, February 13, 2009

"Ass Kicking," Indeed


Coach Pitino hit the nail on the head with his post-game observations, calling Notre Dame’s 90-57 rout of the Cards as such.

Yeah, they were desperate after dropping seven straight. Yeah, they probably needed it to keep their NCAA tourney hopes alive. Yeah, T Will and Samardo were playing hurt. Yeah, the Joyce Center is a tough place to go into and escape with a win. And yeah, Crawford, we walked into a hornet's nest last night.

But let’s not sugarcoat this one. That was a beat-down from the get-go.

The Irish jumped out to a 17-4 lead after the tip and never looked back, going on to outscore us 37-19 by halftime. That’s the second straight game the Cards failed to crack 20 in the first half. In the past 3 games, we’re averaging barely over 21 points per in the first 20 minutes.

Coach Pitino warned us that we’re “not a good offensive team” on several occasions. What he’s doing to fix that issue continues to be a mystery.

Coach Pitino has also consistently preached defense. But UConn hit better than 47% of their buckets in their win over the Cards at Freedom Hall last week. And Notre Dame made a whopping 54% of their field goals and rolled for a 53-point second half to drop 90 on us. Where’s that in-your-face, wear-‘em-down defense we’ve seen all season?

Part of that is hitting shots. You can’t set up your press if you don’t knock ‘em down, and 39% from the field hardly qualifies. (But it beats Sunday’s performance of 19-61.)

And Notre Dame is hardly touted for its defense. In its last three outings before last night, it gave up 93 points at Pitt, 93 points at Cincinnati, and 89 points at UCLA. And we could only muster 57? To put things in perspective, we haven’t topped the 70-point mark in our last four games.

I could have taken a loss last night and not lost any sleep. I didn’t have a good feeling going in. But to come out with no pride, no passion, and so unbusinesslike against a formidable team on the road after almost four days rest and just get humiliated on national TV is downright pathetic.

We can turn it around, learn from this, and make that run a lot of folks say we have the potential to make. But if we continue to be unable to get the ball in the hole, and continue to forget the defensive intensity we had mastered back in January, we’ll be in for a few more “ass kickings” down the road.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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