Feb. 3, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – You win some and you lose some.
David Graves found that out the hard way.
Early in the season, Graves partnered up with Troy Murphy to wreak havoc on opposing teams. In the past few games, he no longer battled opposing defenses but a severe shooting slump.
He appeared to be losing the battle.
The sophomore forward caused a quite a stir early for the Irish, sinking the game winning shot against Ohio State and scoring 33 points against Vanderbilt.
Graves’ play in the Big East went relatively unnoticed till the West Virginia game. He broke into the double digits for the first time since early January. His 17 points against the Mountaineers ranked as his best performance since the beginning of conference play.
In the first half, it appeared as though this game would be no different than the rest. He hit a jumper early but that is the only shot he took. Graves also sank two free-throws and went into the locker room at halftime with just four points.
“I just hit shots,” Graves said of his second half surge. “They were guarding me well early but there is more to the game then just shooting. If they are guarding me well, I am not going to force it. I haven’t been shooting well, but the last four of five games I think I have been playing well.”
In Wednesday’s game, Graves teamed up with freshman Matt Carroll to lead Notre Dame to a 79-65 win.
Carroll chipped in 17 points as well. Murphy contributed 16 points as well as nine rebounds.
The threesome helped rally Notre Dame from a 17-point deficit in the first half to a 14-point victory in the end. The Irish surged to close the first half down by six points and then really turned on the heat midway through the second half.
“I felt great tonight. I got a lot out of the crowd and their energy helped a lot,” Graves said. “We were down 17 and it was a ‘gut-check’. That fact that we protected our home court, showed our team’s character.”
Graves’ true character has shown through in these tough times. Despite not registering the big numbers, he still remains a constant threat from behind the arc. He is ranked sixth in the Big East in 3-pointers. Also he is ranked third in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage.
“David was exceptional tonight,” Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty said. “He grabbed some tough rebounds.”
Graves was one of three players to snatch nine rebounds. Murphy and Harold Swanagan grabbed nine boards as well.
Graves teamed up with Carroll, Martin Ingelsby and Mike Monserez in practice on Tuesday. The four of them shot for two hours, playing a shooting game, at the optional shoot around.
It is that “carefree but still competitive” shooting, which Doherty believes, may have done the trick.
“All of sudden because of that, the basket looks a little bit bigger to them,” Doherty said.
One thing that Doherty wants to ensure is that his team has fresh legs. He needs players like Graves to keep a bounce in their step as tournament time approaches. The Irish still have eight conference games left with five of them being staged on the road.