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Men’s Basketball: Team to face Rams at home

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Maryland and Alabama loom on the horizon, but today Notre Dame has just one focus – Winston-Salem State.

The Irish (4-1) will play the Rams (1-8) tonight at 7:30 at the Joyce Center before Notre Dame takes on two major conference teams next week, squads coach Mike Brey described as “two of the hottest in the country.”

Brey said his team isn’t thinking about the Terrapins and Crimson Tide yet, however. The coach said the team would use Wednesday as a chance to work some kinks out.

“I don’t want to look past Winston-Salem State,” he said. “We’ll take the floor and it’s an opportunity to get better.”

Junior forward Rob Kurz said many of the “kinks” have to do with the defensive end of the floor. Notre Dame allowed Lehigh to shoot 57 percent from the floor in a 93-87 Irish victory Monday.

“Offense isn’t the issue,” Kurz said. “We need to work on our defense right now. We need to defend like we did last week against The Citadel.”

Against the Bulldogs Nov. 19, Notre Dame allowed just 12 points in the first half en route to an easy 74-50 victory.

Brey said consistency on both ends of the floor would come once the Irish – who have only one junior and two scholarship seniors – gain more experience. Consequently, Brey has structured most game preparation around teaching young players his system rather than scouting the opposition.

Brey said he would continue to stress the system even when Notre Dame gets into the tougher part of its schedule next week.

“The preparation is mostly going to focusing on us and our development,” he said. “We’re not going to worry too much about scouting reports yet.”

The Rams, who have struggled to just one win in nine games this season under first-year coach Bobby Collins, are led by sophomore forward Jamal Durham, who is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Winston-Salem State’s lone victory this year came Nov. 14 against Anderson. The game was also the only time the Rams have played at home so far this season.

As far as the Irish home court advantage goes, Brey has seen a half-full Joyce Center and a Leprechaun Legion that barely fills the lower section of its allotted area so far this young season. The coach said he hopes the crowds will be bigger as the competition gets tougher, but he would like to see a big crowd tonight as a “warm-up” for the Alabama game next Thursday.

“We need our sixth man,” he said. “It’s extremely important for us to have good home court advantage.”