I have been searching for catharsis in all the wrong places. Last nights game was absolutely brutal to watch on all levels. There was very little to take away from it that was positive. The final margin might have been 8, but the differences between the two teams added up to 12 or 15 points for most of the night. This is not going to be a dog pile on Mick Cronin, he did plenty wrong in the course of the game, but when a team plays as flat and as disinterested as this team did last night there really isn't much blame on the coaches. Thats on the players. There is very little that a coaching staff can do to make a team better when most of the people on the team aren't really interested in getting better.
The fact that this team didn't come to play became apparent about six minutes in. I am sure that everyone saw something different to show that. But the play that signified that this was going to be a long, long night was the first three point bucket by Tim Abromaitis. It was a beautiful set run by Notre Dame, they moved the ball inside then out and around the perimeter finally getting to a wide, and I do mean WIDE open, Abromaitis camped out on the left wing. Notre Dame ran a great set and sprung their best guy for a good look at one of his spots. Things like that happen, defenses aren't fool proof and all of them have their weaknesses to exploit. But to see Dion Dixon jog over, not sprint but jog over to the spot and not even throw a hand up, that play told me everything I needed to know. UC hadn't come to play and were going to lose, badly. There were countless other plays in the first half that demonstrated the fact, Tyrone Nash outrunning the entire team for an easy layup, giving Carleton Scott enough time behind a double screen to fumble with the ball, reset his feet and shoot comfortably without a challenge, Ibrahima Thomas launching yet another three that missed badly on the opening possession. Things got better in the second half, but you can't win many games, let along road games, by playing one solid half of Basketball.
As a coach if your team doesn't have the appropriate energy level there isn't much that you can do from an X's and O's standpoint to compensate. That being said and acknowledged Mick Cronin's did a terrible job last night. He was slow to make the proper changes in terms of personnel, like getting Sean Kilpatrick on the floor as soon as he saw that his first unit just didn't have it or letting Ibriahima Thomas play for 20 minutes in which he missed every shot he took and was generally invisible, a tremendous feat for a guy who is damn near 7 feet tall. But by far the dumbest thing in the course of the game was Notre Dames answer to the press. Nash would throw the ball in, step onto the court and get the ball right back, he would then proceed to walk the ball up the court and throw the ball back to Ben Hansbrough where Notre Dame would go into their motion offense. Notre Dame did this on every single possession in the second half. Not once did UC try to trap Nash, not once did anyone even attempt to guard him as he strolled up the floor with the ball. Nash handles the ball well for a post player, but he is a post player none the less. If he is going to bring the ball up the court at the very least contest him. UC didn't and the press was pointless until Cronin started putting Justin Jackson on the ball. I am just so fucking tired of watching shit like this transpire. UC is in the middle of a brutal stretch. Cronin needs to do better and be better, but the blame for this loss is on the players far more than the coach.