Cool In the Clutch

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For some reason against Rutgers, the student section in the Joyce Center didn't have the same electricity and fire it usually does. I don't think we deserve a ton of credit by any means, but I do think the student body is part of the reason why the Irish are so hard to take down at home.

Notre Dame has just one loss at home this season, and it came when students were home over winter break. The Leprechaun Legion has typically been at Notre Dame home games in big numbers and with frenetic passion that gets the JACC rocking.

Tonight, for some reason, we seemed subdued. Maybe it was the odd timing of the game - Wednesday games typically get a lot fewer students than weekend contests. Maybe it was just a rough part of the semester; I know a lot of people have tests and papers due right now. But the student section was definitely smaller than usual, and quieter too.

It didn't help that the Irish started off cold offensively. It took the team nearly six minutes to make their first field goal. By that point, the crowd seemed to be on its last legs. It's not that the Irish were playing poorly - in fact, the team was winning at that point, 8-3. But it was hard for the students to get invested in the game, to put the same emotion into the normal cheers that normally get everyone fired up.

Well, there one big exception Wednesday night. Every time one Irish player made a big play - and it happened pretty often - the student section regained some of that passion and intensity, and screamed at the top of its lungs,

"Coooooool!"

Junior forward Jack Cooley was able to bring some life to an Irish crowd that desperately needed a spark, and played a determined game that was the story of Wednesday's game.

Cooley got knocked down and took some big hits, drawing plenty of fouls from a tough Rutgers team. But he refused to stay down and delivered one of his biggest games yet. His 22 points and 18 rebounds led the Irish on a night of gritty, hard-nosed basketball.

His passion was evident from the opening tip. When he made big plays, it was impossible not to feed off of his energy. Cooley played with intensity and showed a lot of desire, all night long.

The student section came alive for Cooley's big moments, and he fueled the Irish runs that made a close game into a rout. The game ended in a 71-53 win for Notre Dame, and extended the Irish's winning streak to seven games. It was the kind of solid, gritty win which defines quality teams.

Despite a subpar effort from the student section - c'mon guys, we can do better than that - the Irish played a great game and came away with a win. And a lot of the credit goes to their stud big man, who is incredibly, definitively, and undeniably, cool.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

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