Monday, November 21, 2011

Missouri 87, Notre Dame 58

[recap] [box score]

It could be that Missouri is just a bad matchup for Notre Dame. The Tigers, who start four guards, had a big speed and quickness advantage over the Irish on the perimeter. Of course, that means that Notre Dame had a corresponding size advantage on the interior. Unfortunately for ND, their biggest starter, Jack Cooley, isn't the kind of player you can throw the ball to in the post and have him be an offensive threat. And while Tim Abromaitis had his way shooting mid-range jumpers over the smaller guys trying to guard him, the Notre Dame guards proved to be completely incapable of getting the Irish good looks against the quick Missouri ball pressure. In order to take advantage of size mismatches, you have to have guards capable of initiating the offense. Eric Atkins has battled some health problems in the early going, and so I won't come down too hard on him, but despite the fact that Mizzou is under-sized, you're going to need solid guard play to beat them.

It could also be that Notre Dame just isn't very good.

Abromaitis looked very sharp in his first game after a four-game suspension to start the season, and Scott Martin had an okay game, but no other Irish player looked terrible capable offensively. On the defensive end, Notre Dame was a nightmare. Understandably, they had difficulty with all the quickness on Missouri's perimeter, but when coach Mike Brey ordered a 2-3 zone (something he didn't do early or often enough), things didn't get any better.

Missouri, on the other hand, looked great. Kim English and Marcus Denmon are proven scorers. The whole team defends. Sophomore Phil Pressey, son of former NBA player Paul Pressey, is a terrific little point guard and an early-season GIL candidate. He can score, he distributes, and he's a tenacious on-ball defender. Phil's older brother, Matt, is a less productive version of English and Denmon, and the team doesn't lose anything when Michael Dixon, the first guard off the bench, comes in. Even Missouri's post players, the less-heralded unit, looked good. Ricardo Ratliffe got into foul trouble but showed off a consistent jump hook when he was on the floor. The Tigers are going to miss Laurence Bowers (out all season with an ACL tear) once they play some opponents who are more formidable inside, but senior Steve Moore is experienced, if nothing else.

Missouri's roster is built for the 40 Minutes of Hell style that former coach Mike Anderson is now deploying at Arkansas. New coach Frank Haith always had strong guard play at his former post (Miami), and to his credit, he's more or less letting his guys loose. I actually prefer the slightly more controlled style that Mizzou seems like it will play this year. They're going to have a tough time with teams like Baylor, which has a combination of skilled and physical players inside, but I wouldn't count them out in the wide-open Big 12 race.

No comments:

Post a Comment