Men’s Basketball: Irish roll Lafayette, 84-66
Bobby Griffin | Monday, November 21, 2005
Irish forward Rob Kurz made his presence known in the low post and Chris Quinn settled into his new point guard responsibilities Sunday as Notre Dame beat Lafayette College 84-66 in the team’s first regular season game of the season.
Kurz led all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting, but more important were his eight rebounds – seven of which came on the offensive end – that allowed the Irish to control the boards by a 43-to-29 margin.
Kurz scored six points on three putbacks in the second half alone.
“The thing that kind of really broke it open was Kurz on the offensive boards,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “His energy kind of gave us a lift to stretch it to 20 or 22 or whatever it was.”
Quinn finished the game 5-of-10 from the field for 15 points. He added nine assists and five steals, but turned the ball over four times in his first regular-season game handling the point full time for the Irish.
“That’s probably a few too many turnovers for him,” Brey said. “I’m shocked he turned it over four times, but it’s a little different than when he played before because it’s in his hands all the time. But still he made plays.”
Quinn made two field goals at the end of the half to give the Irish momentum, one coming on a layup with 52 seconds remaining and the other a runner with four seconds left.
After rushing shots early in the half, Quinn settled down and impressed his coach in his first regular season game of the year.
“I guess probably the best compliment I would give is I never even worry about that position,” Brey said. “I was watching the other four guys. When you have a good guard like that, hopefully you just watch the other four guys and figure out what you’re doing there.”
The Irish ran their offense quickly during the first half, not allowing Lafayette to set up on the defensive end. Brey said he wanted to move the ball up the court in order to get easy looks.
“We just want to get down a little quicker,” Brey said. “I think it really gets you on your toes rather than on your heels.
“It stretches the defense down the floor and it gives Quinn and Falls opportunities to attack on early offense instead of walking it up and grinding it five on five all the time.”
Quinn said after the game that getting the ball and running was a key for Notre Dame heading into the contest.
“We wanted to get out and run and be aggressive on the offensive end of the floor,” Quinn said. “I think [in this game] and the last exhibition we did a great job of running the floor and it showed in our offensive production.”
Brey experimented with a variety of on-court combinations for the third straight game this season. He used Quinn with McAlarney in the backcourt, and the freshman looked especially good handling Lafayette’s full-court pressure.
“I feel really confident with my ball-handling skills and the guys who are out there with me do a good job coming back to the ball on the trap,” McAlarney said.
Brey said he was disappointed with some of the little things that Notre Dame did wrong, namely missing easy layups and free throws. Irish guard Colin Falls missed a layup with 14:36 remaining in the first half.
Falls finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, 5-of-10 from three-point range.
The Irish only made one field goal – a layup by Russell Carter with 3:20 remaining – in the final nine minutes. They did score 16 points in that stretch, however.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half using the line; I think that can be a weapon for us,” Brey said.
Torin Francis finished the game with 8 points on 2-of-5 shooting and a game-high 14 rebounds.
u Former Indiana Mr. Basketball Luke Zeller fouled out in just 11 minutes in his first game with the Irish. The 6-foot-11 freshman was held scoreless and had just three rebounds.
But his coach was impressed with the intensity he brought on the defensive end.
“I feel for Luke a little bit, but a couple of his fouls, I love that he just crushed somebody and nobody got an easy look at a bucket,” Brey said. “We gotta give our body up there, we have enough big guys we can play if someone’s in foul trouble