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  • Wonder, Think & Know: Head Sewn to the Carpet Edition

    by Mike Coffey

    I know, the late great Mike Royko never said “some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know”, Bernie Lincicome did. I still don’t have a new name for the column, but if you think I’m letting five overtimes go by without commentary, you’re nuts.

    By the way, that was the headline I was planning on using if the Irish had won in Miami on January 7th. Glad it didn’t go to waste.

    This is one of those fulcrum games on which a season can pivot. The team I watched the first 39 minutes would be lucky to make the NIT, let alone win a game there. The team I watched the last 26 minutes can do some damage. The energy and focus needs to be a mainstay rather than an infrequent visitor.

    In the last minute, Jerian Grant took over the game. In the second overtime, Garrick Sherman took over the game. In the fifth overtime, my beta-blockers took over the game.

    If confidence was a concern for Sherman, hopefully this game goes a long way towards giving him some. He played fearlessly. I remember one play in the third overtime where he got the ball down low on the left and he waved away his teammates to set himself up for an isolation play. He drove the defender back towards the basket and hooked the ball in.

    Eric Atkins had a tough game overall, but it seemed like every play, he was getting the ball where it needed to be. If Grant can be the spark the way he was late in regulation, they can be an effective pair. But a guard who can’t be consistent at the free throw line is a liability, and that needs to be fixed.

    This was a great game for Cam Biedscheid and Zach Auguste. They played with confidence, they contributed. They still get lost on defense sometimes, but no freshman is perfect. This is the kind of game that tempers the steel that is young players and will pay dividends for ND, both this season and in the coming years.

    I don’t believe in substitution for its own sake. Having said that, this game is more than enough evidence that at least nine players on this team can be counted on, so I hope those players are given a chance as the season winds down.

    I’m ashamed of myself that when Auguste fouled out, my first thought was, “Damn, he’s going to have to play Crowley.” Sorry, Austin. Won’t happen again.

    Great win, but as Brey said, it only counts for one. Won’t mean a damn thing if they don’t bring it hard against the Demons on Wednesday.

    8 Responses to “Wonder, Think & Know: Head Sewn to the Carpet Edition”

    1. I guess I missed something, after turning the game off with 1:30 left.

    2. martinjordan says:

      I was at the four overtime game against Georgetown when Chris Thomas played all 60 minutes. The difference in that game, as in this one was fresh legs and depth. Jordan Cornette came off the bench in the fourth OT and hit a big three when both teams were exhausted. In this one Garrick Sherman’s fresh legs were the difference. This should give him back his confidence.

      I hope Brey continues to find minutes for all of them because he’s going to need all of them to make a deep run into the tournament. It’s wide open this year and this team has enough talent to make a run.

      Jerian Grant has no conscience when it comes to hitting clutch shots. Last year he hit key shots down the stretch in the comeback against Villanova. This year against ‘Nova he missed a bunch of free throws early but was perfect down the stretch. The basketball version of Joe Montana.

      Great Win!

    3. Cooley fouls out with 7 minutes left in regulation, which is 32 minutes of gametime before the end of the game. Grant goes nuts at the end of regulation, but fouls out with (it turns out) 22 minutes left in the game. Atkins plays 60 minutes of basketball – I can see why his legs were too tired to make a foul shot in the last overtime. Biedscheid doesn’t start and gets 50 minutes of playing time. I have to mention the great effort by the others, like Connaughton, Auguste, Sherman, and Knight.

      This is the definition of a TEAM win.

    4. Captain Jack says:

      A really great team win! Going into this season, I really thought this could be a team more likely to make a deep run then last years squad. The obvious reasons to me were the freshmen additions and Sherman. I thought this would be the year that Coach Brey would actually…wait for it…have a real rotation!!!! But in actuality it takes 5OT’s for him to be forced to play 9 whole guys!
      I think he has done an admirable job of coaching this team to be a consistent NCAA tourney team but they are one and done far to often and a big part of that is the lack of a rotation. If Brey actually played on 8 or 9 guys then maybe if one or two guys early in a tourney game struggled you can pull them instead of watching as one cold shooting game by a few means an automatic exit in the 1st round! Again I think when he first arrived there was a depth and talent deficiency problem but this years team can go 9 deep and he needs to use them for there to be any chance at making a real run this year.

    5. After Grant did his thing at the end of regulation I knew they would end up on the winning side!
      I just had no idea it would be 5 OT’s…………….. Brey needs to work all of them in all of the remaining games. Great job lads…

    6. I’m with Cap Jack on this one. Brey’s team seem always fall woefully short come tournament time, and part of that has to be the lack of utilizing, and developing, the bench play. Rotate 9 and this team can make it to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. I don’t see it beyond that but this would be so much better than what we’ve seen out of ND b.b. teams.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Trouble with that is, a lot of teams in the Sweet 16 get there with a core rotation of 6 or 7.

    7. Greg Miller'92 says:

      Someone else had mentioned to me about Sherman having fresh legs making a big difference. It had to help. It was cool to see someone rarely play for 6 games only play the overtimes and almost be the leading scorer.

      Now what I really want to say: I have a feeling that will be the game of a lifetime. The emotional roller coaster was out of this world. It made me think of being at the Notre Dame vs Miami football game in 1988. This was the first basketball game I have seen live since being a student. My 11 year old and I made the weekend 8 hour trip for a father-daughter weekend taking in the Hockey game on Friday and basketball on Saturday. Even when the teams lose the weekends are awesome but to top it off with a 5 OT win is indescribable. The student section as always was outstanding [a co-worker commented on this as well (she is just a sports fan who happened to get hooked into watching the game)]. Having the rest of the crowd stand from 30 seconds in regulation all the way until the end of 5 OTs made it even more special.

      Tickets: $60
      Two Night Hotel Stay: $318
      Losing your voice screaming as loud as you can while high-fiving and dancing the Irish jig with your 11 year old daughter during a 5OT thriller: Absolutely priceless

      Both my daughter and I will never forget that experience and have a special bond because of that night. Thank you Notre Dame Basketball, Notre Dame students and the rest of the fans that did not leave before Reggie Miller showed up (actually, it was better than Reggie Miller so thank you as well Jerian Grant).

      That brings up another point. I told my daughter that I make it a point to never leave a high school or college sporting event because of the score. They are not playing for substantial money (getting a scholarship, yes, but they work hard for it), they are still playing their hearts out even when losing. Unfortunately, my daughter has a great memory. 4-5 years ago our family went to the Gopher vs Iowa football game at the Metrodome with our neighbors and my sister. The Gophers were losing 55-0 and I wanted to leave with 4 minutes left. My kids were having a blast and wanted to stay to the end. She, of course pointed that out. I then had to admit that I had been wrong once in my life.