Know Your First Real Opponent Of 2010-11: Notre Dame

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Not only is Notre Dame an incredibly different team than they were last year (when they were a two-seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament), but they're also a different team than they were last week and a different team than they will be next week. Will that stop me from previewing them with varying degrees of certainty? Of course not.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)


Irish
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
65.2
Points Per Minute
1.91 1.44
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.17 0.88
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.44 0.97
2-PT FG% 48.9% 39.5%
3-PT FG% 43.4% 32.9%
FT% 67.6% 57.4%
True Shooting % 58.7% 44.5%




Irish Opp.
Assists/Gm 18.0 13.0
Steals/Gm 5.0 4.8
Turnovers/Gm 10.5 12.5
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.19 1.42




Irish Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 11.5 14.0
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.0 10.8
Difference -0.5 -3.2

Thus far, Notre Dame has been a team in flux. Players like 6'5 point guard Jerian Grant and 6'5 freshman Pat Connaughton have been added to the rotation, while 6'9 juinor Jack Cooley and 6'7 sophomore Alex Dragicevich are taking on more prominent roles. Meanwhile, star guard Eric Atkins has missed two games to illness, and potential All-American Tim Abromaitis is making his debut tonight after having to sit the first four games with stupid eligibility issues. The lineups Notre Dame has produced thus far are not the same as they will be moving forward, but the flux has not prevented them from starting 4-0. The Irish have handled the ball well, shot well, and done good work on the defensive glass.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

ND Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

ND Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 15 43 ND
Effective FG% 51 150 ND
Turnover % 20 95 ND
Off. Reb. % 184 59 MU Big
FTA/FGA 54 16 MU
MU Offense vs ND Defense Ranks

MU Offense ND Defense Advantage
Efficiency 16 74 MU
Effective FG% 41 65 MU
Turnover % 13 261 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 192 46 ND Big
FTA/FGA 50 11 ND

Where the Irish are weakest

They are not great on the offensive glass (they aren't an enormous team -- their guards are long, but their bigs really aren't), and they force almost no turnovers. You are going to get a shot off against them, but it probably won't be a great one.

Where they are best

They do leverage you into reasonably poor shots (and like Mizzou*, they do so without fouling), and they pull down the rebound when you miss. They are decent on defense, but even without Abromaitis, they have been great on offense. They don't turn the ball over, and they take good shots.

Notre Dame's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 69 Detroit (59-53)
    No. 270 Sam Houston (74-41)
    No. 277 Delaware State (93-69)
    No. 284 Mississippi Valley State (80-67)
  • Losses
    None

The Irish survived an interesting test from Detroit and hammered away at three cupcakes.

Notre Dame Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Tim Abromaitis (6'8, 236, Sr.) N/A N/A LAST YEAR: 34.0 MPG, 15.4 PPG (48% 2PT, 43% 3PT, 78% FT), 6.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 TOPG
Eric Atkins (6'1, 182, So.) 19.1 0.50 38.0 MPG (2 games), 20.0 PPG (64% 2PT, 60% 3PT, 85% FT), 5.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 3.5 TOPG
Jerian Grant (6'5, 195, So.) 17.7 0.51 34.5 MPG, 14.0 PPG (56% 2PT, 69% 3PT, 66% FT), 5.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
Pat Connaughtom (6'5, 206, Fr.) 10.2 0.39 26.0 MPG, 11.3 PPG (56% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 75% FT), 6.3 RPG
Jack Cooley (6'9, 248, Jr.) 9.2 0.39 23.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG (39% 2PT, 77% FT), 10.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 TOPG
Alex Dragicevich (6'7, 221, So.) 8.5 0.32 26.3 MPG, 8.5 PG (55% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 63% FT), 3.3 APG, 3.0 RPG
Scott Martin (6'8, 222, Sr.) 7.8 0.23 34.5 MPG, 13.0 PPG (42% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 63% FT), 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2.0 TOPG
Joey Brooks (6'6, 220, Jr.) 5.6 0.22 25.3 MPG, 7.3 PPG (29% 2PT, 50% 3PT, 53% FT), 4.7 RPG, 2.0 APG
Mike Broghammer (6'9, 265, Jr.) 4.9 0.62 8.0 MPG, 4.3 PPG (73% 2PT, 25% FT), 2.3 RPG
Tom Knight (6'9, 250, Jr.) 2.9 0.35 8.3 MPG, 3.3 PPG (50% 2PT), 1.0 RPG
Patrick Crowley (6'3, 190, So.) -0.5 -0.41 1.3 MPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Broghammer (23%), Martin (22%), Atkins (21%)
  • Highest Floor%: Broghammer (56%), Grant (56%), Atkins (50%)
  • Highest %Pass: Grant (76%), Dragicevich (69%), Atkins (66%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Connaughton (57%), Martin (51%), Knight (49%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Brooks (10%), Atkins (8%), Cooley (7%)
  • Highest %T/O: Cooley (12%), Atkins (8%), Martin (8%)
  • Thus far, Notre Dame has had no go-to guy -- it is rare for a team's highest Usage% to be just 23%. We'll see how that changes with Abromaitis re-entering the fray.

Keys to the Game

  1. Offensive Glass. Both teams have done well on the defensive glass so far ... and less so on the offensive glass. It is easy to see this turning into a jump-shooting contest with Marcus Denmon, Abromaitis, Kim English, Scott Martin, Mike Dixon, Connaughton, Phil Pressey and Dragicevich all bombing away from long-range. And who knows? Maybe it's easy enough to say that the team who shoots better on 3-pointers wins. But the other side of that is if one team is able to steal some possessions with offensive rebounds. Cooley is a monster in that regard, with a 42% Offensive Rebounding rate. Unfortunately for the Irish, only one other player is even at 9%. If Mizzou can get a body on Cooley, they should do pretty well, but that's a decent-sized if.

  2. Who The Hell Guards Abromaitis? Abromaitis' inside-outside presence would be a fascinating matchup with Laurence Bowers, but as we know, Bowers is out. Now, the matchup likely falls quite a bit to Kim English. In all, the perimeter matchups are odd, with Mizzou's smaller, quicker guards going up against a long-armed crew in Grant, Connaughton, Dragicevich, etc.

  3. Atkins Versus Flip Pressey. Assuming Eric Atkins is at full-speed tonight after his illness, he and Phil Pressey go at it in a really fun battle. Atkins has managed the rare 20 PPG-5 APG combo thus far, but he has also committed seven turnovers in two games; Flip, meanwhile, has a ridiculous 10 steals in three games. If one player gets the best of this matchup by a distant margin, it is hard to imagine his team losing.

Prediction

This is a decent first "real" game of the year for Missouri, simply because Notre Dame isn't amazingly big and physical. They have length on the perimeter, and they shoot well, and they should probably be favored because of it, but they are not all-world by any means. If Mizzou gets a home(esque) crowd like they did last year at the Sprint Center against Georgetown, then this could be a fantastic, and successful, game. Still, I think Notre Dame holds the slightest of edges on the glass and the slightest of edges overall. Give me Notre Dame 73, Mizzou 69, and as always, I'd be happy to be wrong.

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