Doherty, Irish conduct class on the court against Red Storm
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In case you missed it, there was a one-day course offered last Saturday. It met at the Joyce Center from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., and attendance was an impressive 11,418.
It could be found in your DART book under the call number 7360, or its title: "Bas-ketball Basics and Prin-ciples." Taught by the Notre Dame men's basketball team and its coach, Matt Doherty, the class also featured as guest lecturers, the St. John's Red Storm.
The class opened with a lesson in coping with intimidation. The Red Storm, ranked 25th in the nation, entered the JACC as a group more esteemed by their colleagues than the unranked Irish.
Acknowledging this reputation, the visitors raced out to a 9-2 lead a little more than four minutes into the game. This cushion was made possible by their effective use of a trapping defense — a design that draws its strength as much from its mental intimidation of the opposition as its execution.
This attack held the Irish scoreless on their first seven possessions.
Our Notre Dame staff, however, demonstrated the three-step process to drive away this intimidation:
1. Have confidence.
2. Make good passes.
3. Apply the same pressure to those who are pressuring you.
This effective strategy showed us how the Irish could make an 8-point swing and take a 1-point lead, 26-25, into the break.
The next point to be covered on the agenda — one that was actually emphasized by the whole class — was "How to be an All-American." Sophomore forward Troy Murphy provided the demonstration here, scoring 30 points (including the 1000th in his short career) and grabbing 18 boards.
With only about five minutes left in the presentation and the two groups debating to a 58-58 draw, senior guard Jimmy Dillon gave us another lesson: "How to Swing Momentum In Your Team's Favor."
While Notre Dame seemed to be losing ground and the senior point guard's critics growing restless, Dillon, who at 6-foot-2 is by no means huge, knocked away a pass, ran the ball down, and finished with a two-handed dunk while being hacked from behind.
All 11,000-plus fans erupted. The Irish were energized, and Dillon's critics were silenced.
Once the horn sounded, the lecture ended with an Irish win, 73-60. Now, one of the most important topics for the day was finally covered: "How to Beat Three Ranked Opponents In One Season" — a lesson that hasn't been taught around here in a while.
What stuck with me most, though, from this learning experience, occurred after the final bell sounded.
With the JACC packed and his team celebrating the program's biggest accomplishment on that floor in years, Notre Dame head coach Matt Doherty didn't try to act like someone trying to conceal a poker hand, showing no emotion and speaking only in riddles.
He didn't even stop at going out to center court and celebrating with his team.
Instead, he got out there, looked up at the still full bleachers, said "Why are they all still up there?" and began waving his team's pupils onto the floor.
When the small group on the floor turned into a mob with him at the center, he, along with everyone else, celebrated even more. Coach D. showed us not only "How to be an Effective Coach" but also that it's OK to have fun while being effective.
So, on behalf of all those in attendance, thanks to the men's basketball team for taking time out to teach us a little about the hardwood.
We're all looking forward to seeing this lecture series in the national spotlight come March.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, February 2, 2000