Jan. 30, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On Saturday, everyone learned a lesson.
Notre Dame realized what it meant to play with heart, the fans learned what it feels like to aid the team and St. John’s learned that the Joyce Center is not an easy place to play.
“You have to give 100 percent of your emotional self to the team,” Doherty said. “It is kind of a quote that I stole from Phil Jackson about not just giving your basketball self to the team but your emotional self to the team. I thought we did that.”
Doherty’s team didn’t start out that way. The coach called a timeout with just a little over a minute played in the ball game. He wanted to settle his troops who already found themselves down six points. Notre Dame did not post a score until almost four minutes of play elapsed.
Sophomore Troy Murphy registered the first points for the Irish. Notre Dame slowly began to settle down. Just 40 seconds later, Murphy worked free in the lane and slammed home another two points. The exclamatory dunk registered him in the 1,000-point club.
“It is really nice,” Murphy said. “It is something you like to do in college. It takes a lot of things to do something like that. You have to have great teammates who really look for you. Coach Doherty runs a lot of plays for me. It is something that anyone in my position could do. It is really nice but a lot of people are involved in it.”
Initially Murphy accounted for all of the Irish offensive play until junior reserve Martin Ingelsby drilled home a three. The first half did not prove fruitful for the Irish. As the team broke for half, Notre Dame held a single point lead at, 26-25.
When the teams reemerged from the locker room, it became a whole different story. Senior Jimmy Dillon roused the capacity crowd to its feet with a lucky lay-up after being hacked by St. John’s Erick Barkley. Dillon converted the three-point play and the Irish took the lead by five.
After watching his team build an eight point lead over the first ten minutes of the second half, Doherty got to watch it crumble. With 4:40 remaining, Notre Dame had lost it all and then some.
Then Dillon took tight command of the team and the crowd’s attention. Usually the point guard takes on the role of passer but on Saturday he became the playmaker. With a little over two minutes remaining, Dillon picked off a pass to Barkley and sped down court on a breakaway. He seized the moment and slammed home two points.
Dillon capped off the crowd thriller by converting on the three-point play. The play put the team up by three and the Irish never looked back.
Dillon finished the game with nine points and five assists. His inspired play kept the fans on their feet for the final minutes of the contest.
Murphy not only surpassed the 1,000 career points but he also had a career-high with 18 rebounds. He finished with 30 points.
St. John’s walked away enriched, learning to never underestimate its opponents. Mike Jarvis’ team did not listen to their coach’s pregame warnings about Notre Dame. The Red Storm endured a 20-minute postgame sermon from Jarvis on their play.
The win against the 23rd ranked Red Storm brought the largest crowd to the Joyce Center in two years. The 11, 418 capacity crowd got their moneys worth. This win marked Notre Dame’s biggest win at home this season.
“The fans were awesome,” Doherty said. “It was a packed house. I am glad we gave them something to cheer about because after the Miami game I was a little worried about that.”
Notre Dame hopes to give the fans another lesson in celebration on Wednesday night when they face West Virginia. The Irish are currently 4-3 in the Big East.