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Men’s Basketball: Hoopsters tip off against Div. II foe

Chris Khorey | Friday, November 2, 2007

After weeks of intrasquad scrimmages, Notre Dame will finally get to take the floor against an opponent.

The Irish face Saint Ambrose tonight at 9 at the Joyce Center in their first exhibition game of the season.

Coach Mike Brey said one of his focuses for the exhibition against the Fighting Bees will be trying to simulate the rotation he wants to use once the regular season starts.

“It’s the first time you’re on the same bench, so you try to get a feel for your substitution patterns,” he said.

Brey said that while he wants to get every player into the game, his substitutions will be “like a Big East game,” especially in the first half, so he can see how different combinations work on the floor.

Although Saint Ambrose is a Div. II school, Brey said, it will provide good competition for the Irish.

“They had DePaul in a close one [last year],” he said. “With about 10 minutes to go, it was a one-possession game.”

The Bees play an up-tempo style, which Brey said he is excited to face.

“They really try to play fast, which is good. It’ll test our transition defense and it’ll test our thinking,” he said.

Notre Dame will be without sophomore forward Luke Harangody, who injured his thumb in practice on Oct. 15. Junior Zach Hillesland will replace Harangody d in the starting lineup.

Junior guard Kyle McAlarney will play for the first time since serving a semester-long suspension after an arrest last season on marijuana charges. McAlarney will join sophomore Tory Jackson in the backcourt. Jackson replaced McAlarney as the starting point guard last season.

Rounding out the starting lineup for the Irish will be senior forward Rob Kurz and junior guard Ryan Ayers, who is expected to be a full-time starter this season.

The game also marks the first collegiate action for the four Irish freshmen: forward Tim Abromaitis, guard Tyrone Nash, guard Ty Proffitt and forward Carleton Scott.

Of the four, Brey said Nash has the best chance to make an impact this season. But Brey also said that, with eight returning veterans, the freshmen will not be called upon to contribute right away. In fact, Brey said he is more interested to see how sophomore guard Jonathan Peoples and junior forward Luke Zeller play tonight than he is to see the freshmen.

“I’m more focused on the eight veterans than the four young guys,” he said.

Next week, Notre Dame will take on Saint Edward’s in its second and final exhibition game. That game and tonight’s are part of an effort by Brey to play small Catholic schools in exhibitions.

“It’s unbelievable for these institutions,” he said. “They bring their entire administrations. It’s a very special evening for them.”

Brey said the Division II schools present a step up in competition for the teams the Irish used to play to warm up for the season.

“This has been so much better than playing AAU or travel teams because the guys are in shape and while they may not be as big as us, they play hard,” Brey said.