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His Just Reward
By Alan Tieuli
(IE) – The loss is painful, but will be
forgotten. The memory of Matt Carroll playing in Notre Dame blue and gold
will, thankfully, linger for many, many years.
The Irish senior had a spectacular final game at the sold-out
After rallying from a 21-point first-half deficit to tie the score at
86 and 88, Notre Dame trailed 90-88 and was setting up for a final shot. The script called for Carroll to come around a
screen, establish his balance, and hit one more signature, high-lofting three. What better way to snap a losing streak?
Alas, Carroll did not get a touch and sophomore point guard Chris Thomas missed a three from well beyond the
top of the key.
"I'll live with that look every night," said Notre
Dame coach Mike Brey, who admirably has
defended the shot selection of Thomas all season. Most
in attendance, though, probably would have preferred the senior to have the look. And it
was Carroll's three with just over two to play that forged the first tie.
"When that one went in," said Carroll, "I thought it
But fate on this night proved to be as cold as the
- The 21-8 Irish are now 9-6 in the Big East and have lost three straight conference games for the first time since 2000.
- This Irish team is
allowing an average of 76.26 points per game, dead last in the Big East. If
scores 40 points or more on Saturday it will be officially the worst defensive Notre Dame in its eight year Big East tenure. Georgetown
- Notre Dame allowed 90 points in consecutive Big East games for the first time ever.
hitting five-of-11 three-pointers, the Irish have now allowed Big East opposition to hit 40-percent of three-point attempts this year, 144-for-240. That's 288 points on 240 shots, translating to 60-percent on traditional two-point shots. Syracuse
Because of all this, Brey's team can finish no better than
fourth in the East Division, its lowest standing since the conference went back to two
divisions in 2001. It will open Big East
Tournament play at Madison Square Garden next Wednesday at 12 noon, likely against St. John's.
But this contest also represented progress. Unlike the 95-82 defeat at lowly
Ultimately, though, the 22-4 Orangemen – the hottest team in the
Big East and one of the five or six best in the country the month of February – had
too many weapons. Syracuse built its early
lead on the strength of three-point shooting by Gerry
McNamara (20 points), maintained control through due to the dribble penetration moves
Edelin (career-high 26 points), and ultimately won it on a put-back by the consensus
choice for Freshman of the Year Carmelo Anthony
(21 points). Add the high-flying flushes of Hakin Warrick (14 points, 13 rebounds) and this is
one team that is a pleasure to watch.
"I'm proud of our guys in fighting back," said Brey. "If we haven't learned our lesson after
three straight losses, I don't know what it is going to take."
Notre Dame, with a bruised ego and fatigued bodies, almost had enough
to pull it out at the end in front of a sold-out audience that alternated between being
supportive and a jury box. The hearts and
minds that were won in December have apparently started to waver as post-season
There's one shot left to end the regular season on a good note.
The Irish visit the