Feb. 16, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Perhaps the only question still plaguing Irish head coach Mike Brey revolved around his team’s depth.
In Wednesday’s game, he answered that question.
With forward Ryan Humphrey injured, Brey turned to his bench for some much needed support. And the bench answered.
Brey made it clear heading into the Big East matchup against Rutgers that if it was absolutely necessary, he would play Humphrey. In Wednesday’s game, Humphrey never left the bench.
Instead, the Irish plugged David Graves back into the starting line-up and rotated in sophomore Jere Macura and freshman Torrian Jones.
Jones played 14 minutes in the contest, often running the point despite the fact that Martin Ingelsby remained in the game. He scored four points and registered a single blocked shot.
While the numbers for Jones are not that impressive, he did manage to change the look of the line-up on the floor. His quickness and physicality provided a challenge for Rutgers.
Not to mention his 6-foot-4 frame provided a major obstacle for the outside shooters to go over. He joined in on the defensive effort on Rutgers’ guard Todd Billet, who only had three points at the half.
Macura scored a season-high with 10 points in 14 minutes. He too blocked a shot.
All in all, Brey may have just made some teams shudder. This marks the second straight national television appearance where the Irish have looked poised and in control. The other being the 83-73 St. John’s win.
With just under a month to go, his team is on one of the biggest winning streaks in the country. Heading into this weekend’s contest against Seton Hall, the streak stands at eight.
Notre Dame is in position for a first round bye in the Big East tournament. It would be a first in the history of Irish basketball and one that this team would gladly welcome.
A first round bye, the ability to sub in Jones and Macura and the Irish might just surprise the basketball world in the month of March.