Three Takeaways From Day One Of The Legends Classic From Barclays Center
On Monday night, Barclays Center hosted Day One of the 10th annual Legends Classic. Two semi-final games were played as Notre Dame took on Colorado while Texas took on Northwestern in Game two.
While all four teams have gotten off to quick starts this season, this brief early season tournament is a way to gauge where these teams are heading into other holiday tournaments and/or other major non-conference games. From these two games, there were three major takeaways from the evening that stood out. Let’s start with Notre Dame.
Notre Dame Could Be A Dangerous Team In The ACC
Early on against Colorado in Game 1, it seemed that Notre Dame would be in store for a slugfest with the Buffaloes. Midway through the 1st half however something turned for the Fighting Irish as they began making extra passes which led to easy baskets. Notre Dame then hit a barrage of three-pointers (50% from three in first half) to build an 18-point first half lead. But as is Notre Dame athletics, they have lapses where they go from blowing a team away early to allowing teams to hang around far longer than they should.
Once again the Irish built a big lead in the second half only to see it dwindle down to eight with 2:31 remaining, and then four with 43 seconds to go. In the end Notre Dame was able hold their lead and defeat Colorado 89-83 thanks to big games from Matt Farrell (20 points, six assists) and Bonzie Colson (22 points, 12 rebounds). But don’t be fooled…this game should not have been as close as it was.
In an ACC that is wide open, Notre Dame are among the teams that are expected to compete for a conference crown this season. The problem becomes these three to four minute lapses that ultimately cost them games. When the Fighting Irish are on, they are on. When things go sideways for the Fighting Irish, it turns into this game against Colorado. The difference is that late in the season, they will lose those games in ACC play.
At Least Texas Has One Coach They Could Depend On
Shaka Smart was a hot commodity when he took VCU to the Final Four in 2011. After staving off temptation for four years, Smart took the head job at the University of Texas and brought his high-energy defense to Austin. Year one at Texas was an adjustment as the Longhorns went 20-13 but they did receive a NCAA Tournament bid.
This year heading into their matchup with Northwestern at the Legends Classic, the Longhorns were 3-0 and ranked 21st in the country. With the turmoil surrounding Charlie Strong and the Longhorn football program, it seems that UT doesn’t have to worry about basketball because Shaka Smart seems to have things under control.
Northwestern Can Actually Score On Offense
During the 13 years that Bill Carmody coached the Northwestern Wildcats, NU never ran an up-tempo offense that scored points. Carmody was a disciple of Pete Carril and the Princeton offense, which preached ball movement and all half-court sets. While offenses steadily ran quicker tempos throughout the years, Northwestern was left light years behind. Carmody did not reach the NCAA Tournament during his entire Northwestern tenure and was fired after the 2012-2013 season.
Enter former Duke point guard Chris Collins and Collins has the Wildcats playing at a higher pace on offense while at the same time getting his kids to play defense. Going into their game against Texas in the Legends Classic, Northwestern was averaging 82 points a game while only allowing 68 points a game.
After an impressive 77-58 win over Texas, Northwestern is 3-1 going into their championship matchup against Notre Dame on Tuesday evening. Bryant McIntosh scored 20 points in the win while Scottie Lindsey added 16 for the Wildcats. Northwestern may be a force in the Big Ten this season if their great play continues.
Stay with Double G Sports as we will be at Barclays for the consolation and championship games of the Legends Classic on Tuesday. Tickets start at just $15 for the event, with Barclays Center parking available for as low $15 and other New York City parking available for as cheap as $10.
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