Jan. 21, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Concentration is the key to success.
The Notre Dame men’s basketball team’s concentration has slipped considerably and so has the team’s success. Irish men’s basketball coach Matt Doherty realizes that this very lack of concentration has caused his team to slip to 2-2 in conference play.
“I am little concerned about our play of late,” Doherty said. “If you told me back in the fall we would be 2-2 after the first four games in the Big East, I would have said that is fair. We beat UConn at UConn, which is a great win for our program. UConn was not as sharp as they had been in the past I know. We haven’t had a sharp practice since then.”
The team took a day off on Wednesday and resumed with what Doherty hoped would be one of the toughest practices all year on Thursday. He planned on doing two hours of defense, dealing with physical play and mental toughness.
“Our zone didn’t react well to Shumpert which was disappointing,” Doherty said. “You also have to give them credit because they are a helluva team. They really have a lot of balance.”
The zone did not react well to Syracuse’s Preston Shumpert’s three-pointers or to Rutger’s Todd Billet’s shooting. Shumpert and Billet led their team to crushing victories over the Irish, dropping Notre Dame to 2-2 in Big East play.
“Against Rutgers, Coach Bannon did a great job of having his team prepared,” Doherty said. “They came out and were very physical. We reacted like little boys. “
The disappointment in his team’s play is quite evident in Doherty’s responses. The Irish shot just 30 percent from the field against Rutgers, which registers as one of its worst performances this season.
“We didn’t react to their punches,” Doherty said about the team’s play on Tuesday night. “We wilted in the corner and felt sorry for ourselves.”
On Saturday, the Irish will face the struggling Panthers. Pitt currently ranks dead last in the Big East and the team has yet to capture its first win in the conference.
“The scary thing is that they haven’t won,” Doherty said about the Panthers. “You know that they are going to have a breakout game because they almost had one the other night against Syracuse.”
Despite being 0-4 in the Big East, Pitt still retains some strong players. Junior Ricardo Greer ranks fifth in the conference in scoring. Greer averages around 18 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. He is first in the conference ahead of Notre Dame’s Troy Murphy in rebounding. With his 11 rebounds per game, Greer ranks fifth in the nation.
“They are a little smaller but they are tough, quick and athletic,” Doherty said. “I know that Coach Allen is a helluva coach. I just hope that they don’t have their breakout game on Saturday in South Bend.”
Notre Dame kicks off its four-game home stand with the Panthers on Saturday. The Irish are tied with Rutgers for fourth-place in the conference with two wins and two losses. Notre Dame’s record stands at 11-7.