Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2015

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY ANDREW OWENS A s a freshman last year, point guard Demetrius Jackson found himself engulfed in a cycle of poor play on one end of the floor that affected his output on the other end. The strides he has made as an on- ball defender, bringing 40 minutes of pressure and harassment to the op- posing ball handler, have not only en- hanced his overall play as a sopho- more but have also been instrumental to Notre Dame's No. 13 ranking enter- ing January. The Mishawaka, Ind., native's 2.23 steals per game through the first 13 contests easily led the Irish. Those takeaways often led to transition points, something for which the pro- gram is not typically known. "When we're doing well on the defensive end, it helps us out on the offensive end," Jackson said. "Our defense has been better and that's leading to a lot of run-outs, steals and things like that. We're getting out on the break a lot more." The Irish reached Christmas with a record of 12-1 — the lone defeat was by one point against Providence in November — due in large part to the improved play by Jackson. The former four-star recruit barely re- sembles his rookie form, and it's pay- ing dividends for Notre Dame. "The biggest key is he gets the ball in his hands," head coach Mike Brey said. "Eric Atkins graduated and we were able to give [Jackson] the ball in July because we had a foreign tour. He was our starting point guard in July for 10 practices and four games through Italy, so what we wanted to achieve with him being confident and quarterbacking our team, we were able to do it in the summer, and it re- ally has helped him and [junior for- ward] Zach Auguste." Jackson prides himself on being a nuisance for the opposing offense each possession he is on the floor. "Just having a disciplined stance, just knowing your opponent," he said of the musts to on-ball defense. "It almost takes us a while as a group to get a feel for their movements and the stuff they're running. Once we get a feel for that, we can take it up a notch." His 14.2 points per game rank third on the Irish, but his effectiveness as a distributor has been even more im- portant than his scoring. Confidence On The Ball Demetrius Jackson's stifling on-ball defense has led the Irish to consistent transition opportunities

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