The Irish hadn't played a meaningful game in 15 days, so the Pirates looked to capitalize on what could have been a rusty foe. Frankly, I was hoping Notre Dame's Jack Cooley would have been out partying with Lindsey Lohan last night in anticipation of the ND vs Alabama football game, but he was sharp and ready for the Dancing Bear challenge. Cooley, who ranks 2nd Nationally with 10 double doubles on the season, is a beast; no two ways about it (19 points, 13 boards). Having a player like him inside, coupled with the best 3 point shooting team in the Big East makes Notre Dame an awfully good team. His ability to rebound on the offensive end of the floor is what I imagine it was like watching impressionist Paul Cezanne paint one of his famous abstracts; not pretty in process, but the outcome is darn good.
Coming in to today's contest, #21 ranked Notre Dame held a commanding 10-1 record against the Pirates inside Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, including sending Seton Hall back to South Orange with a loss their past six consecutive tries. Make it seven, and now 10 out of the last 11 overall games (the power of Mike Brey's mock turtle neck mustn't be discounted). It's important to note, however, that winning in South Bend, Indiana is difficult. Very difficult. In fact, ND boasts the second best home-court advantage (Kansas being #1) in terms of win percentage over the last seven years. The Fighting Irish have now won 111 out of their last 118 games, good for .940 winning percentage. Additionally, Notre Dame is ranked second nationally in both assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76) and assists per game (19.5). Of course, these numbers don't bode well for a team like Seton Hall who has a high propensity for turning the ball over. Wednesday's DePaul game was an example of how a superior team (Seton Hall) could walk away with a win still having committed 20 turnovers. Notre Dame, however, is a different team. A better team. The Fighting Irish simply don't turn the ball over with frequency; which is not a recipe for leaving the building with the win when you do.
The Pirates were down 8 at the intermission (44-36) and looked like they had the ability and determination to stay with the Irish. Not so. The second half saw Notre jump out to a 16-4 run, and dominate while Seton Hall lost focus defensively, That said, lets give credit to Notre Dame. They are a very good team who played very well. Their torrid shooting continued, as they shot 57% from the floor, and were far more effective than Seton Hall from beyond the arc. The result was a 93-74 loss for the good guys.
The Pirate faithful should be encouraged that big man Kevin Johnson not only dressed, he logged a few minutes, spelling Gene Teague. Aaron Geramipoor also dressed, but saw no action. The bench (Karlis, Smyth and KJ) went a combined 3 for 13. Both Fuquan Edwin and Aaron Cosby had 21 points and Eugene Teague nearly had another double double, netting 17 points while pulling down 9 rebounds. Seton Hall also hung with Notre Dame on the boards, losing that battle 35 to 30.
Next up for the Pirates, Louisville. Kevin Willard will once again face his mentor in Rick Patino at the Prudential Center. With today's loss and what I believe to be the best team in the country in our house this Wednesday, the importance of Saturday's win at DePaul can't be overstated. For now, the Pirates are 12-3 (1-1). Enjoy your weekend, Pirate fans. Rest up and make it out to the ROCK this Wednesday if at all possible to create a true home court advantage for our beloved Pirates. Much more tomorrow with JP's 5 Points. As always, HAZARD ZET FORWARD!