Man, does this team play hard. They go down, and they battle back. However, depth is a huge issue with this team.
The starters have some talent, and they can hang in a game, but when the fouls start piling up--as they did today--winning is very difficult.
Notre Dame was shooting one and ones before right around the time of the first media timeout.
More after the jump...
Once again, this game came down to one defensive possession. Down 3 points with under 30 seconds left, and only six points left on the shot clock for Notre Dame, Rutgers needed one stop. However, Ben Hansbrough stepped around Beatty, throwing an elbow, and the referee called a foul on Beatty. The senior knocked down both shots, and Rutgers came up just short.
This time it wasn't just Gilydas Biruta and Austin Johnson stockpiling fouls, it was everyone. Every touch foul was called, every bump. And with a team that shoots free throws as well at Notre Dame, you really don't have a chance.
Jonathan Mitchell didn't show any after effects of his eye injury, tying a career high with 24 points. He was able to knock down the 3 pretty consistently. Unfortunately, James Beatty didn't. Mike Coburn took more threes than he was used to, and wasn't able to hit any of them. The offense didn't click today.
It also didn't help when anytime RU got close, the Fighting Irish were able to knock down a key shot. Ben Hansbrough got to the hoop with ease. Rutgers wasn't able to contain him. Tyrone Nash also had a solid game, playing good defense and scoring 8 points until he fouled out.
Biruta played well, compiling 8 points in time limited by fouls. Poole also had a solid game, but made some freshman mistakes while going for steals. In a game called this tightly, steals aren't going to be looked at cleanly. The refs called fouls.
At one point, Rutgers went extremely small with Coburn, Beatty, Austin Carroll, and Mike Poole in along with Mitchell. They were trying to do whatever they could to stay in the game. However, without a player who could shut down Hansbrough, and without a second scoring option, it just wasn't enough.
This team has given its all this season, but so far that hasn't been enough.
Villanova comes to the RAC on Wednesday.
EDIT: The postgame presser.