- The Notre Dame Observer writes:
Notre Dame topped the century mark for the first time in regulation since 2011, as the Irish dominated Cornell at Purcell Pavilion en route to a 101-67 win Sunday... The Irish had a slow start against Cornell, opening 2-for-10 from the floor and falling behind 8-0 before taking a 41-32 lead into halftime. Notre Dame exploded in the second half, which included a 17-2 Irish run to push the Notre Dame lead to 81-56 with 6:26 remaining. The 101 points is the most for the Irish since Notre Dame’s five-overtime 104-101 victory over Louisville last season and the most in a non-overtime game since a 106-65 win over Sacred Heart on Dec. 19, 2011. The Irish finished Sunday’s game with 28 assists and only five turnovers.
- The Columbia Spectator writes:
The [Harvard] Crimson doesn’t meet a single top-15 opponent this season. While Columbia faced at-the-time No. 2 Michigan State and Cornell faced then-No. 3 Louisville, Harvard was playing MIT and Howard and didn’t even schedule a game with the one other really good Boston team, undefeated top-25 surprise UMass.So setting aside that one game with UConn, it will be more interesting to keep an eye on the rest of the Ivy League, which this year loosely breaks into three tiers after Harvard. The first group this season includes perennially strong Yale, Princeton, and Penn, along with surprising Brown....Regardless of what happens, the bottom-tier eighth place clearly seems to be reserved for Cornell.The winless Big Red started its season by opening up a 14-point lead more than 15 minutes into its first game at Syracuse, but it has been all downhill from there, thanks to a historically poor defense. Come January, the Lions need to beat their Empire State rivals if they want to avoid the conference basement. That bad first half against Cornell at Levien last year signaled the beginning of the end.
- Cornell Athletics issued the following release:
Hatter Captures Second Ivy Rookie of the Week Award
ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell freshman guard Robert Hatter has been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the second time in four weeks when the conference announced its weekly award winners on Monday morning.
The 6-2 freshman guard provided plenty of offense in the Big Red's three games last week. While shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three-point range, Hatter scored at least 15 points in each game and matched his career high of six assists in two of them. He opened the week with 18 points, six assists and two rebounds in a loss to Radford, then netted 22 points, including a career-best six three-pointers, at Western Michigan. Hatter ended the week with 15 points, six assists, three rebounds and a steal at Notre Dame.
Hatter leads all Ivy League freshmen in scoring (13th, 11.8 ppg.) and is second in assists (sixth, 3.2 apg.) and is also averaging 2.6 rebounds per contest. He ranks second on the squad in scoring and is tied for the team lead in steals.
Hatter and the Big Red return to action when it closes out the fall semester at home against Saint Francis on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. at Newman Arena.
- The Cornell Daily Sun writes:
In Friday’s matchup against Western Michigan, the two teams traded buckets for much of the first half.
The Red was able to keep pace with the Broncos in large part due to its efficient shooting from beyond the arc. The squad connected on 10 of its 25 triples in the half, with freshman Robert Hatter and sophomore Nolan Cressler combining for seven of them. With 15 seconds left in the half, Cressler nailed a three that left the visitors trailing by two heading into the locker room.
Though the Red continued to put up a flurry of threes after the break, the story of the second half was one of rebounding and play in the paint. The Broncos went to the free throw line 28 times in the second half, compared to the Red’s just seven. Western Michigan also crashed the boards every offensive possession, grabbing seven offensive rebounds in the half.
“That game we were starting to hit our shots, we were shooting the ball well, but we just have to be more aggressive overall,” senior guard Dom Scelfo said. “They pressured the glass a lot on us. They had twelve offensive rebounds.”
Though the Red was able to stay in the game because of the long ball, the Broncos’ ability to connect on their free throws hurt the Red midway through the second half. After a fast break layup by junior guard Devin Cherry cut Western Michigan’s lead down to five with 1:40 to go, the home team went on an 8-0 run, all of those points coming off free throws. The Red went stagnant on the offensive end during that run, turning the ball over once and giving up an offensive rebound that allowed Western Michigan’s Tucker Haymond to get to the line,where he nailed both shots.
“It was evident in the [Western Michigan] game that we didn’t make it to the free throw line that much because we were able to make open threes,” senior forward Dwight Tarwater said. “However, we do need to attack the basket to be more successful.”
The Red then headed to South Bend, Ind. to take on a new addition to the ACC in Notre Dame. Still looking for its first win of the season, the Red once again hung with the Fighting Irish in the first half. Five three-pointers by five different Cornell players left the Red trailing by only nine at the end of the first twenty minutes. However, Notre Dame took control midway through the second half, after two free throws by Cherry cut the deficit to ten. That was as close as the Red would come, as the Fighting Irish were able to muscle their way into the paint and hurt Cornell from the inside.
“They really started making shots, and every shot they missed they were getting the rebound for. We were letting them get in the paint and they were able to kick our for wide open threes,” Scelfo said. “The first five or six possessions of the second half, both teams scored, but they hit a three on every one of those possessions and we hit a two, so that hurt us as well.”
Notre Dame outrebounded the Red 41 to 27, the second time in two games Cornell was outrebounded by more than ten. The Irish also grabbed eleven offensive boards, and was led by junior Pat Connaughton, who had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds on the day.
“We need to be tougher on the glass,” Tarwater said. ‘There are no fundamentals to rebounding; you just have to want the ball more than the other guy. We will definitely be working on blocking guys out and going to get the ball this week in practice.”
The Red will take a relatively short break this week with no mid-week contests. It will kick things back into gear Saturday in a home matchup with St. Francis. Now nine games into the season and with just give games left before the start of Ivy play, the Red has yet to find that elusive first win. According to Scelfo, the effort is there, and if that persists, the results should not be far behind.
“A lot of people are doing everything they can do to win, but we just need to keep at it. We know we need to get better, but we know we have the potential,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get at it in practice this week and get that first win on Saturday.”
- OFD Films breaks down film of Cornell0-Notre Dame and writes, "[we decided to] take a spin in the film room to look at some offensive and defensive basics for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men's basketball team. Let's take a look at ND's 'one-big' and 'two-big' offensive principles as well as two different zone looks the Irish demonstrated Sunday vs. the Big Red of Cornell."
Notre Dame handed Cornell their 15th consecutive defeat on Sunday. In a very complete and efficient performance, Mike Brey's team handled their business and managed to experiment with some newer looks. In this post, we'll take a look at how Brey coaches some basic fundamentals in his offense, and look at a little experiment he ran on the defensive end.
New Starting Line-Up
Demetrius Jackson made his first start for the Irish on Sunday. Mike Brey opened the game in a 1-big look with Garrick Sherman being surrounded by Jackson, Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant, and Pat Connaughton playing a "stretch 4" role. With the sheer talent ND has on the perimeter, I think you're going to see this type of lineup more often. While there will be times where some combination of Knight, Auguste and Sherman play together, the majority of the minutes at the 4 position will be logged by Connaughton and Austin Burgett.
4 Out, 1 In
This line-up put ND in a "4 out, 1 in" offensive set. Four perimeter players with a single post presence. While Garrick Sherman isn't a dominant force on the block, he does have an array of post moves and plays well with both hands. I know we'd all love to see him develop a bit more toughness and finish stronger, but he does make for an excellent passer out of the post, as indicated by his 4 assists on Sunday.
Here's an example of what Brey is looking for in the 4 out, 1 in look...
Early in the 2nd half, Jackson gets the ball to Connaughton on the wing, and Sherman has his man on his back. When the ball goes in to the post, you can see all 3 weak side defenders turn to face the ball. Grant (#22) is alone on the weak side as Atkins (#0) rubs his man across the elbow. After throwing the entry pass, Connaughton correctly cuts to the baseline to create space.
Sherman, turns to face, but not really looking to score. He's confident he's got a man on the back side, and Grant is there. Grant's defender hedged to the post and now has a long way to recover as Sherman hits the diagonal pass out of the post to a wide open shooter on the weak side. Grant has an easy look at a 3 that he knocks down to put the Irish up 13.
"Spacing" is a word you'll hear a lot of coaches talk about, and here's a great example of it with Pat Connaughton jumping in to the high post. This is an amazing look for the Irish. Connaughton's size and versatility make him a tremendous weapon at the high post position. He can look high-low to Sherman and has 3 shooters surrounding him.
This is a great representation of the Brey "offense." I put it in quotes, because the Irish don't rely on an array of different sets or a specific motion pattern. Notre Dame's offense is founded on great spacing and maintaining consistent weak side options. Whether the Irish throw it in to the post or play screen & roll, there's always a strong-side corner option and a weak-side option to look for. Spreading teams out and putting them in to "scramble" situations is what drive's ND's offensive efficiency.
3 Out, 2 In
Game circumstances might dictate ND playing 2 big men at the same time. Here's a typical look when ND goes with three perimeter players and 2 bigs. Rather than focus on getting a touch in the paint with a post-up, the bigs here are looking to be screeners and create space. In the first shot, Tom Knight has offered Connaughton a rub screen on the wing to get him the ball while Sherman is coming up to offer a back screen to Atkins.
Grant is off camera, running the baseline from the near side to the far side of the shot. Knight turns his head and continues along the 3 point arc, ready to set a screen for the cutting Grant.
Grant is looking to be aggressive coming off the great screen from Knight while Sherman gives Connaughton a ball screen option if Grant doesn't come free. Atkins is headed for the corner to clear out the near side of the floor.
Here we can see, Grant recognizes that ND's spacing and screening action have left the lane entirely unguarded. Atkins' man is leaning the wrong way and Sherman's screen for Connaughton has occupied both their defenders. Grant is able to leverage his quickness and drives for the uncontested layup.
When you see Brey go to the "2 big" line-up with some combination of Knight, Sherman and Auguste, expect to see a lot of screening action from the bigs. In this case, the combination of Knight setting 2 down screens (the screener faces the basket) while Sherman sets a weak side back screen (screener faces away from the basket) creates a wide open lane for the dribbler. With Grant, Jackson, Atkins, and Beachem all showing tremendous ability to finish off the dribble, expect to see a lot of this look.
A Defensive Experiment
Mike Brey's "bread and butter" defensive scheme is man-to-man. The Irish play good help-side defense and with their versatile back-court players, tend to switch every perimeter screen very effectively. With the athleticism in the Irish back court, I hope we see even more ball pressure in that man-to-man defense, but you still need some other looks to keep the opposition off balance. Traditionally, for Mike Brey the "change-up" defense has been a 2-3 zone. While no one will confuse the Irish for Jim Boehiem's Syracuse 2-3 zone (great breakdown here), ND has effectively used this defense over the years. Here's a look at the Irish 2-3.
The Irish have the athletes to be very disruptive in this defense. Atkins and Jackson are up top to harass the ball with Grant and Connaughton as the baseline wings. With their athleticism and length, they'll be able to effectively recover to shooters when the Irish play this 2-3.
In this case, however, Cornell is showing the perfect look to beat the Irish 2-3. With great spacing in a very flat 1-3-1 set, Cornell is stressing the ND defense. Jackson has to respect #3 on the wing and Grant is pulled up by Cornell's wing man in front of their own bench. Sherman has to respect the man in the short post, so Connaughton should be coming up to handle the threat at the free throw line. However, if he does come up, Cornell sends #3 to the baseline for an easy skip pass. In this case, Pat is late to react and Cornell was able to get the ball into the "soft" spot in the zone behind the 2 guys on top. The Irish get in to trouble vs. disciplined offensive teams when they show the 2-3. In this case, either Atkins needs to supply stifling ball pressure to make that entry pass to the free throw line very difficult, or he needs to pack it back in and force the ball out to the wings.
Sunday marked the first time in recent memory the Irish also showed a 3-2 zone. Some people like to call this a 1-2-2 zone, but I save that term for half or full court pressure zones. The Irish were playing back in a more traditional 3-2 look as you see here.
With their 2-big lineup, the idea of the 3-2 makes sense. Connaughton's length and ability to step back and deal with the high post also makes sense, but I find this to be a very difficult defense to use at the college level. In youth basketball, the 3-2 is very effective because you can pressure the ball and don't deal with many teams that can put 3 point shooters on both sides of the floor. You also don't deal with great passing from big men. On Sunday, Cornell was able to cut the Irish lead from 11 to 7 pretty quickly when the Irish showed 3-2. The announcers mentioned Brey was working on this in practice on Saturday, and from what I can see, it needs more work.
As you see in the screenshot, Cornell uses spacing to match the shape of the zone, but is bringing a man to the soft spot right in the middle on the ACC logo. In a 2-3, it is much easier to react to that pass, but in a 3-2, the tendency is to have everyone collapse to that spot. In this instance, Cornell brought the ball to the high post, then ran guys to the baseline for an open look. The Irish bigs don't have the athleticism to deal with the corner 3 in this defense and without well-defined block-out responsibilities, Knight and Sherman often struggle on the boards. I don't think we'll be seeing much more of the 3-2 this year.
ND put on a very complete performance on Sunday. Despite their struggles in the zone defense, they managed to hold Cornell to 67 points and only 44% shooting from the field. They also forced 10 turnovers. The Irish were most effective in their switching man-to-man looks. The help side defenders frequently got in to passing lanes, and many of those turnovers were converted into fast-break opportunities. It is great to see this team get out and run against a struggling opponent.
Offensively, despite a very slow start, the Irish heated up as the game went on. Ten ND players scored in the game, six of them in double figures. Led by "Good Jerian," the offense was incredibly efficient. Grant picked his spots, let the game come to him and ended on 8-10 shooting, including 2-3 from deep. He looked every bit the all-ACC performer against Cornell. It was an afternoon of solid offensive efficiency. Driven by great spacing and motion, the Irish offense mustered 54% shooting from the field, and 48% from behind the arc. With 28 assists on 38 made FG's and only 5 turnovers, the Irish are showing the offensive efficiency it is going to take to go in to the ACC/BigTen match-up with Iowa and the most daunting portion of their non-conference schedule. It was great to see it vs. Cornell, now we just need to see more vs. top flight competition.
- Cornell RPI Watch: The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is a measure of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not consider the margin of victory, but only whether or not a team won and where the game was played (home/away/neutral court). The formula is 25% team winning percentage (WP), 50% opponents' average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (OOWP). (See: CollegeRPI.com for a further explanation of the formula.) The RPI may be the most influential factor in NCAA Tournament seeding. Cornell's RPI rank as of December 3, 2013 is No. 312 out of 344 total Division I teams. While neither the Ken Pomeroy or the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) are used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the KenPom.com site ranks Cornell No. 332 in the nation, while the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) have Cornell at No. 339. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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