NEW YORK – Semifinal night. A Friday in New York. A lot of pre-game talk at the Big East Tournament centered on the prior evening’s quarterfinal matchup between Notre Dame and South Florida. The Irish pulled it out with a 57-53 overtime victory.
The pace and efficiency:
A 60-possession game is decidedly deliberate. For forty minutes. Given an overtime game both teams battled for 45 minutes. Those 60 possessions need a game classification beyond “deliberate”.
Other “oddities:” South Florida attempted only five free throws, hitting three. They enjoyed a 26-9% edge in offensive rebounding percentage. The Irish grabbed only three rebounds on their offensive end.
The game high scorer was Victor Rudd of South Florida. Rudd scored 16 points and had more made three pointers, 4, than the Bulls had free throws (3).
All this bore significance as Notre Dame-Louisville was shaping up to be a battle of wills. How much could the Cardinals speed Notre Dame up? Would Rick Pitino just “concede” and try to defeat Notre Dame at its own half court game? How would Mike Brey of Notre Dame adjust should his team fall behind early? Would he speed up the game or show the patience to simply execute the game plan, get stops and take it a possession at a time?
A lot of interesting ideas that were to be answered in that second semifinal.