Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

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

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MEN'S BASKETBALL guste and Austin Burgett, Jackson was named a team captain Oct. 27. Accord- ing to Brey, Jackson's honor was well earned. "We did a conditioning test on a Tuesday before practice, and one or two guys just made it, and he was on them," Brey said. "He challenges guys, he really does. And then he's gotten better when he's challenged, instead of bristling. He's grown in that area. … He's one to confront guys when they aren't doing their job. "And the one thing we ask — we ask him to pressure the ball for 35 to 38 minutes, and that's an amazingly unselfish thing and he does that all the time. He leads us through assists. So when he's pressuring the ball, and he's giving it up, when he gets on your backside you should respond because he's been delivering. "He's taken it to a whole other level, and I couldn't be prouder. I was so proud of the growth he made from freshman to sophomore year. And what he's done through the offseason, really being the main voice, setting the tone and running things — I believe he's taken yet another step; which I fully expected. But he feels it's his time, it wasn't me anointing him, he just un- derstood that 'it's me now.' So I've been really pleased with that. "No question, it's Demetrius' Jack- son's team. It's his voice — he loves it, and welcomes it, and I'm thrilled that he's so confident in that position." Talk of Jackson's on-the-ball defense runs consistent with an offseason theme that this Brey squad might be more defensive-minded than ones in years past, thanks to the induction of junior forward V.J. Beachem and sophomore forward Bonzie Colson's length and wingspan into the starting lineup. De- fense was a huge key to Notre Dame's late-season run last year — the Irish held eventual national champion Duke to 64 points in the ACC semifinals, among other examples — so Jackson said the Irish look forward to continu- ing that trend in 2015-16. "Coach has really talked about de- fense and really emphasized it," said Jackson, who was named to the pre- season All-ACC team. "We worked a lot on it last year and we got a new group this year; some different abili- ties. But it's still the same goal. We want to get stops; a lot of games it's going to come down to getting stops, so we want to be prepared to do that." Whether the game comes down to defense — or scoring buckets — Brey doesn't hesitate to say who will be trusted to make a big play. That nod goes to his junior point guard. "We've done a bunch of game situa- tions," Brey said. "Even the first day of practice, I'm always doing game situ- ations. The two we've done — down one, 18 seconds, up one, 18 seconds — can you guard to win the game? What are you going to run to get a shot? And certainly, it's Demetrius in some kind of action to make a play for us a lot of times." The torch has passed from last year's departed seniors to Jackson. With the Irish's first regular season game tip- ping off Nov. 13, we'll soon see how far the junior can light the way for Notre Dame this year. ✦

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