The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Irish have much to learn from Pittsburgh’s approach to game

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, November 24, 2003

Unsatisfied.That is what Pittsburgh head coach Chris Beerman wrote on the board after their 3-2 win against Notre Dame. It was a win that gave the Panthers a share of the regular season Big East title and the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament.But that wasn’t good enough for Pittsburgh.The Panthers came out ready to play Sunday at the Joyce Center. Even Beerman, the 2003 Big East co-coach of the year, was fired up.But what about the Irish, who looked good while defeating Miami 3-1 Saturday?Well, they never really got into it.But they are the ones who lost sole possession of the Big East crown to the Panthers exactly one week ago. They are the team who has lost only one Big East Tournament Championship since they joined the league in 1995. They are the ones who have won 61 straight Big East games at home.Notre Dame was supposed to be the only Big East Champion-regular season and tournament. But things went awry on Sunday.Pittsburgh came out firing. They played some of the best volleyball the Big East has seen this season. The Panthers were confident. They knew they could play with a team like Notre Dame and they showed it.And the Irish didn’t respond. They seemed hesitant at times. They held a 5-4 lead in game one, and then never led again that game. They couldn’t score off their serving, nor could they put together any sort of run. But most of all, Notre Dame didn’t play with the usual confidence and swagger that this team has had all season.Credit Pittsburgh.Sunday, Pittsburgh was the better team. From the start, their hard hitting and aggressive attitude had the Irish on their heels the entire match. Notre Dame seemed just one step behind the entire match. During the first and second games, the Irish were fighting just to stay within striking distance.But this was after a convincing win on Saturday, when Miami only hit .144. Pittsburgh hit .329. The Irish just can’t find consistency, and they are running out of time.So now, the Irish find themselves in an unfamiliar spot after losing twice in one week to the same team.No. 7 Stanford lurks ahead before the NCAA Tournament begins, and if the Irish play like they did against Pittsburgh, it could be ugly.So after a week of few positives, maybe the board in the Irish locker room should send the message that they too should be unsatisfied.And maybe this will make Notre Dame hungrier for victory.