Irish eyes are crying
CHICAGO -- Sunday night the vocal Fighting Irish faithful outnumbered FSU fans at the United Center by at least a 75/25 margin. With big pockets of green all over the stadium, it felt like a home game for Notre Dame; a fact that made the 71-57 loss all the more painful.
"It's the last time," said senior forward Tyrone Nash. "There's no more practice, no more anything, you know."
He said the Irish got the shots they wanted, but "the basketball gods wasn't on our side today."
Nash may be looking up to hoops heaven, but the answers are all in the box score. Notre Dame boasted a 46.6 percent field goal percentage heading into the tournament, but hit just 30.6 percent of their shots on Sunday night. The Seminoles also held them to just 23.3 percent shooting from behind the arc.
A team that succeeded without a strong inside presence all year could have used one Sunday night, when open Js and good looks from the perimeter just weren't falling. Senior Scott Martin, whose night ended early due to a back injury, didn't blame their offensive attack.
"There was no problem with our game plan," he said. "We didn't make shots, they took us out of our rhythm, they pressured us. You know, you have to credit them."
FSU came into the game holding opponents to a NCAA-best 31 percent shooting, and Sunday night they found the offensive firepower to match their stifling D. They drained seven treys in the first half, shot nearly 46 percent from the field and four of their five starters finished with double-digits.
From tip-off to the final buzzer, the Seminoles were simply the better team. And for the best Irish team in decades, the end came all too fast.
"I have no emotion, I'm just numb. I don't know, I'm just, I'm out of it," Martin said. "It's one of the hardest things, I think, you have to deal with."
"Everybody expected us to go on this run after we made you believe," said Big East player of the year Ben Hansbrough. "It's really tough, especially how hard we've worked this year. To be where we are right now, nobody even thought we'd make it this far."
Hansbrough had to watch his team finish out the loss from the bench, after fouling out with just over three minutes to play. But even with the end of Notre Dame's historic season looming large, the senior guard still had perspective.
"I'm sure when I look back I'll be happy that I played with these guys, and this group of guys will probably be my favorite team of all time."
"Best decision of my life to transfer here."