No Technical Difficulties for ND

Games like these are usually reserved for November and December when those so-called "directional schools" visit for non-conference games. But Notre Dame put up staggering numbers against a Big East opponent Saturday afternoon -- some of the best in program history, in fact. Here's the report.

Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™

February 22, 2003

Tech Provides No Difficulties
For Can't Miss Irish

By Alan Tieuli
IrishEyes Magazine

(IE) – These types of performances are usually reserved for November and December, when the stakes are lower, the attention to detail is lessened and the opponent is from a conference at the bottom of the RPI. 

Ninety-eight points in a game?  Sixty-four points in a half?  In a late February Big East Conference basketball game with a share of first-place on the line? 

Notre Dame’s 98-76 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon was indeed reality.  The points scored by the Irish represent their most ever in a Big East game that did not extend to overtime.  The second-half explosion set a program record for most points in one half of a Big East game and just fell short of the Joyce Center record (71). 

“When we play patiently, trust each other on offense and pass the ball around, we are a hard team to stop,” said senior guard Matt Carroll, who provided a team-high 25 points. 

The Irish scored 42 more points in this one than their 56-55 victory at West Virginia Tuesday, an improvement directly attributable to sublime second-half shooting – 23-for-32, 72-percent.  That’s field goal percentage, folks. 

“When you score 64 points in the second-half,” understated coach Mike Brey, “you have to be pretty efficient.  We didn’t force anything; we just took what the defense gave us and made the extra baskets. 

“What we did today,” Brey continued, “we should do all the time.” 

Wouldn’t that be frightening to the rest of the Big East and, for the matter, the Field of 65? 

Notre Dame is now 21-5 overall, 9-3 in the Big East, and in a three-way tie for first with idle Syracuse and Pittsburgh (easy victors over Rutgers).  Virginia Tech – improved, but still a have-not in the conference – is 3-9 in the East Division, 10-15 overall. The Irish have now won 16 straight at the Joyce Center and are 14-0 on the friendly floorboards this year.   

The Irish received outstanding contributions from the familiar faces.  In addition to Carroll’s 25 (on nine-for-16 shooting), point guard Chris Thomas had 21 points and 13 assists, and senior forward Dan Miller contributed 22 points and six rebounds.  For Thomas, it was the most successful dishes he’s had in a Big East game and it matched his career high (set twice in November/December blow-outs).   For Miller, it was one point off his Irish career high (Canisius on Dec. 22) and obviously his Big East best. 

“We showed our offensive power,” Miller said.  “We just have to keep that type of tempo and attitude on offense.” 

Torrian Jones also had a splendid game, scoring 12 points on six-for-eight shooting while grabbing nine rebounds.  He played 31 minutes, showing his versatility by playing many spots on the floor. 

“He’s been just great all year,” said Brey of Jones. “Clearly he is our most athletic players and our defender.” 

And there were times in this one where the visiting Hokies needed to be stopped.  Terry Taylor, a massive 6-8, 292-pound center, had 27 points and swingman Bryant Matthews contributed 19, but ultimately the Hokies were done in by their lack of depth (starter Carlos Dixon is out with a broken foot) and a porous defense. 

“I was pleased with how hard we played for about 35 minutes,” said Tech coach Rickey Stokes. 

Notre Dame scored the first eight points of the second-half.  After Virginia Tech closed to within five (42-37) the Irish put the game away with a four-minute, 14-4 run that was culminated by a Tom Timmermans (eight points) dunk at the 14:03 mark.   There weren’t many stops by the Hokies after that.

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IRISHEYES NOTEBOOK:  Though seeing Virginia Tech on the schedule usually doesn’t quicken the pulse, tell that to 11,450 at the Joyce Center on this day. “One of the great things about the Big East is that all of the environments are fantastic,” said Tech’s Stokes. “This place ranks with all the others.”……The Irish have not gone unbeaten at home since 1985-86, when the Ken Barlow-captained squad went 23-6 overall, 15-0 at the local address.  Notably, however, that team did not beat a ranked opponent at home while this squad has already bested two (Marquette and Pittsburgh) and two more (Connecticut and Syracuse) await…..Brey’s prediction on Thursday that Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun would be on the Husky bench for Monday’s contest against the Irish would seem to be correct.  Calhoun directed his team to victory Saturday afternoon in Storrs versus plunging St. John’s.  Calhoun is scheduled to travel with the team to South Bend Sunday…..Brey is exceptionally proud that he is team is on the verge of achieving double-digit conference victories for the third consecutive years. “There aren’t a lot of of programs who have done that in any league,” he said.  In the Big East, Notre Dame would be the only team to have done in the past three campaigns…..Seton Hall remains one game behind the West leaders in the loss column.  The Pirates got by at West Virginia Saturday and have won six straight conference games.  Might the Big East Coach of the Year award come down to who’s program finishes higher in the West – Notre Dame (Brey), Syracuse (Jim Boeheim) or the Hall (Louis Orr)?

 (Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes Magazine and can be reached at aatandsonspr@aol.com.   For subscription information on IrishEyes Magazine please visit www.irisheyes.com or call 888-501-5752)


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