I was at O’Dea this afternoon as the Irish hosted Nathan Hale in a loser-out game in the district 2 tournament. O’Dea won the first meeting 63-45 on Dec. 10. Today was quite the different story.
The Raiders employed a diamond-and-one (of sorts) defense, face guarding Irish sharpshooter Quin Barnard and playing a zone with the other four defenders. Nathan Hale packed the lane, making it hard for the Irish to get the ball to Jacob Lampkin on the block.
O’Dea was cold from the floor to start the game, eventually heating up a bit, but never really getting going. Barnard did get open for five three-pointers, and O’Dea had a small lead at halftime that it stretched a bit in the third quarter, but Nathan Hale never faded. It wasn’t until the final couple minutes when the win was secured for the Irish.
The coaching strategy by Chris Weakley to go that way defensively, plus using the whole shot clock on offense, was an extremely smart move and almost was the difference in the game. Mercer Island, which will face O’Dea in the next round of the tournament, was in attendance on Saturday, and Nathan Hale gave the Islanders a pretty good template, at least defensively.
Of course, don’t count on O’Dea not adjusting in time for the Tuesday matchup. Al Hairston knows what he’s doing and he’ll have O’Dea prepared.
If the Irish can figure out a way to get Jacob Lampkin the ball down low, which he admitted was frustrating at times, things should open up in terms of spacing on the floor.