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Mike Brey (AP)
 
Mike Brey (AP)

March 18, 2010

NCAA Tournament Central

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Around the third week of February - when many teams are fine tuning for a big stretch run - Notre Dame coach Mike Brey decided to start over from scratch.

With their best player injured, the Fighting Irish were fading fast, so Brey scrapped his offense and installed a more deliberate system he hoped would keep his team competitive.

"Our backs were against the wall a little bit," Brey said. "We've been one of the leading scoring teams in the league through my tenure, but to survive, I felt we had to try to do something different."

The Irish haven't just survived with the new approach. They've thrived, winning six games in a row before bowing out in the semifinals of the Big East tournament. On Thursday, sixth-seeded Notre Dame will play 11th-seeded Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA tournament's South Regional.

"It was a different pace," guard Tory Jackson said. "I really think it made us a better team. The slow-down offense really helped me as a player. I've never seen where a coach can create something like that late in the season like that, and it works."

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame's leading scorer, went down with a knee injury on Feb. 11 and missed five games. About a week after the injury, Notre Dame tried out its new "burn" offense, in which the team can be, in Brey's words, "overly patient" when looking for a shot. The Irish lost to Louisville in double overtime, then didn't lose again until a 53-51 defeat against West Virginia last week.

About the only problem with the offense is that it might play into Old Dominion's hands. The Monarchs (26-8) are allowing only 57 points per game. Center Gerald Lee averages 14.6 points, the only Old Dominion player in double figures.

The Monarchs beat William & Mary 60-53 to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, and they'd welcome another low-scoring game if that's what Notre Dame wants.

"They play a style that I think we're very comfortable with in terms of the way they play and how slow they play and how smart they are on offense as well as defense," Old Dominion guard Marsharee Neely said. "It reminds us of a team in our conference named William & Mary."

Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor agreed with the comparison to a degree, although he was reluctant to go too far in comparing Notre Dame (23-11) to one of his CAA opponents.

"You can kind of say this flavor is like this flavor, but it's not exactly the same ice cream," Taylor said.

Especially now that Harangody is back. The 6-foot-8 senior has been limited to about 25 minutes a game recently, but he's been effective, even posting a 20-point, 10-rebound game against Seton Hall last Wednesday.

Brey said he expects Harangody to come off the bench and play about the same amount against Old Dominion.

"Practice was good these last couple days because it's getting him back into a rhythm," Brey said. "We're open to anything, but that seems to be a good segment of time for him, 24 or 25 minutes."

Old Dominion isn't likely to be intimidated by a Big East team after winning at Georgetown in December. The Monarchs haven't won an NCAA tournament game since 1995, but this is their best seed in almost a quarter-century.

And if all else fails, Taylor might have a few tricks up his sleeve to distract the Irish.

"I just got done dropping Luke and most of the Notre Dame guys off down at Bourbon Street for St. Patty's Day," Taylor deadpanned Wednesday. "I told them, 'Don't miss the game tomorrow, it starts at 2:30."

The game actually starts at 11:25 a.m. local time, and although the Irish are in less of a rush on the court these days, don't expect them to be late.

"I think we're pretty confident. We feel we're playing well," Brey said. "So I think we come here in a very good frame of mind. We know we've got a heck of a challenge, and we prepared for Old Dominion like they're a Big East team."

 

 

Event Calendar

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November 1
7:00 PM
Mercy
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 7
7:00 PM
Catholic
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 12
12:00 PM
Bryant University
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 16
7:00 PM
Seattle University
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 18
TBA
Loyola Maryland
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 21
TBA
Colorado
Brooklyn, N.Y. (Barclays Center)

ESPN 2
November 22
TBA
Texas or Northwestern
Brooklyn, N.Y. (Barclays Center)

ESPN 2/ESPNU
November 26
2:00 PM
Chicago State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 29
9:00 PM
Iowa
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN 2
December 4
TBA
North Carolina A&T
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 6
9:00 PM
Fort Wayne
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
December 10
12:00 PM
Villanova
Newark, N.J. (Prudential Center)

CBS
December 17
2:00 PM
Purdue
Indianapolis, Ind. (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)

ESPN 2
December 19
7:00 PM
Colgate
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 28
7:00 PM
Saint Peters
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 31
TBA
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pa. (Petersen Events Center)

ACC Network
January 4
9:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network
January 7
3:00 PM
Clemson
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network
January 12
7:00 PM
Miami
Miami, Fla. (BankUnited Center)

ESPN/ESPN 2
January 14
2:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)

ACC Network
January 18
7:00 PM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla. (Tucker Center)

RSN
January 21
12:00 PM
Syracuse
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN/ESPN 2
January 24
8:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network
January 28
12:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavillion)

ESPNU
January 30
7:00 PM
Duke
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN
February 4
TBA
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Smith Center)

ESPN/ESPN 2
February 7
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNEWS
February 11
2:00 PM
Florida State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN/ESPN 2
February 14
7:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Conte Forum)

ESPNU
February 18
12:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (PNC Arena)

ESPN/ESPN 2
February 26
6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
March 1
8:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network
March 4
2:00 PM
Louisville
Louisville, Ky. (KFC Yum! Center)

CBS

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