Mike Brey says Irish bigs must concentrate on nullifying the long ball
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media March 21, 2013 10:27PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:33PM
DAYTON, Ohio — If ever there was a team that came off the bus shooting, it’s Iowa State.
The Cyclones lead the nation in three-pointers per game (9.8) and total three-pointers made (325). Iowa State has made 10 or more three-pointers in 19 games.
Notre Dame’s focus will be on containing the sharp-shooting Cyclones in Friday’s second-round West Region contest at University of Dayton Arena.
“Fireworks, the way they use three-point line,” Irish coach Mike Brey said Thursday. “At times, they can have five three-point shooters on the floor. It’s a difficult matchup for us.
“Our big guys are going to have to be out on the arc a little bit defending. Our big guys are pretty alert and they’ve been good on ball screens all year. They are going to have to be out there.”
Three senior guards have led the onslaught. Tyrus McGee has 90 three-pointers. He Is shooting 45.7 percent from three-point territory. Chris Babb and Korie Lucious have 62 and 61 three-pointers, respectively.
“It makes it difficult on the defense, just with the randomness that we have on the offensive end and the freedom that our guys play with,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Notre Dame opponents average 5.4 three-pointers per game. The opposition is shooting 32.2 percent from beyond the arc.
The Irish will try to counter Iowa State’s shooting with their inside attack. Notre Dame can rotate four bigs — 6-9 forward Jack Cooley, 6-10 forward Tom Knight, 6-10 center Garrick Sherman and 6-10 forward Zach Auguste. Iowa State tallest options are center Percy Gibson and forward Anthony Booker. Both are 6-9 role players.
“The way we’ve been playing lately with our four bigs, rotating in and out, we’ll be able to punish them on the inside,” said Cooley, who averages 13.1 points and 10.3 rebounds. “There are very few teams that have so many willing bigs that are able to play. For us to have four of them rotating in there, that’s huge.”
Notre Dame was a seven-seed last year, and lost to 10th-seeded Xavier. The Irish have the same seed, but believe they have taken the proper steps for a different result.
“The experience of last year’s tournament helps us to know that anything can happen,” Cooley said.