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No sure thing

Matt Lozar | Friday, February 18, 2005

Mike Brey has an offer for Providence coach Tim Welsh.

He’ll cut Saturday’s game down to a minute with the score tied.

If Providence was contending for a NCAA tournament berth – as the coaches predicted in the preseason with the Friars’ sixth-place projection – Brey’s statement after Wednesday night’s win over Georgetown might make more sense.

If the Friars weren’t in last place in the Big East with a 1-10 conference record, the Irish would be lucky to get such a deal going into conference road game after losing their last four away from the Joyce Center.

But the Irish are throwing all of those truths out the window.

They feel the real truth is Providence is much, much better than its record this season has shown.

“The fact that we’re 7-5, and they are 1-10 means nothing,” Brey said. “They scare the heck out of me.”

The Friars haven’t mailed in their season, despite having no chance to get to the NCAA tournament except winning four consecutive games in the Big East Tournament. At West Virginia on Feb. 5, Providence lost by two. On Sunday, the Friars won their first conference game on the season, beating Rutgers 81-65. And on Tuesday, they took Connecticut to double overtime behind a career-high 37 points from Ryan Gomes.

“That 1-10 record might be the most deceiving 1-10 record in the history of college basketball,” Irish senior Jordan Cornette said.

Gomes, the preseason Big East player of the year and a 2004 first-team All-American, is leading the Big East in scoring with 21.8 points per game, second in the conference, pulling down 8.5 rebounds, and seventh in field goal percentage.

Overall, of their 14 losses, the Friars have lost only three of them by more than 10 points.

‘They are a talented team with RG. He’s the best player in the league,” Thomas said. “He plays with a lot of confidence. Their record doesn’t describe the type of team they are.”

Thomas hasn’t let Gomes forget about last season when the Friars came into the Joyce Center and defeated the Irish 73-59.

Sitting squarely on the bubble, the Irish played one of their worst games of the season while Gomes led the Friars with 25 points and 12 rebounds.

“They got us last year. We feel we owe them one,” Thomas said. “Despite their record, there’s a lot at stake.

“We have to be resilient, just like we were against Connecticut.”

Saturday’s game is Notre Dame’s first against a team entering the game with a losing record in the conference this season.

Tip-off is set for noon and the game will be televised locally by WNDU.