Thursday, March 8, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Notre Dame 77, Missouri 73

(For some reason, my memory had this game taking place later in the winning streak. Then again, it’s my memory, so I can’t say I’m surprised to be wrong.)

January 12, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

Now in his third season as Notre Dame basketball coach, John MacLeod is still trying to effect a turnaround in the program. Turnovers are getting in the way. They're all over the place.

The Fighting Irish (4-7) are averaging almost 24 turnovers per game. It's gotten bad enough that MacLeod is replacing freshman point guard Admore White with senior Brooks Boyer in me starting lineup for tonight's game with Missouri.

Boyer has played only 20 minutes in seven games, all off the bench, this season.

"We have to learn the value of the ball is important," MacLeod said. "People are making us pay."

Things have reached epic proportions in the last two games, 34 turnovers at Kentucky, then 30 in an overtime loss at La Salle.

"We have performed quite well in a lot of areas," MacLeod said. "The fact that we were even close to La Salle with 30 turnovers indicates that we were doing some things well.

"The turnovers eventually turned us in."

So Notre Dame will look to Boyer for help against the Tigers, who rely heavily on backcourt defense.

"Brooks is a senior, and he's familiar with everything," MacLeod said. "In no way does that mean we've given up on Admore.

"Admore down the road is going to be a very good basketball player here at Notre Dame."

Boyer makes four senior starters for Notre Dame. Monty Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward is me best by leaps and bounds. He's averaging 24.2 points per game.

Last year, he resumed his career after sitting out two years with a diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition which includes a thickened muscle between chambers of the heart.

"He's made tremendous strides," MacLeodsaid. "We're probably asking him to do too much."

Williams is the small forward on a big front line.

"They're big inside, they're much bigger than we are," Missouri coach Norm Stewart said. "We've got to be able to offset that with a little quickness, a little speed and hopefully some defense."

Missouri center Chris Heller might reappear tonight. Heller has played just 14 minutes since spraining his ankle in practice Dec. 20.

"His ankle is better now," Stewart said. "He's running really pretty good.

"We're on the road. I think that might even help him, being on the road to start a ball game rather than being at home."

Many fans in the 25-year-old Joyce Center will be disappointed if they don't see a lot of Mark Atkins. The Tiger senior is from Gary,

"I get me chance to go home and play in front of my home crowd," Atkins said. His mother is chartering a bus, and about 60 persons will make the trip, he said.

"A lot of people are going to be at the game because it's only and hour and 30 minutes from my house," he said.

"It makes me feel special when I play in front of my mom."

The Irish will be pleased to see the home folks, too. This will be only their fourth home game. They're 3-0 against Valparaiso, San Diego and Fordham. "We've been here so few times, I don't know if we can identify our home court,' MacLeod said.

The Irish would love to find themselves with an upset of the Tigers (10-1), newly installed at No. 25 in The Associated Press poll.

"Teams really go after you much harder after you're ranked," Booker said. "They try to knock you off."
January 14, 1994: Tigers Draw Fight from Irish

of the Tribune's staff

Missouri made it close in the end, but only after Notre Dame had taken things too far. The Fighting Irish beat No. 25 Missouri 77-73 last night in the Tigers' first outing since being ranked for the first time since the end of the 1991-92 season.

Sophomore guard Ryan Hoover was the three-and-one threat that shot down the Tigers (10-2).

Hoover scored 25 points, all on three-pointers and free throws. All came in the second half. He was 10 for 10 at the free throw line, including two with five seconds to play that provided the final score and put the Fighting Irish (5-7) out of danger from the Tigers' late-arriving scoring punch.

“How many guys did we have guard him, six?” Missouri coach Norm Stewart asked. “I mean attempt.”

“Late, we got our aggressiveness, when it was a monumental task,” he said.

After Jevon Crudup's basket brought Missouri within 56-53 with 6:08 to play, Notre Dame went on a 10-2 run to take a 66-55 lead with 3:41 left.

The Tigers, managing to foul in split-seconds, closed to within 75-73 when Crudup connected with six seconds left.

Then Jason Sutherland fouled Hoover, who finished the Tigers and finally convinced a skeptical crowd of 9,571, the largest of the season at the Joyce Center.

“The second half I was getting the shots in rhythm more,” Hoover said.

The Tigers hurt themselves about as much as Hoover. They committed 24 turnovers, mainly just a walk on the sloppy side. It was the second-highest total of the season, trailing only 27 in the 120-68 debacle at Arkansas.

Turnovers had been the downfall for the Irish, who made 64 in their last two games, both losses. The Irish cut down to 23 last night.

“Twenty-three turnovers beats the heck out of 30 or 34,” Notre Dame coach John MacLeod said.

Missouri also had its second-worst free throw percentage of the season, making 13 of 22. Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the field, the first Missouri opponent to do that well in six games. The Fighting Irish also outrebounded the Tigers.

“We came out on our heels and just couldn't get started,” Stewart said. “We tried everybody, tried everything.”

Center Chris Heller started for the first time in six games.

Stewart sent in a entirely different five Reggie Smith, Derek Grimm, Mark Atkins, Sutherland and Heller for Melvin Booker, Kelly Thames, Lamont Frazier, Julian Winfield and Crudup with 16:23 left after Notre Dame had built its lead from 30-28 at halftime to 41-35.

“We came out flat defensively, offensively, throughout the whole game,” Booker said. “We made a lot of turnovers we shouldn't have made.”

Stewart found only Sutherland, who created some action in his 19 minutes, worthy of post-game commendation. “He at least had enough aggressiveness that he fouled out of the ballgame,” Stewart said.

Irish star Monty Williams provided a big lift in the first half. He scored the first eight points of the game and finished with 19.

Booker, who led the Tigers with 20, got Missouri on the board with 16:53 left in the half.

Williams also put Crudup in early foul trouble with two in the first 2:17.

“We came out flat, and we paid for it,” Crudup said.

The Irish were more than happy to accept. With no conference membership to provide a second-chance in March, the Irish entrance into postseason play is determined wholly by their regular season. The consensus was they couldn't wait beyond last night to turn the season around.

“That was a very good win for the Notre Dame basketball program,” MacLeod, now in his third year here, said.

“I wouldn't know how to rank it, except for this year, this is a huge win.”