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Men’s Basketball: Conference Calls

Bobby Griffin | Friday, February 3, 2006

Irish guard Chris Quinn was calm and relaxed after practice Thursday, an interesting mood given the fact Notre Dame is on the verge of missing the Big East tournament – unless something changes very soon.

The Irish are running out of chances to reverse the course of their challenging season. Saturday at noon, Notre Dame has another opportunity to earn a much-needed league win when it travels to Louisville.

“I hope we give ourselves a chance to win again,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We’re not going to go in there and takeover a game against Georgetown or Villanova. It’s a punch here, hang in there, make a run, see if you can win it at the end.”

Louisville is one of several new members of the Big East this year, and this will be the first league meeting between the Irish and the former Conference USA powerhouse. Quinn expects the matchup to be challenging given their raucous home court.

“They have a lot of history when it comes to Kentucky basketball, Rick Pitino and even Louisville basketball,” Quinn said. “They love their team down there and I’m sure the crowd will be great.”

Louisville is averaging 18,980 in home attendance this season, second in the Big East to Syracuse.

The Cardinals (14-7, 2-6 in the Big East) have struggled during league play for much of the season. Their two wins came against Providence and Cincinnati.

Louisville’s struggles do not concern the Irish, who are looking for any win they can get. Notre Dame dropped to 1-7 in the Big East Wednesday after losing by one point to West Virginia.

“We know we can play with anybody after the past week,” Quinn said. “We played the No. 6-ranked team and the No. 11-ranked team and we were right there and could have beat any one of them. We’re confident; I know I’m very confident in my team.”

Louisville’s primary weapon is guard Taquan Dean. Dean is averaging 15.4 points and 3.8 assists per game this season.

Dean was injured earlier this season against Pittsburgh and sat out the next two games with a high ankle sprain. Louisville struggled without its leading scorer.

“[Dean] is a great player and can really shoot the ball,” Quinn said. “You saw how much he meant to that team when he was out. They didn’t have the same flow that they had when he was in there.”

The Irish want to continue to do the same thing on offense that has worked all season. Quinn said he has been pleased with Notre Dame’s play on that end of the court.

“Offensively, pretty much all year in the Big East season we move pretty well,” Quinn said. “We’ve been able to put some points on the board and get some pretty good looks.”

Notre Dame came out with a different look in the second half against West Virginia Wednesday.

To go along with Quinn, guards Colin Falls, Russell Carter and Kyle McAlarney and forward Rick Cornett joined the mix for much of the half. The Irish had success moving the ball, outscoring the Mountaineers by three in the second half. Quinn said there is a chance the Irish will use more of that lineup as the season progresses.

“That lineup was pretty good to us in the second half,” Quinn said. “We were able to get some stops, and ‘Big Rick’ [Cornett] was very good for us inside. Russell Carter did a great job of getting on the backboard and getting some rebounds. That lineup has some promise.”