Saturday, February 05, 2005


Deja Vu thanks to two

Notre Dame has seen this ending before. Down 11 with 6 minutes left, Syracuse ends the game with a 21-7 run to pull out a 60-57 win over the Irish in front of an NCAA record 33,199 at the Carrier Dome. In their last meeting SU ended the game on a 19-4 run to win at South Bend. This time the run was due to the Orange's two National Player of the Year Candidates, Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick. They combined for 20 of the final 21 points and 42 of the 60 total points. SU scored 20 points in the first half in one of their worst offensive performances in recent history. The second half wasnt much better until the end of the game. The Orange only had 19 points in the second half before going on their run. Adding Pace into the scoring, SU got 52 of 60 points from 3 guys. SU improves to 21-2 and 8-1 in the Big East and Notre Dame falls to 13-6 and 5-4 in the Big East.

My Take
While the game is still fresh lets go over what happened. First of all the first half looked like a team out there that has never played organized offensive basketball. GMac was throwing behind the back passes in traffic, they were giving the ball to Warrick out by the 3 point line, Demetris Nichols couldnt dribble (although this shouldnt shock anyone). It was atrocious. It was so bad that Boeheim at one point was playing a unit of Warrick, GMAC, Edelin, Watkins, and Roberts. Wow. JB was trying anything and it wasnt working. Pace kept them in the game in the 1st half with 8 points. The defense was good except for some open 3s, but every time SU got within 4 or 5, Notre Dame would hit a 3 or hit a couple of baskets. The start of the second half wasnt much better. SU would get within 5, Falls hit a 3. SU would get within 6, Francis hit 2 FTs. SU would get within 4, Chris Quinn would knock down another 3. GMAC picked up his 4th foul, SU was down 11 with 6 minutes left and then Hakim Warrick happened. A dunk, two fts and then another higlight reel dunk, Warrick got so high on that dunk it seemed as if Quinn actually walked under Warrick. All of this happened with SU pressing. So a 6-0 Warrick run, a ho hum big GMAC 3 off an ND turnover and a great defensive job by McCroskey. What is going to get lost in this game is the job McCroskey did in the press and in the man defense. He is relentless. We can sit here and rip McCroskey for his offensive play and he desverves it, but his defense in the press and man defense is exceptional. Mike Brey argued that McCroskey was using his hands too much and promptly got a technical and GMAC tied it at the line. So in 2 and half minutes SU scored 11 straight points to tie. Then it became a FT shooting contest. SU scored their last 12 points at the line with GMAC making 9 of those. And SU survived Terrence Roberts shooting FT's like Shaq.

The Positives
GMAC and Warrick- Again carry the team. I remember seeing this happen last year and now its happening again. They get it done down the stretch. They are the epitome of winners.
FT shooting- Won the game for the Orange tonight. Throwing out Roberts four chucks at the basket at the end of the game SU was 21-26. Now some may say thats a great number, but a closer look. GMAC was 11-11 and Warrick was 6-11, so see the first positive.
Press Defense- The Defensive presure forced ND's experienced guards into mistakes. This is a different SU press than in years past. Warrick is very good on the inbounds pass and McCroskey is brilliamt at hawking the ball.
Never Give Up Attitude- On a day where College coaches around the country wore sneakers to promote the fight against cancer, SU used the late Jim Valvano's attitude to come back. This SU team believes they can win any game, which is great to have, but you cant fall behind good teams and expect to do that all the time.
Mike Brey - Thats right the ND coach is an SU positive. Brey did some curious things in the second half and all of them were in the last 5 minutes. McNamara hits the 3 to cut the lead to 2, the crowd is going bonkers, no timeout for Brey. Immediately after the 3, McCroskey forces the 5 second call and Brey gets a technical. Warrick makes two FTs to tie the game at 52 and SU goes back to zone and Brey waits until 7 seconds on the shot clock to call a timeout. You're never going to get a good shot in 7 seconds against a zone and they didnt, Quinn barely grazed iron. Then this was the worst. GMAC fouls out so he cant shoot FTs, ND down 4 with 5 seconds left, Quinn at the line. Quinn makes the first and Brey tells him to miss the second. Why?. The odds of tapping the ball back out for 3 arent good. I was thinking the whole time this could be bad if Quinn makes both because even if SU makes one ND could tie. Horrible decision. The odds of SU making two FTs with GMAC sitting on the bench are not good. Make the second FT, foul right away and you almost guarantee yourself a shot at tying because most likely the SU players on the floor arent going to make 2. Brey got lucky because Roberts missed both anyway , but its a curious coaching decision which ended his horrid last 5 minutes coaching.

Coming Later..The negatives and boy there are a lot and recaps from both sides..

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