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Mens Basketball: Irish take two of three in Barbados

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, October 28, 2003

While most students get a tan over spring break, the Irish changed that trend and came back from fall break with tans of their own.

A trip to Barbados allowed the Irish to play three games and hold some practices. It was the men’s basketball program’s first trip since an excursion to Italy under former coach John MacLeod.

But the trip wasn’t all work; the Irish got to hang out on the beach, go snorkeling and even take a cruise.

“During practice days, we usually practiced early in the day so we had a lot of free time during the day because we understood it was business down there,” Notre Dame forward Jordan Cornette said, “but at the same time, Coach [Mike Brey] knew we wouldn’t have a chance to go on breaks like that, especially to a place like Barbados.”

The Irish played a club team from England, the Milton Keynes Lions, last Sunday and Wednesday nights. In the first game, the Irish simply dominated the Lions en route to a 93-67 win. But Wednesday night was a different story.

Playing their third game in four nights in a hot and humid gymnasium, the Irish lost to the Lions 77-74 in their final exhibition game in Barbados.

That loss to the older English club team could help this Irish squad down the road, in the middle of its schedule against a Big East opponent in a hostile environment.

“I think in ways it was, but the numbers weren’t as high as a Big East game. At the same time, there weren’t any fans cheering for us,” Cornette said. “It was all of them against us out there. In that respect it was like a Big East [road] atmosphere.”

On last Tuesday night, the Irish beat the Barbados National Team 112-65, a team that didn’t provide nearly the challenge the English team did.

“It was definitely great to just get into a game situation. The teams are quality teams,” guard Colin Falls said. “We lost Wednesday night when we didn’t play well. The European team was very good. The Barbados team didn’t have as many players, probably because they aren’t as big of country.”

Falls was part of the lineup experiments Brey and the coaching staff tinkered with in Barbados. A main purpose of this trip was for Brey to find out, earlier than in previous years, about what the style of this team would be. According to Cornette, that was accomplished.

“We more or less got a feel for what our team will be like this year,” Cornette said. “I think we learned a lot of things about our team and what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are.”

The Irish play their first exhibition game in the United States at the Joyce Center Nov. 5 against the Hoop Group and the official season opener is Nov. 24 when the Irish host Northern Illinois.