Irish Rewind: Notre Dame springs an Oil leak

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- Nights similar to the one Notre Dame endured Thursday have historically been reserved for games against the Big East elite.

Few could have predicted such a poor performance against a Marathon Oil team that dressed only eight players while working their third game in as many nights.

After sprinting to an early 12-point lead, coach Matt Doherty's Irish did little else right the rest of the way as Marathon waltzed out of the Joyce Center with a 105-81 victory in front of 7,790.

Only twice last year -- in losses to Connecticut and Duke -- did an Irish team allow the opposition to score at least 100 points.

Marathon guard Darnell Hoskins, a former University of Dayton standout, flirted with the Joyce Center's all-time scoring record for an opponent. Hoskins, who hit 7-of-8 shots from 3-point range, finished with 39 points, one shy of the arena record set by West Virginia's Lowes Moore in 1978. He also scored 24 of Marathon's 50 first-half points.

"Man, I couldn't get one more," joked Hoskins, who hit 15-of-27 shots from the floor and tallied 13 assists while playing all 40 minutes. "I felt good out there. I felt I had an advantage."

This wasn't the way Doherty envisioned his team fine-tuning their game in preparation for nationally-ranked Ohio State, which Notre Dame will visit Tuesday in the Preseason NIT.

Afterward, Doherty indicated that he might have spent too much time focusing on the Buckeyes in practice this week and not enough on Marathon, who shot 51 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the 3-point line and forced 26 Irish turnovers, including 17 in the first half.

"Maybe it's my fault; maybe I took the focus off this game," said a dejected Doherty, who wondered if he approached the contest as more of a glorified practice. "We had more energy going into the first exhibition game. It is an attention-getter."

Marathon was fresh from a 90-77 loss to the Buckeyes on Wednesday. Penn State handed coach Glenn Sergent's club an 81-75 loss on Tuesday. Marathon had also lost by 39 points to St. John's to open the exhibition season.

Added to the Irish insult were the performances of Mark Davis and David Harrison, the only two Marathon players to see time off the bench. They outscored Notre Dame's reserves 38-14.

"We're just starting to gel as a team," said Hoskins. "We've got talent on this team. We knew once we gelled, we'd play better."

While the final 20 minutes was nothing short of a controlled scrimmage, the first half offered a variety of troubling times for Notre Dame.

Having secured a 24-12 lead with sophomore power forward Troy Murphy scoring nine of the team's first 11 points, the Irish saw it fall apart in a hurry.

Hoskins and his teammates started hitting shots from all spots on the floor. The Irish failed to value the basketball, couldn't knock down open shots and didn't move their feet quick enough on defense.

Before the home folks knew it, Marathon had run off 25 of the game's next 29 points following a Matt Carroll 3-pointer with 6:32 to play. Included in the stretch was a run of 19 consecutive points from the opponents.

"We were riding high," said Murphy, who finished with 28 points for the second-straight exhibition contest to go along with 15 rebounds. "We just got our butts kicked the rest of the game."

Murphy received a clue during warm-ups that the Irish might not be fully focused on what they perceived as a rag-tag group in the blue jerseys.

"We came into the game lackadaisical," he said. "Our preparation wasn't the same. We didn't have the same kind of intensity as the first game. Everything backfired. It's good it happened now rather than on Tuesday."

Four Irish finished in double figures. David Graves tallied 16 points with four assists and three rebounds while Harold Swanagan added 11 points and nine rebounds. Carroll, who opened his collegiate career by shooting 70 percent from the floor with 20 points seven days ago, finished with 12 points but hit only 5-of-13 shots.

"We can play with more energy than what we did," Carroll said. "It just goes to show when you're faced with adversity, you've got to come up to the challenge, and tonight we didn't do that."

Senior point guard Jimmy Dillon took the disaster rather hard. He knows that one key to the Irish season rests in the hands of the guards. Notre Dame's backcourt was outscored 60-3 with the lone Irish basket coming off a Martin Ingelsby 3-pointer.

"I'm pretty disappointed in myself," said Dillon, scoreless with one turnover and three assists in 16 minutes. "We've got to search inside of us and see how deep down inside we really want to play."

Two Irish -- freshman center Ivan Kartelo and senior forward Skylard Owens -- did not play. Kartelo is still recovering from a right knee and ankle sprain suffered in Notre Dame's exhibition opener. Owens, who has been hampered by foot problems much of the preseason, has practiced little this week while suffering from turf toe.

It would have mattered little had either been able to suit up.

"Some guys thought it was going to be an easy night," Dillon said. "Maybe a couple guys gave up. You've got to put it on yourself and you've got to turn and learn from it."

In a hurry.

After watching his team lose an exhibition game by 24 points in 1999, then-rookie Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty made his team run lap after after lap after lap in the team's basement practice facility the next day.SBT File photo

Each week during the college basketball season, NDI takes a look back at a memorable Irish game with a reprint of the story that appeared in the South Bend Tribune.

This week's Irish Rewind jumps back to an exhibition game during the 1999-2000 season, the only one coached by Matt Doherty at Notre Dame.

The Irish lost the exhibition by 24 points, and Doherty, unhappy with star forward Troy Murphy's assertion in the Tribune that the team was "lackadaisical" decided to make a point the following afternoon.

Instead of giving his players the day off, Doherty called for a practice in The Pit, the team's basement practice facility. There, he put four garbage cans in each corner and demanded the Irish line up along a baseline. Doherty took a seat on the opposite baseline and told his team that each time he blew his whistle, they were required to sprint down and back.

The Irish ran 304 sprints that day. Days later, they would upset nationally-ranked Ohio State in one of the many big wins in Doherty's brief tenure. The win could be credited in part to the blowout exhibition loss.

This story appeared in the Nov. 12, 1999 edition of the Tribune.

If you have a suggestion for Irish Rewind, send it to tnoie@ndinsider.com.