It was a familiar theme in the Big East Monday night.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Notre Dame gets off to a great start offensively, led by yet another dominating performance from Luke Harangody. For 37 minutes, the Irish offensive attack runs through Gody while his teammates chip in occasional three-balls and jumpers. The defense is decent but nothing spectacular.
And then fatigue sets in.
All of a sudden the Gody well goes dry, the defense gives up open looks and slashing drives, and Notre Dame finds themselves praying for missed free throws by their opponents in an attempt to play catch up.
That was the scene once again for the Irish, as they fell at hands of Marquette, who pulled away from a close game to win 71-64 Monday night.
Look, Notre Dame could very well win the SEC, but you are what your record is, as they say, and it’s time to send the Irish packing from the top 25. Over and over again they have shown that they just can’t hang with the big boys, and it has become a broken record.
As if the four-game losing streak they are currently riding isn’t bad enough, the Irish have three tough road games looming against Pitt, Cincy, and UCLA. Then it’s back home for a delightful rematch with Louisville.
For Marquette, Jerel McNeal was spectacular, but the Golden Eagles’ defense was the story, particularly Maurice Acker, who blanketed Kyle McAlarney all night, forcing him into uncharacteristic shots while holding the sharpshooter to just nine points on 3-12 shooting.
While Buzz Williams’ team lacks a true big body, their quickness and length (to borrow Jay Bilas’ term) make up for miscues or slow rotations.
Marquette’s schedule is brutally backloaded, but as of now, you have to give them their due.
In the Big XII, Oklahoma State put up a mighty fight, but eventually Oklahoma fought off the scrappy Cowboys and came away with an 89-81 win.
Austin Johnson’s Mohawk-headband combo is Charles Barkley-like “terrrrrrrble,” but his jumpshot is silky, and his follow-through is almost as dirty as Craig Hodges’—the single greatest three-point shooter ever. With two minutes remaining, Johnson’s dagger of a three from a mile out iced the game, as the Sooners cruised from there.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s head man Travis Ford is a rising star. The former Kentucky standout either stood up the SEC or was spurned for some reason. Whatever the case, the SEC’s loss was the Big XII’s gain. The Cowboys lack a big non-conference win but should at least be a bubble team come tournament time. Ford has his boys playing well at the right time.
Sometimes Blake Griffin makes me think I’m 14 again and playing Sega’s classic NBA Jam. I’m pretty sure this guy jumps over the hoop when he dunks.
Tony Crocker and his pajamas continue to drive me crazy. Part of me is happy when the kid struggles, like he did last night, scoring only six points. There is always hope that the next bad game will lead him to believe that wearing long sleeves might not be the answer.
Alabama: Not this year, of course, but with Mark Gottfried now gone, the Tide can finally move forward. Gottfried overstayed his welcome in Tuscaloosa far too long, and the SEC should get a boost with new life at the helm. Paging Anthony Grant, whose VCU squad is 15-5 overall and sitting atop the CAA standings. A return to the SEC for the former Florida assistant would be just what the conference is in need of.
Big XII officiating: I’m not suggesting that Oklahoma State would have beaten Oklahoma, but the calls certainly didn’t help things. Travis Ford is still fuming over some questionable calls in late losses to Missouri and Baylor, and after last night’s odd whistles, something tells me Ford will be sending some more gametape the Big XII office’s way in the near future.
The best-laid plans
While I feel bad for the kid, I’m glad the Brandon Jennings to Europe experiment has gone poorly. Jennings recently sent out a warning to other youngsters contemplating a European trip: “I’ve gotten paid on time once this year. They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is.”
I’m sure the million dollars is nice, but something tells me Jennings didn’t see himself playing the role of a defensive specialist in Europe while his fellow Americans fell in love with other freshmen who took his place in college—all while he was miles and miles away from any chance at national exposure.
Here’s hoping the Grizzlies pick him.
Keep an eye on a surging Nevada team. The gelling Wolf Pack have registered five wins in a row and get conference leader Utah State this Thursday. A win would put Nevada in first place of the WAC.
Davidson’s last conference loss was Jan. 20, 2007, making them 46-1 in their last 47 conference games for those keeping score at home.
Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page is the reincarnation of former Florida guard Teddy Dupay. Hopefully Page doesn’t follow the same legal pattern as Dupay.
Does ESPN really have to tell us how much “real time” star players spend on the bench, complete with the ticking clock in the corner of our TV screens? Is there some overwhelming demand for this information that I don’t know about?
Buckle up, Southern Virginia. You just gave up 91 points to 10-10 Longwood, and you are headed to Lexington, VA this Thursday to face the nation’s top scoring team in VMI. This could get ugly.