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Two Years Ago...

Notre Dame had just finished its final game masquerading as a school that proclaimed it believed in football excellence, but in reality settled for peer acceptance. Oregon State put a beaver tail exclamation point on the Davieham era with a 17 point beat down of Notre Dame in something called the Insight Bowl. The loss was the tail end of a dismal two years by Irish standards, with Notre Dame following up a losing 5-7 season with a 6-6 campaign and a third straight destruction by USC. Worse yet, Notre Dame was about to ink its second straight bottom rung recruiting class. It wasn't a stretch to believe that another bad year on the field could give Notre Dame a virtual death penalty.

After Lou left, Notre Dame was never able to put success together on the field and in recruiting with any consistency. Here's a look at the Davieham years:

1997 7-6
1998 9-3
1999 5-7
2000 9-3
2001 5-6
2002 10-3
2003 5-7
2004 6-6

omahadomer pointed this out awhile back. Like Charlie Brown about to finally kick the ball, Notre Dame looked like it could turn the corner three times during this stretch, but in the end fell flat faced. The lack of success on the field begot lack of success in recruiting and vice versa.

If Notre Dame had kept Willingham, I believe we might not have made a BCS bowl until after 2010.

What Weis has done is something Notre Dame hasn't seen 1993: Back-to-back major bowl seasons and back-to-back top ten recruiting classes. That's building a foundation of excellence that will finally allow Notre Dame to get off the mediocrity roller coaster.

So about that bowl game coming up. The odds are against ND winning on January 3rd. If both teams bring their "A" games and the breaks are even, LSU should win by more than a touchdown. Their domination of Miami last year demonstrated that Les Miles, maligned by some, can plan for the big game.

The bottom line is that LSU has as much talent as any team in the country and Notre Dame's weaknesses are well documented.

But Notre Dame has a senior laden team and a month to prepare and get healthy. If Notre Dame can move the ball on the ground with any success against the Tiger's 4th rated scoring defense, the Irish will be able to move it through the air -- others have.

If that happens, we'll take our Cheerios' jokes with extra Sugar.

Have a great time in N'awlins, y'all.

Irish 26-18.

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Gerry DiNardo is a Bitter Failure

DiNardo's unconscionable outburst in the South Bend Tribune shows a man lacking in character and depth. After skipping out on his deal at Vanderbilt, he blamed his failure at LSU on others:
"I was hired by a board, by a president and a chancellor and an athletic director that were powerless when I needed them most,"
But he saved his most powerful shots for his alma mater:
"They have joined major-college football," DiNardo said of the Irish. "They've become what they never wanted to become.

"As an alumnus, I was always proud of the fact that it appeared Notre Dame kept football in perspective. You can't use graduation rate and academics as an argument that they have kept perspective, because when (former coach) Bob Davie got fired in 1999, he said, 'Well, we're doing well academically.' And the university told him, 'We take credit for that. Not you.'"

"Shame on Weis and shame on the university for giving him more money," DiNardo said. "I think that's why a lot of people root against them."
Notre Dame just posted a team gpa above a 3.0 for the third straight semester. Bob Davie's players graduated, but he didn't win or give the kids the coaching they deserved and expected. Willingham was paid an enormous sum of money,far more than any professor, yet was also a failure on the field. Weis is winning and graduating players which is what GOOD coaches do. Kids come to Notre Dame for coaching excellence in football and a great education. Now they're getting both. DiNardo's shots at Notre Dame look very much like an excuse for his own failure.

DiNardo himself admits he has nothing other than hearsay to back up his thinking.

Shame on him for trying to tear others down who are doing it right to justify his own shortcomings.

Shame on others for giving voice to his drivel.

Harrison Smith to be Irish

The 6'2", 205 safety stolen out of the cradle of the Vols not only clocked a sub 4.4 40, but he has natural football skills. Smith told Scout, "Awareness is probably my best strength. I can read what's going on and what people are doing around me." Those who have seen his film confirm his speed and his instincts, a rarity for so physically gifted an athlete.

Smith and huge Irish target Chris Donald both finished behind Irish recruit Golden Tate for Mr. Football in Tennessee. According to Scout's free page,
he recorded 61 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five interceptions (two returned for scores), three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries. On offense, Smith ran for 1,312 yards and 17 touchdowns on 155 carries. He also caught 32 passes for 446 yards and six touchdowns; he bench presses 305, squats 385 and has a 36" vertical jump. Smith reports a 3.7 core GPA, 28 ACT and an 1850 SAT.
So he's smart, too.

Rival Maryville High coach George Quarles offered up a strong compliment for Smith, "Harrison Smith is - and I love the guys we have from Maryville - but Harrison Smith is the real deal, I think," Quarles said on the News Sentinel Sport Page radio show. "He's super talented."

WBIR interviewed Smith earlier this month.

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Weis Fixed On The Prize

*** this is taken from Ivan Maisel's Blog... if I could find it, I'd link it. Good Stuff:


He may be loud and he may be big, but even Charlie Weis can be inconspicuous. On the night that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn did not win the Heisman Trophy, the Fighting Irish coach stood behind a pillar at the far end of the lobby outside the Nokia Theater. If you came down the stairs into the lobby and craned your neck to the left, you might have seen Weis, which is how he liked it.

When public figures like Weis are in a public setting -- that is, one they don't control, complete with civilians -- they lurk on the edge of it. To dive in would be to surrender their time and their shield. Speaking of which, I can remember being in South Bend some years ago for a banquet at which then-coach Lou Holtz would speak. He stood in the second-floor lobby of the athletic building, self-pinned against a trophy case, sipping a diet Coke and girding himself to go on stage.

So Weis is off to one side, and I walk up and re-introduce myself and congratulate him on going 10-2. And here, from memory, is what he said:

"Listen, it's a polite thing to say, and politically correct, but if I'm happy with a 10-2 record, I'm going to get fired," Weis said. "The two losses were not close. We're not where we want to be. But I'm telling you, with the players we have coming in, including a couple of recruits that nobody knows are going to commit to us, we're going to be a lot better. A couple of years from now, you are going to remember that we had this conversation tonight."

"All right," I said. "I'll remind you. No, you remind me."

"I won't have to," Weis said. "We'll just look at each other, and you'll know."

You can't hear tone of voice online. On the screen, Weis might sound arrogant in that exchange. He didn't in person. He is fixed on a prize, and he intends to claim it.

One other thing: that's why journalists love unscripted moments.

That's the real Charlie Weis.


*** Some have asked me if the book "The Ten Secrets..." is taken from "The Five People..." -- my answer is: I've purposely never read the Albom book, so I'm not sure. I certainly designed the cover to evoke the series as many who have read it compared it to that book, but that's as far as it goes. The structure is actually from "A Christmas Carol."

Who Are These Guys?

Notre Dame's stunning 99-85 win over number five Alabama has Notre Dame basketball fans believing again. Notre Dame finally looks like a team rather than a one man band. Posters share their view from The Pit:

tbsb
Three things you may not have noticed.
1. I have seldom seen a team after a win, even a great one; leave the court at the end as enthusiastically as this one did at halftime. The cameras had probably cut away, but they were shouting and gesturing as if 49-49 broke an 88 game win streak. I will make no comments about the students (2000 of whom didn't show for the last game) storming the court, because this team deserved and demanded it with their enthusiasm. I viewed the rush as a well-deserved tribute to the team's enthusiasm. I don't know how good we can be, but I know one thing: this team loves basketball and each other and it is contagious. If you ever see a sentence this year both with "ND basketball" and "laid-back" in it, you will also find the word "not"! The Thomas-Francis emotionless era is over. This year will be fun!
2. ZH played great defense. I don't think Davidson scored a point or got an assist when ZH was in the second half. He (Davidson will be a first round pick, but when it counted, ZH (and others) took him out of the game.
3. I said earlier that the season would depend on Jackson. I didn't think though that he could improve as quickly as he has. It's like watching The Blob get bigger frame by frame. He couldn't guard Steele in the first half; in the second he could. Is he the fastest ever at ND. No, he's third behind David Rivers (before the auto accident) and Dice Martin. And way ahead of whoever's in fourth.
Also, sometimes in the early season you get an apparent upset over a team that's overrated. Make no mistake about it; Alabama is a very good team. Maybe not Final 4, but certainly Sweet 16 caliber and probably top 10. They came at you from every position. Last year they came in over-confident and we surprised them; this year they came in looking for revenge. They didn't loose the game; we took it from them.
Finally Brey has a team that he and he alone recruited. It plays the way he wants to play. The future looks bright (as long as he keeps a long bench).

Scoop80
This team is vastly better than I thought it would be. It's complete, it's balanced, it takes care of the ball, it runs the floor, and it has the guts of a burglar. The 86-87 team remains my favorite in the over 35 years I've followed the program b/c it so vastly exceeded expectations. I don't want to drink too much koolaid, but this team could become another such favorite.

The 3 big early wins made a huge difference in the #5 seed 4 years ago. These 2 big early wins could should make a significant difference now. This team, at present, is playing for seed as much as it's playing to qualify.

BTW, tonight's unis are the same ones that were worn at home in the Final 4 year. I personally wish that they didn't take the names off, but I'm glad that there were no green socks. Digger did his work by helping Muffet w/ the 1-3-1, he didn't need to be a fashion consultant here.


CJC
As an avowed skeptic ..... we are witnessing something extremely unusual in my opinion.

The list of coaches who refused to make changes and went down in flames is very long.

The list of coaches who made stupid changes out of desperation and went down in flames is comparably long.

Brey gets all the credit in the world for increasing emphasis on defense. I'll even give a pass on rebounding -- we've been rebounding hard in previous games, but Alabama had some very tough rebounders. I don't think it was lack of effort on our part ....

So Brey gets all the credit in the world for increasing emphasis on rebounding, tonight's stats notwithstanding.

He also gets all the credit in the world for using more players, especially at crunch time.

It's not very often that a leopard changes its spots like this.

Again, congratulations to Mike Brey.

Naughman
Carter was astonishing in most everything he did.

McAlarney was great -- do we actually have a guard with a mid-range game?

Kurz was a real warrior, bloody gash and all.

Big mea culpa for Colin Falls. He looked a lot more assertive than I've ever seen him.

And how about Harangody beating Bammer the length of the floor, not once but twice? Fantastic.

These guys didn't do everything perfect and they got worked badly on the offensive glass, but they made adjustments (notice how those easy backdoor baskets went away) and kept scrapping. Is this really the same team I watched last year? How the hell is that possible?

What a fun, fun game. Great night. Good for Brey. Good for every one of those guys.

Ty Webb
Is having big men who know what the hell to do with the ball when they get it. Whether that be dribble, pass, make a post move, etc.

With Francis, you had a guy who couldn't pass well, dribble well, even make a smooth post move well.

Shoot, you now have Rob Kurz driving on other teams' big men and Harangody dribbling the entire length of the court for lay ups. We haven't had players like this since Murphy IMO.

Fisher08
While on a HUGE emotional high.

1. Tory Jackson/Russel Carter could not stop smiling throughout the entire second half. This is the first time I've ever seen a Brey team play with emotion and look like they're having fun. AMAZING.

2. The team really wanted us to rush the court. No complaining. Colin Falls and K-Mac were basically guiding us to the floor

3. RC played out of his mind tonight. If he (and everyone) can be that hot all the time, we can beat anyone in the Big East.

4. Still concerned about boxing out or the lack thereof. That being said.....

5. BEST GAME I'VE BEEN TO IN 3 YEARS Way way way better than BC Frosh year. All I could think final minutes was "Oh God, not again..." Then we got 352532 steals in a row. And won.

Awesome Awesome Awesome. Best ND sports event of the year, hands down.

ronbo
is so clearly better than the last several because the offense can be initiated from more than just Brey's designated go to star (Thomas/Quinn)-although these players were excellent- it led to too much standing around and waiting for them to initiate.

Now we have Zach who can pull it off the glass and drive it all the way down without having to hand the ball to the point and walk up the court.

We have Kurz and Luke H who can handle it if they need to and initiate a break if it is available.

Carter can initiate with his ability to drive and we have 2 point guards that can get it going.

So, out of our 8 guys getting minutes- six can initiate offense. Last year we really only had Quinn and to a lesser extent Carter.

Being involved in the offense, running the court when available, and moving without the ball in halfcourt- also translates to more active play on the defensive end because we are actually looking to score off of our defense.

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Clausen Highlight Reel

Playing the Race Card

If you're a black football player and attend Michigan, USC, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Ohio State, you stand a 50% chance or less of ever getting a degree. tOSU is rated number one on the football field, but last in racial graduation. tOSU has the biggest racial discrepancy between white and black player of any bowl team in the country. Here are the stats from the Boston Globe.








The Boston Globe also reranked teams based on graduation rates:


Top 25 Graduation Rates

1. Navy 98
2. Boston College 96
3. Notre Dame 95
4. Wake Forest 93
5. Nebraska 88

6. Florida 80
7. Penn State 80
8. Texas Christian 78
9. Virginia Tech 74
10. Michigan 71

11. South Florida 66
12. Boise State 65
13. Maryland 64
14. South Carolina 64
15. Auburn 63

16. Texas A&M 63
17. West Virginia 63
18. Wisconsin 62
19. Oregon State 60
20. UCLA 59

21. Rutgers 58
22. Tennessee 58
23. Arkansas 55
24. Georgia Tech 55
25. OSU and USC 55


Barely passing graduation rates in the AP rankings: Brigham Young 53, Louisville 53, Oklahoma 52, Houston 51.
Teams that should be dropped from bowls on overall graduation success rates: Hawaii 49, LSU 49, California 44, Georgia 41, Texas 40.

ND Moves to #1 in Recruiting

...with a but.

Last week I wrote about how the recruiting momentum has shifted dramatically in Notre Dame's favor now that the season is over; this week ESPN moved ND up to number one in its recruiting rankings:
"Notre Dame, with seven ESPN 150 verbal commitments, moves to No. 1 in Tom Luginbill's Class of '07 recruiting rankings. Notre Dame moves to No. 1 because they are meeting needs at crucial positions like cornerback, defensive end, wide receiver and quarterback. All are areas of concern for the Fighting Irish heading into the 2007 season. Wide receiver Greg Little (Durham, N.C./Hillside), quarterback Jimmy Clausen (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), defensive end Kerry Neal (Bunn, N.C.) and cornerback Gary Gray (Columbia, S.C./Richland Northeast) all will have a significant opportunity to contribute as freshman."
What's behind the surge?

First off, great planning by the staff to get on these kids early.

Second, great hustle. Weis went out on the road once the USC debacle was in the books.

Third, Notre Dame traditionally does well once the hype of the season settles and the reality hits kids that most Army All-American recruits never make the NFL. When Notre Dame has a good coach, and it does, Notre Dame will recruit well. Charlie has the NFL experience and connections kids covet, ND has a national TV contract and facilities and the University offers an education (and more importantly the support) that is unmatched by any top football school. When the hype and the salesmanship die down and kids are able to discern the important from the unimportant, that package becomes hard to beat.

Here's a list of the top 150. The kids in the blue are Notre Dame commits, the kids in the green are kids Notre Dame is pursuing.

1 Jimmy Clausen QB CA 91 Notre Dame
2 Christopher Galippo ILB CA 90 USC
3 Marc Tyler RB CA 89 USC
4 Will Korn QB SC 87 Clemson
5 Noel Devine RB FL 87 None
6 Michael McNeil S AL 86 None
7 Martez Wilson DE IL 86 None
8 Eric Berry CB GA 86 None
9 Marshall Jones S CA 85 USC
10 Terrance Toliver WR TX 85 None
11 Marvin Austin DT DC 85 None
12 Brian Maddox RB SC 85 South Carolina
13 Tyrod Taylor QB VA 85 None
14 Gary Gray CB SC 84 South Carolina
15 Arrelious Benn WR DC 84 None
16 Golden Tate CB TN 84 None
17 J.R. Hemmingway WR SC 84 None
18 Trey Allen OT TX 84 Texas
19 John Chiles QB TX 84 Texas
20 Christian Scott S TX 84 None
21 Joe McKnight RB LA 84 None
22 Kerry Neal DE NC 84 Notre Dame
23 Israel Troupe WR GA 83 None
24 Josh Oglesby OT WI 83 Wisconsin
25 Greg Little WR NC 83 None
26 Chris Rainey RB FL 83 Florida
27 D. J. Stafford DT GA 83 None
28 Deonte Thompson WR FL 82 None
29 Allen Bailey DE GA 82 None
30 Phelon Jones CB AL 82 Miami (FL)
31 Dwight Jones WR NC 82 North Carolina
32 John Brown DT FL 82 None
33 Dez Bryant WR TX 82 None
34 Mike Ragone TE NJ 82 Notre Dame
35 Lee Chambers RB MS 82 Mississippi State
36 Austin Box S OK 82 Oklahoma
37 Logan Gray QB MO 82 None
38 Major Wright S FL 82 None
39 Richetti Jones DE TX 82 None
40 Domonique Herald S NJ 82 None
41 Chris Forcier QB CA 82 UCLA
42 James Wilson OG FL 82 None
43 Kevin Bryant OT FL 82 None
44 Antwain Easterling RB FL 82 None
45 Stephen Garcia QB FL 81 None
46 Lennon Creer RB TX 81 None
47 Dewey Elliot ILB OH 81 None
48 Caleb King RB GA 81 None
49 John Brantley QB FL 81 Texas
50 Aaron Hernandez TE CT 81 Florida
51 Aaron Corp QB CA 81 USC
52 Duval Kamara WR NJ 81 Notre Dame
53 Mark Barnes WR SC 81 None
54 Tim Lamb DT FL 81 None
55 Ryan Mallett QB TX 81 Michigan
56 Ryan Miller OT CO 81 None
57 Harland Gunn OG NE 81 Miami (FL)
58 D'Angelo McCray TE FL 81 Florida
59 Keenan Robinson OLB TX 81 Texas
60 Tydreke Powell DT NC 81 None
61 Ben Martin DE OH 81 None
62 Martin Coleman OT CA 81 USC
63 Jerimy Finch S IN 81 Michigan
64 Apiata Tuihlamaka DE CA 81 None
65 Lee Ziemba OT AR 81 None
66 Kerry Murphy DT AL 81 None
67 Dionte Allen CB MI 81 None
68 Mike Paulus QB NY 81 North Carolina
69 Jamire Williams CB FL 81 None
70 Jonathan Dwyer RB GA 81 None
71 Jerry Howard DE FL 81 Florida
72 Ronald Johnson CB MI 81 None
73 Pat Bostick QB PA 80 Pittsburgh
74 Ted Laurent DT GA 80 Mississippi
75 Ben Wells CB TX 80 Texas
76 William Vlachos OG AL 80 Alabama
77 Brandon Paul WR FL 80 None
78 Chris Strong ILB MS 80 Mississippi
79 Torrey Davis DT FL 80 None
80 Sidell Corley Jr. DE AL 80 Florida
81 Matt Romine OT OK 80 None
82 Donovan Warren CB CA 80 None
83 Ryan Pugh OC AL 80 Auburn
84 Gerald Jones CB OK 80 None
85 Roderick Davis WR TN 80 None
86 Eugene Clifford S OH 80 None
87 Derek Stephens OLB TX 80 Texas A&M
88 Todd Campbell WR TN 80 Tennessee
89 Chris Culliver S NC 80 North Carolina State
90 Mike Williams S CA 80 None
91 Clint Brewster QB CO 80 None
92 Trinton Sturdivant OT NC 80 Georgia
93 Armando Allen RB FL 80 None
94 Bryan Bulaga OT IL 80 Iowa
95 Curtis Brown WR TX 80 Texas
96 Chris Donald OLB TN 80 None
97 Ahmard Howard TE TX 80 Texas
98 Malcolm Williams S TX 80 Texas
99 Mark Dell WR MI 79 None
100 Conrad Obi DE GA 79 Georgia
101 Rolando Melancon DT LA 79 None
102 Bo Williams RB FL 79 None
103 DaJohn Harris DT CA 79 None
104 Everson Griffen DE AZ 79 None
105 John Clay RB WI 79 None
106 Michael Keck DE MO 79 None
107 Kamar Aiken WR FL 79 None
108 Kenny Rowe DE CA 79 None
109 Christian Ballard TE KS 79 Kansas
110 Anthony Davis OG NJ 79 None
111 Chaz Ramsey OC MS 79 Auburn
112 Rob Gronkowski TE NY 79 None
113 Luther Davis DE LA 79 None
114 Derrius Bell CB TX 79 None
115 Ian Williams DT FL 79 None
116 Justin Trattou DE NJ 79 Notre Dame
117 Quantavius Sturdivant S NC 79 None
118 Bradley Stephens RB TX 79 Texas A&M
119 Chris Perry DT TX 79 Miami (FL)
120 Michael Huey OG TX 79 Texas
121 Kyle Hix OT TX 79 Texas
122 Travian Robertson DE NC 79 None
123 Devon Torrence RB OH 79 None
124 Stefen Wisniewski OC PA 79 None
125 Jarett Lee QB TX 79 Louisiana State
126 Raymond Carter RB CA 79 UCLA
127 Colton Johnson RB TX 79 Texas
128 Nick Sukay WR PA 79 Penn State
129 Devon Still OT DE 79 None
130 Morgan Burnett WR GA 79 None
131 Robert Hughes RB IL 79 None
132 Michael Ebbitt DE CA 79 None
133 Doug Wiggins CB FL 79 None
134 Manny Abreu OLB NJ 79 None
135 Ahmad Paige WR LA 79 None
136 Scotty Cooper OLB SC 79 Clemson
137 Todderick Bajoie WR LA 79 Louisiana State
138 Chris Little OT GA 79 None
139 Pat Lazear ILB MD 79 None
140 Javario Burkes OT AZ 79 None
141 Charles White OLB SC 79 Georgia
142 Brian Smith ILB KS 79 None
143 Maurice Williams S PA 79 None
144 Brandon Gibson WR AL 79 None
145 Nick Claytor OT GA 79 None
146 Ryan Houston RB NC 79 North Carolina
147 Marcus Mendoza RB TX 79 None
148 Alphonso Bryant WR FL 79 None
149 Rolando McClain ILB AL 79 Alabama
150 Chris Jacobson OG PA 79 Pittsburgh

Does this mean ND will finish #1 in recruiting? No. But it does mean that this staff knows how to sell the school and after back to back BCS seasons, Notre Dame is in good position to finish in the top five. The key is going to be closing strong on the defensive side of the ball and finding some defensive tackles. The Irish have recruited exactly ONE true defensive tackle in the last THREE years. Read that again: ONE true defensive tackle in the last THREE years.

All the speed in the world ain't going to matter if your defense is starting every play a yard off the line of scrimmage.

~ The Rock.

How The Coaches Voted

How The Coaches Voted in the BCS

Final Standings Below (Scroll Down)






























Harris



USA Today



Computer

BCS


RkPtsPctRkPtsPctRkPctAvgPv
1. Ohio State128240.9996115501.000011.0000.99991
2. Florida226700.9451214700.9484t20.9400.94454
3. Michigan326320.9317314440.9316t20.9400.93443
4. LSU423720.8396412990.838150.8200.83265
5. Southern Cal721730.7692711730.756840.8600.79532
6. Louisville522720.8042612230.789060.7900.79446
7. Wisconsin622290.7890512630.8148100.6400.74807
8. Boise State919500.6903910530.679470.7600.70998
9. Auburnt1017250.61061010000.645280.6900.648611
10. Oklahoma819770.6998811150.7194160.4700.629712
11. Notre Damet1017250.6106119230.595590.6800.628710
12. Arkansas1314830.5250137980.5148120.5100.51669
13. West Virginia1214850.5257128000.5161t140.4800.507315
14. Wake Forest1413660.4835157450.4806180.3300.431417
15. Virginia Tech1513580.4807147810.5039190.3000.428214
16. Rutgers1610830.3834175670.3658t140.4800.409713
17. Tennessee189400.3327185000.3226130.5000.385116
18. California207360.2605194360.2813110.5400.360618
19. Texas179520.3370165820.3755t210.1500.287519
20. Brigham Young198380.2966203690.2381230.0900.208221
21. Texas A&M215510.1950213030.1955t240.0500.146823
22. Oregon State261270.0450t25720.0465170.3400.143824
23. Nebraska223520.1246222420.1561NR0.0000.093620
24. Boston College233180.1126231750.1129NR0.0400.0885NR
25. UCLA33100.0035NR00.0000200.1900.0645NR

AHRBCMKMJSPW

The Death of The Iron Six

Notre Dame's surprisingly easy win over Maryland was surprising in a number of other ways to NDN basketball fans. The biggest surprise is that Mike Brey actually used his bench in a big game. I don't think that's ever happened before. In fact, only one player saw less than double digit action. Notre Dame also showed defensive intensity, a knack for rebounding and an inside out game that has been non-existent since Troy Murphy. Yeah, Brey (as predicted) let Falls play through some atrocious three point shooting, but other than that there was a lot to love last night. As I've written before, this is Brey's first "All-Brey" team with a full sophomore recruiting class to work with -- this year should be telling.

NDN posters in The Pit share their views of Sunday's big win over Maryland.

IrishRok

18 turnovers is not going to cut it in Big East play, that needs to be cut down immensely. K-Mac had 5 TO's too many for a point guard. T Jack only had 1, could be wrong but I believe that might be his lowest for the year. If he isn't turning the ball over that is good for the Irish. Falls is playing too many minutes needs to get a rest every once and awhile, played all 40 tonight. Lastly, Rob Kurz is one of the most efficient players I've seen, doesn't take unneccessary shots and is showing great leadership as captain.


IrishGolfer

1. I saw more block outs for rebounds tonite that the last 4 years.
2. Poise against pressure; it wasn't just get it to CQ and hope he did
something to get ball across mid-court
3. More options. I really like ZH
4. Kurz much more confident
5. Zellar doesn't seem much different that last year
6. Good FT shooting
7. Tory Jackson is quick
8 Repeat # 1. I don't think I yelled at the tube for someone to block- out one time.

Irish4Ever
Brey rotated 9 men freely until the last few minutes. Then he stuck with a small lineup of MacAlarney, Falls, Jackson, Hillesland and Kurz, with Carter, Zeller and Harongody sitting. The Terps finally started making shots, but those 5 guys protected the ball, hit the boards and made FTs to put the game away.

MacAlarney struggled as he drove to the hoop in the 1st half, but later he made it look easy.

Falls showed great leadership and hit many clutch FTs.

Jackson looked very quick as he pushed the ball up.

Hellesland was awful at first, committing several turnovers against the press, but Brey stayed with him. Later, Zach protected the ball and led the way in rebounding.

Kurz was highly productive -- scoring, hitting the boards, making clutch FTs.

Zeller had his moments but generally didn't seem to contribute that much.

Harongody had fewer minutes than in the past, as Brey went with the hot hands. He and Ayers were in for defense several times near the end of the first half, with Zeller and Carter in for offense. Brey went away from that pattern near the end of the game.

Ronbo

Brey saw that the young guys can play down the stretch and that he can spread minutes in a big game- and still win. This means he's likely to continue down this path.

Hillesland as I hoped- or at least he sounded (didn't get game on TV) like he was used as a pressbreaker and really hit the boards hard. I love this kid- so versatile.

How did Jackson look either handling pressure or exerting pressure- how was his decision making? Sounded very disruptive on the radio. How did Jack and Mack look together?

Winning with Carter on the bench down the stretch is a positive for the rest of the team.

Mac is back on track offensively.

Still don't understand Falls' minutes but we won. Sounded like most of his points were at the line when game was out of hand. Were the threes he missed well defended shots that were somewhat forced or was he just cold on open looks?

Taxman

Finally, it is on the students if the game isn't sold out on Thursday. Be There.

1. The game turned when Brey went with the two point guard line up. Having Jackson and MacAlarney on the floor together did two things-- it made it easier to break the press (and attack once we broke it) and (2) it allowed KMac to play off the ball.

2. You would have thought that maybe the announcers could have picked up that point rather than sit there stunned that the game turned around so quickly. To call Feinstein a douche bag is to insult douche bags everywhere.

3. The defense was much better than at any time last year. A bit better perimeter rotation and much better interior defense.

4. Brey went with the same rotation for probably the last 12 minutes, but that actually made sense because the 5 guys on the floor simply dominated Maryland.

5. Jackson needs to be on the floor at least 25 minutes a game. He is the most (and probably only) disruptive perimeter player we have.

6. Likewise, Hillesland needs to be on the floor for at least 25 minutes a game. I don't remember a Notre Dame player since Woolridge who would could take a rebound and get down court as fast as he can. He made some dumb plays in the first half, but he more than made up for it in the second half

7. Zeller earned his minutes tonight. He didn't do anything great, but at least he was aggressive.

8. I didn't see the stats, but I thought we rebounded well.

9. Did I mention that Tory Jackson needs to play more?

10. This win was unlike any last year. We didn't do anything particularly well and still beat a ranked team on their floor. It didn't require us to be on fire from three or have one player go off or to play an opponent that was having an off night. Maryland might not have played great, but it was mostly because ND made them look bad from time to time.

11. I'm still pissed about Butler, because the team that was on the floor tonight would have handled Butler. Better late than never I guess.

12. Bama is not quire "win and in," but its pretty close. It is hard for me to imagine the team I saw tonight going worse than 9-7 with the conference schedule we have.

Gator77

I was most encouraged that we played, in essence, a BE-style team and beat them. Maryland played a physical, aggressive game...one that we will see often starting in January...and responded in kind.

This game gets us back on the NCAA path and, if we can handle Alabama AND play as we did tonight in terms of aggression and bench usage, keep us there.

I am really happy that we met a big-time foe who has been playing well and 1) didn't back down; 2) dictated play in the second half 3) had the proper mix of aggression/caution at the end of the game; 4) played young ones in key situations (was Carter on the court in the final 5 mins?).

All in all, this is what I expected given the talk of the off-season...I didn't mind that we lost to Butler, I minded how we lost to them. This makes up for that and puts us back to square one. Beat Alabama and we will have a good chance as long as the players and the coach build on what they did tonight.




Philly Locals: Come Out Monday December 4th@7pm For The Book Signing at Barnes & Noble (Rittenhouse Sq. 18th and Walnut) www.thetensecrets.com

12.3 - Jambalya Anyone? (Clausen da man)

The BCS is a mess yet again, but as I've pointed out -- a playoff system is no less arbitrary. The best team doesn't always win in a playoff system and matching the perceived 1 against 2 is about as good as it gets.

Playoff systems, especially the NCAA basketball tournament, throw a lot of different variables into the mix - the most important of which is draw. If you get a bad draw match-up wise, you're suddenly at greater risk. Back to football, if USC ended up #4 in the final rankings, OSU would arguably have the harder first game (in a four game playoff) than either Michigan or Florida. And if the matchups go the wrong way, injuries happen or lady luck intervenes, than an obvious pick like OSU might not make the final game. Yet, they were the clear number one pick for a national championship game. I'm a huge Steeler fan, but I don't think they were the best team last year.

I think the NCAA basketball tournament is an absolute joke of a setup. There's no way you allow almost SEVENTY teams into a tournament and don't upset the balance of luck. One player has a bad day or a bad matchup, you get screwed by the officials or the plane is late and suddenly there's a cinderella story. Dont' get me wrong, it makes for good TV, but don't kid yourself into believing that a playoff champion is any more deserving than any other. Especially in football when you consider the absurd layoff in college football before each bowl game.

OSU vs. Florida or Michigan is fine by me.

BTW, remember when I wrote that Notre Dame should have run Brady Quinn a whole lot more against USC? Cowan's running disrupted USC's defensive gameplan. But also, SC had just finished a stretch of Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame.

It seems obvious to me that Notre Dame is headed to the Sugar Bowl regardless of whether Michigan or Florida makes the championship game. If you're making travel plans, that puts you at January 3rd. And don't even start whining about your team not making the BCS... if you're not good enough to make your case without a doubt, don't cry to me about whether your team was top 10 or not or more "deserving." After the top 2, bowls are about creating the best matchups... period.

It always irks me when fans complain about their team not making the NCAA basketball tournament. If you can't solidly put your team in a field that big with a degree of comfort... you got no business complainin.

If ND does make the BCS, we will be experiencing our first year of eating a $10+ million dollar shit sandwich care of Dr. Kevin "Jumbotron" White. The lame argument that the deal was supposed to protect ND in the down years is just that. It was a deal forced down Notre Dame throats after years of letting the program whither and eroding our bargaining power while having an AD negotiate more for a future commissioner position rather than on ND's behalf.

One more BCS game and Notre Dame will have lost the equivalent of another Gug at the negotiating table.

It's not hard to run Notre Dame football well. Use the vast exposure and resources to continually field a winner and the Golden Goose keeps laying eggs.

Keep winning. That's it.

Just keep the damn Goose healthy... that's your job Dr. White.

We don't need the Goose to shoot fireworks out of his ass, blare rowdy music or wrap himself in sponsorship banners... just don't kill the Goose.

BTW, you wonder how good Clausen is? This good:

Clausen quiets doubters
BY ERIK BOAL, Special to the Daily News
Article Last Updated:12/02/2006 11:54:17 PM PST


Perhaps it was the ultimate sign of respect, or a sign things were already getting out of control for Harvard-Westlake of Studio City's football team.

Less than four minutes into Saturday night's Southern Section Northwest Division semifinal game, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw his first incomplete pass and the chants of "overrated" quickly followed from the Wolverines fans.

That was after the Notre Dame-bound Clausen, the state's career leader with 142 passing touchdowns, had already completed his first six attempts for 107 yards and two scores.

The chants continued after every one of Clausen's five first-half incompletions, but his 279 yards and five touchdown passes in three quarters of work did plenty to silence Harvard-Westlake's home crowd in between those rare drops or misfires, as Oaks Christian advanced to its fourth consecutive division final with a 48-14 victory at Valley College.

"It was fun. We haven't heard that one this year," said Clausen, who finished 24 of 29 to go over 10,300 career passing yards. "We really took that one to heart and just focused on coming out and executing and doing what we needed to do to get the win."

The Lions(13-0), ranked second in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 6 nationally by USA Today, extended their winning streak to 44 - tied for eighth all-time in state history - entering Friday's championship game against Tri-Valley League rival Oak Park.

The Eagles (12-1), who recorded a 17-14, double-overtime victory Friday over Covina, will face three-time champion Oaks Christian in the final for the third time in four seasons. The Eagles lost to the Lions 21-16 in the 2003 Div.XI title game and 39-21 in 2004.

Oak Park, the last team to defeat the Lions, in Nov. 2003, suffered a 55-7 setback in the teams' regular-season meeting Oct. 20.

"We'd like to face some new competition, just because we've played them so many times before," said Stanford-bound receiver Sean Wiser, who caught nine passes for 81 yards. "But they're so close and it's a rivalry, so we know they'll be up and we'll be up. We've worked hard for four years and it's the last time we're going to play them, so it's going to be exciting."

Although Oaks Christian lost three fumbles, one recovered by Harvard-Westlake (10-3) in the end zone, the Lions showed no signs of slowing down on their way to a likely appearance in the inaugural Div. III state bowl game Dec. 16 at Home Depot Center in Carson.

Clausen connected with Wiser on three touchdown passes and Anthony Gildon on two others, giving him 12 scoring passes in three playoff games.

"I was just focused on spreading the ball around and getting it to the playmakers," said Clausen, who led the Lions on a 10-play, 78-yard drive just before the half, finalizing the 96-second march with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Wiser to increase the lead to 35-0.


~ The Rock

12.2 - Allen Has the Numbers

Just for conversation purposes: Armando Allen posted the best 40 time of every running back tested at the 2006 US Army AA Combine.

Armando Allen
(Hialeah-Miami Lakes HS)
Hialeah, FL
5-91864.38*4.1637.0"

As I noted before the most impressive thing about allen is not his speed, but his balance and cutting ability. He's a good'n. For Comparison here are Caleb King's (who many consider the top back in the country,) and CF Spiller, Michael Goodson and Munir Prince's and numbers from the year before:

Caleb King
(Greater Atlanta Christian School)
Norcross, GA
5-111974.564.0031.0"


C.J. Spiller
(Union County HS)
Lake Butler, FL
5-101844.354.7534.5"

Michael Goodson
(Klein Collins HS)
Klein, TX
6-01894.664.4429.0"

Munir Prince
(De Smet Jesuit HS)
St. Louis, MO
5-9.51644.684.2532.0"7.20

*Fastest At Combine

Here's a look at other prospects ND is after:

WR
Deonte Thompson
(Glades Central HS)
Belle Glade, FL
6-01774.534.4135.0"

LB
Malcolm Smith
(William Howard Taft HS)
Woodland Hills, CA
6-12114.444.1336.5"7.47

S/LB

Lorenzo Edwards
(Edgewater HS)
Orlando, FL
6-22214.724.7231.0"

WR
Greg Little
(Hillside HS)
Durham, NC
6-4211

40.0"

DE
Everson Griffen
(Agua Fria Union HS)
Avondale, AZ
6-3.52644.464.7228.5"

12.1 - Big Mo

Recruiting momentum swings are normal and as any follower of the race for talent knows, fans tend to vacillate between thinking they're going to get every top recruit and thinking they'll get no one.

Notre Dame will not get every recruit,

but it appears they're going to reel in a haul.

After a period where Notre Dame seemed to lose Big Mo, it is back. Armando Allen (Allen Video from Sunshine Preps) verballed to Notre Dame today (Mike Frank had this first.) Allen is Notre Dame's biggest running back pick-up in years.




The surprising thing about Allen is that he was billed as a speed back, but I was most impressed by his running ability. He seems to have more cutting ability than Julius Jones, very good balance and he's able to run fast with a forward lean. Kind of an Autry Denson with homerun ability. His 40 has been listed anywhere from 4.31-4.4. That's fast.

But more importantly than the swing of momentum, Notre Dame coaches are on the road and finally have time to rebut the landslide of negative recruiting that hits Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame is at the center of a battle between the Rose and the Sugar Bowls. Both Bowls and their networks would like to have the "irrelevant" Irish, but after much back channel discussion it appears the Sugar is the likely destination for Notre Dame.