Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Irish Double Up at Point Brey Said Notre Dame Hit Its Stride When He Bet That Two Starting Playmakers Would Work out Better Than Using Just One

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Irish Double Up at Point Brey Said Notre Dame Hit Its Stride When He Bet That Two Starting Playmakers Would Work out Better Than Using Just One

Article excerpt

Most teams would love to have one playmaking point guard to lead the way in tight games, especially in the one-and-done format of the NCAA tournament.

Notre Dame, however, is blessed with two in sophomore Demetrius Jackson and senior Jerian Grant, and together they form one of the most dangerous backcourt combinations in Division I.

The duo led Notre Dame to the ACC tournament title a week ago, its first conference tournament championship -- no matter what league, Now, Jackson and Grant will attempt to lead the Irish to their second Final Four.

Notre Dame (30-5), the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, will play No. 6 Butler (23-10) at approximately 9:40 p.m. today in the third round of the NCAA tournament at Consol Energy Center.

The winner will advance to the Sweet 16, and, for the Irish, it would be only their third such trip since 1982 and first since 2003.

Individually, Grant and Jackson pose many problems. Both are extremely quick, excel at driving and can finish at the rim or find an open shooter.

The Irish were a handful to defend when they had just Grant rolling early in the season.

That's because the other three starters -- Pat Connaughton, Steve Vasturia and Zach Auguste -- can score, so opposing defenses couldn't key on Grant.

But, in the past month, Jackson has raised his game, and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey believes that has, in turn, propelled the Irish.

"If [Jackson's development] is not reason No. 1, it's No. 1-A as far as where we've gotten so far this season," Brey said.

"I think Demetrius has kicked it to another gear starting in Greensboro, (N.C., site of the ACC tournament) through [Thursday]. He has gotten more comfortable."

In Notre Dame's second-round game Thursday against Northeastern, the duo's ability to make plays proved to be the biggest difference in a 69-65 victory as the Huskies perimeter players could not find any way of containing them. …

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