With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting and as a team North Dakota State shot 50.9% from the field as they won 73-69.
Bjorklund may be a new name for some fans, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the better big men around. He entered Wednesday’s game shooting 69.7% from the field with all of his field goal attempts coming inside of the arc, and that percentage should go up based upon his performance at Notre Dame. The Irish didn’t have an answer for the senior until he fouled out, attempting the switch from man-to-man (Garrick Sherman got the assignment for much of the night) and zone to no avail.
Joining Bjorklund in double figures were Lawrence Alexander (16 points, 14 rebounds) and Taylor Braun (13 points). To say the least, it wasn’t difficult to see why Saul Phillips’ team is expected by many to win the Summit League and make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009.
In addition to their defensive issues Notre Dame also struggled offensively, as they shot 34.6% from the field with leading scorer Jerian Grant (nine points) missing all five of his attempts (9-for-11 FT). While Notre Dame’s performed well offensively this season, entering the game ranked 16th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, they’ve done so with their seven wins coming against teams with a combined record of 18-44. Against Indiana State and North Dakota State Notre Dame failed to shoot at least 40% in either game (they shot 51.5% at Iowa).
With the offensive options at Mike Brey’s disposal it may be safe to say that they’ll figure things out on that end of the floor, especially when it comes to Pat Connaughton attempting 20 shots while Grant and Eric Atkins combine for 12 field goal attempts. That will likely work itself out and it isn’t as if Connaughton isn’t a capable scorer, but in order for the Irish to be at their best they need Grant and Atkins to have a greater impact than they did on Wednesday night.
For North Dakota State this is a good for both themselves and the Summit League, while for Notre Dame Saturday’s game against Indiana takes on added importance. Their “best” win to date was a five-point win over Delaware, and with the now three defeats on their resume the Irish are in need of a resume-building win. Sure they’re once again in a very strong league, but no team wants to enter conference play without a non-conference victory of note.
Indiana and Ohio State (December 21) represent opportunities for Notre Dame, and due to their start to the season those contests have become even more important.
La Salle announced on Friday that they are parting ways with head coach John Giannini.
Giannini had been the head coach of the program for 14 seasons, amassing a record of 212-226. Before taking over at La Salle, he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan and eight seasons coaching at Maine.
“Today Bill Bradshaw and I mutually agreed that La Salle University could benefit from a new voice in leading the program,” said Dr. Giannini. “It is difficult to admit this but I have given every effort possible for success and I have received nothing but support and encouragement from Bill and President Hanycz. Greater things may be accomplished for this storied program and great university with the approach of a new coach. I am forever grateful, especially to my loyal staff and dedicated student-athletes. I look forward to my next challenge and La Salle’s future success.”
After Kansas State knocked off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the purple Wildcats alleged that the blue Wildcats did not shake their hands after the game.
“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright told ESPN last night. “It’s sorry.”
“They know what they did.”
Kentucky bristled at the allegations.
“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them.”
“My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”
BOSTON — The NCAA has changed their interpretation of the rule that kept Isaac Haas out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Haas broke his elbow in Purdue’s first round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, but he was not allowed to play in a second round game against Butler because his brace did not meet NCAA standards.
So they changed those standards.
“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”
Sources have told NBC Sports that, despite Haas’ lobbying to get onto the court, he is not expected to play on Friday night. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity.
“He didn’t practice the last two days,” Painter said on Thursday, “and when you don’t practice, you don’t play.”
“I don’t see him playing until he can practice and show me he can shoot a right-handed free throw and get a rebound with two hands.”
USC junior forward Chimezie Metu announced on Thursday evening that he will be declaring for the NBA draft:
This decision is not surprising. Metu finished his degree — Law History and Culture — in three seasons. He held himself out of USC’s NIT games in an effort to keep himself from getting injured with NBA workouts on the horizon.
Metu averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 boards and 1.6 blocks for the Trojans this season. He is considered a borderline first round pick.
In 1951, Kansas State lost to Kentucky in the National Championship game.
Ernie Barrett, who eventually became the school’s athletic director and is known as “Mr. K-State“, played on that team.
He’s wanted to get revenge on Big Blue ever since.
On Thursday night, Kansas State did.
Ernie was there, and here was his reaction in the locker room: