Where do we begin?
The point guards – Cory Joseph and Kyrie Irving – each took their turn in the spotlight. Joseph had Irving on the ropes in the first half as his offense matched his defensive intensity on Irving. Joseph scored 23 but 16 came in the first half. Not only was he able to keep Irving in front of him, he slid past the future Duke star going to the basket.
Irving wouldn't be denied the entire game. He scored 30 points, 20 of them coming off gut-busting drives to the hoop that were finished with acrobatic plays in traffic. When St. Pat's needed a bucket, Irving used his creating abilities to swerve to the rim.
Joseph, also deserving of McDonald's All-American status, was all over the glass. He had 9 rebounds and between himself and junior Nick Johnson, Findlay received tremendous support on the window from their guards. Johnson scored 16.
The frontcourt was laced with talent as Tristan Thompson and Michael Gilchrist each battled through adversity. Thompson had fouls to deal with. The most impressive aspect of his game were a series of tough, traffic rebounds.
Gilchrist, who injured his knee two weeks ago, was bitten by the injury bug again. Gilchrist knows how to play one way: all out. Because of his intensity and approach, he's consistently been banged up. The nation's top-ranked junior scored 19 points.
Kendall Marshall vs. Myck Kabongo: Basically, Kabongo had one of his best games as a Gray Bee in terms of commanding his team and passing the ball. Plus, he guarded Marshall a significant portion of the game. Kabongo's the package: passer, scorer, speed demon. Tighten up the jump shot and lookout. Marshall's game is distributing and that's not happening on this team. It's a simplistic view but true: he has no finishers (see the bobbled dimes and blown bunnies). Kabongo had 20 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds; Marshall went 14 points, 1 assist, 7 turnovers.
Gilvydas Biruta, PF, St. Benedict's: You're supposed to consistently get better and that's what he's done. If Kabongo is going to set you up, it's your job to finish and Biruta did that with dunks. There's room to become more of a presence on the boards but let's be honest, the kid is improving and he's got more of a ceiling than we originally thought. 16 points, 7 rebounds and an international resume of success is enough to admit we screwed up original assessment.
Kareem Jamar, SF, Westchester: You probably won't hear his name again until Montana makes the NCAA Tournament. This guy affects games. He gets tough boards, runs the floor and hawks the ball. He's the Comets tough guy and had 17.
Reggie Murphy, C, Westchester: He's not playing with confidence. "It started when they began throwing me the ball and its never going away." Folks, that's what happens to a late blooming big man. Today he ran hard, finished off plays and had 9 and 5. Good enough to sit squarely on the mid-to-high spring fence.
We were unable to stay for the Mater Dei-DeMatha game. Tyler Lamb scored 23 points to lead the Monarchs to the win. …
As a point guard, it's got to be hard setting guys up with scoring chances and see balls clank or passes fumbled. Marshall was responsible for some of the turnovers, though not all of them. One guy had an open layup and kicked it out. There were many blown assist opportunities. … If this wasn't Kabongo's best game as a Gray Bee it was one of them. … … Big (and we mean thick) Derrick Williams scored 21 for St. Anthony. …
Jordan Burgess was the only other O'Connell player who even remotely put forth a winning effort. He had 20 and 8. … Still waiting for Devon Collier to develop the ability to carry the load and be the frontman for a team. He's a prospect but will need to get comfortable in a leading role. … There is not a better leaper in high school basketball than Dwayne Polee. Whatever an Olympic high long/high jumper looks like, he fits the mold. He impacted the game today with a block here, dunk there. …
Prior to missing the game-tying free throw, Irving had made seven in a row. Joseph missed two of his last three free throws. In a game of this magnitude, everything is amplified. In comparing the two players, Irving is the dominant driver of the two; Joseph more proficient (and deadly) with his mid-range game. …
Head Coaches: Jay Wright, Villanova.