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Men’s Basketball: Brey asks for ‘sixth man’ on Sunday

Mike Monaco | Friday, November 15, 2013


It’s still 50 days before No. 21 Notre Dame’s first conference game as a member of the ACC.

Yet Irish head coach Mike Brey is approaching Sunday’s non-conference matchup with Indiana State as a league tilt.

“It’s going to be a tough game for us and it’s a great challenge for us and that’s why we scheduled it,” Brey said. “But they’re coming up here extremely confident, veteran group, well coached, knows how to play. ACC kind of preparation.”

Brey spent Tuesday night making the rounds to different dorms on campus trying to drum up student support for Sunday’s 12 p.m. contest at Purcell Pavilion. The head coach added he would be in the dining halls later in the week pushing for a large crowd, something that has typically been difficult to come by early in the season, especially for non-conference Sunday afternoon games.

“My theme was … this is an ACC game,” Brey said. “We could use an ACC kind of crowd for this game. Let’s practice our ACC crowd and sixth man helping us because they’re very good.”

The Sycamores (1-0) return four starters – including their two leading scorers – from last year’s squad that finished 18-15. In their season opener against Ball State on Saturday, Indiana State shot 56 percent from the floor and had four players score in double figures en route to an 82-73 win over the Cardinals.

Last year, the Sycamores went on the road and upset then-No. 14 Wichita State, 68-55, in late January. Brey also noted the ever-present danger of losing an early non-conference home game and said he will remind the Irish of that possibility. In-state foe Indiana, for example, barely snuck past LIU-Brooklyn on Tuesday, defeating the Blackbirds, 73-72, in Bloomington, Ind.

“I always put up scores. I’ll put up the Indiana score on the board today from [Tuesday night],” Brey said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate. The last time we got bit was Loyola Marymount here [in Dec. 2009, an 87-85 Irish loss]. And it’s been a while. But it can happen anytime if you’re not ready to go. So I always kind of make our guys aware of that. 

“I’ll put a score up on the board. Certainly when we get into Friday and Indiana State preparation, I’ll have that Wichita State score up on the board before we get started.”

Through their first two games this season, the Irish have handled their non-league foes on their home hardwood. Notre Dame bested Miami (Ohio), 74-62, on Friday night and swept the opening weekend with an 80-49 domination of Stetson on Sunday. Against the RedHawks, the Irish assisted on 21 of their 26 made field goals. Notre Dame followed that up by posting 22 helpers on 32 made field goals Sunday versus the Hatters. 

“Offensively we’re really good with the ball. I think we’re one of the best passing teams in the country, maybe the best,” Brey said. “And we willingly pass it. I firmly believe that – I told them that the other day – which leads to our offensive efficiency. We’re able to run more. We’re able to get easy buckets in transition. That’s exciting – to get some easy buckets.”

Through the opening weekend, Notre Dame was not particularly bogged down by the new defensive rules intended to restrict excessively physical play. Against Miami (Ohio), the teams combined for 29 fouls. Two days later, the Irish and Stetson were whistled for a 31 personal fouls in total. In 35 games last season, an average of 31.46 fouls per game were called on Notre Dame and its opponent, including the postseason. 

The Irish themselves only averaged 14.14 fouls per game in 2012-13 and have committed 17 and 15 fouls, respectively, in the first two games.

Brey said the rules will take time to adjust to across the nation, but he believes the Irish will benefit from the changes.

“Selfishly, for our program, I love those rules because we have been a skilled group and I’d like my guards to be able to move without getting rugby-shucked or whatever they do,” Brey said.

Notre Dame tips off against Indiana State on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu