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Quinn listens to coach’s advice

Andrew Soukup | Thursday, January 29, 2004

Exactly three minutes into Notre Dame’s 72-62 win against Miami Wednesday night, Chris Quinn stopped his sprint down the left side of the court, caught a pass, and drilled a 3-pointer that sent the Joyce Center crowd into a frenzy.Another minute expired on the game clock, and Quinn again found himself all alone on the left side of the court with the ball in his hands. He launched another 3-point shot toward the basket, and watched as it hit exactly nothing – an ugly airball that caused the sophomore’s shoulders to briefly slump.On the Irish sideline, Irish coach Mike Brey grinned.Quinn was finally playing aggressively.”We had this thing in the game notes … that he didn’t have a turnover for five games,” Brey said of Quinn’s turnover-less streak earlier in the season. “Throw one in the band. Be more aggressive,” the coach told his guard.So the sophomore did.And he picked a good night to do so. On a night where Chris Thomas struggled to score – something that normally spells doom for the Irish – Quinn responded by handling the ball more and smoothly running the offense.The player, who Brey jokingly referred to last year as “the 12-year-old,” because that was exactly how old he looked, helped the Irish play more maturely. And it was about time, for Quinn had recently looked less like one of the better starters in the Big East and more like a so-so sixth man afraid to take stats away from the starters.If Notre Dame makes the NCAA Tournament, scholars may look back at the 10:17 mark in the second half as the point where the Irish discovered their identity.Earlier, Brey had already barked at Thomas for not passing the ball down quicker to Francis, who was simply abusing an undersized and undertalented Miami defense.But after one sickening play, where Thomas flipped an ugly something (it was hard to tell if it was a pass or a shot) off the backboard, Brey’s ire was apparently sufficiently raised.Out came Thomas for his first breather in over 60 minutes. In came a stretch where the Irish showed how good they can be.With their star point guard off the floor, Quinn calmly dictated the game. The player who the Hurricanes defense was designed to contain was no longer on the court, and Miami looked lost. In a four-minute stretch with Thomas on the bench, Notre Dame stretched a seven-point margin into a 14-point lead keyed largely by stingy defense and Quinn’s calm management of the game.By the time Thomas returned with 6:42 left, the game was all but over.Much like Notre Dame’s win earlier this year against DePaul, when the Irish were reeling from losses against Marquette, Central Michigan and Indiana, Wednesday’s win over Miami may have been a remedy the Irish needed to erase performances against Syracuse and Kentucky.At the center of Notre Dame’s success Wednesday rested Quinn, whose steady combination of efficiency and aggressiveness gave the Irish a win they desperately needed.And Brey wants him to keep playing like that. Even if it means his sophomore guard fires more airballs.”I don’t care,” the Irish coach said. “Get on back, steal it, and shoot it again.”We need him to be aggressive.”

The views expresse in this column are those of the author and not neccessarily those of The Observer. Contact Andrew Soukup at asoukup@nd.edu.