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You've Been Waiting For
By Alan Tieuli
But if any reporters had some trepidation about approaching Torin Francis following his missed shots against
"I wasn't nervous and none of this bothers me,"
Francis said to IrishEyes. "This is just basketball and just growing up. I missed them this time, I'll make them the
The next time was Thursday night, and the stakes were much higher. This was the NCAA Tournament, and Francis made
nine-of-10 free throws and seven-of-11 field goals for a career-high 23 points. He also added 14 rebounds as Notre Dame defeated
Wisconsin-Milwaukee to advance to the Round of 32.
Francis played like the McDonald's high school All-American he is, and
this may just be the start of things.
"He has not handled anything this year like a freshman,"
said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey. "Anything. Academics. The
first day of practice. He's more like a junior or senior. And as the season has gone on he is getting to have
a knack of scoring in the post."
"The sky is the limit for us with Torin," said point guard Chris Thomas. "He's showing you all now
what type of player he is."
Francis has never lacked quiet confidence. On Feb. 24, after the Irish were shellacked by
"I just want to get better and know I can ," said Francis,
who is averaging 10.5 points and eight rebounds a game. "Every game is a learning
process, and once my knowledge of the game catches up with my ability, I'm going to
be productive. The guys are starting to look
for me down low now. Earlier in the season
they weren't all the time. I wasn't
Notre Dame makes a concerted effort to start Francis off on a
positive note each game. Utilizing a size advantage against
"When we get Torin Francis off the mark well," said Brey,
"we are a much better offensive team. The
more he plays, the most consistent a threat he will become."
"It's hard not to be excited about what Torin brings to
this team," said sophomore frontcourter Jordan
Cornette. "We see his ability every
day in practice. He's really ready to
explode on the scene."
Blessed with an NBA body, Francis has struggled all season with a
wrist injury that has prevented him from having a vise-like grip on the ball down low. All too often the freshman has been stripped of
rebounds or on put-back attempts. But he was a
force in this one.
"The big fella," said Thomas. "He was our anchor down
low. And nobody is surprised by his maturity."
On a night where the underclassmen scored 56 of Notre Dame's 70
points, it's fun to dream about two more years of Thomas and Francis together.
"I would love it," said Francis. "Without a doubt, we would be a pair to watch. But we got some basketball left this year too."
(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes Magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For subscription information on IrishEyes Magazine please visit www.irisheyes.com or call 888-501-5752)