Thursday, April 23, 2009

Signs of the 2009 Off Season #1 -- Mascot Votes

Known for 70 years simply as the Redmen, St. John's University decided in 1994 that image, based on a stolen cigar store Indian, was politically insensitive. The University fixed on the more abstract Red Storm, which combined "...the school's traditional color with a sense of a group movement." (don't ask me, I cut and pasted that directly from the school site). The Johnnies, apparently reacting to these uncertain times, have decided to discard the ethereal in favor of a new, more tangible mascot, someone (or something) their fans can see; a mascot their fans can walk up to and press the flesh (or bolt) with I guess. And they want the fans to help them choose (the days when this is left to ad hoc, self-appointed groups of motivated undergrads acting in the dead of night are long gone...). So click on the link to their Athletic Department website, look over their six choices and cast your vote!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Performance vs Expectations -- Post Season

All Things Considered...
I was talking to a friend over the weekend -- we had last talked just after the 1st round of the NCAAs last month. "The 'Cats make the Final Four and not a word from you?" I teased. "Well..." he replied, "It was pretty clear that any of three or four Big East teams could make the Final Four. So it was not that much of a surprise...". I forgive him for the tepid congratulations. He cheers on the Pirates, and the past few years have not (despite the new digs) been very kind. Maybe next season. The Wildcats did a very passable version of the Energizing Bunny through much of March and into the first week of April. Very satisfying (aside from the margins posted in their 2 losses during the post season run). How did the 'Cats perform in their seven post season games (I grouped both their Big East Tournament and NCAA games together for this review) versus Pomeroy's projections? The chart below illustrates...

Note wins are marked with blue circles, losses in red. The difference between performance (the margin of victory/defeat) and expectation (Pomeroy's projection) is given relative to the X axis. Performance matched expectation would be marked with a circle on the thick black line (I wanted it to stand out...). Performances that did not match expectations (negative differential) are below the X axis; those that exceeded are above. Relative performance is noted by the distance above or below the X axis, each data point coupled with its margin & labeled with the opponent.

If You Thought the Duke Game Was the High Point...
You have an ally in Ken Pomeroy. The winning margin, 23, is pretty impressive considered by itself, but according to Pomeroy's calculations Villanova was supposed to lose by 3 points. The UCLA game is a close second. Also projected to lose, this time by 1 (Pomeroy gave the Wildcats a semi-home court bump, after all the game was played in the Wachovia Center). I was most impressed with the Pittsburgh win. The Panthers have the type of team that Villanova most struggled with during the season -- a dominant center, competitive front court, combined with a good point guard. The game was essentially undecided with <5 seconds on the clock. Those who described it as an instant classic are correct.

Ironically many in the Nova Nation were disappointed with the Marquette and American University games. Yet both were closest to Pomeroy's projection. I never had the sense the outcome of the American can was in doubt, but the Wildcats were not able to pull away in the same way they did with UCLA and Duke. Among Big East Tournament games, I believe the win over the Golden Eagles, coming as it did at (literally) the last second, was the second only to the Connecticut -- Syracuse game. It foreshadowed the East Regional Final game.

Pomeroy's Model vs Performance
Pomeroy's record for accurately predicting Villanova's wins & losses was a disappointing 4-3, thankfully. Pomeroy did predict both of the Wildcat's losses & the wins over Marquette and American University. He missed on Pittsburgh, the UCLA and the Duke games. While Pomeroy does employ an "aging" technique to reduce the influence of early season results, I suspect it is not refined enough to give proper weight to late season surges. When I telescoped each team's raw offensive and defensive ratings for just the post season however, I did get projections that suggested outcomes more favorable to Villanova than Pomeroy's adjusted ratings. Pomeroy's projections did predict 4 of the games to within +/- 5 points.

Friday, April 17, 2009

North Carolina Post Game -- Sleeping in the Streets

The Carolina March...
Historically, the Villanova staff has, with 4 days to prepare, come up with some innovative wrinkles to Wildcat game plans. Back in the waning days of 2005 the Four Guard Offense was born in the desperate days between Villanova's win over Florida (at the cost of Curtis Sumpter's ACL) and their Sweet Sixteen date with these same North Carolina Tar Heels. The Wildcats of 2009 were faster and better able to develop plays out of transition. Running with the Heels however, seemed to play right into the Tar Heels strengths. "Shoot 'em up & sleep in the streets" was the creed this team lived by this season. In going with that approach the staff showed tremendous confidence in the team. But on Saturday night, the Wildcats slept in the streets. The breakdown...

OpponentNorth Carolina
 Offense Defense

CBS does not provide a break down by halves; the play-by-play appears to have been provided by a firm more comfortable with the NBA (Dead ball foul on Cunningham?). And the narrative does not match the box score. A regrettable lapse with especialy bad timing. My informal tally taken on game night suggested the 1st half was an offensive shootout (as promised by the Nova staff), while the 2nd half saw significant defensive adjustments. Unfortunately that shot defense worked for both teams. I have not checked the other games (except Michigan-UNC), but 107.3 is the best defense any of Carolina's opponents were able to muster during the Heels' six game run through the NCAA field.

Observations & Notes...
1. Villanova's success through the tournament had been tied to good offensive performances from 2 of Corey Fisher, Dante Cuningham and Scottie Reynolds, with efficient contributions (and occasional domination) from two or more in the second wave (Anderson, Clark, Redding and Stokes). Credit the Tar Heels with their abilty to shut down all three in the first wave (Reynolds had the most efficient night with a PPWS of 0.88), while rendering Stokes and Anderson largely ineffective. The most efficient shooters wearing Blue and White were Clark and Redding, neither of whom were especially prolific scorers.
2. The Wildcats shot a disappointing 40.4% from inside the arc, though it compared favorably to UNC's 35.0% from the same distance. The Tar Heels however shot a fatal 50.0% from beyond the arc (versus Villanova's 18.5%), comparable to converting 2FGAs at a 75% clip. Fatal, absolutely fatal.
3. The 'Cats did a credible job on the boards, their offensive rebounding rate (38.3%) about where it was during the season. They were able to limit 2nd chance points for the Heels as well, but neither was particularly effective as Villanova was down by double digit numbers through much of the night.

Ref Notes
Pat Driscoll, Karl Hess and Scott Thornley ran the crew Saturday night. Driscoll and Hess have supervised (nine) other Villanova games this season, the 'Cats going 7-2 in those tilts. The Wildcats have seen Scott Thornley before -- in the 2007 NCAAs when Villanova lost to Kentucky. The game was a bit high in the number of free throws allocated to the Tar Heels, consistent perhaps with the number UNC typically gets. Free throws for the Wildcats was down...significantly (for them). Though Carolina does not tend to foul. for Villanova, used to seeing 25% or more of their points come from the line, 17.4% was just not enough.

Next Up
The end of the season banquet, April 22 at the Pavilion. The official good bye to the Class of 2009 will be very, very special.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NCAA Women's Finals

By Ray Floriani

LYNDHURST, NJ -- At the outset of the final game telecast, the analysts referred to the 1985 NCAA men’s championship where Villanova upset heavily favored Georgetown. That was the recurring theme. What you had to do in order to defeat a highly regarded opponent who defeated you twice in regular season.

As the game, won decisively 76-54 by UConn, wore on however, the thoughts turned away from that ’85 classic and towards the UCLA teams of the early Seventies. And how teams could come out strong, as Louisville did leading 9-6 at the 16:00 time out, only to have the opposition cash in on mistakes, go on a run and suddenly have a double digit lead. To defeat UCLA in their "hey day" with John Wooden on the sidelines you needed to be A. good and B. play a near perfect game. Louisville is good -- excellent in fact -- but they played a less than perfect game. Credit UConn with that. Their defense and offensive options such as Renee Montgomery at the point, Tina Charles (a double double by halftime) down low and Maya Moore allover, can do that to you. Geno Auriemma’s club finished 39-0 with not one opponent coming within double digits of them. The Wizard of Westwood is undoubtedly a UConn admirer. And not just for the record but the way they play the game like true champions. The numbers:


A slower pace, that was Louisville’s objective early on, to eat the clock and shorten the game. Once UConn had a double digit lead, especially during the second half, the Cardinals were forced to quicken the tempo. Louisville took good care of the ball but UConn’s defense made its mark as the Cardinals struggled to make shots. During one nine minute stretch from late first to early second half, the Cardinals did not hit a field goal. Angel McCoughty led Louisville with 23 points but struggled from the field shooting 9 of 24.

UCONN had a better than average TO rate (TO%) considering they faced a good amount of traps and pressure. Geno Auriemma’s club made Louisville pay by breaking the pressure and attacking the basket. Charles with an outstanding 25 point 19 rebound effort to earn Final Four MVP.

Louisville finished 34-5. The Cardinals were runnerup in the Big East Conference and defeated Maryland and Oklahoma to ensure an all Big East Final. An outstanding season in their own right for coach Jeff Walz and Co.

Odds and Ends

On PASE with...
Dan Hanner over at Yet Another Basketball Blog has put factored all but the results of the championship game for a look at how the conferences did by PASE. Link over to take a look at his results. Winning the National Championship should mitigate the Atlantic Coast Conference's overall poor showing in this year's tournament. Make a mental note when putting together your brackets next season to take Clemson's (and Wake Forest's...) seed with a grain of salt. While both disappointed this post season, this is, for Clemson, the second post season running, that the Tigers have been sent home in the first round by a lower seed. Oliver Purnell has made great strides with the basketball program, but he has yet, in five tries (3 times as the higher seed), to get out of the first round. Maryland sprung a first round upset (unusual for the ACC lately), but fell (hard) in the next round, reducing the conference's representation from 7 down to 2 by the Sweet Sixteen. The 2009 tournament results can only reinforce the impression that since the raid on the Big East, men's basketball, once the signature sport of the conference, has become North Carolina, Duke and ten other guys.

For the Southeast Conference, the heady days of April 2007, when then conference flavor of the month Florida won back-to-back championships, are long, long gone. This post season, the conference received a very unpower conference-like 3 bids, two of those invitees would wear the visitor's colors for the first round. The conference could not however, meet even those minimal PASE expectations. Having to gather only 1.5 wins, the SEC's three representatives fell .5 wins short. #8 seed conference regular season champion LSU managed a first round win, but did not survive a 2nd round match with eventual champion North Carolina. Those Tigers lost by a 14 point margin, and made the conference invisible after the first weekend. Since Billy Donovan's famous second ring and job waffle, seven of the conference's twelve programs have changed coaches. The SEC's flagship program, Kentucky has undertaken two coaching searches. The tsunami that has swept through this conference took even convention in it's wake, practically making mid-season coaching changes for reasons not related to health or scandal the norm, rather than the exception. The conference-wide staffing shake-up has triggered a "rebuilding boom" (the only one in the country right now...) and disrupted recruiting. How many seasons before this conference "finds its rhythm"?

The Big 12 and Big Ten had fairly modest expectations, even though they had a relatively large number of bids. Both managed to exceed their PASE expectations. For the Big Ten (like the Big East...) any happiness has to be tempered by the beatings administered by North Carolina to those conferences' last representatives. I guess it balances out in the end.

Early Lines on Next Season?...Already?!
Even as the Tar Heels were cutting down the nets in Ford Field Dick Vitale, Luke Winn, Pete Thamel and others were projecting the top 10 for next season. Just after Rush the Court assembled a composite of the early rankings Jeff Goodman over at FoxSports decided to join the parade with his own "Ridiculously early 2009-10 preseason Top 25". I want to see who stays in the draft, who had a good academic semester and who actually gets to campus before undertaking my own modest attempt to forecast the Big East next season. I take this as a complement of sorts to the season. The fans can't get enough.

On Second Thought...
Coach Wright sat for an interview with SI's Dan Patrick last week. Early on Patrick offered the Coach a strategic mulligan (if you could replay the game what would you do differently?) and Coach Wright mentioned the staff mulled (and ultimately rejected...) the idea of slowing the game down and using the shot clock to disrupt the Tar Heel offense. Coach Wright characterized his offensive philosophy as "Shoot 'em up and sleep in the streets", a phrase he has used several times to describe how he encourages Nova players to take the open shot when it is available. A comparative look at Nova & UNC's offensive and defensive efficiencies at higher and lower paces gives me pause to think. Villanova's raw pace for the season was 69.5 while UNC's was 75.8. The Tar Heels did play 6 games at a pace of 69 or lower, while Nova played 20 games in the same range...

When pace < 69Poss.Off.Def.Margin
North Carolina66.

The interesting number is UNC's defensive efficiency. At their "normal" pace the 'Heels defensive efficiency is 0.95 (raw), but slow it down and their efficiency jumped to 1.05. The Wildcat's defensive efficiency did not suffer much with the decline in possessions. With 20 games at a pace of 69 or less, there is little doubt the 'Cats would not have been taken out of their comfort zone. The game played out for 77 possessions, with North Carolina clamping down on Villanova defensively to the tune of 0.89 -- absolutely on the number for those games they played above their raw pace (75.8). In deciding to run with the 'Heels Coach Wright showed a lot of confidence in his players. One of the very refreshing differences in Coach Wright is his candor -- he admitted to Patrick that it may not have been the best approach to taking on the 'Heels.

About the Postgame Post...
The NCAA/CBS did not provide a box score by halves. And their play-by-play did not match their box. Hmmm. I have waited for Villanova to post a box score (they had not as of Wednesday), so I am torn between going with a 4 factors look at the game as a whole (like the Texas game) or attempt to break it out by the play-by-play a 2nd time. In either case I won't do anything for another week. Be patient.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Women's NCAA Semi-Final

by Ray Floriani

LYNDHURST, NJ -- The local papers headlined and wrote about the ‘beast’ bowing out with the losses by UConn and Villanova on Saturday in Detroit. On the women’s side the Big East is doing quite well. UConn, to little surprise, rolled over Stanford. The surprise was Louisville which continues its fantastic run. The Cardinals came from behind to upset Oklahoma 61-59 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Sunday. The numbers:


How Louisville did it:  Regroup the second half. The Cardinals played awful the first half and trailed by 14 at intermission. Their star Angel McCoughty, one of the nation’s elite players, had four points and was 0-7 from the floor. The second half they regrouped and were a different team. McCoughty led the way finishing with 18 points, 11 boards and 5 steals. Oklahoma size and inside strength gave them a 42-34 rebounding edge. That advantage could not offset the turnover margin. Louisville cared for the ball while the Sooners had a number of costly errors.


UConn led by 13 at the break and cruised the second half to an 83-64 decision. And this was an excellent Stanford team which hadn’t lost a game since mid January. With UConn it’s simply pick your poison. The Huskies had four in double figures and the fifth, Tina Charles, had 12 rebounds to compliment her 8 points in the low post. UCONN enters Tuesday the definitive favorite. At any rate the Big East is the real winner. The conference will have an NCAA champion and South Florida recently captured the WNIT.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

North Carolina Pregame -- Grasping at Straws?

I will try to post a few numbers before game time. For most of the week I have been looking around for some positive press about Villanova. And there are quite a few feel good stories about the squad, the staff and the school. I could probably put together a separate post for each team member, chock full of links to stories. But not many analysis that suggest the Wildcats have more than a very remote possibility of beating the Tar Heels.

But there are one or two. For the Villanova fans out there who have had problems finding them...

Steve Ginsburg writing for Reuters posted a "looking back at 1985" piece that featured how the traditions set by the earlier teams have bolstered the confidence of the current team. There are 4 generations of Villanova players taking the back of the guys on the court.

ESPN conducted a round table with four of their principal college basketball writers (Pat Forde, Andy Katz, Dana O'Neil and Mark Schlabach). The four engaged in a conversational breakdown of the Final Four teams, bounded by a series of eight questions. Only Dana O'Neil (DPO to her fans) picked the 'Cats to win their game with North Carolina. A writer for the Philadelphia Daily News for a number of years, during which she worked as the Villanova beat writer (basketball), DPO has been far from a homer for the 'Cats since moving over to ESPN. Her nod to Coach Wright and the team was something of a surprise. Mark Schlabach tabbed Scottie as "one player most important to his team's success", but DPO tabbed Ty Lawson. Nova's game plan may well involve taking Lawson out of his game.

Pete Thamel over at the NYT did a 100 word breakdown on the semi-final match ups that gives a nod to each team. He mentioned the physical play, but also the speed of the Villanova squad as factors that may neutralize the Tar Heels' size and perimeter shooting.

Todd Rosiak long time Marquette Golden Eagle beat writer for the Journal Sentinel wrote a complementary break down of the surviving Big East teams. The piece featured comments from Jerel McNeal, Marquette's outstanding combo guard.

"Most definitely," McNeal said. "I don't think a lot of people gave them a chance against Pitt. It's a situation where Villanova's a scrappy team. They're going to play as hard as anybody that's left in the tournament, and they have the talent, athleticism and guard play to do it. Cunningham is a lot better than people think...

"All those guys are playing at a high level and playing as hard as they do, and playing together, they have a chance to beat anybody."

I will take that.

AccuScore, a simulation service hosted over at ESPN this season does predict a North Carolina win (going out on a limb...), but Stephen Oh did write a short essay on the characteristics of a Villanova win. According to Oh, Villanova will have to defend the 3 while shooting at least 38% from beyond the arc. They will also have to out rebound the Heels. The Wildcats, according to Oh, will have to keep turnovers down, below their season average, but do not need to have fewer than North Carolina. While article is subscription only (linked here), the Fact on Villanova Sports blog has reproduced a number of the tables. Interesting material, even if Fact's headline ("AccuScore Likes 'Nova's Chances") is not exactly accurate.

Over at the Basketball Prospectus stats maven John Gasaway takes his own "numbers first" look at the semi-final match-ups. The backcourt's ability to penetrate the lane may pose a bigger problem for the Tar Heels than some imagine -- it did early in the Tar Heels' ACC schedule -- have the Heels learned to defense it better? In the end however, Gasaway believes height -- or lack of it vis a vis the Tar Heels -- will spell the difference.

Also over at the Basketball Prospectus, Ken Pomeroy posted for only the 2nd time this season. His latest essay, "Transition Game", looks at the effect of pace (numbers of possessions) on North Carolina's game (or more specifically, their chances of winning). While Pomeroy does not think a lower paced game will diminish UNC's chances of beating Villanova, I noted in my look at those numbers that the Tar Heels' offensive and defensive efficiencies suffered (albeit not by large numbers) when possessions are limited.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: The NIT Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY -- Penn State earned their first NIT championship with a 69-63 victory over Baylor. Before the game decided to do a tempo free look at the two teams performances in the four NIT games leading to the championship.

Penn State641.161.0014

Offensive efficiency was the key to both. Defense? Not great by any stretch. Baylor’s perimeter skills and their extended zone which can disrupt passing lanes no doubt accounted for the opponent’s 19% To rate.

At the half Baylor had a 29-25 lead. Baylor’s first half eFG percentage was 52 to Penn State’s 41. The thing that helped the Lions only go into the break with a 4 point (29-25) deficit was rebounding and getting to loose balls. Penn State’s OREB pct was 39% in comparison to 14% for the Bears.

At the half

Penn State260.9612

The first few minutes of the second half saw the Lions come out strong. With 16 minutes to go it was 32 all. The game stayed even until midway through the final half. Penn State’s Danny Morrissey then buried consecutive Treys and Jeff Brooks added another. Suddenly the lead was nine. Baylor made a few runs but could never get the deficit under two possessions.

After hitting those threes to get the lead, the Lions went right back into the paint and utilized their inside strength. In the final minutes it was a case of hitting from the charity stripe to seal the verdict. The final numbers:

Penn State621.11193652

Penn State shot better in the second half. The Lions attempted 28 free throws to Baylor’s six. Drew spoke but did not complain about the free throw disparity. Simply it was a case of perimeter vs. paint. Baylor attempted 52% of their shots beyond the arc (to Penn State’s 45). The more significant number was offensive rebounding percentage. Especially in the first half the Lions extended possessions with their board work. Baylor also was in the fouling mode, to stop the clock and get the ball back, the final minutes.

Cornley led the Lions with 18 points 7 boards and earned MVP honors. LaceDarius Dunn paced Baylor with 18. Talor Battle also earned all tournament and had a solid 12 point 7 assist night for the full 40 minutes. He defended Curtis Jerrells of Baylor well holding him to 14 points on 5 of 16 shooting.

"This team was as committed as any team I’ve ever had...We were disappointed a few weeks ago by not being invited to the other tournament but our kids put that behind us right away and our goal was to win this thing." -- Penn State coach Ed DeChellis

"At the time I had no idea how big that shot would be." -- Talor Battle whose last second trey forced overtime in the first round win over George Mason.

"I think it’s remarkable. Coming in and their first year winning four games...Then being able to walk away being the all-time winningest group of seniors to set foot on Baylor’s campus. They have really raised the bar for the program." -- Coach Scott Drew on his seniors.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

On PASE -- Conference Wins Through the Regional Finals

Checking back on conference PASE through the 1st four rounds. This is the same table assembled for an earlier post, but I have highlighted those conferences which were still "active" in rounds 3 & 4...

ConferencePASEto Dte%PASEIn
Sun Belt0.5012.000
Big 128.18111.340
Big Ten7.1381.121
Big East16.43171.032

Each conference's PASE is, as pointed out by Dan Hanner's PASE post, the sum of the anticipated wins by seed history. While the Big East, Big Ten and ACC have received 7 bids (see table above), their respective PASEs differ because their bids were for different seeds. I have sorted the data by Wins %PASE, derived by dividing the number of wins so far ("Wins to Dte") by the conference's PASE.

Dearly Departed, Survivors & Conferences
The Big 12's remaining contenders (Kansas & Oklahoma) exited over the past weekend, but the conference has to feel pretty good about this tournament. If the conference that produced last season's National Champion felt under appreciated with only 6 bids this post season, they surely felt justified when wins in the Sweet Sixteen helped them exceed their PASE by a fair margin. Michigan State will have to win the National Championship game if the Big Ten, mysteriously awarded 7 bids (one more than the Big 12), is to overtake the Big 12. would have to win the National Championship to distract attention away from the ACC's extremely disappointing showing this season. Even if North Carolina takes the next 2 games the ACC will still come up short, gaining only 9 of the anticpated 10.85 wins projected by their seeds awarded to their 7 bids. That comes out to a %PASE of 0.83, still below the relatively modest showing from the PAC-10 conference. Fans of the Big East conference will be disappointed if neither of the conference's surviving representatives (Connecticut and Villanova) make it to the Championship Game. The Beast of the East has, however, performed to expectations by winning 17 games to this point. From here on out the conference is playing with house money. For Conference USA, the past 2 weeks have become a nightmare. In the decade before the conference saw many of it's best basketball programs (Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and Marquette) depart for the Big East, taking South Florida with them, they routinely took 4 bids to the NCAAs. In a very good year they could expect up to 6 bids, putting the conference at the head of the mid-majors and in the same league as the Pac-10 and SEC, two power conferences. They received only a single bid this season, the lowest number in nearly 20 years, watched that team, Memphis, lose before "making their seed" and on Wednesday, watched the best coach in the conference leave for University of Kentucky. Memphis, indeed the whole of CUSA, has some thinking to do this off season.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NIT Semi-Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY -- The final two teams are set. Baylor defeated San Diego State 76-62 and Penn State held on for a 67-59 win over Notre Dame in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. This guarantees, actually the Final Four field guaranteed, the winner will capture their first NIT title. The final numbers:

San Diego St.680.915228

What Baylor did to get to Thursday -- Shoot the ball. They literally attacked on the perimeter with an uncanny 11 of 22 from beyond the arc. LaceDarius Dunn had 23 points including 6 of 9 from three. Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells paced all scorers with 25. Jerrells is a problem for defenses as he is a deft penetrator as well as a perimeter threat. Baylor defended , in three NIT games their defensive PPP was over 1.00, largely be forcing 19 turnovers.

A good deal of action took place beyond the arc in this one. Baylor took 44% of their field goal attempts from three. The breakdown.

3 Point
San Diego St.532343

Baylor shot 50 percent (11 of 22) from three compared to the Azrecs’ 9 of 23 (39%) which contributed a good deal to the outcome.

The nightcap featured a physical battle with a good dose of transition.

Penn State661.02469
Notre Dame660.894011

What Penn State did well -- Defend and hold on. The first half Notre Dame had a .58 PPP and eFG mark of 26%. The Irish missed shots but credit the tough Penn State defense. The second half ND found the range and Luke Harangody (17 points) came alive. Notre Dame also disrupted the Penn State offense with full court pressure and half court traps. The pressure didn’t show up in turnovers but it did force Penn State into rushed and/or ill advised shots.T he Irish had what was almost a twenty point deficit, down to a two possession game in the stretch. Penn State never lost the lead largely due to a big Jamelle Cornley (16 points) jumper with just under four to play.

Over 11,000 attended. Penn State had 18 busloads make the trip from Happy Valley and Joe PA, saluted with a standing ovation, was in attendance.