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Men’s Basketball: Irish to battle Long Island University

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 12, 2007

The first few weeks of the college basketball season saw some high-profile teams lose games that should have been easy wins.

USC, Ohio State, Michigan State and Kentucky all fell to schools few people have ever heard of – Mercer, Findlay, Grand Valley State and Gardner Webb, respectively.

Notre Dame had a little trouble of its own Wednesday before ultimately defeating Division II opponent St. Edward’s 71-56 and will tangle with Long Island University tonight at 7:30 in the Joyce Center to officially tip off the 2007-08 season.

In Notre Dame’s win over St. Edward’s, the Hilltoppers were within eight points with fewer than 10 minutes to play before Notre Dame pulled away. But before the Irish put the game out of reach, coach Mike Brey had Ohio State and Michigan States’ losses on his mind. And just because teams like Long Island and St. Edward’s look like easy wins on paper, doesn’t mean they lack good players capable of playing at a high level, Brey said.

“I’m telling you when [St. Edward’s] cut it to six or seven in the second half, I thought of Findlay and Grand Valley,” Brey said. “I’m telling you there’s good players everywhere and [St. Edward’s] was a good team; they were well-coached and they were on a high.”

Even though Notre Dame begins its Big East schedule on Jan. 3 when it plays West Virginia, it will still have to play the physical brand of basketball that is a hallmark of Big East play in its out-of-conference schedule

“I like how we played in the second half of [against St. Edward’s] because it became a Big East, grind-it-out game and we made free throws, we got the ball to our low-post guy and we defended in the half-court pretty well,” Brey said.

Irish forwards Rob Kurz and Luke Harangody, the latter of whom missed Notre Dame’s first game against St. Ambrose with a torn ligament in his thumb, combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds against St. Edward’s.

The Long Island Blackbirds’ leading returning scorer from last year is forward Eugene Kotorobai, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Irish sophomore guard Tory Jackson wasn’t himself against St. Edward’s because he was battling the flu, Brey said, but Jackson still did a lot to help out the Irish.

“I thought he really fought through it. In the second half, he bounced back,” Brey said. “He made free throws, he made defensive plays, to help us win the basketball game.”