If last night's 87-58 Missouri victory over Notre Dame is any indication, the Tigers are as good or better than their early-season ranking and the Irish could be in for a long season in the Big East. Here are a few things that stood out for both squads in the game.
First, for Missouri.
1. The Tigers are quick out of the gate. They can get up the floor. It may have been an indicator of Notre Dame's defense, but the Tigers were getting easy lay-ups by getting out in transition early and often.
2. Guard Marcus Denmon showed why he is one of the premier players in the Big 12, shooting nine from 11 from the field on his way to 26 points. He scored in a variety of ways: by slashing, by hitting threes, and by sinking free throws. He'll be a tough guard for teams all season.
3. Denmon had plenty of help, which is a good sign for the Tigers. Four starters scored in double figures and three players scored off the bench. The Tigers definitely aren't big, and they don't seem to rely on the three either, but guards Phil Pressey and Kim English, along with forward Ricardo Ratliffe, do a great job of getting high-percentage looks.
And for Notre Dame.
1. This is not the same Notre Dame team that finished second in the Big East and earned a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament last year. Nowhere is the loss of Ty Nash, Carleton Scott, and Ben Hansborough more noticeable than on the defensive end. Both length (when center Jack Cooley isn't in the game) and quickness are problems. Much of the game seemed like layup lines for Mizzou.
2. Notre Dame is desperate for offensive help for swing men Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis. Will it come from point guard Eric Atkins? Freshman guard Pat Connaughton off the bench? Cooley? The fact is, last night, it didn't come from anywhere, and if that trend continues, the Irish will be easy to guard.
3. If there was good news from the game, it seems like Abromaitis is even better than he's been the past few seasons. Apparently, his time on a summer USA team was well-spent. Abromaitis scored 22 points against the Tigers (18 in the first half) and snagged eight rebounds. In the past, his scoring has come mostly from stand-still shooting, but last night, he scored some in the post and off the dribble, which is a good sign for Notre Dame.