Friars Torched at Notre Dame

When Jonathan Peoples is putting up a career high of 23 points on your team, it's a pretty good sign that something is wrong with your defense. Peoples wasn't the only Notre Dame player to score easily Wednesday night, as Providence was beaten handily by the Irish in South Bend 93-78.

The Friars have known for some time that their defense is not getting the job done, and the hope was that after a return from Christmas break, Providence might start off the Big East season playing better defensively. Notre Dame dashed that hope very quickly Wednesday night, as they opened up a 12-4 lead early and never let up.

The first half was just a defensive nightmare for Keno Davis. His team was mostly in various zone looks in the first half, and it was a disaster in terms of stopping the Notre Dame offense, bombed away with open looks as they stretched the Providence zone..

Providence was down an ugly 21 points at halftime, mostly due to the three point barrage by Jonathan Peoples, who was 5 for 5 from the 3 point line. This is a player who averages only 6.5 point per game this season and he led Notre Dame with 23 points. Tim Abromaitis was just as good, also connecting on 5 three pointers for 22 points.

Providence consistently could not get out to the corners to contest three point shots. Luke Harangody, the All American center, had a sub par offensive game, but he still managed 19 points on 21 field goal attempts.

The Friars simply aren't able to play an effective zone defense against a quality shooting team right now, and the first half at Notre Dame demonstrated that. In the second half, the Friars slowed their pace some, and played man to man defense exclusively.

It worked well for the first five minutes, as the Friars cut the Irish lead in half and eventually got the deficit down to 9 points with 4 minutes to go on a Duke Mondy three point shot. However, even playing man defense, nine or ten would be the closest Providence would be able to get, as the Friars' second half defense only slowed Notre Dame's scoring; it never stopped it. Still, it appears playing man to man defense is the only thing resembling decent defense for the Friars so far this year.

Offensively, Providence outscored Notre Dame in the second half 46 to 40, which is more like what Keno Davis was hoping for throughout the basketball game. Greedy Peterson and Sharaud Curry led the way on the Friars attack, scoring 24 and 23 points respectively. Marshon Brooks chipped in 12 points, but struggled with his shot for most of the game going 0-5 from the 3 point line.

Duke Mondy had an effective game off the bench, scoring five points in 13 minutes. Bilal Dixon, while only scoring 8 points, showed some toughness and pulled down 8 rebounds while also managing to stay out of foul trouble. Ray Hall picked up two charging calls on Notre Dame in 11 minutes of play, and proved that he can be of help to the team going forward.

The Friars need to lick their wounds and redouble their efforts to try and gain a spit on their two game road trip. Up next is St. John's, who isn't as good a shooting team as Notre Dame, but plays tougher defense.

Besides the team needing Marshon Brooks and Brian McKenzie to improve their play, the month of January must be largely devoted to improving the defense. It is the only metric that if improved will truly make the Friars a considerably better team by the time the Big East tournament rolls around.

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