Tag Archives: Bonzie Colson

The West: What to Look For in Day Two

The Round of 64 provided quite some excitement in the west region, let’s recap

Number 1 seed Gonzaga let the SDST Jackrabbits stay close before pulling away. The Zags looked just as good as they have all season, solid defense and a balanced attack. The win advances the Zags to the round of thirty-two where they will see Northwestern.

The Wildcats playing in their first ever NCAA tournament beat Bryce Drew’s Vandy team after a mistake foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis with Vandy up one with fourteen seconds left gave Northwestern two four shots and their first NCAA win.

If you are playing in a second chance bracket or a round by round bracket pool take Gonzaga as a lock. Northwestern snuck into the tournament with some upset wins and will be no match for the balanced Bulldog offense.

My Pick Gonzaga

Notre Dame defeated Princeton in the 5-12 match up in Buffalo. It was one of the better games of the day as it came down to a missed Princeton three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in the game. The Irish will march on to face West Vergina.

Huggy Bear and his team had all they could handle with a resilient Bucknell team that kept it close until the very end. Prevailing 86-80 over the Bison

The Notre Dame -West Virginia game could be the best of the day Saturday and it’s an early 12.10 tip-off from Buffalo.   The former Big East rivals come in each 3-2 over their last five games. Notre Dame is the only team to reach the Elite Eight the last two NCAA tournaments and I expect them to get to the second weekend. Look for them to feed swingman Bonzie Colson. The only way I see the Mountaineers winning this one is if they play better defense than they did vs Bucknell and control how many touches Colson gets.

My Pick Notre Dame

I did not think Xavier could do it, knock out a Melo Trimble Maryland team; at least not the shell of what Xavier is without Edmond Summer. Xavier proved they can take on anyone. Maryland was kept to 40% shooting from the floor and a cold 25.9% from behind the arch. Xavier was powered by their ability to hit shots at right times and the thirty point they had coming off the bench.

Florida State were winners over FGCU in one of the fastest paced basketball games I have ever watched. FSU struggled in stretches to keep up with FGCU but held on for the win. FSU is one of the tallest teams in college basketball and they like to score inside they have to stick to that it has worked all season if they want to compete with Xavier.

For me, though the is something about this Xavier team that I really like they have a spark and that’s why I have to pick them to make it to the sweet 16.

My Pick Xavier

St.Mary’s took out VCU in a battle of Mid-Major Darlings, St.Mary’s was put in the same region as conference rival Gonzaga kind of odd for the committee to do with teams from a non-major confrence. That being said I highly doubt they meet up. St.Mary’s gets to deal with an Arizona team fresh off a 100-82 win over North Dakota. Arizona looks like a team that could win the whole thing. Sean Miller has a team that is built for a deep run. The Pac-12 Regular season and Tournament champions will look to overpower the Gales who to their credit have had a great season. I don’t think the wildcats will have much of a problem with St.Mary’s. Arizona will inch closer to their first final four trip since 2001.

My pick Arizona

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @karic_jones.

Recent losses reveal Notre Dame’s weaknesses

Breaking News report, the Notre Dame basketball team is mortal. A hard-fought loss on the road to Florida State was a minor setback, but the Irish were severely exposed on their home court against a very talented Virginia squad. The Irish now sit at 17-4, 6-2 in the ACC.

These losses, as well as the wins surrounding them, showcased the weaknesses that may plague the Irish during a tough upcoming stretch.

The Irish are small–dangerously small. In three road games in January, the Irish were blocked an average of 9 times per game. Junior Martinas Geben brings some height at 6-10, but he’s averaging 4.1 PPG and 4.5 RPG; he’s not exactly a key player. Bonzie Colson is the main man in the post, but at 6-5, he’s vulnerable against taller opponents, which is to say essentially every forward in the ACC and some guards.

V.J. Beachum is 6-8, but he spends most, if not all of his time at the free throw line and above, where he is either a lethal jump shooter or a non-threat. Flip a coin on that one. Steve Vasturia is 6-6, and Matt Farrell is 6-1. The Irish’s lack of size has been masked by their ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, but they’ve been figured out as of late.

The lack of size has hurt the Irish dearly on the glass as well. Against Virginia, Notre Dame was outrebounded 38-22. Against Florida State, the Irish were outrebounded 34-29. They had a combined 10 offensive rebounds in those two losses. If opponents continue to control the glass, that’s going to force Notre Dame to shoot the ball extremely accurately.

Fortunately for the Irish, that seems to be a strength. But if the Irish don’t get it done inside, they’ll just have to beat teams from the perimeter. Heading into the showdown with Virginia, the Irish were shooting a league-best 40.8% from behind the arc. Virginia shut that down with a tight defense that allowed the Irish little to no room to shoot the ball. In fact, after the abysmal 3-17 performance from 3-point land last Tuesday, Virginia overtook Notre Dame as the best 3-point shooting team.

The Irish looked completely lost when cold from outside. Colson’s 20 points kept it close for as long as possible, but a combined 11 points from Farrell, Geben, and Beachum was far short of what the Irish needed, considering those three average a combined 32.2 ppg.

Despite two recent losses, Notre Dame sits second in the ACC with a showdown with leaders UNC on February 4. All is not lost for surprise ACC title contenders Notre Dame, but the road will be tougher than it has been if these weaknesses aren’t protected.

E-mail John Horlander at [email protected] or follow John on Twitter @John_Horlander.

Image via Flickr -Thomson20192

Mike Brey and Irish Basketball: A Winning Combination

In the nascent stages of ACC conference play, the Irish seem to be firing on all cylinders once again. A strong 9-0 start was derailed after the Irish blew double-digit leads against No. 1 Villanova and  No. 15 Purdue, but Notre Dame got back on track with a big road win in overtime against Pittsburgh, and a hard-fought win at home against No. 9 Louisville. This Notre Dame team remains on the periphery of the College Basketball elite, but it is never to be taken lightly.

The reason for that: Mike Brey. In his 17 seasons at the helm in South Bend, the Irish have locked down the fundamentals of the game and truly become feared opponents. Each year Brey and the Irish are among the best in the NCAA in offensive efficiency, free throw percentage, and assist-turnover ratio. This year the Irish are third, first, and first, respectively, in those categories. Brey has emphasized time and time again that his philosophy uses veteran leadership and solid, fundamentally-sound basketball to win games, and that he does.

After back to back Elite Eight appearances, the expectations were high but fans and critics alike anticipated a drop in performance following the departures of essential playmakers Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson. But then again, they expected a drop in performance after Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant left after the 2014-2015 season. A third straight Elite Eight is not at all unrealistic for this Irish team. Matt Farrell has proven that he can take care of the ball and lead the Irish offense, while sharpshooters V.J. Beachum and Steve Vasturia provide a lethal threat from behind the arc and driving to the basket. Bonzie Colson and Martinas Geben are the brute force rebounders and post players. Year after year, Mike Brey seems to be able to resist the inevitable personnel turnover and maintain a high level of success.

Those are just the tangible, statistical aspects of this Irish team. On paper, they’re efficient, lethal, and fundamentally-sound. But it’s the intangible that really stands out. On the sidelines, Brey is fired up like any other head coach. But Brey exerts a positivity almost unheard of among the likes of college basketball’s elite coaches. In a world of Jay Wright, John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, and Roy Williams, it seems like the level-headed positivity of Mike Brey wouldn’t find its place at the top. Yet it does, and it permeates the team. No matter what five players are on the floor, they all seem to radiate the hope and positivity that Brey embodies. No matter the opponent, no matter how big the task, The Irish always seem to be within striking distance. Since the 2014-2015 season, the Irish have notched wins against top 15 North Carolina and Top 10 Duke on the road, as well as at home against No. 4 Duke and No. 1 North Carolina. The Irish are 4-1 against Louisville in the last five years. When the big games arrive, Notre Dame is there to withstand the challenge and emerge victorious.

There is just an aura of hope and confidence that surrounds Brey and his troops that can’t help but lead to success. I was tentative to make a prediction earlier in the season, but I am confident now. This Notre Dame can certainly make a third straight Sweet Sixteen, but I think they could make a third straight Elite Eight and possibly earn their first birth in the Final Four since 1978.

Mike Brey and Notre Dame Basketball are on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time.

Contact writer John Horlander via email: [email protected], or on Twitter: @John_Horlander

Image – Google Images

Who Will Further the Irish’s Success in 2016-2017?

ACC media day this week means one thing for me: hope is reborn. Notre Dame football has been like a car crash I can’t take my eyes off of, and finally, I can shift my focus to basketball. After two consecutive Elite Eight appearances, the Irish are primed to make another run at the ACC title and advance deep into March. Head coach Mike Brey has done wonders to turn Notre Dame into a serious threat in the conference, and he’s sent three players to the NBA in the last year.

Two years ago, a team predicted to finish in maybe the top five of the ACC defied the odds and won the conference tournament. The 2014-2015 Irish didn’t stop there. As a No. 3 seed, the Irish knocked off Northeastern, Butler, and Wichita State on their way to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1979. That team, led by standout guard Jerian Grant, was one shot away from upsetting Kentucky and making the Final Four.

The next year, everyone expected a slight dip in performance, considering Grant and Pat Connaughton had left for the NBA. However, Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste stepped up and filled their shoes. Jackson provided the guard play that many feared would be lost with Grant’s departure, and Bonzie Colson stepped up to dominate the paint. The Irish advanced to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year, eventually falling short to North Carolina, 88-74. Jackson and Auguste will not be back this year for the Irish.

Considering the Irish have lost the bulk of the talent that brought them success, what can we expect from them, and who will step up and make plays when it counts? The absence of Jackson and Auguste is huge, but nobody should be surprised if the Irish don’t struggle to replace them. Bonzie Colson averaged 11.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg despite averaging just 25 minutes per game. Colson has proven that he can play as a big man, grabbing rebounds and banging bodies with the best of them. Austin Torres and Matt Ryan can provide help off the bench as well.

V.J. Beachem will have to be the guy who controls the ball and dictates the tempo. Beachem really came into his own last season, especially in the tournament. He will be seeing a lot more of the floor this season, and Brey will expect him to pick up the scoring after he averaged 12 points and four rebounds per game last year. Expect him to play a much bigger role this time around.

Also expect to see a lot of Rex Pflueger and Matt Farrell, both of whom played major roles in the postseason last year. Pflueger and Farrell can both handle the ball very well and are more than capable of running the offense and creating points.

Despite the exits of several key players over the past two years, Brey and the Irish hope to continue manufacturing success through the strength of their bench. Facing a tough ACC slate, the next generation of Notre Dame basketball must rise to the occasion if they will once again challenge for the conference title and play well into March.

Contact writer John Horlander via email: [email protected] or on Twitter @John_Horlander

Image via Flickr -Thomson20192

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