We played one of our better halves of the season in the first half at Notre Dame, shooting 48.5% from the field, holding ND to 39.3%, and recording 20 deflections. Another positive was that we made our run before halftime with Matz and Ray.
The second half was a different story. We took too many ill-advised shots and had too many wide-open misses. We can’t do too much about the misses, but the 41-29 deficit on the backboard is a concern. Shooting 3-10 on challenged shots doesn’t help.
We have to somehow duplicate that first half at Notre Dame for the entire game against Syracuse, which is one of the hottest teams in the ACC. Syracuse plays six players, ranking last in the nation in bench minutes. They’re eighth in the nation in steals and over a third of their points come from three-pointers. Forward Tyler Roberson is 16th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
This is a big week for us to improve and take on two great opponents. We need to somehow
find more minutes for Deng. Speaking of minutes, the frustrations aired to the media by Trey is the wrong forum. I went with Quentin and Donovan in stretches because Donovan has been playing the best in practice and games. Q gets the ball moving. All competitors want more minutes. I’m sure Deng wants to play, Donovan wants more than 18 minutes and Anas more than 11. These guys live by Louisville First. All competitors want to be out there to help their team win, but 25 minutes is nothing to complain about. Trey is a good person who made a Cardinal mistake. It won’t be his last. On to Syracuse.
Next year’s schedule will be awesome. Non-conference games include the ACC-Big Ten Challenge game at home, playing Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis with the arena split in half for the two teams, the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas and Kentucky at home. The conference double games are different in the ACC than the Big East. The Big East would split into thirds, playing one team twice in the top third, then the middle and the bottom. The ACC is all computerized for a 12-year duration. Here are our double games: Virginia with 64% of their players returning, Pitt 62%, ND 82% and Syracuse 56%. All four of those teams and the Ville will be ranked in the top half of the conference. It should be a hell of a schedule.
Last but not least, we are #1 in Pomeroy ranked defense with an extremely young team that does not understand our rotations. This is a good building block.