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Men’s Basketball: Rutgers presents tough test

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, February 8, 2006

At the risk of sounding obvious, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey made his major goal for tonight’s game against Rutgers absolutely clear.

“Douby can’t get 50 [points],” Brey said before Monday’s practice. “We’ve got to slow that down.”

The Rutgers junior guard who has opposing coaches referring to him by one name goes by the first name Quincy. He also leads the Big East in scoring as his team heads into the Joyce Center for a 7:30 p.m. tip.

Douby averages 23.9 points per game for the Scarlet Knights (13-9, 3-6 Big East). He scored a career-high 41 points one week ago against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. But Rutgers lost that game, 86-64, one of six defeats in its last eight games – a type of streak all too familiar to Brey’s ears.

“[Our two teams] are kind of in the same boat, trying to dig out of a hole,” Brey said. “Neither one of us has been very good the last couple weeks – haven’t won a game in a while.”

Notre Dame (10-10, 1-8) is desperate for a conference win after losing its fifth straight game and eight of its first nine in Big East play. The Irish’s predicament since its 0-3 conference start has been simple, but complicated.

They’ve needed to win – simple. They’ve needed to close out close games against hot or nationally ranked foes, at home and on the road – to this point, a complicated task.

“I think we’ve gone into every game the last four or five games [saying] ‘We need this game, bottom line,’ and it hasn’t turned out that way,” Notre Dame shooting guard Colin Falls said Monday. “There’s still a chance, but there’s so many games left and so many key wins we can get out there, I think [tonight] would be a great start.”

Notre Dame and Rutgers are each coming off a series of close losses.

The Irish lost by three points in overtime to Louisville Saturday (89-86) and by one point to West Virginia on Feb. 1 (71-70). After dropping its Feb. 1 game to the Orange, the Scarlet Knights drove north in New Jersey to face Seton Hall, who dropped Rutgers by six, 73-67.

“Everything runs through [Douby],” Falls said Monday. “I think if we can get a game plan that contains him, we’ll be alright.”

Rutgers is similar to the squad that beat Notre Dame last season in the first round of the Big East tournament, 72-65.

The Scarlet Knights are minus former guard Ricky Shields, but guard Marquis Webb (9.3 points, three rebounds) starts alongside Douby, J.R. Inman, Anthony Farmer and Byron Joynes.

The Irish and Scarlet Knights are knotted at 11 in the all-time series, with Notre Dame leading 7-2 when they play at the Joyce Center. But the Irish need a win, especially with a week off following the game before its next conference game, against last place South Florida.

“I think you’ve lost some tough ones where maybe in the back of your mind you’re thinking, ‘Maybe it’s our turn,'” Brey said. “But you’ve got to make it your turn.”