I did say I would start in on lacrosse today, and that turns out to be a lie as filthy as a London Perrantes pass to a cutter. What are ya gonna do. The Notre Dame game generated too much My Thoughts and now they need somewhere to go.
I had a tough time deciding what was most impressive about the game. It was certainly a far cry from the VT meatgrinder. Was it the 14 steals - almost one every four possessions? Malcolm Brogdon's stat line? Given NBA clock rules, Brogdon might've registered a quadruple-double at the rate he was going. Five more steals would've been awfully hard, but that only highlights the impressiveness of getting five in the first place. Or, perhaps it was the effusive praise Bob Knight wouldn't stop giving to London Perrantes.
A digression: Knight is, without reservation, my favorite basketball announcer. When he talks about the game, it's a clinic. Yesterday, for example, two things that stood out in particular. Justin Anderson turned the ball over, but Knight praised the idea anyway, pointing out that you should dribble and pass in opposite directions against a zone defense. Obvious when you think about it (when you dribble one direction, the defense shifts that way, so they're already in position to defend your pass) but how many announcers ever think to say it? When a Domer near the sidelines threw the ball away near the end of a shot clock, Knight mentioned that it was a lousy pass but the blame lay half with the guy who threw it down to that dude in the first place. Trapped near the sidelines is a bad place for the ball to be with four seconds on the shot clock. This is stuff coaches say in practice but somehow never take with them to the microphone. You will learn basketball by listening to Bob Knight.
I say this because it lends extra extra credence to the gushing Knight did over Perrantes. When most announcers go gaga over a player, they're not usually saying anything you haven't heard elsewhere, and it's a good bet they read it in the same place you did. When Knight goes gaga, he's also pointing out specific, tangible things that cause him to have that opinion. Things like: when Perrantes makes round-the-world dribbling trips through the lane, he's not just doing it for the lulz, he's doing it because he knows where all the other nine players are and which one he wants to find for the assist. Jeff Van Gundy really liked Perrantes too, and said so, and Van Gundy is a well-respected coach whose words carry weight, but it's still more so with Bobby Knight. Perrantes is a future star of a point guard; not that I needed any convincing, but I'm still convinced.
-- Mike Tobey is another guy who needs to be called out for a great game. One of his top three as a Cavalier, I'd say. He scored a variety of different ways and he bodied up on defense and didn't give any ground.
-- Speaking of defense, Evan Nolte's is better, too. He's defending his man much closer than he used to and his footwork is improved. Side-to-side he's a little quicker, which lets him do a better job of denying the jump shot.
-- Notre Dame executed quite definitely the worst 2-3 zone I've ever seen. 2-3 is the easiest defense in the world. Nothing in basketball is less complicated and Notre Dame managed to screw it up repeatedly. Knight pointed out that the center (usually Garrick Sherman) was wandering way too far from the basket and shouldn't have been out defending at the elbow. UVA noticed this and took advantage repeatedly until Mike Brey fixed the problem. What Knight didn't mention is that Sherman was caught between a rock and a hard place, because ND's guards were also wandering. Down by the elbow, that needs to be the guard's territory. Whatever they were defending was space that doesn't need to be defended. The Irish defenders let themselves get spaced out too much, when the whole point of the zone (especially the 2-3) is to dictate spacing and clog the middle.
-- 30 minutes into the game and Notre Dame had 29 points. I mean, when you turn the ball over on a third of your possessions, that'll happen.
-- Also 30 minutes into the game was the first time it dawned on me that this was a Karl Hess game. That's unusual. Normally you know that right away.
-- One more game to the halfway point of the ACC season.