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Brey wants Quinn to be aggressive from tip-off

Andrew Soukup | Friday, January 16, 2004

His shot wasn’t falling, his game was suffering and Chris Quinn was struggling.

So after Notre Dame’s loss to Indiana Dec. 10, Irish coach Mike Brey made Quinn the team’s sixth man for Notre Dame’s next six games to shake up the Irish lineup.

The results were impressive. Quinn shot 33-for-57 over the stretch, averaged 16 points a game and went four straight games without a turnover.

Convinced that Quinn had shaken whatever ailed him, Brey re-inserted the sophomore guard into the lineup against Pittsburgh and said Quinn will start Saturday against the Orangemen.

“There was a change in his dynamic a bit, his awareness was heightened and it jump-started his play,” Brey said of the initial switch. “That’s great. But now I want him going out with 19:59 on the game clock.”

Quinn, for his part, took the switch in stride. While his minutes didn’t drop, he feels ready to be back on the floor during the opening tip. And Quinn is willing to take what Brey told him to heart.

“He has been impressing upon me all year not to pass up any shots,” the sophomore said. “He wants me to be aggressive because for our team to be successful, I’m going to have to get off some shots.”

In his element

At the beginning of the season, senior Torrian Jones felt ready to explode. He’d worked all summer on improving many different aspects of his game, and Jones – a three-year role player for the Irish – relished the opportunity to see his first extended minutes.

But in his last three games, Jones has averaged a double-double – 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds – in part because Brey said Jones has returned to doing what he does best – playing tough defense, slashing to the basket and tipping in rebounds.

“You gotta let a guy try a little bit of everything,” Brey said. “But when it comes down to it, that’s who you are and that’s who he is.”

Jones, one of Notre Dame’s most vocal leaders, knows the Irish often key off his play. That’s why he feels it’s his responsibility to help set the tone in big games like Saturday’s clash against Syracuse.

“My play on the court is going to reflect the rest of the team’s play, and they are going to look to me for guidance and leadership on the court,” Jones said. “When I’m out there, I’m staying within myself, doing the small things to affect the team in a positive way.”

New member

With Notre Dame’s big men beset by injuries, Brey started looking for another body to help the Irish in practice.

So he turned to the football team.

Enter 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end John Carlson, who joined the basketball team over Christmas Break with football coach Tyrone Willingham’s blessing. Carlson is the first athlete to play both football and basketball since wide receiver Javin Hunter walked onto the basketball team five years ago.

“It was completely out of the blue,” the freshman said. “Coming into break, I expected to stay home for awhile and come back for off-season training. I didn’t expect it at all.”

Carlson, who was recruited by a handful of schools to play basketball, said that the football team was fine with his dabble on the hardcourt as long as he maintained his training regimen and kept his grades up.

He knows there’s little chance he’ll see significant – or even any – playing time this year. But Brey has been highly complimentary of Carlson’s play.

“If he had to go in a game,” the coach smiled, “he’d handle himself OK.”