Apologies to the rest of the HLS team, you’re going to have to think of your own new title when we do the same thing in football on January 7th.
It’s crazy, because year after year the Notre Dame Men’s Basketball team pulls off some incredible wins, but it is fair to say that when the Irish beat the defending-champion Kentucky Wildcats last night, it was a big deal. Bayou Irish previewed the game yesterday, and in the preview, I laid out the stakes for the Irish:
Notre Dame NEEDS to win this game against Kentucky, but for an interesting reason: to sell the team to its own fans. If Notre Dame loses this game, the season outlook will still be absolutely fine. The Irish will still have BIG EAST play to gain national respect, right the ship, and obtain a decent NCAA tournament seed. However, they would have to do so with a general lack of support from the fans.
You see, the football team’s success is actually hurting the basketball program right now. Sure, many fans don’t even pay attention to college basketball until after football ends anyway, but this year it has gone to another level for Notre Dame — students and fans have barely acknowledged this team’s existence as everyone can only focus on the national title game. The turnouts at the basketball games have been poor (to put it nicely) and fans are sleeping on a team that has a chance to do some serious damage this season.
And don’t say that a loss to St. Joe’s has tempered expectations — it has been a characteristic of Notre Dame basketball teams to lose their first road game of the season — they’ve done that in 4 of the last 5 seasons, to teams such as Northwestern, Missouri, Kentucky, and now St. Joe’s. But Brey always finds a way to use these early-season losses as fantastic teaching points that springboard his teams to success.
Notre Dame has a chance to win back some attention vs Kentucky though. Not only is Kentucky a perennial power, this time around they are the defending champs, and the type of team that media “experts” typically expect to give Notre Dame fits. But Notre Dame is a veteran, disciplined team that knows how to win in Purcell Pavilion. The Irish are 40-1 in their last 41 home games and have never lost at home in November under head coach Mike Brey (45-0). The Irish need this win to grab some attention and the support of the fans that are currently ignoring a team that could be truly special.
After a dominating 64-50 win over the Wildcats, a lot of people may now realize I was onto something — this team can be special.
The crowd last night was fantastic. The Joyce Center was rocking well before tip-off and everyone was glad to rock the sweet “Black-Out” shirts provided by the Notre Dame Athletic Department. Oh, and we had quite a few surprise guests that wanted to yell at Coach “Scumbag” Calipari first-hand.
Pretty special that the football players all came out to support, and it really shows how tight-knit of a community Notre Dame is. And the respect that all Notre Dame athletes have for each other was pretty apparent:
As for the game itself, the Irish displayed exactly what we have seen from them over the past few years; it was obvious how much better of a team they were last night. They shared the ball and showed unbelievable patience to get the shots they wanted. They defended without fouling, other than a few ticky-tack calls. And most importantly, they made eight threes, which has historically made Notre Dame really tough to beat at home.
While this Notre Dame team will not have to worry about “resume wins” to get into the tournament, this is definitely one to hang your hat on. It showed that this Irish team is capable of beating anyone, and we all have to keep an eye on this group moving forward.
We find ourselves is a strange position, awash with unaccustomed emotions. No, this has nothing to do with being undefeated and Number 1. That is our proper position and we should feel simple contentment for, indeed, all is right with the world. I mean we are caught up in the unusual furor of conference-hatred. Not belonging to one of these mutual-mediocrity-assurance societies, we have no natural animosity toward any of them. Normally, we deride them all equally. (Do we hate the Big 10? No, we feel sorry for the Big…whatever it is now.) Yet, suddenly we are fixated on that beast called the SEC; that’s supposed to stand for Southeastern Conference, but they way these names defy logic, we’ll just leave it at an ambiguous triliteration.
As a collective, the SEC seems particularly arrogant and loathsome. Educationally, they do not teach such big words as those. In short, there’s not much to like and quite a bit to hate – especially since they will shortly pit two of their hulking, spittle-flecked football gangs against each other in order to determine which wounded creature will have the privilege of fighting the Irish. Quite sure of themselves, these Southern cult-vehicles believe that either of them will rumble over a hapless Notre Dame. Please note, 12 other teams have already labored under that same misapprehension this year.
A preliminary blow was struck in this new battle last evening, when the basketball lads soundly defeated a heavily-favored SEC squad on the hardwood. Much of the ferocity that the Leprechaun Legion ginned-up last night was born of the burgeoning abhorrence for the SEC writ large (though I do not think many in the SEC can write).
This is not appropriate. We are preparing for Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of hope and light in the world. We should not be summoning all the dark forces of hatred at this time of joy. And so I propose that we find a way to love our enemies. Since I know this is impossible with the Irish race, whose members will forget everything but their grudges, I instead propose something simpler and more concrete: Good Works.
Holy Mother Church has long provided a simple check-off list of Good Works that everyone should do. As with so many things Holy Mother Church teaches, these don’t exactly work well in the context of college. Hence I have taken the liberty of presenting a reinterpreted list of Good Works that all Irish students, alumni, and fans can undertake with a special emphasis on helping – not hating – the philistines folks of the SEC.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy, Collegiate Edition
Instruct the Ignorant: No, this is not a slight against SEC education (but really, your team’s score at the end of a game should not be higher than its graduation rate). This means that we should spread the good news about the Fighting Irish, talented college students who take time out from attending class and studying to defeat teams from Dublin to Los Angeles. These lads have worked hard and earned every victory; they have not preyed upon a roster of weak opponents or waited for lucky breaks. Certainly fortune has favored them, just as it smiled upon Wellington at Waterloo. For SEC fans: Wellington was the general who defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo; Napoleon was the bad guy because…where to begin… This isn’t the point. The point is we have an inspiring story to tell about our team; let’s proclaim that instead of defaming the no-books club that we will face in the final game.
Counsel the Doubtful: Who didn’t doubt the Irish this season? Aside from those of simple, unshakable faith, those with faith enough to make multiple mountainous goal-line stands, it was almost fashionable to have deep doubts about Notre Dame straight up to the latter minutes of the last game. And that doubt persists, especially within the SEC where they seem to believe they play a longer, harder, more brutal version of American college football. In the South games last days, touchdowns only count for 4 points and a team must score at least 112 to win while simultaneously preventing the opponent from gaining even one yard, and large blunt weapons are issued to all players. They play 53 games a season (which would account for their graduation “success” rates). Of course, this is a canard – as is the notion that all SEC teams are, by their nature, superior to teams in Oklahoma, California, Michigan, and Indiana. Let there be no doubt that the Irish can meet, match, and supersede any SEC team on the field (and already have in the classroom).
Admonish Sinners: What a gift we have given to Rick Reilly. No, not the VIP behind-the-scenes tour loyal fans would sacrifice a limb to enjoy; not the free publicity; and not the chance to make new friends and look magnanimous doing so. We gave Reilly the opportunity to expiate his sins with hard work – frankly, the only hard work or honest job he’s done in decades. We told him in no uncertain terms that he had unjustly slandered Notre Dame. Then our lads proved it. Then we let him lift the burden of his sins from his shoulders with a little elbow grease. Across the country many who had been sternly advised that their words about the Irish were unfair have now been shown the error of their ways. Do not fall into the trap, SEC fans, of ridiculing Notre Dame. Consider yourselves warned.
Bear Wrongs Patiently: We did. All season. From everyone. Patience is 12-0. Just hold on for one more.
Forgive Offenses Willingly: Let us look to Lou Holtz as the paradigm of this virtue. While most of the Irish faithful faced a general skepticism and a vague mockery, Professor Emeritus Holtz was scorned, derided, and taunted by his own co-workers, repeatedly and prominently. He did not cower, nor carp, nor lash out. The noble Holtz was given terrible offense, but he stayed true. He even forgave gave that loutish May knave; and he gave him an opportunity to dress properly for once.
Comfort the Afflicted: Once again, we feel very sorry for the Big 10. It will be all right. You’ll pull through somehow. Chin up and give us a smile – you just picked up two new mediocre-to-poor football teams. Courage!
Pray for the Living and the Dead: That’s what Sacred Heart and the Grotto are for, and every chapel in every dorm. We pray for the lads on the team who are very much living a dream right now. And we pray for those no longer with us. Even whichever SEC team is left crumpled in a heap on the field in Miami come January 7.
2012 has been a hell of a year for Notre Dame Football (and at this rate, possibly basketball as well) and it’s also been a banner year for HLS. Thanks to you, Loyal Readers, for the first time in our history, HLS has broken the one million pageview threshold in a single year.
This is quite a milestone for us, and considering that we aren’t connected to a blogging network, have struggled through growing pains like server moves, redesigns, and crashes, this is simply awesome — especially considering we have a full month to go in 2012!
I would like to personally thank all of our staff for all of their hard work on the blog and behind the scenes. This doesn’t happen without their dedication.
I would also like to thank anyone that has ever linked us, shared our work, or suggested to people that they come drop on by. Of course huge thanks are in order to NDNation, One Foot Down, The Subway Domer, and Inside the Irish for consistently linking our work through their sites and Twitter. A special thanks to the Strong and True blog as well for coming into the blogging game in all their official glory and showing us some link love as well.
Of course, there are loads of others that have shared our work, and they are too numerous to name. Trust me, it’s very appreciated.
And finally, a thanks to the Loyal Readers that continue to come here every day to read our work and talk Irish football with us. I can’t thank all of y’all enough. It’s just going to keep on getting better from here!
The coaching carousel has started. One Foot Down has a good overview to get you caught up.
Happy trails, Monte Kiffin. I have a feeling USC fans are wishing a different Kiffin is leaving though.
There is one other game of musical chairs going on. The ACC needed a replacement for Maryland and they found one in the Cards.
Law & Order: Teabagging. Remember that Alabama idiot that put his junk on the face of a passed out LSU fan? Well, he’s about to enjoy two years of prison. Want a do-over there, buddy?
You realize there is going to be a drug test right? Here’s a suggestion, Honey Badger, lay off the weed so you don’t screw this up too.
We can never have too many #HEISMANTI posts. Here’s a fantastic (and long) piece that John Walters put together for UND.com.
Put These Games on Your Radar
#2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia, SEC Championship, 4:00pm EST, CBS -Pretty simple, future scouting of ND’s future opponent. Should be a great one.
#11 Oklahoma @ TCU, 12pm EST, ESPN/WatchESPN – Should be a good start to the day and if OU wins, they could win the Big XII title if…
#18 Texas @ #6 Kansas State, 8:00pm EST, ABC – …Texas manages to pull this game off.
And a special, FRIDAY game:
#21 Northern Illinois vs #17 Kent State, MAC Championship, 7:00pm EST, ESPN/WatchESPN – Thought I was going for the Pac 12 Championship didn’t you? Nah, we’ve seen that game already, settle in for some MACtion and possible BCS hilarity. If Kent State wins, they might actually find their way into a BCS game as well.
Closest to the Pin – Week 12
Well, the regular season is over and Twibby takes the last win coming scarily close with his 22-13 prediction. Only one more to make, but until January, here are your standings:
Bayou likely has the title in hand; however, an exact prediction by either Biscuit or Twibby will mean a tie for first.
I know Biscuit hates when I tap into my Texas roots and suggest a Shiner beer, but I’m going to do it anyway.
With Winter now upon us, the ever so delicious Shiner Cheer is available once again. If you can get this, I cannot recommend it enough:
This brew is easily my favorite Shiner seasonal. I’m usually not a fan of sweet brews, but this is an exception. Peaches and roasted pecans are the major players here and they are delicious.
Plus, this is definitely a season full of cheer: a shot at the title and a basketball team off to a great start.
P.S. If you are a current student right now, I hate you so much, you lucky bastards.
Ok, so last week was nuts. Staff was busy and their genius editor-in-chief forgot the spreadsheet that calculates everything was on his work laptop that was at work.
Anyways, we pick back up once again, although both Twibby and Biscuit sadly were not able to vote this week unfortunately. No matter though, the show must go on!
HLS Top 25 – Week 13
|Rank||Team||Points||Last Week (Week 11)||Change|
|Others Receiving Votes (Points): Louisville (7); San Jose State (5); Michigan State (5); Penn State (1); Cincinnati (1)|
|Dropped From Rankings (Week 11): USC (19); Louisville (20); Rutgers (21); Louisiana Tech (22); Texas Tech (24)|
Not too many surprises. I must say though, good God the bottom of the rankings is a mess.
And now your staff breakdown:
HLS Staff Polls
|NDtex||The Biscuit||Bayou Irish||Twibby||Grantland-X|
|1||Notre Dame||Abstained||Notre Dame||Abstained||Notre Dame|
|2||Ohio State||Georgia||Ohio State|
|7||Kansas State||Stanford||Kansas State|
|9||Texas A&M||Texas A&M||Texas A&M|
|12||South Carolina||Clemson||South Carolina|
|14||Nebraska||Florida State||Florida State|
|17||UCLA||Kent State||Kent State|
|20||Kent State||Utah State||Michigan|
|21||Northern Illinois||Northwestern||Michigan State|
|23||Texas||Oklahoma State||Utah State|
|24||Michigan||Boise State||Northern Illinois|
|25||Cincinnati||San Jose State||Northwestern|
|1||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|8||Stanford||Texas A&M||Kansas State|
|9||LSU||Kansas State||Texas A&M|
|10||South Carolina||Ohio State||South Carolina|
|14||Florida State||Clemson||Kent State|
|16||Oregon State||Oregon State||Clemson|
|17||UCLA||Kent State||Oregon State|
|18||Kent State||Michigan||Boise State|
|21||Northern Illinois||Oklahoma State||Northwestern|
|22||Michigan||Northern Illinois||Utah State|
|23||Northwestern||Northwestern||San Jose State|
|24||Utah State||Utah State||Rutgers|
|25||Oklahoma State||San Jose State||Penn State|
I have about had enough of this ESS EEE SEE superiority bullshiat. We’re playing KENTUCKY people! COME! ON! KENTUCKY!???! We have Manti and Tyler, Everett and Nix, Stephon and what? I’m… oh. Basketball. Got it.
So tomorrow night on ESPN2 (The Deuce), your Fighting Irish cagers take on the eighth-ranked Wildcats of Kentucky in a wildly important, early season game with massive implications not, so much, for the season, but for the program. Win, and the Irish are on freaking fire — in case you didn’t know, they’re a legit 6-1 — lose, and they’re the musak to the Festive Season, a Johnny Mathis track with no words to accompany your on-line shopping and early-January vacay travel planning. Without descending into hyperbole, this might be the most important game the Irish have ever played.
But, first, if you will, please let me introduce the boys, starting with Coach Mike Brey. Coach Brey is in his 12th season with the Irish and the dude’s a coach’s coach. Watch him on the sideline, in press conferences and in the huddle – this is a coach who knows the game and how to get the most out of his players, year after year. Ask Gene Chisik what it means to coach, year after year. Not easy. Brey’s got 300 career wins, none of which were harder to come by than last year when All-Everything stud Tim Abromitis suffered a preseason and season-ending ACL injury. Few coaches could shuffle the deck and guide their team to the Big East semi-finals and Coach of the Year honors. Plus, there’s this:
Yep. Coach went to GW. Wore the 1-5. It ain’t to play games with you, it’s to aim at you. Who knew?
Probably these guys: Pat Connaughton (Sophomore), Eric Atkins (Junior), Jerian Grant (Junior), Scott Martin (Senior) and Jack Cooley (Senior). Aside from Connaughton, this is a very mature squad, and Pat’s by no means a boot on the floor. Connaughton’s averaging 8 points per game and 31 minutes alongside his veteran squad mates, lead by Jack Cooley, a forward averaging 14.3 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game.
A little fiddle-eedee for me, but nice work @goirishgo88.
So why does this game matter so damn much? Why are we taking time away from pimping Manti for Heisman, revelling in 12-0 and trolling SEC-fan? IMMA HANG UP AN’ LISTEN, PAWWWWWW! Why? Because Kentucky is to basketball what Notre Dame is to football. Except the Irish are by no means what KY’s football team would be to Brian Kelly’s boys. To gain some perspective on what this game means, I sat down with our resident student contributor, Grantland-X. Then we got up and walked over to the bar at Finny’s and this is what he told me
“Notre Dame is a veteran, disciplined team that knows how to win in Purcell Pavilion. The Irish are 40-1 in their last 41 home games and have never lost at home under Coach Brey in November.” Grantland-X put down his beer and turned, bracing himself against the bar, obviously scoping for hotties. “You see, Bayou, the football team’s success is actually hurting the basketball program right now. Sure, many fans don’t even pay attention to college baskteball until after football ends anyway, but this year it has gone to another level for Notre Dame — students and fans have barely acknowledged this team’s existence as everyone can only focus on the natioonla title game.” Attendance? Grantland-X snorted and flared his nostrils and nodded at a Lyons chica. “The turnouts at the basketball games have been poor and fans are sleeping on a team that has a chance to do some serious damage this season.”
“Notre Dame NEEDS to win this game against Kentucky, but for an interesting reason: to sell the team to its own fans. If Notre Dame loses the game, the season outlook will still be absolutely fine. The Irish will still have the Big East play to gain national respect, right the ship, and obtain a decent NCAA tournament seed. However, they [risk] doing so with a general lack of support from the fans.”
So what are you waiting for, sports fan? Get out and support the Irish, either in person or on the idiot box, ESPN2 at 7:00 pm EST.