Rushed Reactions: #22 Notre Dame 81, Purdue 68Posted by WCarey on December 15th, 2012
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from this afternoon’s showdown between Notre Dame and Purdue…
Three Key Takeaways.
- Purdue Is Definitely In A Rebuilding Season. In his eighth season as the head coach of the Boilermakers, Matt Painter has faced the tall task of attempting to replace Purdue legend Robbie Hummel. Thus far, the task has proven to be quite difficult. The Boilermakers sit at just 4-6 on the season and have already suffered losses to two mid-major programs (Bucknell and Eastern Michigan). Throughout the season, Purdue has struggled mightily with turnovers and its shooting percentage. Its struggles in both areas have thus far prevented the Boilermaker offense from establishing an identity on offense. Today’s starting lineup featured a redshirt freshman and two true freshmen, so it is easy to understand why the Boilermakers are battling through some pretty significant humps.
- Jack Cooley And Garrick Sherman Provide Notre Dame With A Formidable Frontcourt. Both the senior Cooley and the junior Sherman had productive afternoons with Cooley tallying 18 points and nine rebounds and Sherman pitching in 11 points and three rebounds. While Cooley starts and Sherman comes off the bench, there are many instances where the two are on the court together. Those instances provide the Irish with an interior-size advantage that has not been too common during the tenure of Mike Brey. The Big East is always a fairly rugged league, so this size advantage will undoubtedly help the Irish when conference play commences.
- Notre Dame’s Experience Helps The Irish Greatly. This season’s Irish returns all five starters from last season’s team and that gives them an experience advantage in almost every game it will play this season. You can sense this team’s experience while watching them play. Purdue went on a 16-2 run in the middle of the second half and the Irish never once became rattled. The Irish tri-captains — junior Eric Atkins, senior Jack Cooley, and senior Scott Martin — have seen a little bit of everything during their collegiate careers, so it is pretty easy to see why the team does not get rattled no matter the circumstance.
Star of the Game. Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame. While Jack Cooley put up another workmanlike effort for the Irish inside, it was the sophomore Connaughton that stood out on both ends of the court. Offensively, the swingman contributed 16 points, including a late three-pointer that put the late Purdue surge to rest. Defensively, Connaughton was in the face of Purdue sharpshooter D.J. Byrd all night and never allowed the senior to get into a groove offensively.
- “We are flowing really well right now. No one is being selfish, which is great to see.” – Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley, acknowledging the strides the Irish offense has taken in its recent games.
- “I thought that was really business-like by us today.” – Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, referencing his team’s steady effort in the victory.
Sights and Sounds. While it had to be neat for the players on both Notre Dame and Purdue to play in an NBA arena, the crowd and the building’s energy were significantly lacking following the mass exodus of the Butler and Indiana faithful following the first game of the day. At points in the second half, the crowd noise resembled a winter break non-conference game. One could assume that the energy level would have been better if the event would have switched the order of the games.
What’s Next. Notre Dame has a very quick turnaround, as the Irish will play host to IPFW on Monday night. Purdue has one more day off than the Irish, as the Boilermakers return to the court Tuesday night for a clash with Ball State.