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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Irish blast Quincy in final preseason game

Pat Leonard | Monday, November 14, 2005

Chris Quinn led Notre Dame with 20 points as one of four Irish players in double figures Friday night. Notre Dame won its second and final home exhibition game over Division-II Quincy at the Joyce Center, 80-53.

Quinn shot 7-of-13 and made 4-of-7 from 3-point range, helping the Irish shake the rust off of a 35.6 shooting percentage performance in their first exhibition to end the preseason on a favorable note.

“After our first game [with] the way we played offensively, we’ve been concentrating in practice on the offensive end of the floor and getting more movement,” Quinn said. “I think, as you can see, 80 points is a little bit better than, what did we have? 50-something?”

Notre Dame brushed a 59-point performance against Lewis Nov. 3 into the past, particularly with 14-of-15 shooting from its two starting frontcourt members, forward Rob Kurz (7-of-8, 14 points) and center Torin Francis (7-of-7, 16 points, seven rebounds).

Francis scored four points to open Irish scoring that blew the game wide open almost immediately from the tip. Quincy’s Jordan Roth hit a layup after Francis’ first bucket to tie the game at two, but two 3-pointers from Colin Falls (11 points, eight assists) and baskets by Quinn and freshman Ryan Ayers (seven points, two assists) opened a 14-4 lead six minutes in.

That lead grew to 21-9 by the 10-minute mark and 42-20 at halftime. The Irish never trailed in the game and played all available players.

The same starting five of Quinn, Falls, Kurz, Francis and Russell Carter represented the Irish to start and set the tone with a much more poised but forceful style of play in its opening minutes than it had against Lewis.

“They have to play their way out of [the starting lineup] right now,” Brey said. “But nothing’s etched in stone.”

Freshman point guard Kyle McAlarney did not play, sitting with lower back spasms that Brey said he would reevaluate either Tuesday or Wednesday. Forward Omari Israel’s departure from the team also shortened the Notre Dame bench. But Brey’s need to experiment with player combinations did not diminish.

“I’m glad have another nine days before we play again,” Brey said. “It’s been good when we’ve been able to almost get into a football week and just try to do a little bit better than the week before and not get ahead of ourselves.”

Returned from an ankle injury but not fully healthy, forward Rick Cornett played just 14 minutes and shot 1-of-5 from the floor and 0-of-3 from the foul line. Brey played Cornett and Francis together at one point in the shuffle of players but insisted his starting lineup was in the team’s best interests at this point in the season.

“The two bigs we start are our best defensive big guys. They guard,” Brey said. “And they’re physical. The other two guys that come off are coming and are very talented offensively.”

Brey also said playing time of big men is predicated first of all on health, and secondly on who is playing consistently.

Carter, in his second straight start, scored just five points and did not get heavily involved in the offensive onslaught but still, his coach observed, added positives to the gameplan on defense and in running the floor.

“A couple of his drives ignite you a little bit,” Brey said, referring specifically to Carter’s baseline drive-and-dunk early in the second half. “He’s just got to continue to understand he doesn’t have to knock down a 3-point shot to help us.”

Ayers impressed his coaches and teammates in a backup role at point guard when he played without Quinn on the floor. Ayers has auditioned in practice as Quinn’s backup with McAlarney not in the lineup.

His maintenance of the tone set by the starting five Friday kept the game out of reach of Quincy.

“Once we secured the defensive rebound, we were getting out and we were running,” Quinn said. “And when we can get some easy baskets, that always helps.”