March 7, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Irish coach Matt Doherty believes that his team will be less wide-eyed than last time.
The first-year head coach takes his team to Madison Square Garden for the second time this year. Notre Dame played at the Garden earlier this season for the Preseason NIT.
He feels that his team will be a little less concerned with New York and more concerned with basketball.
The Scarlet Knights are the Irish’s first assignment in the Big East conference tournament. Rutgers enters the tournament with the number ten seed. The Irish finished seventh in the conference.
“I don’t remember the game because we didn’t show up,” Doherty said about the first meeting.
Notre Dame played Rutgers earlier this season in New Jersey. The Irish could not compete with the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers won the contest, 76-51. Sophomore Troy Murphy hoped that game would be a special one since he was playing in front of his home crowd.
The Morristown native went 5-for-16 from the field and 8-for-12 from the line. He finished with a dismal 18 points before fouling out with a little over a minute remaining.
“We have to play harder and definitely contest their shooters,” Doherty said are the key’s to Wednesday’s game.
Doherty’s squad will watch for the hot hands. In the last game, Rutgers freshman Todd Billet shot the lights out. Billet drained eight 3-pointers to aid his team.
“In the first game, they competed harder than we did,” Doherty said. “That is the biggest thing that needs to change. We have one game on our schedule. I am not talking about the bubble and NCAA tournaments. I may had talked too much about that in the past.”
The Irish are considered a darkhorse for the tournament. The big win over Georgetown on Saturday ignited hopes again about a possible bid. Also the fact that Villanova lost to the likes of Boston College helped Notre Dame as well.
Murphy garnered honors from the Big East. The sophomore was unanimously selected to the first team Big East. Syracuse’s Etan Thomas also earned the unanimous vote. UConn’s Khalid El-Amin, St. John’s Erick Barkley and Syracuse’s Jason Hart join Murphy and Thomas.
“He is more concerned with winning basketball games than he is with winning hardware,” Doherty said about Murphy.
Tonight, the Big East announces the Player of the Year Honors. Many believe that Murphy is a lock for the award. The sophomore leads the conference in scoring and rebounds.
Notre Dame has never won a Big East tournament game in its four years of winning the contest. In fact, this year’s ranking of seventh is the highest that Notre Dame has ever been in the tournament.