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



Men’s Basketball: Friar fighters

Andrew Owens | Thursday, March 1, 2012

After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since mid-January in a stretch that snapped a school-record nine-game Big East winning streak, the Irish return home for senior night Friday against Providence.

The Friars (15-15, 4-13 Big East) have struggled throughout most of the season, but have won consecutive games heading into the matchup with Notre Dame, including a 72-70 win over Connecticut on Tuesday.

“We’ll have a heck of a challenge,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “Providence, with what they did against [Connecticut] and what they did against Louisville up at Providence, they can really score the ball. But practice time on our floor and playing in our building has always been a remedy to hit the reset button [after losses].”

Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5) has the opportunity to clinch a double-bye in next week’s Big East tournament with a win over the Friars. The Irish face the added emotions of senior night, as the program will honor forward Scott Martin and injured forward Tim Abromaitis, who has missed all but two games with a torn ACL.

Both Abromaitis and Martin, who missed the 2009-10 season due to injury, have applied for a sixth year of eligibility, but Brey said he understands the possibility neither will suit up for the Irish in Purcell Pavilion again after Friday night’s contest.

“We’re going to honor them both and maybe we’re going to have one or two guys have the first back-to-back senior days, so it’s a little bit unusual,” he said. “I look at it as certainly we could not get either of them back, but I think Scott’s case has a better chance, so I really look at it as a night to honor Tim and everything he’s done for our basketball program.

“It’s been a tough year for him, but I think we’ve hurt for him more than he’s hurt for us, as we’ve gotten going and he hasn’t been a part of it.”

With the offense in a funk at St. John’s and Georgetown in the back-to-back losses that included a combined 7-of-48 performance from beyond the arc, Brey said the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion could not come at a better time for Notre Dame.

“I think it’s always good for us when we lose or struggle on the road to come back and get practice reps on our floor and get the Wilson balls back in our hands and play a little bit,” he said. “I think it’s important for our group … in practice to play and get in a rhythm, because we didn’t have [rhythm] in either game over the weekend.”

Notre Dame will add former Irish star Adrian Dantley to the Ring of Honor during halftime of the game. Dantley, the former two-time all-American and national player of the year, averaged 25.8 points per game during his career and will join former greats Luke Harangody, Ruth Riley and Austin Carr in the Ring of Honor.

The Irish and Friars will tip-off at Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m. tonight.