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Men’s Basketball: Irish look to break through against A-10 foe

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, November 19, 2012

When Notre Dame welcomes George Washington to Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday night, Irish coach Mike Brey will be facing not only the Colonials but also his past.

Brey played one year at George Washington, where he averaged five points and 4.8 rebounds as a senior and earning team MVP honors.

“A lot of good memories,” Brey said. “We were watching tape today from their game against Youngstown State in the Smith Center and I told the guys ‘Fellas, I spent a lot of time in that building right there.'”

He isn’t the only member of the Brey family with ties to George Washington. His wife played volleyball there, his mother was the swimming coach when Brey was there and his father earned his Master’s degree at the university.

The Colonials (1-1) enter the game following a 72-59 win over Boston University on Saturday but dropped their season opener to Youngstown State 80-73. George Washington belongs to the Atlantic-10 conference, a league that has given Notre Dame (3-1) fits recently.

The Irish have lost their last two games against Atlantic-10 competition – Xavier in the NCAA tournament last season and Saint Joseph’s this past weekend. Notre Dame lost to the Hawks 79-70 in overtime Friday night.

“I think I need [my team’s] attention, we’re 0-2 against the [Atlantic-10],” Brey said. “Let’s see if we can beat an [Atlantic-10] team. They’ll be ready to go, they’re athletic up front.”

Freshman guard Joe McDonald leads the Colonials in scoring, averaging 14 points in his brief college career. Brey said Notre Dame took a look at McDonald but passed on him to make room for incoming guard Demetrius Jackson.

Senior forward Isaiah Armwood, a Villanova transfer, has given George Washington a boost in the frontcourt with 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.

“They’re rebuilding it. They have young guards. They have the Armwood kid who transferred from Villanova who transferred, athletic as heck.

“They have some shot blockers back there. That really bothered us Friday night when Saint Joe’s had some guys flying around.”

Brey said George Washington’s roster will resemble some Big East teams’ ones.

“[Atlantic-10] personnel is close to Big East personnel sometimes. You have to be ready to go. It certainly will be a big one for them but I think it will be a big one for us given how we played Saturday and how we’re looking at this window of eight games looking at Chicago State.”

Notre Dame rebounded from its first loss Friday night by defeating BYU 78-68 in the consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. In the game, the Irish played a lot of zone defense to slow down the Cougars.

Brey said the Irish may play more zone defense against the Colonials.

“You never get to play as fast as you want if you’re our opponent, defensively or offensively,” Brey said. “That wears on you after a stretch of time … I’ve been afraid to go to zone a lot because we haven’t been as good at guarding the arc out of zone.”

Notre Dame and George Washington will tip off Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.


Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]