Urgent Irish Just Looking for Wins

The stats weren't pretty for Notre Dame. The Irish had more turnovers than assists and two of their top scorers, Chris Quinn and Colin Falls, combined to shoot just 4-of-20 from the field in the 62-55 win over South Florida. But a team in a desperate mode for wins and a trip to the Big East Tournament will take it and Notre Dame is inching closer in the conference standings.

The Irish's win over the Bulls on Wednesday night put them at 3-8 in league play. Currently, Notre Dame sits a half game behind 12th place Rutgers and St. John's and one game behind Louisville and Providence. The Irish hold the tiebreaker over Rutgers and Providence and play the Friars on the road March 1st in the second-to-last game of the season. The scenarios can drive fans wild and thoughts of all those close, last second contests will drive them wild throughout the off-season. For now, the urgency level among the team members is felt every ticking second.

"I think we know that our post-season life is on the line every day, not just every game," head coach Mike Brey said after last night's win. "We got our sense of urgency everyday. I told them, ‘Who are we with two league wins to look down on someone with no league wins?' We certainly weren't in that mindset because we need everyone we can get."

A bright spot in the win over South Florida was Rob Kurz. The sophomore forward notched a double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points. It's safe to say he's had an up-and-down season. Kurz started on fire, registering a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds in the opening-game win against Lafayette. There have been the lows. After scoring 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the double overtime loss to Georgetown, Kurz has seen an average of just under 11 minutes of floor time the past four contests. His high in points during the stretch? Three in the overtime loss to Louisville. Last night, Kurz busted out in big fashion.

"I think this game, I made a little bit of an impact," Kurz said. "It feels good to have a part in tonight's victory."

"He played a great game," junior guard Russell Carter said, who continued his stellar play by scoring a team-high 13 points. "The guy has so much energy. He has more energy than a four-year old child. He definitely helped us out."

Brey is happy that despite the roller coaster ride Kurz has endured this season, his hustle and enthusiastic play remains constant.

"Rob has had a typical sophomore, first time being thrown in there kind of year," Brey said. "He's come around full circle. What he gave us tonight was high energy and activity. He always gives us that. Sometimes he's too energetic and illegally screens. I think we have to live with that sometimes because he gives us an active guy. He was fabulous at the end on ball screens. He can make open shots. He hasn't shot well throughout the year as I think he can."

Contributions from Kurz and others off the bench might be the medicine this Irish team needs. A trip to Seton Hall awaits Notre Dame on Saturday night. The Pirates are fresh off an upset victory over 11th ranked West Virginia. The tough road to New York City continues but Wednesday's hard fought, earned win over South Florida was a positive step towards that goal.

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