Rushed Reactions: #10 Iowa State 76, #7 Notre Dame 58Posted by IRenko on March 22nd, 2013
I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Dayton after the Second Round NCAA Tournament game between Notre Dame and Iowa State. You can follow him on Twitter at @IRenkoHoops.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Notre Dame Self-Destructed on Offense in the First Half … — The most turnovers Notre Dame had committed this year was 18 — and that was in a game against Louisville that lasted for 65 minutes. Apart from that, they hadn’t committed more than 16 turnovers in any contest, yet by halftime tonight, they had coughed up the ball 14 times. At one point, they committed five straight turnovers in a span of 2:05. As a result, the Irish took 13 fewer shots than Iowa State and despite shooting better, percentage-wise, they entered halftime trailing 35-23.
- … And On Defense In the Second – The Irish played an ineffective zone in the second half that offered almost no resistance to Iowa State’s repeated efforts to attack the paint. Over and over, the Cyclones drove-and-dished to cutters who readily finished at the rim or in the lane, or else drew a foul. Despite their height advantage over ISU’s relatively undersized frontline, Jack Cooley and Tom Knight seemed to fold like a cheap table whenever a Cyclone brought the ball inside. The Cyclones shot 60 percent from the field after halftime, and that number would have been higher had they not missed five of their last six shots, after the game was effectively over. I knew that Notre Dame’s interior defense was a vulnerability, but this performance managed to sink beneath my low expectations.
- The Cyclones’ Three-Point Shooting Was the Icing on the Cake – The Cyclones love to shoot the three, often on the break or early in the shot clock. They resisted the temptation to overdo it tonight, in favor of exploiting the Irish’s weakness in the paint. But they still managed to unleash 21 long-distance bombs and converted nine of them. A few of these came in the final 10 minutes in the game and helped to thoroughly demoralize the Irish who had already been picked apart inside.
Star of the Game: Perhaps Georges Niang was just a beneficiary of Notre Dame’s ineptitude and his teammates’ good work in getting him the ball inside, but credit the 6’7″ forward for taking advantage of his opportunities. While facing a height disadvantage against Cooley and Knight, Niang repeatedly converted around the rim and finished the game with 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting, tying a career high. Niang also showed some quality skill in the low post, at least twice backing down the Irish’s taller big men and converting a nice-looking hook shot.
Quotable: “It stings. … That’s really the unfinished business for this program. This is a hump we can’t get over yet, but we’ll keep trying to figure it out.” — Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey on the Irish’s lack of success in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve failed to advance to the Sweet 16 in their last six appearances, and on five of those occasions, they were bounced by a lower seed.
Sights & Sounds: I’ve shared the arena floor with 22 different student bands over the past four days, but the Cyclones’ band was unquestionably the most entertaining. Their chanting at the opponent during free throw attempts showed impressive creativity. My favorite was “You’re shooting for a date to the prom!”, followed on the second free throw by, “You’re going to the prom with Minkus!” while pointing at one of their own band members who … well, looked like a guy named Minkus. A close second, presumably an Irish-specific creation, was “They’re magically delicious! They’re magically delicious!”
Wildcard: Notre Dame had some success early in the game feeding the ball into the post, where they could take advantage of Iowa State’s on mediocre interior defense. But they seemed to get away from it for some reason, instead opting for ineffective dribble penetration. Jerian Grant had a particularly rought night, trying to attack the basket, as he turned it over five times, seemed generally tentative, and struggled to convert makeable shots at the rim.
What’s Next? Iowa State will look to upset Ohio State in the Third Round on Sunday. A win would give the Cyclones their fifth Sweet 16 appearance in school history.