Barton And Notre Dame Are Back

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Forty-two games? Coach Bill Barton's Notre Dame Prep team is staring at a mini-NBA schedule. "That's what these kids want," he said. "There's nothing else to do here. These kids come to play."

Notre Dame is back. After a one-year hiatus, Barton and his program are preparing for what should be a triumphant return to the New England prep scene, with guards Gary Ervin and Will Blaylock and posts Reggie George and Franz Dorsainvil leading the way.

"This is a good group," Barton said Wednesday afternoon before the squad's daily preseason pickup run.

The Mississippi State-bound Ervin, of course, gives the backcourt a certain star power. But don't forget about Blaylock: The bouncy Bostonian is another point guard who packs plenty of punch as well.

"Both of us are going to play the point," Ervin said. "We'll be on the ball sometimes and off the ball sometimes. It'll be good."

Brandon Powers, a 6-6 SF from Centerville, Va., is an athletic wing with Division I potential. Expect him to battle Shane Nichols, a 6-1 SG from Radford, Va., for minutes at the third guard slot. Carlos Smith, a 5-11 PG from Atlanta, figures to give minutes, too.

Anchoring the frontcout: George, a 6-9 BF from the Chicago area who's beginning to open some eyes with his play this fall; and Dorsainvil, a native Haitian who lived in Montreal for three years before playing at Elizabeth (NJ) High last season.

Both can be Atlantic 10 big men -- at least.

Marier "Mike" Angui, a 6-11 C/PF from Phoenix (AZ) Washington, is originally from the Sudan. The one-time Bowling Green commitment has a 3.1 GPA but needs to get a qualifying SAT score.

Fred Kounkorgo, a 6-6 BF/SF from Lowell, Mass., is playing well right now and beginning to attract some low-major interest. He's one of the tougher rebounders on this team -- maybe the toughest.

Josh Bell, a 6-5 SF from Bridgeport, Conn., is another one to watch this winter at Notre Dame.

"I've got something to prove to coaches every time, every game," Dorsainvil said. "They tell me I have to play with a little more fire. So I know I've got to set my mind on it and be like a monster."

Just like Notre Dame's rugged schedule.

Barton's troops open the first weekend of November in Eatontown, N.J., with a pair of games against Army Prep. A road date with the Hampton (NH) School, on Nov. 16, is their first NEPSAC contest.

They're also slated to play at Bobby Jacobs' War on the Shore, in November, in Milford, Del.; the Prep Stars North America Tournament, in January, in Buffalo, N.Y.; and weekend tourneys at Pittsfield (ME) Maine Central, Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy; and Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military.

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