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Men’s Basketball: Hofstra will give team Big East style contest

Pat Leonard | Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Notre Dame wasn’t planning on playing a Big East team until January.

Though the Irish do not compete in-conference until Jan. 4 against Pittsburgh, Hofstra – from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) – will give them the look and feel of a Big East opponent tonight at 7:30 in the Joyce Center.

“I told our guys – we didn’t talk much about Lafayette – this is a Big East game,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said after Sunday’s 84-66 win over the Leopards. “Hofstra could be the Bucknell [or] Vermont … this year. They won 21 games [last season], they’ve got old guys on the perimeter who are confident, and they called us for the game.”

Hofstra (1-0) beat Florida International 64-51 on Saturday in its home- and season-opener. The Irish (1-0) and Pride have not played since Jan. 15, 1995, a 63-52 Notre Dame victory, when Hofstra belonged to the America East Conference.

Since, fifth-year coach Tom Pecora has coached the Pride through as many seasons in the CAA, amassing a 21-9 overall record last season before losing in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Pecora was an assistant coach for seven years under current Villanova and former Hofstra head coach Jay Wright before taking the reigns.

“Tom did a very good job there and has taken the program from Jay,” said Brey, whose former Delaware squad is also in the CAA. “They weren’t quite running at a high level for a couple years, but he’s kind of restocked. And of course, they are in a different conference now.”

Hofstra has had some recent success against Big East teams and common opponents of Notre Dame. The Pride “jumped all over” St. John’s 78-68 last season, as Brey described. The Irish needed a last-second Chris Thomas 3-pointer to beat the Red Storm. And Hofstra lost at Syracuse by only five points. Notre Dame lost two games to the Orange – a nine-point loss on Jan. 10 and a three-point defeat on Feb. 5.

“We’ve got a very tough opponent in Hofstra coming in, a team that many might not think is that good,” Irish point guard Chris Quinn said. “But they are very good and very talented.”

Notre Dame is coming off a win in its first game, as well, in which the team shot 48.2 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from the 3-point line and 72.4 percent (21-for-29) from the foul line. But the Irish also scored only one field goal in the game’s final nine minutes.

As of Sunday, all Irish players including Rick Cornett (ankle) and Kyle McAlarney (back spasms) were able to play. Neither Cornett nor McAlarney were 100 percent against Lafayette.

“We’ve got to be ready to go against a very good team, a confident team,” Brey said.

Hofstra sophomore Antoine Agudio is the former conference rookie of the year and scored a team-high 17 points against Florida International Saturday. The Pride went to the foul line 48 times in the game.

“You can tell where their frame of mind’s at,” Brey said. “And if we’re fortunate enough to get it, it will go in the good win category. Not everybody understands that right now, and our fans wouldn’t understand that, that would be like a league win.

Notes

Notre Dame sophomore forward Rob Kurz was selected to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll following a career-high, 18-point performance in Notre Dame’s regular season opener. It was also Kurz’s first start of his college career.

Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert earned the conference’s player-of-the-week award. Connecticut’s Josh Boone, Cincinnati’s Eric Hicks, Rutgers’ Quincy Douby and South Florida’s Solomon Jones were named to the Weekly Honor Roll along with Kurz.

Hofstra senior guard Gibran Washington has left its basketball program due to a “chronic injury,” the team announced Tuesday.

Washington played in 83 career games for the Pride, including 28 starts. He scored 333 points, 165 assists and 107 steals in three seasons. And he holds the single-game assist record at Hofstra for a 12-assist performance against St. John’s in 2003-04.