Irish Escape; Gruden May Too?

Take a deep breath, Notre Dame Nation. Not only did the Irish end their three-year losing streak to pesky Miami (O) but all may not be lost on the Jon Gruden Watch. IrishEyes has the report here with some heartening comments from Beano Cook for the Grudenites out there.

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December 8, 2001

Hump Saves Day;
Beano "90-Percent" on Gruden

By The IrishEyes.Com News Service

(IE) – OK, what happens if Ryan Humphrey doesn't play?

A rollercoaster week for the Notre Dame men's basketball program ended happily Saturday when Humphrey led the Irish to a harrowing, come-from-behind 70-69 victory at Miami (Ohio).

Barely 48 hours after Notre Dame announced that he would be out for at least two weeks with a "stress reaction" below the left knee, Humphrey scored two baskets and had a key block in the final moments, culminating a furious Irish second-half rally.

Humphrey, almost mocking the medical caution earlier prescribed by the ND training staff, played all 40 minutes in the victory, the Irish's eighth in nine contests. Miami dropped to 2-4 – having played its best game of the year – and saw its three-game winning streak against Notre Dame ended.

Humphrey's complete game effort is truly ironic, and impressive. In 98 previous collegiate games, he had never played all 40 minutes. Coming into this season, he had never played more than 36 in any one contest. He played 37 Tuesday against Indiana, in obvious pain.

Right now, this is a happy story of a player overcoming pain. If Humphrey breaks down later in the season, the wisdom of the Irish playing him ironman minutes this week might be open for questioning.

A game-deciding 11-2 run – from 57-55 Miami to 66-59 Irish – was all Humphrey. He scored four of the points, assisted on two more baskets, and had a big block that led to another basket.

Miami managed to fight back to within 68-67 with 24 seconds remaining, but David Graves hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. That was enough, as Miami could only manage a lay-up at the buzzer after a three-point attempt was blocked.

Freshman point guard Chris Thomas had 19 points to lead the Irish in scoring. Humphrey finished with 18.

Notre Dame trailed by as many as 13 (41-28) in the first-half before going in at intermission down 41-35. It was the second straight time the Irish looked tentative early on the road. Tuesday, Mike Brey's team trailed Indiana by 14 and was unable to rally all the way back, losing in heartbreaking fashion by one to the Hoosiers.

This was the final game of a four-game agreement with the Red Hawks. Thank goodness!

Brey once again went with a short bench, playing Torrian Jones 22 minutes and Jordan Cornette just six. Jere Macura did not see any time for the second straight year against Miami. Jones was outstanding off the pine with six points, two rebounds and a steal.

Miami dictated the pace throughout, outrebounded the Irish, 26-21, and held Graves and Matt Carroll to a combined six-for-15 shooting, the second straight subpar effort for Notre Dame's perimeter marksmen.

The Irish now have two weeks off before travelling to Buffalo on Dec. 22 to meet Canisius at HSBC Arena, the off-campus facility used by the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.


BEANO ON GRUDEN: Speaking Saturday afternoon on ESPN Radio, college football analyst Beano Cook said he was "90 percent certain" that Notre Dame's first choice for grid head coach is Jon Gruden.

"I made some phone calls, I know the way Notre Dame thinks, and I know they want Gruden," said Cook. "I'm not 100-percent certain. If I was 100-percent certain I would be saying ‘ESPN Radio has learned.' But I'm 90-percent certain and I think it's going to happen."

Cook went on to say Notre Dame is "willing to wait" until after the Oakland Raiders' season has ended for Gruden. "They made lose one of their 12 (verbal) recruits, but this is Notre Dame. The kids will honor their commitments."

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