Complete Game Notes (PDF)

Nov. 12, 2006

Notre Dame vs. Butler:

Notre Dame meets Butler in the first round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Invitation Season Tip-Off … This is the first game of a doubleheader … The second contest of the Midwest Region doubleheader has Indiana and Lafayette squaring off … The two winners will meet on Tuesday night (Nov. 14) in the championship tilt, while the losers will face off in a consolation game … The Irish are making their third appearance in the preseason NIT event and fist since 1999 … There have been 101 meetings between the Irish and the Bulldogs with Notre Dame leading the series 101-30 … The two teams, however, have not played since Feb. 15, 1995 when Butler defeated Notre Dame 76-60 … The Irish will be looking to end the Bulldogs’ five-game win streak.

Impressive Opening Outing:
Notre Dame was impressive in its season-opener on Friday night (Nov. 10) as the Irish defeated IPFW 92-49 at the Joyce Center. Russell Carter led all scorers with 20 points. Notre Dame also placed three other players in double figures. Rob Kurz and Zach Hillesland each recorded double-doubles as Kurz finished with 16 points and a personal best 12 rebounds, while Hillesland posted his first career double-double with career-highs of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Luke Harangody added 12 points and eight boards and was the first Irish rookie since Chris Thomas in 2001 to register double figures in scoring in his collegiate debut. Notre Dame shots 54.0 percent from the field and limited IPFW to just 27.4 percent for the game. The Irish held a decisive rebounding edge in the contest (54-28).

What’s Not To Like:
Here’s some of the numbers from Friday night’s win over IPFW… Notre Dame shot 61.5 percent in the first half. Notre Dame’s 55 first-half points were the second-most ever scored by the Irish in the first half under Mike Brey. The +26 differential in rebounding (54-28) is the largest ever by an Irish team under Mike Brey in six-plus seasons and the third-most rebounds in a game regulation game. Notre Dame’s 55 first-half points were the second-most ever scored by the Irish in the first half under Mike Brey. The 92 points were the most scored in season opener since the 2001-02 season (99-53 vs. New Hampshire on Nov. 16, 2001). The 43-point margin of victory since an 89-45 (44 points) over IUPUI on Nov. 18, 2002.

2005-06 Rewind:
Notre Dame finished with a 16-14 record a year ago and was 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 Captains:
Senior Colin Falls and junior Rob Kurz were selected captains by a vote of their teammates. Kurz’ selection marks the third time in four years that the Irish have had a junior serving as a team captain.

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:
Notre Dame’s season opener against IPFW marked the earliest 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 84-18 (.824) all-time in season openers and have won all seven of its openers under head coach Mike Brey. Since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69, Irish teams are 33-6 (.846) 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 22-2 (.917) 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.

Notre Dame History In Preseason NIT :
Notre Dame is 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 event, they 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-plus seasons, Irish teams have posted a 1582-877 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 started Friday night’s contest. He wears a protective mask in practices, but has elected not to wear one in games.

Always In It:
Notre Dame’s 14 losses were 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).

Keeping It Close:
In the 70 losses suffered by Irish teams in Mike Brey’s six-plus seasons, only 16 have been by 10 or more points and have been by a combined 458 for a average of 6.5 points per game. Notre Dame’s biggest losses have been on the road at Pittsburgh (72-55 on Jan. 5, 2003) and against Arizona (88-71 on March 27, 2003) in the NCAA 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.

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.