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Crashing the boards

Matt Lozar | Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Taped into every player’s locker before the opening exhibition game against Division II’s Saint Joseph’s was a sheet of paper with three goals on it.

The second goal had to do with having a defensive intensity, rebounding and field goal defense.

A 44-41 rebounding disadvantage and allowing 20 offensive rebounds to a team featuring a tallest player of 6-foot-8 showed the Irish entirely meet that goal.

That’s why the Irish have been emphasizing rebounding since the final buzzer sounded Thursday night and in practice the last several days.

“That’s something we know we need to do but with the style of play we were playing against, we really didn’t attack that hard,” Irish forward Torin Francis said. “They had us out on the perimeter so we didn’t have guys inside getting on the boards. They were sending all their guys to the boards and that’s not the style of play we’re used to playing against. I think basically it’s about being more aggressive.”

In Notre Dame’s defense, Saint Joseph’s style of play was unorthodox for what the Irish are used to seeing. The Pumas offensive system ran its players all over the court with anybody capable and willing of shooting from behind the arc and then crashing the boards.

That clearing of the lane kept the Irish big men away from the hoop.

In practice the past few days, Irish coach Mike Brey has run his players through some drills but feels it’s more mental than physical when it comes down to cleaning the boards.

“We’ve done a little bit of block out stuff, but I think it’s more of what you focus on. Get the big guys a little more focused about getting to the backboard,” Brey said. “They were in tough positions the other night because they were a long way from the bucket.

“I think the team we play [tonight] has a little more size, and they are a little more post up even though they have some big guys that will step out and shoot.”

The Quincy Hawks come to the Joyce Center tonight off a 91-64 loss to Bradley University Thursday.

The Hawks are a Division II school and a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Along with rebounding, Brey wants to see his team continue sharing the ball and working on finding lineup combinations with the deep bench.

“I want to be a little better on the backboard. I love the fact we were so unselfish in moving the ball. I want to see us still do that,” Brey said. “I think for [Chris] Quinn, Francis, [Dennis] Latimore and [Chris] Thomas to just keep getting comfortable playing together. Those four are an important nucleus for us along with then who plugs in with them. We’re still getting familiar in the dress rehearsal type situation.”

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Notes:

u Brey said he will probably continue to hold out forward Rick Cornett from tonight’s game to ensure Cornett’s lower back injury continues to heal and the junior is ready later in the season.

u Brey said former Notre Dame guard Matt Carroll, who was cut Nov. 1 by the Golden State Warriors, is hanging around in the Bay Area because the Warriors may sign him as another practice body in the next few days.

If that doesn’t work out, Brey said Carroll might go to the National Basketball Development League or choose to pursue other career options.

“I talked to our team about this, it’s one of the reasons he went to Notre Dame,” Brey said. “He has a Notre Dame degree, and maybe he gets on with his life. Those are all those decisions he’ll make here in the next month I think.”

u Former Notre Dame guard and current Chicago Bulls general manager John Paxson visited practice Tuesday and was supposed to speak to the team.