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Indiana game exploits Notre Dame's weakness

Dec. 6, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Tuesday night’s game could have been entitled the tale of two defenses.

The Hoosier defense that showed up and the Irish one that did not.

Indiana employed the Hoosier standard help defense that led the team to its eleventh win in 12 years over the Irish.

Notre Dame employed a defense fraught with confusion and missed assignments, leading the Irish to its first loss of the season.

“Defensively we have been playing well the whole year,” Indiana head coach Mike Davis said.

Indiana held the Irish to one of their worst shooting percentages of the year. Notre Dame posted just 38 percent in field goal percentage.

“[Troy] Murphy is a really good basketball player,” Davis said. “We had talked about double-teaming him in the post. With Jeffries and Newton, I felt like those guys could get a hand up in his face and give him a tough time in the post.”

Davis’ players did exactly that. Notre Dame’s All-American turned in his worst performance thus far. He scored just 15 points in 37 minutes of play.

Heading into Tuesday’s game, Irish head coach Mike Brey was unsure if Murphy would play at all. The power forward for the Irish is nursing a severely sprained right ankle. He suffered the injury at Monday’s practice.

When asked what went wrong for the Irish after the game, junior David Graves simply responded.

“Everything went wrong and nothing went right,” he said.

His conclusion is exactly right.

Notre Dame’s hottest player, Murphy, could not get started. One of Indiana’s up-and-comers, Tom Coverdale, scored on IU’s first possession and never stopped. He finished the game with 30 points, a career-high.

“We didn’t play great defense in Nashville but it didn’t cost us the game” Brey said. “Against this team, we just were not tough enough on the defensive end.”

Coverdale proved to be the dagger in this game. If he was not killing the Irish from the outside, the guard penetrated the lane for a layup.

“Watching the tape of them [Notre Dame], defensively, I didn’t feel that they really got into people and played them aggressively,” Davis said.

Davis’ team just kept on doing what they had been doing. Indiana shot 50+ percent from the floor in the last two games. Tuesday night was no different, as the Hoosiers shot 53.3 percent.

“I didn’t think that we completely threw ourselves into defensive possessions like two or three in row,” Brey said. “That was the only way we were going to get back into the game and we couldn’t two or three stops in a row.”

The first year head coach was right. His team tried to rally but could not make the critical stops on the other end. The Hoosiers started off the second half on a 13-2 run, giving them the lead. Indiana never looked back.

The Hoosiers backed up their strong offensive numbers with a solid help defense. The Irish backed up their sub-par offensive performance with on the same on the defensive end.