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Men’s Basketball: Gold rush

Bill Brink | Thursday, November 19, 2009

Long Beach State finished 15-15 last season, but in Notre Dame’s eyes, it has the potential to perform a little better than that.

“Long Beach State, they could be as good as or better than the Big East opponents this year,” senior Irish forward Luke Harangody said.

Senior Irish guard Tory Jackson agreed that the 49ers (2-0), who come to the Joyce Center to face the Irish tonight, could present a challenge like the Irish would face in a conference game.

“It’s going to be a great, great game, a Big East game for us really,” Jackson said.

Notre Dame (2-0) put up a good offensive performance against St. Francis, who it defeated 95-72 Monday. Harangody scored 27 points and had nine rebounds in the game, and senior guard Ben Hansbrough hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and scored 18 points.

In fact, the Irish made 52 percent of their 3-point attempts, something Harangody attributed to the team’s ball movement in the second half.

“We’re just looking to have a good possession every time,” he said.

As successful as they were shooting from deep, St. Francis was even better — The Irish gave up plenty of buckets from 3-point range as well. St. Francis made 13-of-19 3-pointers, or 68 percent.

Harangody said the defense could use some improvement.

“I think there’s a lot of work to be done on the defensive end, just communication,” he said. “There can’t be any blown assignments.”

Jackson said the perimeter defense relied on trust.

“The previous game we trusted each other and got out and defended the 3-point line,” he said. “We have to continue doing what were doing in practice, just challenging all shots.”

Junior forward Tim Abromaitis scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench, using his size to give the Irish another dimension on offense.

“We try to move him around to create mismatches,” Jackson said. “With his size, he can get a mismatch either way with a guard guarding him or a big man guarding him.”

The 49ers only lost one starter from last season and return three that scored double-digit points per game. Forward T.J. Robinson scored 11.4 points per game last season and will provide Harangody with a challenge in the paint.

Harangody faced a challenge in the paint against St. Francis, however, and made the best of it. He made eight of his 11 free throws in the game.

“I think when we saw they got a couple early fouls, and we saw they were physical in the post, anytime we go into the bonus, we might as well take advantage of it,” he said.

Sophomore forward Eugene Phelps didn’t start a game last year and averaged 3.7 points per game, but he scored 10 against Alaska-Anchorage during the 49ers’ 86-65 win Saturday. Sophomore guard Larry Anderson, who averaged 10.8 points per game last season, led the team with 18 against Alaska-Anchorage.

The 49ers defeated Pepperdine 67-58 Tuesday night. Larry Anderson scored 15 points in the second half to bring Long Beach State back from a two-point halftime deficit and Robinson had 15 points and 10 rebounds.