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Tough schedule ahead for team in 2008-09

Chris Hine | Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Irish should certainly be battle-tested come Tournament time.

Notre Dame’s 2008-09 schedule was released Monday, a schedule that not only includes the rigorous 18-game Big East schedule, but also non-conference match-ups against UCLA, Ohio State and a trip to the Maui Invitational that could include potential games against Texas and North Carolina.

“With the veteran group that we have, they deserve a challenge like this,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I told the team, ‘The thing to keep in mind, we’re going to take some bullets. We’re gong to get smacked a couple times, and we’re going to have to be resilient and not panic.'”

Notre Dame returns four starters from last season, including Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody, and is expected to contend for the conference title this year. But to win that crown, the Irish will have to navigate the always tough Big East schedule.

Notre Dame will face a crucial test early in its Big East schedule, when it faces a daunting five-game stretch beginning on the road at Louisville on Jan. 12. The Irish follow that with a trip to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse on Jan. 17, then return home for games against Connecticut on Jan. 24 and Marquette on Jan. 26 and finish the stretch with a trip to Pittsburgh on Jan. 31. ESPN’s College Gameday will visit the Joyce Center for the first time for the Connecticut game.

“There’s so many good ones on our schedule …” Brey said. “It’s going to be an unbelievable experience and a great challenge.”

On Feb. 7, Notre Dame will head to Los Angeles to renew its rivalry with UCLA. It’ll be the first meeting between the two teams since 2004.

The Irish will face Indiana on Nov. 24 to open the Maui Invitational and depending on how they fare, will play either Texas or St. Joseph’s in round two, and possibly North Carolina in the Finals.

After two games at home against Furman and South Dakota, Notre Dame heads to the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Dec. 6 to take on Ohio State. Then, Notre Dame has three more games at home against Boston, Delaware State and Savannah State before kicking off Big East play at DePaul on Dec. 31.

In the Big East, Notre Dame will play Connecticut, Louisville and St. John’s as its home-and-home opponents and will close the year with three of their last four games at the Joyce Center.

In all, Notre Dame will play 14 games on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU) and will have two games on CBS (at UCLA and at Connecticut on Jan. 28).

u Note:

Notre Dame home football weekends are a time when many highly-touted recruits come to campus, but not just for football. Brey received a verbal commitment this weekend from 6-foot-8 forward Mike Broghammer.

Broghammer joins Joey Brooks and Jack Cooley as verbal commitments Brey has lined up for this year’s senior class. Brey can’t comment on the recruits until the recruits sign their letters of intent in November.

Bill Brink contributed to this report.