Notre Dame exercising patience under fire with Golson

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Notre Dame exercising patience under fire with Golson

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame isn't the only top-10 team with an inexperienced starting quarterback. But whereas Oregon has eased freshman Marcus Mariota into its explosive offense at home against the likes of Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech, Everett Golson has had to travel overseas and face a pair of top-20 teams through his first four games.

"First game in Ireland, second game is his first-ever home game, third game he's at Michigan State, a pretty hostile place, fourth game is prime time against Michigan," offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. "He hasn't really eased into his college career."

Notre Dame has played the 15th-toughest schedule in the country, per Jeff Sagarin, and with upcoming games at Oklahoma and USC and at home against Stanford, Golson will face plenty more menacing defenses and environments this season. Through his first four games, Golson has completed 50 of 89 passes for 641 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Two of Golson's three picks came against Michigan, and he went turnover-free in Notre Dame's 20-3 win over Michigan State in East Lansing. At this point, Golson probably won't win many games for the Irish, so his goal has to be avoid losing them.

"We've said from day one, you're not going to be a great quarterback as a freshman," Martin said. That's very rare you might be great in spurts or great on plays or great for a period of time or even a whole game, you might have a completely great game.

"There's so many new experiences for him, and we've told him that from day one that hey, there's going to be things every week you see that you've never seen before. There's things that we prepare for every week, but there's always going to be a few wrinkles that they throw at us that weren't in the game plan."

Golson couldn't explain why he struggled so mightily against Michigan, throwing two interceptions in the first quarter and a half. So Notre Dame deployed its safety net and sent in Tommy Rees, just as Martin and coach Brian Kelly did against Purdue. The circumstances on Saturday were different, though -- whereas Rees played the role of closer against Purdue, he was more of a long reliever against Michigan.

"It's more of a feel, and it's also the feel of having a young quarterback and how's he doing within the moment in time," Martin explained. "He can make a mistake and understand immediately, hey, yeah, I saw that and screwed it up, or it could be more of a mistake based on a little bit being confused. And if it's more based on confusion, then you're more apt to get somebody out there who's less confused."

That somebody is Rees, who has plenty of experience but not the ceiling of Golson. It's part of Notre Dame's attempt to develop a young quarterback while pushing for its first BCS bowl in six years. Sometimes, the two strategies don't mix.

"You got experience, you played, you got confidence, you've seen it before 100 times so you don't flinch. Where Everett's at the point where he's understanding it, he's seeing it, he still flinches sometimes," Martin said. "He doesn't flinch all the time, he's made some great run checks this year. Then other times, he kind of hesitated and he'll come out and tell you 'I should've, yeah.'

"The nice thing is you know the knowledge is there and he's getting it, you're just saying hey, it's just about experience, and the kid's going to get his experience, unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, he's getting experience under fire right now."

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."