T.J. Gibbs rolls, D.J. Harvey arrives as No. 13 Notre Dame men's basketball wins again

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – An additional assignment after an already big and busy night awaited Notre Dame freshman swingman D.J. Harvey following Thursday’s game against Chicago State.

He was asked to meet the media in the locker room lounge. That’s usually an indication that someone in Irish white or blue, or in Thursday’s case, god, has had a good night. It was exactly that for Harvey, who made his interview room debut. And for good reason.

Looking more and more comfortable in his reserve role with each game, Harvey scored a career-high 16 points in his third collegiate contest in a personal-best 22 minutes. Sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs, who is becoming a post-game media interview regular, erupted for a career high for the second time in three games. This time, he went for 23 as No. 13 Notre Dame (3-0) rolled to a 105-66 victory over Chicago State at Purcell Pavilion.

This one was one-sided almost from the start. Notre Dame jumped to a double-digit lead less than six minutes in following a rebound basket from Harvey. And less than seven minutes in, Bonzie Colson already had seven points and five rebounds. And when Matt Farrell connected on a corner 3 off a Gibbs probe and pass with 8:24 remaining before half, the Irish advantage had climbed over 20 points at 30-8.

With four minutes left in the first half and the Irish already up by 27, Colson, Farrell and Gibbs had combined for 33 points to Chicago State’s 16.

Farrell finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five steals, four assists and a technical foul, handed to him after a breakaway two-handed dunk. Farrell barely got up and got the ball into the rim, and had to hang on to make sure he didn’t fall and hurt himself.

“I really didn’t want to fall,” Farrell said. “It is what is. Thank God Coach (Mike) Brey was smiling at me.”

Notre Dame led by 25 at the time. The home team never trailed and led by as many as 42. So the story was the continued evolution of Gibbs and the methodical emergence of Harvey, who’s been coming, coming, coming.

Slowly and surely, surely and slowly.

“I feel great,” Harvey said. “This is a big confidence builder for me going into Maui.”

That would be the Maui Jim Maui Classic, which starts Monday. Harvey and the Irish leave Friday morning on a trip that will include a bus ride to Chicago, a commercial flight to San Francisco and another to the island in the Pacific. Once the traveling party finally pulls into their Lahaina-area hotel, mere steps from the Pacific Ocean, the trip will have taken about 18 hours.

Brey really wanted to see Harvey take another step prior to the journey. He did, in a big way, albeit against an overmatched opponent.

“He’s really a gifted guy,” Brey said. “Tonight may have been the most important for him. He gets 22 minutes third time he’s had the jersey on.

“It was a great night for him. He’s very important for us.”

Harvey connected on five of his eight shots from the floor and four of five from the line. He offered a little of everything. A rebound follow early, a driving dunk late, when he accidently stumbled into the baseline cameraman. In between he showed why he was a Top 50 prospect. Though it was only his third career college game, Harvey played with the pace and poise of someone who’s played 103. He’s never in a hurry. Never seems to be rushed. He just seems to know that he’s going to get his chances, get his shots, get his points.

He just plays.

That hasn’t always been the case. Sometimes back at DeMatha (Md.) High School, he was in too much of a rush to make something happen. A drive. A pull-up. A 3. Now he makes it look easy. Really easy.

“It’s something I’ve worked on,” he said. “In high school, I had problems going super fast, turning the ball over. Coach Brey hates turnovers. I’ve got to make sure I play with poise.

“Everybody keeps telling me it’s a process. It’s going to come.”

It’s come for Gibbs in a major way. Seventeen pounds lighter than he was a year ago, Gibbs often struggled to finish at the rim and finish games. Now he’s one tight bundle of non-stop energy.

There he is before tip-off bouncing around the other four starters in a pre-tip huddle. At halftime, he’s on the sideline skipping rope fast and furiously before finishing the intermission warmups with a dunk. He never stops moving.

And he’s really grooving.

“T.J. is really confident,” Brey said. “He’s slowly down little bit., we’ve got to continue to grow him. He heads to the islands pretty confident.”

Gibbs connected on eight of his 11 shots, including four 3-pointers, in 28 minutes. He knew he was going to have a good time this season. But even this effort the first three games may have surpassed his expectations.

“I feel good,” Gibbs said. “I’m having so much fun. This is surreal.”

It also was Mock Turtleneck night on Thursday in honor of Brey, now nine wins away from becoming the winningest coach in program history. Brey made the mock famous – or maybe infamous? – during his early years at Notre Dame before deciding about seven seasons ago to go with the open-collar dress shirt look. He deemed that at the time of the change-over his “Miami Vice” look.

That was about 200 wins, a national coach of the year and one conference switch ago.

“A lot of memories,” Brey said of his mock turn back.

Brey had to make a game day run Thursday to University Park Mall to locate a black mock turtleneck. He had thrown all his old ones out. He wore them back when Purcell Pavilion was still the old Joyce Center with its multi-colored seats, some held together with Duct tape, and upper-concourse bleachers.

Notre Dame opens Maui Classic play Monday against host Chaminade. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. South Bend time. Notre Dame will meet either LSU or Michigan in Tuesday’s second game.

Notre Dame’s D.J. Harvey (3) dunks during the Chicago State at Notre Dame NCAA basketball game at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA

NOTRE DAME 105, CHICAGO ST. 66

At Notre Dame

CHICAGO STATE (1-3): Patrick Szpir 0-1 0-0 0, Rob Shaw 0-3 0-0 0, Anthony Harris 0-1 1-4 1, Fred Sims 6-17 5-5 19, Glen Burns 1-1 1-2 3, Jalen Stephens-Holmes 0-1 0-0 0, Cameron Bowles 1-3 0-0 2, Deionte Simmons 5-10 3-3 13, Montana Byrd 1-3 2-2 4, Travon Bell 2-3 0-0 5, Nathan Townsen 0-3 0-0 0, Alex Dubovitskiy 1-2 0-0 3, Jelani Pruitt 5-13 4-5 16. Totals 22-61 16-21 66.

NOTRE DAME (3-0): Martinas Geben 3-4 2-4 8, Bonzie Colson 7-10 1-1 15, Rex Pflueger 2-4 2-2 7, Matt Farrell 6-14 5-5 18, T.J. Gibbs 8-11 3-3 23, Elijah Burns 1-2 2-2 4, John Mooney 3-4 2-2 9, Austin Torres 0-0 0-2 0, Matt Gregory 1-1 0-0 3, Nikola Djogo 0-0 2-4 2, Liam Nelligan 0-0 0-0 0, D.J. Harvey 5-8 4-5 16. Totals 36-58 23-30 105.

Halftime--Notre Dame 56-29. 3-Point Goals--Chicago St. 6-16 (Pruitt 2-3, Sims 2-7, Dubovitskiy 1-2, Bell 1-2, Byrd 0-2), Notre Dame 10-22 (Gibbs 4-7, Harvey 2-4, Mooney 1-1, Gregory 1-1, Pflueger 1-2, Farrell 1-6, Colson 0-1). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Chicago St. 21 (Pruitt 6), Notre Dame 37 (Colson 9). Assists--Chicago St. 13 (Townsen 4), Notre Dame 18 (Djogo, Farrell 4). Total Fouls--Chicago St. 21, Notre Dame 18. Technicals--Farrell.