Brey calms Farrell as Irish prep for West Virginia's press


Brey calms Farrell as Irish prep for West Virginia's press

West Virginia is the No. 1 turnover-forcing team in the nation.

Now, I'm not arguing for Matt Ryan to play starter's minutes or anything, but I think he could give this team 15+ minutes per game and provide a spark so that the offense doesn't stagnate as it did for various stretches against Princeton. Last year, the Irish trailed by 12 at halftime before beating MI; trailed with two seconds left before Rex Pflueger's tip-in downed Stephen F. Austin; and trailed by three with less than 30 seconds remaining before they topped Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. The Irish only three players averaging a steal a game, but they still produce enough turnovers to qualify as one of the better defenses in the NCAA. They had big shots, but we stayed composed. Absolutely not. I don't know if it is or it isn't. "And he hit the baseline jump shot and I turned around and said 'I guess he's OK.' He really defends.

In the second round Notre Dame needed even more theatrics against #14 seed Stephen F. Austin. The victor advances to the Sweet 16 next weekend in the West Region at San Jose, Calif. Top-seeded Villanova meets eighth-seeded Wisconsin in the second Buffalo game, an East Region matchup scheduled to start about 2:40 p.m.

But look at West Virginia, which ranks No. 58 in possessions per game (74.4), No. 6 in defensive team efficiency (.892) and No. 5 in team effective possession ratio (1.007).

Notre Dame sends a fleet of skilled ball-handlers and passers onto the court. They forced 13 turnovers, below their season-average of 20.3, which leads the nation.

"Our main priority is to be great receivers of the ball", said sophomore Rex Pflueger, who will join Farrell and Steve Vasturia as Notre Dame's primary ball handlers against the Mountaineers. We need to try to get them the ball and get them going, so I'll definitely be looking for them. And I think in this tournament, this nucleus of guys, just feel like as this thing was getting close, well, that's what we did all a year ago. "We have one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios and we do a good job of handling the ball and handling pressure". West Virginia isn't as successful, shooting just 68%. If West Virginia isn't getting turnovers and scoring in transition, it better win the rebounding battle by a lot.

If you had told me this roughly 3 weeks ago, I would have laughed in your face, brushed it off as a joke, and thought nothing more of it.

"My ankle's good", Colson said.

Their astonishing 79% from the line has gotten them out of more than one situation this season. "You got guys everywhere. Everybody that's on the floor needs to be a receiver". The Fighting Irish led the ACC in turnovers, giving up just nine per game. If West Virginia see another performace from deep like this, the Irish could be a tough out. The risk, however, is becoming too rushed and making bad decisions while trying to finish near the rim.

"Gave everyone a show", Brey said. "If I can get into a rhythm early, I think that's when I have a big night".

Farrell, who runs the offense, recognized the advantage Colson had against the Tigers. The All-ACC big man finished 6-of-13 from the field for a game-high 18 points and shot 10 free throws.

"The looks we got were good", Henderson said. And we're going to have to be disciplined with that. The Mountaineers never pulled away from the Bison and while their game didn't come down to the very last second, it was not an easy victory for them by any means.

There are certain key areas in the backcourt where Huggins is looking to set a trap between Adrian, who offers size, and one of the guards - Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Teyvon Myers and Tarik Phillip. "I think for myself and V.J., I think we'll bounce back and knock down shots; that's something we've been doing all season".



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