March 15, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It is dejas vu for the Irish.
This week Mike Brey’s squad prepared for the same team that they prepared for a year ago at this time.
The only thing that has changed is the stakes.
Notre Dame will face Xavier on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
“They have the very same situation in that they do not have a lot NCAA experience,” Brey said. “Also the way they came into the tournament is similar because we both haven’t won since February 24 or 25.”
The similarities do not end there. Just under a year ago, the Irish took on the Musketeers in the second round of the NIT. Xavier lost to Notre Dame, 76-64, in a game held at the Joyce Center.
Despite having the higher seed, many consider the Irish as the underdog. Brey plans to use the “lack of respect” as a motivational tool for his troops.
“It probably will help some,” Brey said. “I think our guys are very conscious of that, maybe more than I even want them to be. They talked about it more. I don’t think I have to drive it home.”
Looking back at last year’s numbers, Irish fans can’t help but remain optimistic for the team’s chances. The 76 points scored in last year’s contest all came from players that are still a part of the squad this year. David Graves led the team with 24 points.
Brey plans on keeping the team’s schedule as regular as possible. He is worried about the game being played at 10:30 at night.
“That is a long day when you are waiting,” Brey said. “We will get out to UMKC and shoot a little bit. I think the thing that will help is there are a lot of games on during the day.”
Despite the numerous amounts of games be televised, Notre Dame’s game will be telecast to a large majority of the country. In fact, the Irish’s game will be shown in 38 percent of the country.
The Irish are 2-8 on national television but much more successful on the road.
“I like what we have done on the road as we get away from here,” Brey said. “I think our mindset is pretty good, and I do think that helps in the NCAA tournament.”
Fans can only hope that the Irish draw on last year’s knowledge of the Musketeers and capture the team’s first NCAA win since the 1989 tournament.