The Death of The Iron Six

Notre Dame’s surprisingly easy win over Maryland was surprising in a number of other ways to NDN basketball fans. The biggest surprise is that Mike Brey actually used his bench in a big game. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. In fact, only one player saw less than double digit action. Notre Dame also showed defensive intensity, a knack for rebounding and an inside out game that has been non-existent since Troy Murphy. Yeah, Brey (as predicted) let Falls play through some atrocious three point shooting, but other than that there was a lot to love last night. As I’ve written before, this is Brey’s first “All-Brey” team with a full sophomore recruiting class to work with — this year should be telling.

NDN posters in The Pit share their views of Sunday’s big win over Maryland.


18 turnovers is not going to cut it in Big East play, that needs to be cut down immensely. K-Mac had 5 TO’s too many for a point guard. T Jack only had 1, could be wrong but I believe that might be his lowest for the year. If he isn’t turning the ball over that is good for the Irish. Falls is playing too many minutes needs to get a rest every once and awhile, played all 40 tonight. Lastly, Rob Kurz is one of the most efficient players I’ve seen, doesn’t take unneccessary shots and is showing great leadership as captain.


1. I saw more block outs for rebounds tonite that the last 4 years.
2. Poise against pressure; it wasn’t just get it to CQ and hope he did
something to get ball across mid-court
3. More options. I really like ZH
4. Kurz much more confident
5. Zellar doesn’t seem much different that last year
6. Good FT shooting
7. Tory Jackson is quick
8 Repeat # 1. I don’t think I yelled at the tube for someone to block- out one time.

Brey rotated 9 men freely until the last few minutes. Then he stuck with a small lineup of MacAlarney, Falls, Jackson, Hillesland and Kurz, with Carter, Zeller and Harongody sitting. The Terps finally started making shots, but those 5 guys protected the ball, hit the boards and made FTs to put the game away.

MacAlarney struggled as he drove to the hoop in the 1st half, but later he made it look easy.

Falls showed great leadership and hit many clutch FTs.

Jackson looked very quick as he pushed the ball up.

Hellesland was awful at first, committing several turnovers against the press, but Brey stayed with him. Later, Zach protected the ball and led the way in rebounding.

Kurz was highly productive — scoring, hitting the boards, making clutch FTs.

Zeller had his moments but generally didn’t seem to contribute that much.

Harongody had fewer minutes than in the past, as Brey went with the hot hands. He and Ayers were in for defense several times near the end of the first half, with Zeller and Carter in for offense. Brey went away from that pattern near the end of the game.


Brey saw that the young guys can play down the stretch and that he can spread minutes in a big game- and still win. This means he’s likely to continue down this path.

Hillesland as I hoped- or at least he sounded (didn’t get game on TV) like he was used as a pressbreaker and really hit the boards hard. I love this kid- so versatile.

How did Jackson look either handling pressure or exerting pressure- how was his decision making? Sounded very disruptive on the radio. How did Jack and Mack look together?

Winning with Carter on the bench down the stretch is a positive for the rest of the team.

Mac is back on track offensively.

Still don’t understand Falls’ minutes but we won. Sounded like most of his points were at the line when game was out of hand. Were the threes he missed well defended shots that were somewhat forced or was he just cold on open looks?


Finally, it is on the students if the game isn’t sold out on Thursday. Be There.

1. The game turned when Brey went with the two point guard line up. Having Jackson and MacAlarney on the floor together did two things– it made it easier to break the press (and attack once we broke it) and (2) it allowed KMac to play off the ball.

2. You would have thought that maybe the announcers could have picked up that point rather than sit there stunned that the game turned around so quickly. To call Feinstein a douche bag is to insult douche bags everywhere.

3. The defense was much better than at any time last year. A bit better perimeter rotation and much better interior defense.

4. Brey went with the same rotation for probably the last 12 minutes, but that actually made sense because the 5 guys on the floor simply dominated Maryland.

5. Jackson needs to be on the floor at least 25 minutes a game. He is the most (and probably only) disruptive perimeter player we have.

6. Likewise, Hillesland needs to be on the floor for at least 25 minutes a game. I don’t remember a Notre Dame player since Woolridge who would could take a rebound and get down court as fast as he can. He made some dumb plays in the first half, but he more than made up for it in the second half

7. Zeller earned his minutes tonight. He didn’t do anything great, but at least he was aggressive.

8. I didn’t see the stats, but I thought we rebounded well.

9. Did I mention that Tory Jackson needs to play more?

10. This win was unlike any last year. We didn’t do anything particularly well and still beat a ranked team on their floor. It didn’t require us to be on fire from three or have one player go off or to play an opponent that was having an off night. Maryland might not have played great, but it was mostly because ND made them look bad from time to time.

11. I’m still pissed about Butler, because the team that was on the floor tonight would have handled Butler. Better late than never I guess.

12. Bama is not quire “win and in,” but its pretty close. It is hard for me to imagine the team I saw tonight going worse than 9-7 with the conference schedule we have.


I was most encouraged that we played, in essence, a BE-style team and beat them. Maryland played a physical, aggressive game…one that we will see often starting in January…and responded in kind.

This game gets us back on the NCAA path and, if we can handle Alabama AND play as we did tonight in terms of aggression and bench usage, keep us there.

I am really happy that we met a big-time foe who has been playing well and 1) didn’t back down; 2) dictated play in the second half 3) had the proper mix of aggression/caution at the end of the game; 4) played young ones in key situations (was Carter on the court in the final 5 mins?).

All in all, this is what I expected given the talk of the off-season…I didn’t mind that we lost to Butler, I minded how we lost to them. This makes up for that and puts us back to square one. Beat Alabama and we will have a good chance as long as the players and the coach build on what they did tonight.

Philly Locals: Come Out Monday December 4th@7pm For The Book Signing at Barnes & Noble (Rittenhouse Sq. 18th and Walnut)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: