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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Irish open season at home against Lafayette College

Bobby Griffin | Friday, November 18, 2005

Irish coach Mike Brey said the only goal for this year’s basketball team is to make the Big East tournament, and that quest will begin Sunday when Notre Dame hosts Lafayette College at the Joyce Center in the team’s first game of the season.

Brey has a lot of options as far as playing people in different spots, but the Irish coach plans on sticking to a specific game plan and forcing his opponent to play accordingly.

“We’ll play the rotation we want to play and won’t react to them,” Brey said. “[Rob] Kurz and [Luke] Zeller played against shooting four-men in the exhibitions and had to run the floor and step out on them. We want to do what we do and make them react a little bit.”

Notre Dame knows what it has on offense when everything is clicking. It is handling a Lafayette team that has changed over the last season and that might present defensive problems.

“Lafayette has gone from having two big kids pounding the ball inside to having younger bigs and spreading it out and shooting a lot of threes,” Brey said. “They kind of spread it out and like to run, so we have to play transition defense. We have to get back.”

The Irish may be without freshman point guard Kyle McAlarney, who has been sidelined with a back injury. Brey said McAlarney worked out for half of Thursday’s practice but was not 100 percent.

“He’s got to see some increases in workload,” Brey said.

The Irish will look for freshman Ryan Ayers to play behind senior co-captain Chris Quinn if McAlarney does not play. Ayers is a long 6-foot-8 forward who has experience handling the point and has been used in different sets when Quinn is not on the floor.

“This past year in senior year I had to bring the ball up a little bit so it’s a little similar but it’s a whole different level,” Ayers said. “So it has kind of raised the intensity.”

The Irish started out the preseason slow, struggling to gain offensive rhythm in their first game against Lewis University. Notre Dame won the game 59-40 but shot just 35.6 percent from the field.

Notre Dame improved the next week against Quincy – especially on the offensive end – as the Irish shot 55.9 percent.

Quinn led the Irish against Quincy with 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field. Co-captain

Torin Francis added 16 points on 7-of-7 from the field with seven rebounds and three blocks in the win.

The Irish and Leopards will tip off Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.