Race to the finish
Bill Brink | Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Connecticut has had an up-and-down season, but Notre Dame has yet to meet the Huskies when they’re down.
The first time the teams met, the Huskies had won five of six games, and beat the Irish 82-70. Later, they lost five of six.
But now, Connecticut (17-12, 7-9 Big East) has won three of four, and comes to town to face a hot Notre Dame (19-10, 8-8) squad on Senior Night.
“We’re playing the UConn that started the year now,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.
The Irish recently beat two top-15 opponents without senior forward Luke Harangody and are making a push to be in consideration for the NCAA Tournament.
“The power of the Big East always presents itself with playing our way in,” Brey said.
The Irish, Brey said, are preparing as though they will not have Harangody, who missed the last four games because of a bone bruise in his knee. Brey said the team will evaluate the injury on a week-to-week basis rather than a day-to-day basis.
“A bone bruise takes time,” Brey said. “Each guy’s different and you have to be really, really cautious with it.”
Brey said if Harangody could not play Wednesday, he could not see him playing Saturday on the road at Marquette and that his status would be re-evaluated next week in preparation for the Big East tournament.
In Harangody’s absence, junior forward Carleton Scott has stepped up and performed. He scored 17 points and had nine rebounds in Notre Dame’s 78-64 win over No. 19
Georgetown on the road in his third start.
“Certainly starting, I think, helps a guy get confident,” Brey said. “I think he’s getting very, very comfortable playing with older guys and getting into a rhythm.”
Scott has also started shooting the ball well, which Brey said he knew was coming.
“The man can shoot the ball,” Brey said. “I’ve been waiting for him to shoot the way I think he can shoot.”
Brey also said Scott was an underrated passer and had passed the ball well all season.
The play of sophomore guard Kemba Walker, Brey said, was part of what had the Huskies doing so well. Walker has led the team in scoring in four of the past five games, averages 14.8 points per game and scored 28 points in a 78-76 loss to Louisville Sunday.
For the Irish, junior forward Tim Abromaitis has continued to score. He led the team in scoring in three of the last four games, and in those games he averaged 23.3 points. He is also third in the Big East in 3-point percentage, making 47.3 of his 3s, and 14th in the nation.
Brey said slowing down the offense has helped the team limit possessions and find better shots.
“We either have transition or really patient now,” he said. “There’s not much in between.”
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.