Nov. 19, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Most head basketball coaches dread the full-court press.
Not Irish head coach Matt Doherty, he likes it and now the world knows why.
“This may sound crazy but I encourage the press,” Doherty said. “Maybe I should not tell that because I don’t want teams to know what we like to play against. I want them to press us because once you get the ball caught you have lay-up and jump shot opportunities.”
Siena came at Notre Dame with all its pressure and the Irish walked away victorious, 107-96. The 107 points proved to be the most for Notre Dame since 1990 when they destroyed Miami, 107-60.
Notre Dame shot a whopping 60 percent from the floor, which Doherty attributes to the Siena press. The coach said that the press forces a team to either turn the ball over or get a lay-up. The Irish also had 27 turnovers for the night.
“Execution, plain and simple,” Doherty explained as the key to beating the press. “We actually had a walk through earlier before the game. I usually don’t do that but since we had only one day to prepare for Siena I thought we needed to spend some more time.”
While the Irish squad initially struggled with the press, it soon found the key to beating it. Notre Dame really found its rhythm in the second half.
“In the second half it flowed really well and it was nice having Matt Carroll there at the end of it with those sweet jumpers,” Doherty said.
Each time Notre Dame beat the pressure, it seemed that freshman reserve Matt Carroll reaped the benefits with 16 points in the game. Twelve of those points came in the second half. At one point the freshman guard hit two back-to-back threes and roused the 5,736 fans in the Joyce Center to their feet.
“They did a great job of spreading of their shooters out,” Siena head coach Paul Hewitt said. “It seems like our big guys didn’t leave the whole to contest their shots. We talk about trust a lot on our team. Trust, that when you leave the hole, your teammate is going to drop back there to help you out. It seems like we were tentative leaving the hole and left Matt Carroll open for a ton of shots. I am not sure how many he made but it seemed like he made a hundred of them tonight.”
Last night’s win, secured a homecoming for Doherty who is originally from Long Island. Notre Dame is set to play in the Preseason NIT semi-finals the day before Thanksgiving.
“Its special,” Doherty said about his return to New York. “I played in the Garden. I have been an assistant coach in the Garden. And now I will be the head coach of Notre Dame in the Garden. The hair is raising up on my arms as we speak.”
Doherty wants nothing more than a special homecoming but first he reminds all that the team must first take on St. Francis on Sunday.