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ND Women’s Basketball

Greason: Notre Dame picked the wrong game to have an off-day

| Thursday, December 8, 2016

A rankings flip-flop between formerly No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Connecticut on Monday left many surprised and confused. It marked the first time in over a decade the top-ranked team was jumped without a loss and Wednesday’s matchup between No. 1 UConn (8-0) and No. 2 Notre Dame (8-1) was supposed to decide which of the two was actually the best in the country.

And while the Huskies will maintain their top ranking after stretching their winning streak to 83, they will not do so after beating the second-best team in the nation. They may have taken down the second-ranked team, but they certainly did not see Notre Dame’s best. They did not see the skill and prowess that put the Irish at the top. While Notre Dame has absolutely earned its ranking, it did not put up its best fight against the Huskies. This game did not affirm that UConn is the best team in the country right now, it simply solidified the Huskies’ ranking.

I fully believe Notre Dame is one of the two best teams in the country at the moment. But the Huskies were playing the shell of the full-bodied, vibrant Irish team that could have and should have stepped onto the court. While Notre Dame can play like one of the top two teams in the country on a regular basis, it did not Wednesday.

There were bright spots in the game, without a doubt.

The Irish scored 15 points off the bench, compared to UConn’s four.

Irish senior guard Lindsay Allen dribbles around a defender in Notre Dame's 72-61 loss to the Huskies on Wednesday.Allison Culver | The Observer

Irish senior guard Lindsay Allen dribbles around a defender in Notre Dame’s 72-61 loss to the Huskies on Wednesday.

Freshman guard Jackie Young came off the bench to spark multiple runs with her four steals.

Junior forward Brianna Turner scored 16 points and snagged 12 rebounds despite a complete offensive breakdown.

And there were bad breaks in the game, without a doubt.

Young injured her ankle and was forced to leave the game with three minutes left.

Notre Dame had just eight attempts at the free-throw line, compared to UConn’s 20, which was arguably due to some the officiating.

But, Notre Dame converted on just four of those eight free throw chances, while the Huskies made all but one.

More than anything, however, there was poor play on the part of the Irish throughout the game.

Losing is no fun. But it’s even worse when it comes as a result of failing to perform at the level of which you are capable. When the second-ranked team in the country fails to make a single 3-point shot until the second quarter, the loss is going to sting a little bit more. Because if those two teams had faced each other on Notre Dame’s best day, or even a slightly better one, the storyline of the game — particularly the second half — would have been totally different and the outcome could have been turned upside down.

Everyone has off days; it’s just unfortunate that Notre Dame’s off day came on the most anticipated matchup of the season.

While UConn’s defense was strong, it was not outstanding. It did not do anything special that threw the Irish for a loop. They simply could not get a shot to drop in the first quarter, causing them to rush their offensive sets, which exacerbated the problem. This issue carried over throughout most of the game, with the exception of the second quarter.

The offense was inefficient and incapable of scoring. It repeatedly failed to get the ball inside to Turner. Sophomore guard Marina Mabrey, who had an explosive showing against the Huskies last season, failed to pick up a single point until she scored the final points of the game. Mabrey is supposed to be a perennial offensive powerhouse, but she wasn’t Wednesday. Sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale is used making layups effortlessly, no matter how many people she has to drive through to get to the basket. But she could not get a single one to drop, scoring only nine points. The second best team in the country does not wait until over halfway through the third quarter to score its first points of the second half.

While senior guard Lindsay Allen took responsibility for the lack of offensive production after the game, the fact of the matter is that the team as a whole did not play well. The mental factor of the Irish facing off against UConn cannot be overlooked and it probably played a role in Notre Dame’s slow start to both halves and its inability to slow the UConn offense, especially in the paint and in transition. But more than anything, it was just not Notre Dame’s day.

We saw glimpses of the Irish team the country was expecting to step onto the court. There were moments when the offense ran flawlessly. There were plays that made everyone in Purcell Pavilion believe they were watching the top two teams in the nation. But overall, we were not watching a top-two matchup. We were watching the two best teams in the country, one of whom grew increasingly frustrated with itself. UConn did not stop Notre Dame. Notre Dame stifled itself.

Notre Dame absolutely deserves to be one of the top two teams in the country. It was simply the wrong day to have an off day.

 

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a junior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident of McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is the current Sports Editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

Contact Elizabeth
  • Vern

    Notre Dame was beaten in its own house by a better team. It is that simple. No excuses.

  • XBeliever

    Vern, absolutely true! Ms. Greason has basketball zero knowledge to pick apart why Geno and his troops made Notre Dame take poor shots, made them look high-schoolish. ND did not have a bad night. ND had a UCONN night. UCONN continually forced ND to go in directions they don’t like to go. Giving ND credit, they looked the best of any team in the nation against UCONN. And that IS saying something. ND had never been pressed all season because of the easy schedule they played to get 8-0. Muffett has never known why she gets beat continually by UCONN, and still doesn’t after tonight’s thrashing. Geno planned it out and put his kids into their weakest spots by the best teams. ND hadn’t even been on the road against a ranked team. This was planned, masterfully, but our UCONN woman executed, and executed against a very good ND team. ND did not have an off night, and either did Ms. Greason with this story. Just a lack of self-knowledge of what ND’s and Ms. Gleason’s limitations are. Wise up or we will be having this conversation again this year.

  • XBeliever

    And then for Ms. Greason to say it was bad reffing. That’s what losers say. I watched the game and saw pretty tight reffing, but for both sides. Excuses are for losers, and again, both Muffet and Ms. Greason rose to that level!

  • XBeliever

    Greason took my comment out. They really don’t want to see the truth. WOW! Blinders is exactly why ND lost and will continue to do so. Vern, exactly the point.

  • XBeliever

    By taking my comment out you just confirmed the quality and character of your writing. Before you did that, I was just coming back to say that the only team that, on any day, COULD best UCONN this year, IS ND. But not if you don’t take the blinders off. The Chinese definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! Take heed!

  • Gee Male

    Excuses are like a-holes, everyone has got one.

  • Butch Meisner

    I have news for you Ms. Greason. ND did not see UConn at its best last night either. Case in point – the Huskies entered the game leading all of WCBB in 3pt FG% (44.4%) but hit just one of nine from the arc in the game. And we played almost 12 minutes of the first half without one of our best players due to a questionable second foul call (by the way, we had 15 fouls called against us to 19 for ND so whining about officiating is not supported by the numbers). Absent just those two issues alone, it would have been a 20+ point blowout win for the Huskies.

    And do you want to know why you did not see the ND juggernaut you fawn over in the article? It is because ND was not playing Valpo last night! UConn has a way of making good teams look bad. In view of the past 4 years of games between the two teams, one would think ND fans of all people would know that.

    • PSCali

      Very true. All valid and accurate points!

  • Gordon Hill

    Yes, ND had an off day due to many factors, mainly UConn conditioning. It was 42-42 with twelve minutes to go and UConn closed the game with a 30-19 finish. Lou, Kia and Gabby played the full forty. Pheesa might have, but caught two early fouls. Six UCon players accounted for 192 minutes, typical UConn BB. Check the box scores for the ’14 & ’15 NCs.

  • PSCali

    While I truly applaud the author for studying civil engineering, she is unfortunately not as savvy regarding Women’s basketball. Senior ND point guard Lindsay Allen has played Uconn six times and has lost every time. 0 for 6. Imagine how bad the beat down would have been if this game had been at Uconn! I do think that the Irish have much more depth this year. If an injury occurs to Samuelson, Collier or Williams, Uconn could be in big trouble this season. Speaking of injuries, I hope Jackie Young heals quickly, she is an elite talent that is fun to watch. But the Huskies had an off shooting night from the three point line and ND was lucky that a flagrant foul was not called on that karate chop to Gabby Williams’ neck. The reigning four time consecutive National Champion Huskies are the better conditioned, better coached team with heart and grit and they are the best team in the country right now. They will be again next year when they get their two stellar transfers plus the #1 ranked HS player in the country, Megan Walker.