by Mike Coffey
Apparently, the late great Mike Royko never said “some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know”. But until I figure out something new to call this column, we’re going to pretend he did.
This is the first hoops game I’ve been able to see in person this season, which should be an indication of what my schedule has been like. But when the mountain comes to Mohammed, it’s rude not to accommodate.
A relaxed Cam Biedscheid is a lot of fun to watch. A tense and pressing Cam Biedscheid, not so much. Defensive lapses notwithstanding, when he lets the game come to him, he’s a lot more effective. I’m hoping he takes things more as they come in the next couple games.
Since I probably can count ND’s alley-oop dunks in the last decade without having to go beyond my hands, I was very happy with Zach Auguste’s example today. He really has the length and quickness to help, and I hope he continues to learn.
The rotation and effectiveness in the first half today was of very high quality. But once DePaul started to press and force ND to play at their tempo, things unraveled. If the defense is going to be as bad as it is, the offense needs to become more stable.
Dunk. The. Basketball. I’m so tired of bunnies that rim out or get redirected. Put the damn ball in the cylinder.
With all respect to his effort, I hope either Biedscheid or Auguste dislodges Tom Knight from the starting lineup, because if they’re on, they can give ND more. The starting lineup gave me the willies, especially on defense.
Speaking of defense, ND’s zone makes me want to pull out my hair. Watching DePaul put a big on the baseline and ND leave him open for bunnies drove me nuts. We can’t put the bottom three at the top of the charge/block arc and leave so much room down there.
Someone must have told the officials at halftime that DePaul hadn’t gone to the line in the first half, because they spent the first 14 minutes of the second half trying to make sure they did. Historically, when an opponent is allowed to body and hand-check the way DePaul was over that period, ND does not do well.
Jerian Grant does not seem mentally or physically focused on what he’s doing. His attention wanders, and when it does, bad things happen. When his man gives up the ball, instead of following the man, his eyes spend the next two seconds on the ball, and his man gets open. The little jump-steps he made after that dunk in the second half allowed his man to get past him with the ball, resulting in a foul and two made free throws for the Demons. 6-12 from the line for a guard is awful, even worse than the 69 percent he’s hitting this year overall. Last year, he shot 82 percent from the line last year, which tells me he’s capable of more but isn’t doing it this year.
Speaking of free throws, something odd I noticed about Allstate Arena. When the Demons shot free throws, the graphic on the video ribbon along the upper deck was very dark, and made it look like the lights behind the basket were dimmed. When ND shot free throws, they kept the normal, bright graphic on. To me, the basket seemed easier to see when DePaul was shooting. If a team is going to play in an arena with that capability, shouldn’t the NCAA prohibit a significant change to the backdrop when one team shoots free throws vs. the other team shooting?
I know folks have an issue with starters’ minutes, but I don’t think they’re going to see any big changes the rest of the way. Unless and until Scott Martin recovers from his injury and can provide minutes, we won’t have the depth until DJ arrives next year.
Speaking of Martin, while I hope we see his return before season’s end, I also hope his presence is used to redistribute the minutes that CB, ZA and TK get, not eliminate or otherwise replace them. All three have shown they can contribute, they should be allowed to continue to do so no matter what else happens.
Given the level of talent now here and arriving next year, my expectations for the program in general are going up and will continue to do so. Ergo, I expect to see some development down the stretch, because the bar next year is going to be higher than it is now, with the year after that higher still.