St. Joseph’s and Notre Dame: A Good College Basketball GamePosted by KDoyle on November 17th, 2012
Kevin Doyle is an RTC correspondent, you can find him on Twitter @KLDoyle11. He filed this report after Friday night’s game between St. Joseph’s and Notre Dame in New York City.
An emotionally drained Phil Martelli entered the media postgame at the Barclays Center in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and before even addressing the media with his opening statement, he commented: “That was a November game? It sure seemed like a lot more than that to me.” Just minutes later, a deflated Mike Brey shared similar sentiments as he addressed the media: “What an unbelievable November game.” The two veteran coaches who have roamed the sidelines in hundreds of these early season games before couldn’t have been more on point. It was, indeed, quite the November game that saw St. Joseph’s earn a come-from-behind overtime victory over Notre Dame, 79-70. It was a game that felt like it belonged in March, rather than a November tournament in Brooklyn. It would be easy to scrutinize certain aspects of the contest, but sometimes the game is best left as is. No need to tarnish what was an exceptional two and a half hours of college basketball with overblown analysis .
You could write of Notre Dame’s ineptitude on offense in the final nine minutes of the game that saw the Irish squander an eight-point lead only to lose by nine, or how they settled for shots from the perimeter and seemingly refused to attack the imposing St. Joseph’s frontcourt after finding success there all game long. You could even make note of St. Joe’s inability to extend its defense out to the three-point line on several occasions, allowing Notre Dame to maintain a slim lead for much of the game. But, in just the third game for Notre Dame and second for St. Joseph’s this young season, why pick apart minor details that overshadow the bigger story of the night: a fine college basketball game between two future NCAA Tournament teams. No need to cloud Langston Galloway’s display of toughness as he came out for mere seconds after his tooth was knocked clear from his mouth as a Notre Dame player inadvertently hit him during a loose ball scrum. A play and response like this is something that assuredly would happen in March, and perhaps that’s why Friday evening’s game in Brooklyn didn’t exactly have a November feeling to it. Played in an NBA arena with a late-arriving and quiet crowd for the opening minutes, it took some time for the fans to become a part of the game—just like you might imagine an early-afternoon game on that Thursday in March feels like.
I have no reservations in saying that these two teams will be dancing come March. And not just merely in the Tournament, but both highly-seeded as well. In fact, if the Hawks had defeated Florida State the next night they probably would have been a Top 25 team, while the Irish had already entered the weekend ranked. Of course, both teams have flaws. But, what team in America in mid-November doesn’t? Even Tom Crean at Indiana knows that his Hoosiers are far from being a complete team primed to win a National Championship.
Phil Martelli has his best team since 2003-04, the one that went 30-2 with stars Jameer Nelson and Delonte West leading the way. Don’t get me wrong, this SJU team is not that good, but they are certainly one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to win the Atlantic 10 this season. Similarly, Notre Dame will be strong all year as Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant, and Eric Atkins look to emerge as one of the top teams in the Big East. They took the conference by storm last year when they weren’t supposed to, and now they have all the pieces to become a top four team in the Big East. Whether this all comes to fruition or not is of little significance. If either Notre Dame or St. Joseph’s end up amounting to nothing much for the rest of the season, so be it. Because on Friday night in Brooklyn, an exceptional college basketball game was played, and that was good enough for me.