March 16, 2001
By DOUG TUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - No wonder Notre Dame is having trouble getting
on the basketball map. It seems almost no one - least of all the current
players - grew up paying attention to anything but Irish touchdowns.
"I always watched football when I was younger," said senior guard
Inglesby, a sheepish grin on his face.
The sixth-seeded Irish hope to continue their return to basketball
prominence Friday night when they take on No. 11 seed Xavier in the opening
round of the Midwest Regional.
"I don't remember watching Notre Dame in the (NCAA) tournament,"
Actually, he and his teammates are almost too young to remember Notre
in the NCAA tournament. When the Irish under first-year head coach Mike Brey
captured an at-large invitation last Sunday night, it was the first in 11
for the perennial football power.
"We know about the Notre Dame tradition, with Austin Carr and the great
teams in the Final Four," Ingelsby said. "That's one of the main reasons why
we wanted to bring Notre Dame basketball back to where it was in the past,
those guys who played back then and for us. It will be a great thrill."
Junior forward Troy Murphy, a 6-foot-11 bruiser, has had more to do
anyone else with getting Notre Dame started back to respectability. What
it mean for the Irish to become a yearly fixture in the NCAA tournament?
"It would mean a lot to the people in the Notre Dame community. But it
would mean even more to the people who are directly involved with Notre Dame
basketball," Murphy said.
The late-night matchup between two Catholic schools will be a replay of
second-round game in last year's NIT that saw Notre Dame beat Xavier 76-64.
The winner will be experiencing something new. Xavier (21-7) ended the
season on a two-game losing streak while the Irish (19-9) have lost their
"It's a big honor to bring Notre Dame back to where it's been in the
We've had an 11-year drought," Ingelsby said. "We knew we had the makings to
be a special team this year if we played together."
In the other evening game in Kemper Arena, third-seeded Mississippi
goes against No. 14 Iona (22-10).
Play begins in the afternoon with second-seeded Arizona (23-7) meeting
Eastern Illinois (21-9) and No. 7 Wake Forest (19-10) going against No. 10
Notre Dame might have caught a break by being off for a week before
beginning its NCAA action.
"We've seen that teams that make a big run in their conference
don't necessarily go nuts in this tournament," Brey said. "We are going to
bank on that. I think our hunger is back a little. We weren't proud of how
played (at the end of the regular season).
"I was part of teams at Duke that lost in the first round of the ACC
tournament and then three weeks later was playing for the national
championship. It's not bad to get three days to get your legs back and then
your game back in gear."
Xavier coach Skip Prosser doubted that last year's NIT game could be
a gauge for this year's showdown.
"I think we're a different team and hopefully improved since that day
because I know Notre Dame has," he said. "They shoot the ball much better
than we do."
Brey said the Irish have no trouble being motivated for the game.
"It's easy for us to play with nothing to lose because I haven't seen
anybody who picked us to win," Brey said. "I keep looking to see if we're a
Murphy figured the rest had done the Irish good.
"Personally, I was getting a little tired," he said. "Coming back in
today, I feel great. The way we're jumping round, it feels like the first
"We've waited a long time to be here. Hopefully, we can stay awhile."