Zeller and his AIA teammates look to finish off their eight-game tourn with a win on Tuesday night.

102nd Season Of Irish Basketball Tips Off Friday

Nov. 9, 2006

Game Notes in PDF Format
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Coach Brey Talks About the IPFW Matchup –

Notre Dame (0-0, 0-0 BIG EAST)
IPFW (0-0)

Friday, November 10, 2006 * 8:00 p.m. (EST) Joyce Center * Notre Dame, Ind.

Media Information
Television: None

Radio: Jack Nolan Nolan (play-by-play analyst)
LaPhonso Ellis (color analyst)
Notre Dame Sports Properties originates the Notre Dame Radio Network which includes: WLS 890 AM in Chicago, Ill. (Chicago land area and Midwest); WZOW 97.7 FM and 102.3 FM in South Bend, Ind.; ESPN 950 AM in Indianapolis, Ind.; WGL 1250 AM in Fort Wayne, Ind. and Northeast, Ind.;WLUV 96.7 AM in Rockford and DeKalb, Ill. and Beloit and Janesville, Wis.; WEFM 95.9 FM in Michigan City and Gary, Ind.; ESPN (WRSW) 1480 AM in Warsaw, Ind.; WAMW 107.9 FM and 1580 AM in Washington, Ind.; and www.und.com.

Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for all home games, via the Notre Dame athletic website (www.und.com).

Notre Dame vs. IPFW:
The 102nd season of Notre Dame basketball tips off on Friday night with the season opener against the IPFW Mastodons. The Irish posted impressive wins in both of their two exhibition games. They defeated Rockhurst 79-44 on Nov.1 and produced an 85-57 win on Nov. 6. Notre Dame and IPFW will be meeting for the third consecutive season with the Irish posting wins in the two previous contests. Following tonight’s game, Notre Dame will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., for the first two rounds of the 2006 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off where the Irish are scheduled to play Butler in first-round action on Mon., Nov. 13 and then take on either Lafayette or Indiana the following night on Tues., Nov., 14.

Exhibtion recaps:
vs. Rockhurst: Freshman Luke Harangody came off the bench to score 17 points in 21 minutes of action to lead four Irish players in double figures as Notre Dame defeated Rockhurst 79-44 in its first exhibition test. Harangody connected on 8-10 shots from the field and also grabbed four rebounds. Colin Falls scored 15 points and Russell Carter added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Rob Kurz finished with a double-double as he netted 11 points and grabbed 10 boards. Notre Dame held Rockhurst to just 17 first-half points and 5-23 shooting from the field (.217) and 31.9 percent for the game. The Irish held a 42-32 advantage on the boards and forced 23 turnovers while only committing 10 turnovers themselves.

vs. Bellarmine: Sophomore Luke Zeller led a balanced Notre Dame attack as he finished with 15 points and nine rebounds en route to an 85-57 victory over Bellarmine in its final exhibtion tuneup. Zeller led three Irish players in double figures as Russell Carter finished with 14 points and Kyle McAlarney added 11. Freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson each finished with nine points, while Harangody also had nine rebounds. Colin Falls and Zach Hillesland finished with eight and seven points, respectively. Notre Dame shot 49.1 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three-point range.

2005-06 Rewind:
Notre Dame finished with a 16-14 record a year ago and were 6-10 in BIG EAST play. The Irish advanced to the postseason for the sixth straight year under head coach Mike Brey with a second-round appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. Notre Dame’s 14 losses a year ago were by a total of 59 points (4.2 per game), while its 10 BIG EAST setbacks (four in overtime, including two double-overtime decisions) were by a combined 35 points (3.5 per game). The Irish were involved in 14 contests that were decided by five or fewer points, while eight games were decided by six to 10 points.

Who’s Returning:
Notre Dame returns three starters (Colin Falls, Russell Carter and Rob Kurz) and five others who earned monograms. The strength of the Irish once again will rest with its ability to score points. Under Mike Brey, Notre Dame teams have demonstrated the ability to score points. A year ago, the Irish averaged 76.4 points per game and topped the 80-plus mark 12 times. Falls (13.8 ppg.), Carter (11.5 ppg.) and Kurz (6.4 ppg.) should be Notre Dame’s top scoring threats as the Irish once again expect to have a potent offensive attack, but hope to improve defensively and the 70.7 points per game they yielded a year ago. With the graduations of Chris Quinn (17.7 ppg., 6.4 aspg.), Torin Francis (11.6 ppg., 9.4 rpg.) and Rick Cornett (5.4 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), there will be plenty of opportunity for contributions from a new group of individuals.

The core of Notre Dame leadership will come from Falls, Carter and Kurz who enter the season with a combined 70 career starts. Falls and Carter will the keys along the perimeter, while Kurz will be the workhorse inside.

Look for Notre Dame’s sophomore class to have an impact. After a year of playing behind Quinn, Kyle McAlarney will take over the point guard duties. He saw action in 29 contests (he missed the final game of the season versus Michigan with an ankle injury) and averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 assists. Forward Luke Zeller will look to become more of an impact in the frontcourt. Zeller (3.4 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) saw significant playing minutes during the non-conference season, but saw his minutes diminsh during BIG EAST play. Despite seeing limited playing time, Ryan Ayers (1.1 ppg., 0.7 rpg.) and Zach Hillesland (0.6 ppg., 0.2 rpg.) will have more prominent roles off the bench. Opportunity will present itself for this year’s four-member freshman class. Forward Luke Harangody and point guard Tory Jackson are expected to see significant playing minutes, while Joe Harden and Jonathan Peoples will look to see time off the bench in a reserve role.

The Phonz Returns:
Former Irish great LaPhonso Ellis (1988-92) returns to be the color analyst for Notre Dame basketball games on the radio, teaming with play-by-play analyst Jack Nolan in 2006-06. Nolan was the color analyst for a number of years on the network, but assumes the play-by-play duties this season. Ellis, who ranks 13th all-time in career scoring and third in rebounding (1,075), will do a select number of games this season.

Early Start:
Tonight’s season opener against IPFW marks the earliers start date ever in the 102-year history of the program. The earliest start date prior to this had been in 1998 when that Irish squad opened up the 1998-99 campaign with a 76-65 loss to Miami of Ohio on Nov. 13.

Irish in Season Openers:
Notre Dame owns an all-time record of 83-18 (.821) all-time in season openers and have won all six of its openers under head coach Mike Brey. Since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69, Irish teams are 32-6 (.842) in home openers. The last time Notre Dame lost a season opener at home was to Miami of Ohio on November 13, 1998.

Irish Roll Under Brey In November:
Under head coach Mike Brey, the Irish are 21-2 (.913) all-time in games played during the month of November. The two November losses have been to Creighton 80-75 in the championship game of the Guardians Classic on Nov. 26, 2002 and to North Carolina State (61-48) at the John R. Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 26. Series Record vs. IPFW:

Notre Dame and IPFW will be meeting for the third consecutive year. The Irish lead the series 2-0. The Mastondons will be playing at the Joyce Center for the second time in three seasons. The first meeting between the two schools took place on Nov. 23, 2004 with the Irish earning a 73-45 victory on Nov. 23, 2004 with the second matchup occurring last season as Notre Dame produced a 65-63 victory.

Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off:
Notre Dame will be making their third appearance ever (and first since 1999) in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Each time that the Irish have played in the preseason NIT event, the Irish have advanced to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and then played in the consolation game. Notre Dame owns a 4-4 record overall in the tournament. The NIT Season Tip-Off moves to a doubleheader “common site” format featuring four regional sites – East (Charlotte, N.C.), South (Nashville, Tenn.), Midwest (Indianapolis, Ind.) and West (Spokane, Wash.). Notre Dame will open up play against Butler on Mon., Nov. 13 at Conseco Fieldhouse. The double-header format also will feature Lafayette and Indiana at the same site with the losers and winners of both games squaring off the following evening on Nov. 14.

The Irish All-Time:
The 2006-07 men’s basketball campaign marks the 102nd season of basketball and 12th as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. In 101 seasons, Irish teams have posted a 1581-877 record for a .643 winning percentage. In BIG EAST play, Notre Dame owns an 90-94 (.489) record all-time in conference regular-season play.

Hard-NOSEd Player:
Junior Rob Kurz sustained a broken on practice on Sunday evening, Nov. 5 after being elbowed accidently by teammate Luke Harangody. He underwent surgery on Monday morning (Nov. 6) at 10:30 a.m. and was in street clothes that evening sitting on the bench in the exhibition game against Bellarmine. He returned to practice on Wednesday (Nov. 8) and is expected to start this evening’s contest. He will wear a protective mask in practices and in games for the the next month .

Always In It:
Notre Dame’s 14 losses last season have been by a combined 59 points for an average of 4.2 points per game. The only double-digit loss was to North Carolina State (61-47). The 10 BIG EAST losses during the regular season were by a combined 35 points (3.5) .

Going Overtime:
Notre Dame played five overtime games last season, matching the school record set during the 1955-56 campaign when that Irish team finished 1-4 in overtime contests. Three of those contests a year ago were decided in double overtime. The Irish were 0-5 in overtime games.

Seven Straight Postseason Appearances:
Since 2000, Notre Dame has appeared in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments each of the last seven years. The Irish played in the 2000 NIT and then earned consecutive NCAA tournament berths – 2001, ’02, ’03, followed by NIT appearances in ’04, ’05 and ’06. This is the longest stretch of postseason appearances for Irish teams since making eight straight from 1983-90 (NIT in 1983 and ’84 and NCAA from 1985-90).

BIG EAST Breakdown:
Notre Dame will play DePaul, USF and Villanova twice as part of its 16-game BIG EAST schedule. As was the case in 2005-06, each team will face 10 opponents once and three opponents twice (both home and away), but will not play two teams. The Irish will play home games against Louisville, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and West Virginia and will face Cincinnati, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John’s and Syracuse on the road. The two schools Notre Dame will not play during the upcoming campaign are Connecticut and Pittsburgh.

Home Sweet Home:
Since the inaugural season in 1968-69 at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 456-140 record all-time for a .765 winning percentage. The Irish are 71-27 (.724) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s five seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own a 119-42 mark for a .739 winning percentage. Notre Dame’s 11-5 mark last season at home marks the eighth time in nine years that the Irish won 10 or more home games.

BIG EAST Formula For Success Under Brey:
Since his arrival at Notre Dame, Brey has led Notre Dame to a 55-41 (.573) record in BIG EAST regular-season games and a 2-6 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 57-47 (.548) against league foes. In Brey’s first season, the Irish posted their first-ever winning record in BIG EAST play and won the BIG EAST West Division title with an 11-5 mark. Prior to Brey’s arrival at Notre Dame, Irish teams had a 35-53 (.398) regular-season record since joining the league in 1995-96.

237 And Counting:
Heading into the season opener against IPFW, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 237 straight games, a mark that dates back to the 1998-99 campaign. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer was a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999 as Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in the game. The 2005-06 Irish squad set the single-season record with 288 three-pointers.

Philly Family Connection:
Junior Rob Kurz’ sister Laura is a junior on the Villanova women’s basketball team (she is sitting out this season after transferring from Duke). Sophomore Ryan Ayers’ father Randy is currently an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic. He formerly was the head coach at Ohio State and with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Like Father, Like Son:
The last name of freshman walk-on Tim Andree should be familiar to the Irish basketball faithful. His father Tim was a four-year monogram winner and played basketball for the Irish from 1979-83. It marks the first father-son basketball duo at Notre Dame since Kevin Hawkins (1978-81) was a walk-on member, following in his father Tom’s (1956-59) footsteps.

Keeping It Close:
In the 70 losses suffered by Irish teams in Mike Brey’s four seasons, only 16 have been by 10 or more points and have been by a combined 458 points for an average of 6.5 points. Notre Dame’s biggest losses have been on the road at Pittsburgh (72-55 on January 6, 2003) and against Arizona (88-71 on March 27, 2003) in the West Regional semifinal in Anaheim, Calif. Prior to those setbacks, the worst defeat was a 16-point decision at Connecticut during Brey’s first season. Notre Dame’s 11 losses during the 2001-02 season were by a combined 49 points for an average margin of defeat of 4.5 points. Only one loss that season (versus Georgetown at the Joyce Center) was by double figures, while eight of those setbacks were by five or less points.

There’s a New Guy In Town:
There will be a new face along the Irish sidelines this season. Gene Cross, a 1994 graduate of Illinois, joins the Notre Dame basketball staff after spending the 2005-06 campaign at Virginia. A 10-year veteran of the collegiate ranks, he spent three years (2002-05) on Dave Leitao’s staff at DePaul before moving to Virginia when Leitao became the Cavaliers’ head coach. He also spent six years on the staff at University of Illinois-Chicago (1996-02).

Home Grown:
There are two Indiana natives on this year’s Irish roster, and coincidentally, both are named Luke – sophomore forward Luke Zeller and freshman forward Luke Harangody. Zeller hails from the southern part of the state in Washington, while Harangody’s hometown of Schererville is the western end. The last time a Notre Dame roster had more than one scholarship player from the state of Indiana was in 1993-94 – Joe and Jon Ross (Wabash) and Jason Williams (Indianapolis)