Nov. 7, 2013
Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Friday night's season opener against Miami of Ohio will provide a great test for Irish head coach Mike Brey and his team. Notre Dame fans should not be deceived by the RedHawks' 9-22 record from a year ago because Brey isn't taking anything for granted in preparing for the start of his 14th season on the Irish sidelines against this Mid-American Conference foe.
No Brey-coached team has ever lost a season opener in 13 previous contests, but the last time Notre Dame did drop a season opener it was at home against Miami of Ohio (76-65) on November 13, 1998. In fact, heading into Friday's matchup, the RedHawks have won four of the last five meetings between the two schools. The series is tied at four wins each.
Brey is 1-1 all-time against Miami of Ohio. In his first season with the Irish in 2000-01, his squad dropped a 73-64 decision. The following year, he and his team traveled to Oxford, Ohio and escaped with a 70-69 victory.
"Miami of Ohio is kind of rebuilding right now, but we can't take anything for granted against them," Brey says. "They're going to trap and run and jump us. This is a true test for us taking care of the ball. They are going to try to make it chaotic for us and not let us play at our pace. I expect that their game plan is going to be to speed us up and trap us. Our decision-making with the basketball is going to be really challenged against them because of their style of play."
After missing both exhibition games with a broken hand, forward Zach Auguste returns to the Fighting Irish lineup. The 6-10, 242-pound sophomore should provide an immediate boost to the Irish front line and a strong rebounding presence, something that had Brey concerned even before the preseason began and was validated in the team's two exhibition games. The Irish head coach knows that rebounding may be his squad's weakness this year and an area that needs to be attended to each day in practice and during games.
"Zach is going to play Friday night and we're going to need him," Brey says. "All four of our big guys (including Tom Knight, Garrick Sherman and Austin Burgett) are going to be out there. Zach has been back this week practicing with us since Sunday. His conditioning is good. The thing about having Zach back is that he is an energy guy.
"What I love about him, and something that I need to come to grips with is that he is going to make mistakes, but he makes stuff happen. He runs and he tips balls in. We don't have a guy on our team with his type of athleticism. Zach makes stuff happen and we need him in the lineup."