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Present and future

Matt Lozar | Thursday, November 11, 2004

The other “Chris” in the Notre Dame backcourt showed he’s got some game Wednesday night.

Chris Quinn’s game-high 25 points paced the Irish as they cruised to an 80-61 victory over Division II Quincy at the Joyce Center.

“He’s really a heck of a guard and one of the most underrated guards in the [Big East] and nationally,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “It probably won’t be as much of a secret in December. [He’s] so solid, [the] game comes easy to him, doesn’t really force a thing. It’s fun to watch his maturity and confidence level growing.”

In his second game in an Irish uniform, senior Dennis Latimore looked more comfortable than he did in the exhibition opener against St. Joseph’s. That game was his first since February 2003.

Latimore came out more aggressive and with more energy on both ends of the floor against the Hawks.

He hit a couple of fadeaway jump shots along with getting a breakaway steal leading to an uncontested dunk on the other end.

“I tried to work on that,” Latimore said. “It’s a big difference coming from a practice situation to a game situation. Game speed is so much quicker, and it took me the whole first game to adjust. I think I’m adjusted to that now.”

That spurt from Latimore came during a 23-8 run in the first half that saw the Irish turn an 8-5 deficit into a 36-16 lead.

“We’re going to be good offensively,” Brey said. “We’ve just got to make sure we know what our shot is. I think we are still learning that, but that’s a fine line. I love when guys are confident and aggressive.

“We got to 80 pretty easy tonight, and 80 in a college basketball game is a lot of points. We are shooting it well and making the extra pass out there.”

Playing against a more conventional opponent in Quincy, the Irish were able to turn up their defensive effort and not just try to keep up with the quick up-and-down pace of St. Joseph’s.

After a slow start, the Irish picked up their energy level and started getting in the face of their opponents and jumping the passing lanes.

They outrebounded the Hawks 37-33 – including 17 offensive rebounds – and forced 22 turnovers while getting 15 steals.

“I thought we were a lot better on defense challenging shots, getting hands on balls,” Irish guard Chris Thomas said. “We had a lot of guys going after the ball on rebounds. We tried to make a conscious effort of doing it on the defensive end in the backcourt.”

The Irish will practice today and take Friday off as they get ready for the regular season opener against Harvard Nov. 19 at the Joyce Center.

Unlike in years past, Brey feels his team has something tangible to gauge itself on and doesn’t have to wait for the regular season to start to get an accurate assessment of his group.

“We got a lot out of both exhibition games. We got to prepare for a system,” Brey said. “You have a group that isn’t going to let up and keep coming after you. Having to prepare is really helpful so I love the rule and I thought I would.

“This is the first time we can ever say in my memory as a head coach that we got a lot out of both exhibition games.”


u Irish forward Rick Cornett dressed for the game but did not play. Brey said he fully expects Cornett to play in the Harvard game.