Hansbrough, Notre Dame advance past Akron


Hansbrough, Notre Dame advance past Akron

Friday, March 18, 2011
Posted 3:31 p.m. Updated 5:27 p.m.Associated Press

CHICAGO - Notre Dame's pace was off. The Irish were overanxious at the beginning of their NCAA opener, knowing that as a second seed they were expected to win against Akron.

Leading the scrappy Zips by four at the break, the Irish scored the first nine of the second half to build a more comfortable lead and then held on for a 69-56 victory Friday in the second round of the Southwest Regional.

"It took us a long time to kind of calm down. I'm glad the halftime was 20 minutes because we needed all of it just to kind of ratchet our blood pressure down a little bit," coach Mike Brey said.

"We were better in the second half because our tempo was better."

Ben Hansbrough, whom Brey said was playing too fast in the first 20 minutes, finished with 15 points. Tim Abromaitis added 14, Scott Martin pitched in 9 of his 11 points in the second half and Carleton Scott tied his high with 14 rebounds.

Next up for the Irish (27-6) is Florida State (22-10), after the Seminoles defeated Texas A&M, 57-50.

Martin - a transfer from Purdue who sat out two seasons, one after blowing out his knee - was a key in the second half, scoring six early points and getting the Irish on track.

"I think the great thing about it is that we played bad in the first half and we got better," Martin said. "Something we can take away from it is that we improved in the game and now we're back to where we should be and hopefully it will continue from here."

Hansbrough, the Big East Player of the Year who shot just 3-for-16 in a loss to Louisville in the semifinals of the conference tourney, was just 4-of-11 from the field but was 6-for-6 from the line and had six assists.

"I thought he forced plays at times in the first half. In the second half, his decision making was excellent, and it helped us flow," Brey said.

The 15th-seeded Zips (23-13) were appearing in just their third NCAA Division I tournament and second in three years. Entering the game, they'd won 11 of their previous 13, beating Kent State in the Mid-American Conference tournament to get into the tournament.

Their defense played Notre Dame's motion offense tough, especially with 7-footer Zeke Marshall there to block four shots and change the trajectory of numerous others.

"We fought back. We just couldn't put enough baskets together on a continuous basis to win," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. "That's what a mid-major has to do to beat a high major with a seed that high is you have to shoot the ball better than that, really.

"We felt like we got good shots even from the outside that just didn't go in for us tonight. We thought we could score on them, but we just didn't. I thought it was going to be a bigger challenge to guard them, and we actually did a decent job."

Quincy Diggs led Akron with 11 points. The Zips shot only 35.9 percent and Marshall was just 2-for-13 from the floor.

"I had four 2-foot layups I missed in the early part of the game. I don't really recall that it was their defense that caused me to miss. It was just me missing," said Marshall, who also couldn't get a dunk to go down.

The Irish had a huge advantage at the foul line, shooting 20-for-26 to just 3-for-6 for the Zips.

With Notre Dame up 34-30 at the half, Tyrone Nash's three-point play and Martin's jumper got the Irish off to a quick start. A middle-of-the-lane jumper by Scott and another basket by Martin put the Irish up 43-30 as Akron missed its first eight shots of the half.

The Zips later ran off seven straight points to get back in it. They stayed within five when Marshall - 1-for-11 from the field at that point - dropped in a basket off an inbound pass with just more than 10 minutes to go.

Abromaitis, who got off only two shots in the first half, then sank his second 3-pointer and Scott hit a jumper from the baseline, was fouled and converted a three-point play for a 55-44 lead.

"I think with Abromaitis, he is a pretty steady guy," Brey said. "You just let him play. Those were two big shots he hit. We needed key buckets there."

Box Score

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

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Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

CLEVELAND — As the New York Yankees marketed Andrew Miller this summer and prepared for their first sell-off in a generation, their demands started at either Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez — and the Cubs still would have been forced to throw in more talent to get the All-Star reliever.

This could be the fascinating what-if for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians paid the price, giving up a four-player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier (the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (the No. 31 pick in the 2014 draft) to get what turned out to be the American League Championship Series MVP.

The Cubs didn’t make Schwarber untouchable because they thought he would be ready in time for the World Series, but he’s preparing to be their Game 1 designated hitter on Tuesday night at Progressive Field after a remarkable recovery from major surgery on his left knee.

“It was impossible to avoid some of the names — particularly the Cubs — (with) the year they were having,” Miller said. “Whether I wanted to avoid it or not I heard it. Guys in the clubhouse, our media was certainly bringing it to us.”

Even in other possible deals for pitching, the Cubs never came close to selling low on Baez, who broke out as the National League Championship Series co-MVP for his offensive production and defensive wizardry. 

Instead of getting Miller’s late-game dominance for three pennant races — and giving up five potential 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons with Schwarber — the Cubs closed a different blockbuster deal with the Yankees for a left-handed power arm.

The Cubs wanted Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball to get the last out of the World Series and would rationalize his 30-game suspension to begin this season under Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Already holding an age-22 All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell, the Cubs surrendered elite prospect Gleyber Torres.

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“Gleyber’s a good baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That kid’s going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we’d have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question. And they were right.

“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”

Chapman has saved five playoff games — and become that reassuring ninth-inning presence at Wrigley Field — but he clearly responds better to a scripted role.

Miller has been untouchable during the postseason, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out 21 of the 41 batters he’s faced, giving Terry Francona even more freedom to manage a lights-out Cleveland bullpen.

“To be utilized like Miller,” Maddon said, “not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally, either, or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller — having done a variety of different things in the big leagues as a pitcher — is probably more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically.

“Whereas Aroldis — if he wanted to do that — I think that would have had to be done from spring training. He’d have to differentiate his mindset. He’d have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That’s his routine.

“Whether you agree with it or not, that’s just the way it is. So with a guy like Aroldis — to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now (and) do something else — I think you’re looking for failure right there.

“We stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.”

Even in a World Series featuring historic droughts, Cy Young Award winners, MVP candidates and star managers, this October could come down to the bullpens shaped by deals with the Yankees.

“Both teams made aggressive trades,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Both teams are still standing. There’s something to that.”