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The Day After: Unconscious Hazell Breathes Life Back Into Pirates

If you missed the Jeremy Hazell show, follow the link for GB's post game thoughts:

Hazell once again, put his squad on his shoulders, repeatedly called for the ball and continuously delivered, drilling deep 3PT after deep 3PT. Hazell also played with an edge defensively, recording 4STL, none bigger than his interception of a Ben Hansbrough pass with 6:30 remaining and the Pirates up by 6 points.  Final stat line: 35PTS/3REB/4STL/AST in a win-or-go-home (from the NIT) game will earn him the Gonzo Ball of the night year.

SHU Athletics gives Robert Mitchell his due, recounting his pivotal shot as the Irish crept within one point with 4 minutes to play:

Junior Robert Mitchell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) converted from 17-feet to stop the run on the next possession, and Hazell netted the next five points on a three-pointer and a tough, contested jumper to extend the cushion to 88-82 with 57 seconds left in regulation.

It was a big shot indeed as Notre Dame reeled off an 8-0 run following an Irish timeout with 6:30 to play.  Notre Dame seemingly regained all momentum before Stix hit his jumper, protecting the 3PT Pirates lead.  Stix continues to come up with clutch shots game after game despite going seemingly unnoticed.  It's tough when, you know, his teammate drops 35.  

Notre Dame Athletics was too distraught to write their own recap.  Instead, they linked to the AP writeup:

The Irish played most of the final 8:42 without All-America Luke Harangody. The nation's No. 3 scorer (24.5 points) appeared to sprain his left ankle coming down on a rebound attempt.

Still, Notre Dame had two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds. Tim Abromaitis missed a 3-pointer with about 4 seconds to play and Carleton Scott missed another 3 at the buzzer.

I wrote the following on Harangody yesterday, it bears repeating:

I hope Harangody's going to be OK, it's his senior year, he's an absolute beast and on his way to Big East POY and AP POY consideration, there's no way I want to watch him finish his collegiate career on the bench.

Turns out Harangody suffered a bone-bruise to his right knee and has already been ruled out against St. John's on Sunday as the senior will likely miss at least two weeks.  Today, Harangody was spotted on crutches at the Irish practice:

Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey says an MRI performed Friday showed there was no ligament or cartilage damage. He says Harangody is likely a long shot to play when Notre Dame plays at Louisville on Wednesday.

Damn.  Get well Luke. 

Following the Seton Hall win, Eugene Harvey told reporters that the Pirates simply weren't having fun anymore.  Brendan Prunty reports:

"I was trying to remind them to go have fun," Harvey said after the Pirates' win last night. "We weren't having fun any more. You could tell. Guys weren't haven fun anymore. Tonight, we had fun."

I can see that. Look no farther than Harvey's case in itself.  Here's a senior who made 93 consecutive starts before being relegated to the bench on the first night of the season against SPC.  After altering with the starting lineup 63 times, Gonzo tried to give Harvey another chance to win his job back against Georgetown, but according to Bobby, Eugene turned down the offer, preferring to come off of the bench.  I don't know about you, but it seemed like Gonzalez's decision to bring Harvey off the bench in the beginning of the year affected his pride and thus, his play.  I'm happy to see him playing well again as of late.  Start the kid the rest of the way Bobby.   

Prunty also discusses Gonzalez's mismanagement of the final 30 seconds, which we touched on regarding his decision to keep Pope in the game.  Mike Brey, did what any logical coach in the Big East would do, took a defender off of the inbounder, Stix and defended 5-on-3, allowing Pope to receive the inbound pass.  A truly mindblowing decision by Bobby Gonzalez.  I wonder if he'll address Prunty's 'suicide' on his next conference call:


Bobby Gonzalez: The rest of his gameplan against Notre Dame was well-done and well-executed, trying to pound the Irish inside and then knock them over with 3-pointers. But he nearly threw it all away by keeping Herb Pope in the game at the end. He needs to trust the other players on his team to come up with rebounds in those situations and not put a win in jeopardy.

It's not even about trusting other players in those situations to rebound the ball.  He could have kept Pope on the bench, inbounded the ball and when Seton Hall was fouled Pope would have been able to check back in before the 1-and-1.  Better yet, let Pope inbound the ball, Stix is one of the few Pirates on the roster who have stepped up and hit critical FTs down the stretch this season.  Again, mindblowing.

Follow the jump for more from: Vorkunov, Carino, Pelzman and Dana O'Neil.

Mike Vorkunov has quotes from the post game session with the team, including Jeremy Hazell channeling his inner Gilbert Arenas. 

So it wasn't lost on any of the Pirates how big it was to come out on top Thursday night and start their stretch run.

"Oh, definitely, this was the jump start of the thing," said Jeremy Hazell. "This was the start, where you shoot the gun. Where you start running. This was it. Now we just gotta come to the finish line and be number one. It started today and now we just gotta keep it rolling with Sunday's game."

I kid, I kid.  The only inner Gilbert Arenas Hazell channeled last night was on the court.  Has anyone said Hazell's performance was simply outstanding?  Regarding the quote, It was actually a pretty nice analogy by Hazell.  Right in time for the Olympics. 

Jerry Carino may have signed up for twitter, but was inactive last night with a bad modem.  Carino did report on the game and after giving Gonzo some credit with his rotation, he also provided his thoughts and the crowd's reaction to the coach's blunder:

-Gonzo handled his rotation well, but having Herb Pope in the game with 30 seconds left and SHU in a one-and-one situation was not wise. The crowd groaned when he got fouled.

We've been hearing various "analysts" on air refer to the, "Leadership Boils Down to Follow Hazell" motto that the junior lives by.  Robert Mitchell confirmed his that the team is fully on board, reports J.P. Pelzman of The Bergen-Record:

"He's got a huge heart," forward Robert Mitchell said of Hazell. "I don't care what the situation is. I trust him with the last shot of any game."

Love hearing that.  I spoke a little bit this year on how I believe Stix has emerged as a leader on this team.  He's not going to put up gaudy numbers in the box score, he didn't complain when Bobby cut his minutes once conference play began, he's vocal and constantly encouraging his teammates on and off the floor.  He's a consistent workhorse, who's earned the nickname (from myself at least), Mr. Consistency.  A Robert Mitchell is an asset to any college basketball team, he could play for me any day. 

Dana O'Neil of ESPN believes Notre Dame is teetering on the bubble, large in part to the play of Jeremy Hazell:

Yet there he was, lighting up the Irish for 35 on 12-of-16 shooting and 8-of-11 from behind the arc. Hazell can do that to you - he is the quintessential rhythm and streak shooter who could score from the Hall's South Orange campus once he gets going. But the Irish also played him inexplicably soft at the 3-point line. Case in point: late in the second, Hazell swiped a pass and headed down on the break. Carleton Scott sagged toward the basket, thinking for some reason Hazell would drive. Instead he drained a trey.

The Pirates are next in action Sunday at The Rock where they'll take on Depaul at Noon.