Nov. 22, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Irish head coach Matt Doherty stresses that the team focuses on one game at a time. He wants his team to steadily improve and they have done just that, especially sophomore forward Troy Murphy.
Murphy’s playing on Sunday was his best of the season thus far, as he registered a career high, 35 points. His previous best of 32 was set in the game against West Virginia last year.
“I think that the guys, Dave [Graves], Matt [Carroll] and Martin [Ingelsby] did an unbelievable job today of looking for me in the post,” Murphy said. “Every time they got the ball they were looking for me and sacrificed their shots to utilize our advantage. That shows a lot about them.”
Notre Dame basketball has renewed interest not only with the talent of Murphy but with the intensity and passion which head coach Matt Doherty brings to the program. Heading into this year’s season, Murphy received numerous accolades, including being named a preseason All-American.
Last year, Murphy earned Big East Rookie of the Year. He broke Notre Dame’s freshman scoring mark set by Adrian Dantley in the 1973-74 season that stood at 511 points.
In Sunday’s game, St. Francis could not match Murphy’s height or aggressive style a play and did little to stop Notre Dame’s inside game. By the start of the second half, Murphy had already logged 17 points. When the final buzzer sounded, Murphy had chipped almost half of Notre Dame’s 73 points.
“I thought this game called for us to give to the ball every time we went down court,” Doherty said. “That is what we did. The kids sacrificed their individual success for the team’s success.”
“We kept giving the ball to him and they weren’t doing anything,” sophomore David Graves said about the team selflessness. “They weren’t tripling him or quadrupling or whatever they need to do. They weren’t stopping him and so we are going to have to sacrifice. I thought defensively and individually I played well.”
Graves did actually play quite well for the Irish, as he added 12 points of his own and logged 32 minutes. Overall, the Irish shot 52 percent from the field and held the Red Flash to a dismal 32 percent.
“Anytime they are not stopping a preseason All-American than we are going to just have to give him the ball,” Graves said.
While the Irish consistently looked for Murphy in Sunday’s game, they believe that Wednesday’s game against Arizona will demand more of a balanced attack.