Luke Zeller goes up for a shot against Briar Cliff in exhibition play.

Ninth-Ranked Irish Entertain USC Upstate In Season Opener On Sunday Evening

Nov. 14, 2008

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0) vs. USC Upstate (0-0)
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 • 7:30 p.m. (Est.)
Joyce Center (11,418) • Notre Dame, Ind.

TV: 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: Sirius Satellite WLS 890 AM in Chicago, Ill (Chicagoland area and Midwest); WSBT 960 AM in South Bend, Ind.; XL950 AM in Indianapolis, Ind.; WEFM95.9 FM in Michigan City and Gary, Ind.; WSPM 89.1 FM in Greencastle and Indianapolis, Ind.; ESPN 1480 AM (WRSW) in Warsaw, Ind.; WAMW 107.9 FM/1580 AM in Washington, Ind.; WLUV 1520 AM in Rockford and DeKalb, Ill. and Janesville, Wis.; WVIL 101.3 FM in Jacksonville, Ill.; WDMN 1520 AM in Toledo, Ohio; WSSP 1250 AM in Milwaukee, Wis., and WJLS 560 AM in Beckley, W. Va., Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 159 and

Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for all home games, via the Notre Dame athletic website ( Notre Dame vs. USC Upstate

  • Notre Dame opens up the 2008-09 campaign and its 104th season of basketball on Sunday evening when the Irish play host to the Spartans of USC Upstate. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
  • Notre Dame begins the season ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today rankings. It is the first time in school history that the Irish have been ranked at the start of the season in the top-10 of both polls.

Keeping The Streak Alive

  • Notre Dame puts its 37-game home win streak on line in the season opener against the Spartans. The Irish have recorded back-to-back undefeated campaigns at the Joyce Center each of the last two seasons and are the only school in BIG EAST history to finish undefeated at home in consecutive seasons. A win tonight against USC Upstate would tie the all-time school home win streak record. That mark was set at the Notre Dame Fieldhouse and began with a 41-31 win over Wisconsin on December 11, 1943 and ended with a 68-51 loss to St. Louis on February 9, 1948. The Irish own the second-longest active home court win streak in the country.

The Captains

Irish In Season Openers

  • Notre Dame owns an all-time record of 85-18 (.825) all-time in season openers and have won all eight openers under head coach Mike Brey. Since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69, Irish teams are 34-6 (.850) in home openers. The last time Notre Dame lost a season opener at home was against Miami of Ohio on November 13, 1998.

Notre Dame vs. Briar Cliff Recap

  • After a somewhat slow start, the Irish exploded for 57 second-half points en route to a 103-64 victory in its first exhibition test of the season. Ryan Ayers led Notre Dame with 21 points as he connected on 8-15 shots from the field. Luke Harangody finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Tory Jackson scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished off seven assists and made five steals. All five starters scored in double figures with Luke Zeller netting 12 points and grabbing six rebounds and Kyle McAlarney chipping in 11 points.
  • All 11 players who played in the game scored. Tim Abromaitis came off the bench to his three-of-five shots as he finished with eight points and four rebounds in nine minutes of action, Carleton Scott played 12 mintues and added six points and six rebounds.
  • Notre Dame shot 51.4 percent from the field (38-74) for the game and dished off 20 assists. The Irish also outrebounded Briar Cliff 51-27 in the contest and turned the ball over just nine times, made 10 steals and blocked four shots. Notre Dame also converted 18-21 free throws from the charity stripe.

Notre Dame vs. Stonehill Recap

  • Three players scored in double figures as Notre Dame wrapped up the second of its two preseason exhibition games with a 79-47 victory over Stonehill. Luke Harangody registered a double-double as he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Tory Jackson added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Luke Zeller finished with 10 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
  • The Irish held just a 29-24 at halftime, but outscored Stonehill 50-23 in the second half. Notre Dame shot 47.8 percent from the field and limited the Skyhawks to 36.2 percent from the field and 1.36 from three-point range.
  • Notre Dame owned a 48-30 advantage on the boards and dished off 20 assists while turning the ball over just 11 times.

Irish Roll Under Brey in November

  • Irish teams have traditionally played well under Irish head coach Mike Brey during the month of November. During his eight seasons on the Notre Dame bench, his teams have compiled a 30-5 (.857) record.

Irish vs. Atlantic Sun Conference

  • Tonight’s meeting against USC Upstate marks the sixth time the Irish have played a team from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time versus teams from the Atlantic Sun.

2007-08 Rewind

  • Notre Dame returned to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year and fifth time in eight seasons under head coach Mike Brey. The Irish enjoyed its first 25-win campaign under Brey while putting together a banner year in the BIG EAST by finishing with a school record 14 wins en route to a final 14-4 mark. Notre Dame has put togther five campaigns of 10 or more wins in BIG EAST regular-season play. The Irish earned a No. 5 in the East Region and defeated No. 12 seed George Washington (68-50) and then lost to No. 4 seed Washington (61-41). Notre Dame closed out the regular season by winning 11 of its final 13 regular-season games. During Brey’s tenure, the Irish have posted five 20-win seasons.

Who’s Back

  • Notre Dame loses just one starter off of last year’s team, forward Rob Kurz. Kurz, a two-time captain, was the third-leading scorer as he averaged 12.5 ppg. and finished as the second-leading rebounder at 7.1 rpg.
  • 2008 BIG EAST Player of the Year Luke Harangody returns after putting together becoming the surprise player nationally during the 2007-08 campaign. The junior forward was a consensus second team All-American and averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in 33 rebounds. He became just the second player in BIG EAST Conference history to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding as he netted 23.3 points and grabbed 11.3 boards. Selected as the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year, he was named a preseason first-team All-American by nearly every publication.
  • Senior guard Kyle McAlarney, who joined Harangody on the all-BIG EAST first team last season, is one of four returning seniors on the Irish squad. McAlarney was the second-leading scorer as he averaged 15.1 points and set the Notre Dame single-season three-point record with 108. He will return as one of the nation’s top three-point threats after shooting 44.1 percent from behind the three-point stripe.
  • Zach Hillesland became a starter in the Irish lineup 17 games into last season and averaged career bests of 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds. Classmate Ryan Ayers started the first 16 games of the `07-’08 campaign and also averaged personal highs of 7.8 points and 3.2 rebounds. Along with McAlarney, he will one of the team’s top three-point shooters after hitting on a career-best 45.1 percent of his shots a year ago. Luke Zeller rounds out the senior class and can play both inside and along the perimeter. He averaged 4.5 points 2.2 rebounds.
  • Tory Jackson will team with McAlarney to form one of the nation’s top backcourt tandems. Jackson averaged 8.0 points and 5.1 rebounds and led the BIG EAST Conference in assists with 5.8 per game. He also led the Irish in steals with 58 for an average of 1.8 per game. Classmate Jonathan Peoples is likely to improve on his 11.5 minutes of playing time a year ago. Peoples played in all 33 games and averaged 3.3 points.
  • Sophomores Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott will look for playing time off the bench. Abromaitis played in 12 games and averaged 1.7, while Nash saw action in 15 contests and averaged 1.0 points and 1.3 rebounds. Scott did not play last season, but will contribute at both ends of the floor as a scorer and rebounder.
  • Notre Dame led the nation in assists (18.4 per game) and led the BIG EAST in scoring at 79.0 points per game.

Irish Debut At No. 9 In ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll

  • Notre Dame is ranked ninth in ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll that was released on October 30. It was was the highest preseason ranking ever for the Irish in the preseason coaches’ poll. Prior to this season, it’s highest ranking ever was 17th in 2000-01 in the poll which began in 1991-92. The last time the Irish started the season ranked in the preseason coaches poll was in 2004-05 (21st). The BIG EAST led all conferences with seven teams ranked in the top 25 — Connecticut (2nd), Louisville (3rd), Pittsburgh (6th), Marquette (17th), Georgetown (18th) and Villanova (25th).

Ditto For The Associated Press Poll

  • The Irish also are ranked ninth in the Preseason Associated Press Poll. It marked the fifth time in program history that Notre Dame has debuted in the top-10 of the AP poll.
  • The Irish have not begun a season ranked in the top 10 of the AP rankings since 1980-81 when they were 10th. Notre Dame’s highest-ever AP preseason mark was third in 1978-79. The Irish were ranked fourth in 1977-78 and fifth in 1979-80. The last time Notre Dame was ranked in the preseason AP poll was in 200-405 when the Irish were 20th.
  • A total of seven BIG EAST teams appear in the top 25, including four in the top 10.

Nine Straight Postseason Appearances

  • Notre Dame’s appearance in last year’s NCAA tournament field marked the fifth NCAA berth for the Irish in seven years. Since 2000, Notre Dame has appeared in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments each of the last nine years — the longest postseason stretch in school history.

Five 20-Win Seasons Under His Belt

  • With its 25-8 record last season, Notre Dame reached the 20-win mark for the fifth time in eight seasons and second consecutive year under head coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame’s 20-win campaigns under Brey have been in 2000-01 (20-10), 2001-02 (22-11), 2002-03 (24-10) and 24-8 (2006-07). In the 103-year history of the program, Notre Dame teams have won 20 or more games on 32 occasions.

Leader of the Pack

  • Notre Dame led the nation in assists during the 2007-08 campaign. In 33 games, Notre Dame dished out 608 assists (the third-highest single-season total in school history) for an 18.4 average per game.

Tough Schedule

  • Notre Dame’s 2008-09 schedule may rank as the toughest in school history. The Irish are slated to play No. 2 Connecticut and No. 3 Louisville twice during the BIG EAST regular season and will face No. 6 Pittsburgh on the road and No. 17 Marquette, No. 18 Georgetown and No. 25 Villanova at home. The Irish are also slated to take on No. 4 UCLA in Los Angeles in early February. Two other potential top-10 foes Notre Dame could face at the Maui Invitational are No. 1 North Carolina and No. 8 Texas.

BIG EAST Turnaround

  • Under head coach Mike Brey’s tenure, Notre Dame has had only one losing season. That season was in 2005-06 when the Irish finished 6-10 after beginning the BIG EAST campaign with a 1-8 record. Since that 1-8 start, Notre Dame has gone 30-11 (.732) over the last 41 regular-season games.

Now That’s Something To Talk About

  • Notre Dame’s current record-setting 37-game home win streak spans three seasons — the final two games played during the 2005-06 campaign, the entire 2006-07 season (18 games) and 17 games in 2007-08. Here’s a look at the dominance of the Irish during its present win streak:
Notre Dame Opponents
FG Percentage 1047-2184 (.479) 906-2298 (.394)
3-FG Percentage 324-820 (.395) 244-740 (.330)
Points/Avg. 3,104 (83.9 ppg.) 2,413 (65.2 ppg.)
Margin of Victory +691 points (+18.7)