Peoples Gets Warmed Up

Notre Dame junior guard Jonathan Peoples had a career game at Providence on Saturday and the Irish are hoping that they can get similar contributions going forward. Find out what his head coach and teammates think of Peoples and why he says that he has 'an old man body.'

It takes Notre Dame junior guard Jonathan Peoples a few minutes to get loose.

"He claims that he has an old man body and it'll take him a couple minutes to get warmed up in practice. He's not coming close to the rim in layup lines, put it that way," Zach Hillesland said. "But as things get going and he loosens up he becomes a really good athlete, his strength and his skill set allows him to do a lot of things."

"Peoples always says that he has an old man body, but when he gets it rolling and gets loose and gets warm, he's athletic as they come," said Ryan Ayers. "His knees are bothering him or something like that, we always get on him for that."

Peoples insists that it is just something with his body.

"People joke about it, but it actually does take me like 10 minutes to get warmed up," he said. "My body takes like 10 minutes to get warm."

It did not take Peoples too long to get warm in the Irish's win last weekend at Providence. Peoples has season-highs in minutes (28), points (14) and assists (9) against the Friars.

"I think Jon had a little bit of a breakout game against Providence and we just need him to be consistent with what he's doing," said Kyle McAlarney. "I don't think we can say that we necessarily need him to score a lot, but for him to come in and be a defensive presence is huge."

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey saw Peoples starting to gain confidence going back two games.

"What was lost in a loss at West Virginia, I thought he played really well there," said Brey. "You kind of felt good about him going to [Providence] even though we didn't win [at West Virginia] because he gave us some really good minutes."

Peoples carried that feeling with him into last weekend.

"Just coming in being confident, being poised and not trying to do too much, just letting it come to me and taking good shots and knocking them down," he said of his approach.

Peoples along with fellow reserves Tyrone Nash and Luke Zeller heard plenty of feedback on their contributions from the starters.

"It was great to see Tory Jackson, who only played 12 minutes, just really helping and hugging Jon Peoples and Zeller and Nash," said Brey. "That's how secure and how solid a guy he is. It was one of those nights where you're riding Jon Peoples and it was a great run.

"That's as important, if not more important, as me reinforcing it."

The Irish starters no that they need help off the bench.

"There's no fine line between starters and role players here," said McAlarney. "We need the guys who come off the bench to come off the bench and they've been doing that for us."

"We need them at all times, they always have to be ready no matter what the situation is," Ayers said. "Obviously, those guys got some really key minutes on Saturday and Jon was able to step up and really play."

Peoples said that the encouragement helps.

"It helps a lot. I think it gives the guys coming off the bench more confidence," he said. "Just by them saying that it means so much because they're depending upon us and we're not always depending on them."

And after his performance against Providence, Peoples is hearing encouragement from those outside of his locker room too.

"Everybody has been telling me, ‘Good game' today in classes and stuff," he laughed. "I kind of like that so I hope I get used to it."

Brey has lauded Peoples' intelligence and his ability as a passer.

"I've always said Jon Peoples, for a team with a high basketball IQ, no individual has a higher one," said Brey. "He really understands how to play. We don't have a better passer and that says a lot on a team that led the nation in assists last year and is in the top five this year."

His teammates enjoy playing with him as well.

"He's just the type of guy that loves to play, that knows how to play," said Ayers. "Everyone kind of enjoys playing with JP, he just knows how to play, he can share the ball, he can do a lot of different things for us. When his number was called he was able to step up and have some key minutes for us."

"Whenever he's out there he's probably going to be making the right play and it allows him to do a number of things whether it's making the right passes," Hillesland said.

But his first two-plus years in South Bend have not always been easy and Peoples admitted that there were plenty of times when he was frustrated, especially with inconsistent playing time.

"That's only natural. I think all of the players want to play that are on the bench so there's always some sort of frustration," he said. "But at the same time you have to be happy for the other guys that are out there and support them because you're pushing them in practice and making them better."

Brey has been impressed with the way Peoples has handled his role on the team even after starting a couple of games in the middle of the season.

"When you don't know what bite of the apple you're going to get, it's hard to be completely confident," said Brey. "Ever since we changed the lineup and he didn't start, he's been fabulous. He has been more focused, worked harder and been more intense in practice after I took him out of the starting lineup. That's what I really respect out of the kid."

But Peoples acknowledged that it can still get tough.

"I'm still learning, but I just try not to have frustration on my face," he said. "Like Coach always says, ‘Don't let anyone know that you're frustrated.' I don't want to let him know that I'm frustrated either, so I try to just keep a smile on my face and support the other guys."

Notre Dame is hoping that those frustrations are now in the past.

"When he gets warmed up, he's pretty athletic, he can get in there and get some rebounds and shoot it a little bit and finish inside," said Hillesland. "He's a very talented guy and hopefully we can keep that going for him because I think we found something." Top Stories