Coming Attractions for Quinn

Illinois stands between Notre Dame and its first Sweet 16 berth in 16 years. Senior All-Big East selection Matt Carroll is questionable. Will this mean a more prominent role for a future backcourt starter, Chris Quinn? If so, the freshman is ready to expand his responsibilities. IrishEyes Magazine Managing Editor Alan Tieuli reports from the RCA Dome on two old rivals getting ready to compete to take the national stage.

Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™

March 21, 2003

Quinn Ready To Make
Mighty Contributions

By Alan Tieuli
IrishEyes Magazine

INDIANAPOLIS (IE) Matt Carroll says he is OK, but he has not run a step since leaving Thursday night's victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee with more than 12 minutes to play. 

"It's hard to say a percentage right now," Carroll said when asked to judge how healthy his sprained ankle is. "I really don't know because I haven't done anything on it.  You can't judge until you get on the court, I probably won't move until I get on the court to warm up." 

Carroll sat out Friday's practice at the RCA Dome, and didn't get much sleep Thursday night at the team's downtown Indianapolis headquarters.  "(Trainer) Skip Meyer was in my room every two hours to ice it," said Carroll.  "It was a long night, and it will be again (Friday night)." 

If Carroll can't go Saturday at 1:10 p.m. Eastern versus No. 10 Illinois (25-6) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament West Regional, it likely will provide more coming attractions for the 2003-04 season.   Expect freshman Chris Quinn to play an extensive role, one that the Dublin, Ohio product relishes. 

"Next year has definitely gone through my mind," Quinn told IrishEyes.  "This is something I will be expected to do full-time.  There's a lot of scoring gone and I'm going to have to step up.   Right now I'm focusing on this tournament and what I can do to help the team." 

Quinn has endeared himself to Notre Dame Nation, and the coaching staff, with his unselfish, energetic approach this season.   A 22-point per game scorer his senior year at Dublin Coffman, Quinn is averaging 3.9 points per contest this year, but has proven adept at doing the "little things" well.  He draws charges, plays terrific defense, rarely turns the ball over (15 in 475 minutes) and has shown an uncanny knack for securing offensive rebounds, despite his slight, 6-2 stature.   He had 13 offensive boards in 210 Big East Conference minutes, opposed to 19 apiece by Carroll (in 595 minutes) and point guard Chris Thomas (in 610). 

"He's been exceptional in the way he comes up with rebounds and steals, out of nowhere," said Notre Dame assistant coach in charge of guards Anthony Solomon. 

Quinn turned in 19 unselfish minutes against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, drawing a key charge in the second-half while also contributing three rebounds and a steal.  Irish underclassmen scored 56 of the team's 70 points in the one-point victory.

"When we've asked him to handle himself in terms of game preparation, he's been great," said Solomon. "Unlike other freshmen we've had over the years, he sees the moment. He's very mature for a freshman." 

Solomon appreciates Quinn's maturity since the coaching staff has been admittedly inconsistent in handling his minutes.   Ten times this season he had played fewer than 10 minutes, but the freshman has never hung his head.  It might have been easy for him to do so, considering he played 28 and 25 minutes respectively in Notre Dame's two biggest wins of the non-conference season, versus Maryland and Texas in December. 

"He's a winner and he's enjoying this run," said Solomon. "Playing with and beside Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll, two major league college guards, what a dream. He's taking it all in, and when his opportunity comes, he'll be able to use to his advantage." 

Will that opportunity come Saturday against Illinois?  If so, Quinn is poised. 

"When you are coming out of high school, you have the ball in your hands 90-percent of the time and free to do whatever you want," Quinn said. "You really didn't have to concentrate on all the little things.  As I look back, it made me appreciative of all the guys on my high school team that did the little things.   Now I'm doing the little things, waiting my turn.  If it turns out the time is now, let's do it.  But we all want Matty healthy.  He gives us our best chance to advance." 

Solomon has no doubt that Quinn will be able to step into the Notre Dame starting line-up next year and make a major contribution. 

"The big spark he has given us, is when he is in the game, he sort of gets lost and spots up for threes," said Solomon. "We got to get him to look inside the defense a little bit more, but he's very close to being the total package for an overall top-notch college guard.  He's a basketball junkie, very coachable, and when you get him in the heat of the moment, he makes the necessary adjustments." 

"I'm just not sure how Matt will be (Saturday)," said head coach Mike Brey. "But I'm sure of what we can get from Chris Quinn.  He's on the verge."