Saturday, March 17, 2007

Remember, It's Winthrop

Boy, did I have that one wrong. Never saw a game with that many horrific aspects coming.

It's season's end, and a looking-back-and-looking-forward-type article will be coming shortly. But reading Mark Schlabach's article about the game yesterday, some paragraphs jumped out at me:

The Eagles' trip to Spokane has been just as arduous as the sportswriters' drive from home. It was Winthrop's first win in seven tries in the NCAA Tournament, after two gut-wrenching defeats in each of the previous two seasons. In 2005, the Eagles led No. 3 seed Gonzaga for 36 minutes before losing 74-64. Last season, Winthrop was tied with No. 2 seed Tennessee in the final seconds, until Chris Lofton drilled a desperation shot at the buzzer to beat the Eagles 63-61.

"It's been a long time coming," Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall said. "It's been nine years. Nine years of pouring your heart and soul into something and being close in the past. Everything that we have done in the past 12 months, from the time that shot went in against Tennessee last year, we dedicated to this moment. That's a lot to invest in something."

Aside from wondering if that emphasis will mean they'll have anything left in the tank Sunday, I must confess I liked the focus. I liked the anger. I liked the single-minded dedication, although as I said, we'll see Sunday if that backfires.

From reading the ND stories post-game, it seems the Irish have that anger now. A lot of stoicism in the locker room, a whole lot of disappointment.


The underclassmen need to remember how this feels. They all need to remember how they played. KMac needs to remember how he could have helped had he been here. The season was good overall, but the NCAA game was like bombing a final when you have an A in the class. You end up with a much lower grade and memories of what should have been.

That anger needs to be harnessed, focused and utilized. It must be the crucible by which a team with emerging talent can get over the hump and back to where it should be after many years of being almost there.

So here's what I'd do if I were Mike Brey: Go online at my earliest convenience and purchase a Winthrop basketball jersey. I tried to do the work for him, but it doesn't seem like there's a place to buy them online. The closest I could come were some T-shirts and sweatshirts like the ones here. The good news is it seems Follett runs their bookstore as well as ND's, so obtaining something of this type will probably not prove difficult.

I'd get that jersey/sweatshirt/whatever, and I'd hang it in the middle of the locker room. Not the lounge where the media goes or anything like that --- the locker area where the players congregate. The players would understand that if anyone touches that jersey/sweatshirt/whatever, the entire team will run until they're hospitalized.

Then I'd leave it there for the entire season, hanging. I'd wheel it out on a rack during practices. I'd take it on roadtrips and hang it in whatever locker room ND used. In fact, for players who violate team rules or who are otherwise not focused, I'd make them wear it around campus for 24 hours.

Put it out there, right where they can see it and not get away from it. Put it out there, to remind them of what they could have done. Put it out there, as a motivator when things get tough.

ND has a lot to play for next season. They've got a 20-game home win streak that is five short of the Joyce Center record and 14 short of the ND home record overall. They've got a good conference performance to build on that will have to be maintained against what will undoubtedly be a tougher Big East slate next year. And now that they've returned to the NCAA's, they need to get there again and play better.

A little reminder of what happens when you don't meet those goals can only help.

No doubt ND will get a shot at revenge next season -- both the Fighting Irish and Winthrop are in the Paradise Jam in the Bahamas in the Fall, and the people who run it aren't stupid and know a buzz-generating rematch when they see it. But it won't be the same. Marshall will no doubt be gone to greener pastures -- probably his goal from the get-go, realizing he had an upperclassman-laden team that might get him a better opportunity than College of Charleston. Bradshaw and Martin, who led their team to the win and scored more than half of Winthrop's points, are seniors and will be playing elsewhere.

They'll never get this one back, and they need to remember that.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy El Kabong, don't you feel fucking stupid after that article you wrote last week? You fucking douchebag, you don't know the first thing about basketball. Keep banning people from your gay ass NDNation site when they make a slightly negative comment on the team. I tried to tell you months ago that this team fucking sucked but you banned me. HAHAHAHAHA, who looks like the idiot now? You lost any credibility you had by writing that foot-in-mouth article last week. You are an embarassment to the Notre Dame community. Kill yourself faggot.

3/17/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about an embarassment to the ND community... Whoever left that last comment exemplifies that phrase. Anyway, I think we all have to admit that no one saw that coming. I knew it would be a tough game, but to miss all those 3s and free throws. This wasn't the case of a bad team, it was the case of a bad day. Granted Winthrop played well. But the fact that we shot so poorly and still had a chance to win in the last 3 minutes speaks volumes about this team. It was a disappointing end, but it is something to build on for next season. Keep the good stuff coming El K and don't worry about idiots like the last comment. They don't know the first thing about what it means to be a part of the ND community.

3/17/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You call EK an embarrassment after a post like that? No wonder he banned your sorry ass.

3/17/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

That first comment is just ridiculous. Pretty sure he STILL looks like an idiot. And, as it turns out, EL K is not the only person who chose ND over Winthrop, so I think your bizarre rant is a little over the top. I think the word we are all looking for is...annnnnnyways...

I like the idea of your article. Hanging a shirt/jersey in sight of the players every day will keep the feeling they have right now fresh. If the team can harness the anger they are feeling now, and use it through out the season, it could lead to great things.

3/17/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That first guy should be shot. But Bonger, he makes a good point, I am blaming you for jinxing the team with that article. We probably shouldn't be providing our opponents with such bulletin board material in the future. Now I don't actually believe that any of the Winthrop coaches hung your article up on their locker room wall, but the general attitude of ND fans dismissing Winthrop as a serious contender proved to be kind of silly.

3/17/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of Notre Dame fan revels in Notre Dame losing?

3/17/2007 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

The level of incompetence that El Kabong, Cash, SEE, JVan have to put up with at times really makes one wonder why they just don't blow up NDNation and start over.

I never post in Rock's House or the Pit because I don't have to do so, thanks to the usual quality of posts. NDNation and these blogs are an every day read for me, win or lose, and at least here, the Board Ops will admit when they were wrong.

What sets apart is the legions of lurkers who read every day for information you can't find anywhere else, even at IrishEyes.

You don't have to put up with the Purdue inferiority, the "you suck, we rule" posts, etc. all the time. Or my favorite: "See you next year, when we will KILL you Domers!!!?!" comments.

Informative discussion with people who are actually in the know. And it's free. What a concept!

I've never met -- nor probably will ever meet -- Omahadomer, ACross, ShermanOaksND, SBDomer or the BoardOps -- but I spend a good two hours a day reading the board and thoroughly appreciate the effort that goes into writing informative blogs and posts.

Keep up the good work -- for what it's worth, there are people out there who would pay for the services of NDNation. If you ever do start charging, sign me up.

3/17/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Douche,

All you did was justify your banning. Congratulations on proving the Board Ops right!

I doubt that he has anything to do with the Notre Dame community. Obviously a Michigan fan with nothing to watch or root for during the post season. Since he did manage to spell all the racist name-calling and trailer park profanities correctly, I'll assume he's not a student-athlete from Michigan, but a computer geek who spends all his time in his Ann Arbor dorm, hitting the sports gambling sites and playing War Games on his PC.

3/17/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

From the SB Tribune:
"It's over," Carter said. "The way we fought back, it's something to be proud of."

Doesn't sound to me like there is much anger in the locker room.

3/17/2007 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously there is not going to be any anger from Russ because he wasnt a team player at all throughout the year. I'm glad he's graduating and I wish him the best, but Notre Dame is better off without Carter because he was too self centered on this team. We had Thomas, Quinn, and now Carter who shot every time they touched the ball. Im going to miss him and Falls, but Next year should be a good year if Jackson and Harongody develop a little more and Kurz takes charge as the senior leader.

3/17/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though El K's article might have been a little off a week ago, I think it was justified. On paper Winthrop doesn't hold a candle to us and if we hit 10% more of our threes and FTs, we win that game. Although this loss really stings, another 20-win season and strong showing in conference play next year along with JACC improvements should do wonders for recruiting and the program i general.

3/17/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first post was simply an intellect black hole...I am now dumber for having been exposed to it...Hey moderator, its great to get both sides, but come on...As one post indicated, we come here for the level of insight and knowledge, I can get my fill of stooges like the first poster by turning on a call-in talk radio show.

The game...yea it is disappointing...but folks, how many teams have the character and talent to deal with the NCAA tourney on the first crack...As Pitino says..its a whole other game. It has been so long since we made the dance, we have no one who has ever danced before...some blame goes on Brey, but watch these guys if they get there next year...

3/18/2007 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone else realize what a terrible coach Brey is when the teams are within one possession of each other with less than 2 minutes left? Aside from Carter's 3-point attempt against Georgetown as time was running out, do we EVER have a clue of what to do with the ball in a close game? We have lost so many games the last few years in the last seconds, and the team never seems to have a strategy to tie the game if behind or to keep the lead if ahead. Do we have any plays to run when we need to score in those situations? It's a shame the team can come back from 20 down to take the lead and then give it away because there is no guidance. For the first time in a long time, we have good players who are unselfish. Too bad their coach leaves them staring at each other in the final seconds of close games. Big East Coach of the Year! Come on.

3/18/2007 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concer with some of the Brey criticism. I think the decision to press the in-bounds play at the end cost them the game. The wa no way we matched up athletically and the result was the same every time: Winthrop got the ball up quickly and had a numbers mismatch at their basket. Easy score or easy offensive rebound every time.

ND hasn't pressed quick teams well all year. Why did he think it work this time?

Rock Star

3/18/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave M. said...

Wow! That first guy just proved that you can still get internet in the trailer park, but it isn't beneficial to the rest of the world!

I can't become a member to Rock's house because I have free email (which is rediculous), but the more I read (which is 2-3 times pre week), the less disappointed I am that I am not a member of that community.

3/18/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ease up on the trailer park condemnations, people. Albeit unintentionally, those comments portray ND fans as pompous, sneering children of privilege and makes it easy for people like that first pathetic screecher to despise us. Real people with limited means do live in trailer parks, you know--my mother-in-law, for one.

And, for the record, I am a former denizen of the Dirty Thirty in Morrisey Manor.

3/18/2007 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

Yes, but as a Morrissey resident, you have to recognize that a trailer park for you is a step up.

3/18/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The game...yea it is disappointing...but folks, how many teams have the character and talent to deal with the NCAA tourney on the first crack."

This is Mike Brey's 7th year.

My God, how long are you people going to carry Mike Brey's water?

3/18/2007 06:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the terrible officials who reffed the Winthrop game. That crew belonged at a middle school game.

The ref on the baseline is supposed to have the call on a block/charge, and late in the game when an ND player drew a charge, the baseline ref did not make a call. Okay-- and then the other guy runs in from half court to over-rule his partner's no call, and gives ND a blocking foul in a crucial situation, at about the 2 minute mark.

Am I the only one who was livid?

3/19/2007 01:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree, Mike Brey is just not a very good coach. After 7 years, he finally has some talent and then chokes in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Winthrop. Winthrop! That would be like Notre Dame Football losing to Western Michigan.

3/19/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Jamie - Milwaukee said...

I have to agree w/ the reffing. Didn't want to do the sour grapes thing but it seemed that every "close" call went against ND. Was the worse officiating I saw all year. Doesn't matter if we get blown away. But in a close game...
Still doesn't get Brey off the hot seat for this one.
To Mr. HAHAHAHA: "Sir" - what's it like living in a van down by the river?

3/19/2007 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't watched enough ND games to judge Brey's coaching ability, but I was not impressed. He had two time outs to use yet didnt use them until the game was pretty much over. Winthrop hit a shot to put them up 5 or 6, then ND came down and just threw up a heavily contested three. There was still enough time to mount a comeback; to call a timeout, run a play to get a good (quick) look, foul and do the same. If this game is any indication of Brey's crunch time decision making, or lack thereof, ND has a lot more disappointment in its future.

3/19/2007 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Mr. Coffey, it was a step down from crew's berthing on a submarine to the Dirty Thirty. The van by the river you mentioned would even be a step up if I didn't have to share it with 'HAHAHAHAHA' boy.

3/19/2007 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Coach Brey is a good Coach if not an excellent one. He knows what he is doing, you have to remember this is the NCAA tournament one and done. Winthrop had been the last three years at least and ND hadn't been in a while that experience is crucial. We will be back with the Jackson kid, Harangody, Hillensland, and Kurz. We also play in the best conference in the country and were 2 pts away from winning that tournament so relax get off Brey's back and enjoy the next few years of basketball.

3/20/2007 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "aw shucks, it's tough to play in the tourney, we still had a great season" argument is baloney, plain and simple. Sure, I'm proud (and encouraged) of the team's unexpected good performance this season, but that was an absolute bellyflop in the tournament. We should NOT have lost to Withrop... that was a TERRIBLE performance. It seems Brey has no clue how to win a game down the stretch. Up by one with two minutes to go, and you lose by 10?!?!? I went to the Big East tournament, and there is NO WAY the team I saw that played in the semi's against Georgetown should have been down by 20 to Withrop... NO WAY.

3/21/2007 12:57:00 PM  

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