timberland polo shirts ‘We knew they had some guys that didn’t want to shoot’

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Well worn lessons like “hand down, man down” and the importance of denying open shots all had to be ignored by the Fighting Irish on Saturday during a 51 49 win over Syracuse, one that came without their two best players.

“I’ve been at Notre Dame 18 years and I’ve had a lot of great wins,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who celebrated setting a Notre Dame school record with his 394th victory earlier in the week. “This is as good a win, given that I have Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell sitting in their apartment in South Bend, Ind., (as any we’ve had).”

It was Notre Dame’s defense that was mostly responsible, utilizing a game plan that revolved around help defense and permitting Syracuse star freshman Oshae Brissett to hoist all the open jump shots he wanted.

“It kind of goes against everything you’ve learned since you were in eighth grade to not even challenge it,” Notre Dame’s TJ Gibbs said of the defensive plan for Brissett. “We knew they had some guys that didn’t want to shoot. Our coaches drilled us hard on that in practice.”

Brissett finished with 10 points and made just 3 of 15 shots, his worst offensive performance since the third game of the season. His two free throw attempts tied the season low that Brissett set back in Game 2, well before he’d created such lofty expectations for his performance.

“He’s a freshman, he’s learning how to play,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s not that easy. He’s had some great games but freshman year that’s a lot to put on a guy. That’s a lot being put on him.”

Rarely is it wise to leave a player who averages 15.2 points per game open for jump shots, but that was Notre Dame’s plan for Brissett, who averages 5.4 of that from the free throw line.

He is the Orange’s most effective player at drawing fouls, regularly using a blazing first step to push past defenders and then broad shoulders to protect the ball on his way to the rim.

Notre Dame’s plan, however, was not to get close enough that Brissett was able to push past them.

The Fighting Irish backed off far enough that his first step was negated. They didn’t budge on ball fakes. Even when Brissett rose into the air and shot toward the basket, they barely moved.

He entered the game making just 28 percent of his 3 pointers.

Against Notre Dame, Brissett shot 3 for 7 from 3 point range but looked reluctant to take mid range shots, and by the end of the game he was frequently catching the ball on the perimeter and looking to move it somewhere else.

While Brissett is at his best going to the basket, he found himself walled off by multiple defenders waiting for him and refusing to leave their feet. Along with his primary defender, Notre Dame had a second player help, leaving Brissett to finish over a pair of tall defenders on every drive.

“They’re not fouling him,” Boeheim said. “Ironically today he made his 3s but he missed everything going to the basket. They were all good shots. He made his 3s, he missed two pull ups and the rest were going to the basket. He is our main offensive weapon on the front line. He’s got to score for us to win. He just couldn’t get there tonight, couldn’t get to the basket.”

By forcing Brissett to the perimeter, Notre Dame also robbed Syracuse of his offensive rebounding acumen. He came into the game leading SU with 20 putbacks, almost twice as many as any other SU player.

Boeheim noted a lack of scoring from the power forward position allowed Notre Dame’s defenders to help freely. Matthew Moyer and Marek Dolezaj combined for two points and took just four shots, while SU’s centers attempted just three.

“We kind of learned to play off him and not let him drive and get stuff around the bucket and make him shoot jump shots,” Brey said. “He’s so good driving it, and then he’s so good if he misses his drive, he gets his own rebound. There’s other guys you can help off. We helped off his drives. We made him a jump shooter. He made a couple but we figured if he drives us, we’re in trouble.”
timberland polo shirts 'We knew they had some guys that didn't want to shoot'