The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Irish open preseason at home

Conor Kelly | Friday, August 26, 2011

When the Irish open their season on Friday against Eastern Michigan, they will be facing a blank slate. Lacking any game tape, Notre Dame will kick off the new season with a matchup against the Eagles Friday, followed by Idaho Saturday and Butler Sunday in the Shamrock Invitational — Notre Dame’s round-robin preseason tournament.

“We know a little bit about what [the Eagles] did last year,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said, “but it will take at least a set to really get a feel for our opponents, who their key hitters are, et cetera. Both teams will be trying to figure it out.”

The same can be said for Brown’s squad as well. Though the Irish have been practicing for weeks, Brown said the best way to get a feel for her team is to actually watch them play in-game.

“A team can learn so much more about themselves in match play,” Brown said. “Especially for the freshmen, it will be important to get into the speed of the game right away.”

Brown expects that if all goes according to plan, all four freshmen will see game action this weekend.

“It’s a new season, a blank slate. This will be a chance to see everyone’s competitiveness rise to the top,” Brown said. “I foresee everybody, even the freshmen, getting a chance to show what they can do.”

Though the Shamrock Invitational is a preseason tournament and has no direct bearing on seeding for the Big East, out-of-conference matches will be a litmus test for the Irish and could be crucial to NCAA tournament team selection towards the end of the season.

“Every game with us is crucial. We will have good competition, but our expectation is to win all three matches,” Brown said.

After weeks of training, an anxious Irish will find out exactly where they stand. They take on Eastern Michigan Friday at 7 p.m. at the Joyce Center.