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Men’s Basketball: Irish hit the road to face Gonzaga

Andrew Owens | Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Irish face Gonzaga in their first true road game of the season today after snapping their two-game losing streak Sunday against Bryant.

Notre Dame (5-2) and No. 18 Gonzaga (4-0) will compete in the second half of a home-and-home series, the first of which the Irish claimed at Purcell Pavilion, 83-79, in 2010.

“[Gonzaga is] such a talented offensive team,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “You think about our game last year, that was a great game. [It was] two offensive teams that are really good with the ball. It all starts with [redshirt senior center Robert] Sacre, and he really bothered us posting up in the middle of the lane and defending him down low.”

Brey said he is concerned with the way his inexperienced frontcourt will hold up against the seven-foot center.

“[It’s a] huge challenge for [the frontcourt],” he said. “It goes to the Sacre thing and post position and driving you deep, balls screaming and rolling down your lane. It’s a great challenge for all three of them, [junior forwards Mike Broghammer, Jack Cooley and Tom Knight] to be ready. It’s the first big challenge for them.”

Outside of Sacre, the Bulldogs have several offensive weapons that can pace Gonzaga, Brey said.

“[Junior forward Elias] Harris does it from all over the place,” he said. “[We will try] to slow them down, because they’re good with the ball, they can pass it, they know who should shoot it, and they can score it. [Freshman guard Kevin Pangos] obviously has gotten on runs in their building and it’s a tough atmosphere for us.”

Brey said the environment at McCarthey Athletic Center will be among the toughest the Irish play in this season.

“I told our guys, ‘There won’t be any tougher Big East atmosphere than this place on Wednesday,'” he said. “Again, I’ve never been in it, but I’ve seen it on TV and people have told me.

“Trying to slow them down offensively and with us being younger, being poised in that atmosphere and poised when Gonzaga makes a run … answering when Gonzaga makes a run and can we hang in there and not get frazzled [will be important].”

While Wednesday’s contest marks the end of the series between the two schools, Brey said he has discussed future matchups with Bulldogs coach Mark Few.

“It does end after this year but [Few] and I have talked about down the road starting that thing back up in the future,” he said. “It won’t be in the immediate future of the next year or two I don’t believe, but that’s something we could revisit down the road.”

The Bulldogs and Irish will tip-off at 11:15 p.m. at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.

 

Contact Andrew Owens at aowens2@nd.edu.