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The dramatic return

Andrew Soukup | Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Mike Brey was talking to his Notre Dame players during a TV timeout, but he knew nobody was listening to him.Instead, Brey saw the eyes of Chris Thomas and Torrian Jones looking past him at Chris Quinn who lay on the Joyce Center court grabbing his leg.A little under six minutes into the second half, Quinn drove into the lane, fired up an off-balance jumper, and landed awkwardly on the same ankle he injured during a loss at Rutgers a week and a half ago. Aided by Dennis Latimore and Greg Bosl, Quinn hobbled toward the Irish locker room in obvious pain, his future for the season seemingly in doubt.”It was really hurting at the beginning,” Quinn said. “I didn’t hear anything pop, but it was really hurting.”Notre Dame played without him for exactly two more minutes, until the next media timeout was called with 11:53 in the game. Suddenly, Quinn jogged out of the Irish tunnel across the court to a deafening roar from the crowd, taking his spot on the Irish bench with a grin on his face.”I’ve never had anything happen like that before,” he smiled after the game. “It was crazy.”Although he returned to the game around the halfway point of the second half, Quinn didn’t score. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting.”How do you like the Willis Reed comeback,” Brey said. “That was pretty dramatic around here.”

FrancisTorin Francis, who left Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh midway through the first half with back spasms, started but couldn’t finish Notre Dame’s win against Connecticut Wednesday with the same injury.But the Irish weren’t expecting much out of the sophomore, who didn’t practice Sunday.”We prepared yesterday like Torin wasn’t going to be here,” Brey said. “At 8 a.m, no way, at 3 p.m., maybe, [and] I said warm up and tell me if you can go. If you can go, we’ll start you. And he gave it a try, but he’s not ready. We need to get him some rest.”Francis was adamant that he would be ready to play Saturday against Seton Hall, but he also said that he would probably not practice for the next few days in order to get better.Brey thought Francis’ absence may have actually helped the Irish, for it forced players to intensify their game.”I think maybe your concentration heightens a little bit when Torin‚s not playing today,” Brey said. “It was like, ‘Wow, everybody’s got to be better. Everybody really has to be sharp because he’s not going to play. That is probably a factor psychologically.”

Graves returnsFormer Notre Dame guard David Graves, who graduated in 2002, attended Notre Dame’s win Monday night. He had seats in the front row behind press row, but spent most of the game on his feet cheering on the Irish and getting on the officials.Notre Dame’s 80-74 victory against Connecticut Monday summoned images of Graves’ sophomore year, when the Irish beat the No. 2 Huskies in Hartford. Notre Dame then knocked off Connecticut again a month later in South Bend, touching off a court-rushing scene similar to the bedlam that ensued after the fans rushed the court Monday.”This brings back good memories,” Graves smiled.At least one Notre Dame player saw Graves, who stopped by the euphoric Irish locker room, during the game.”That was for him,” Jones said. “I looked over in the second half and saw him cheering, and I thought, ‘I got to get it for my man.'”