Irish open season vs. GA Southern

Mike Brey's 11th Irish squad kicks off a busy first week of action with tonight's season-opener vs. Georgia Southern.

The 2010-11 Irish tip-off their season tonight with an 8:30 tip vs. Southern Conference foe Georgia Southern.

Tonight's is the first of three games in six nights for head coach Mike Brey and the Irish. Notre Dame will entertain Liberty at 2:00 PM (EST) on Sunday before hosting Chicago State Wednesday at 7:30, also at the Purcell Pavilion.

The Irish will face Maine on November 22 before the non-conference schedule's heavy lifting begins over Thanksgiving Weekend when the Irish clash with Georgia in Round 1 of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

Below is a closer look at tonight's season-opening contest between the Irish and Eagles of Georgia Southern.

Game Preview: Notre Dame vs. Georgia Southern

Team Records: Notre Dame (0-0; 23-12 in 2009-10). Georgia Southern (0-0; 9-23 in 2009-10)

Tip-off: 8:30 PM EST

Irish in Openers: Notre Dame is 87-18 (.829) all-time in season openers and have won each of the 10 openers coached by Mike Brey. The last time Notre Dame lost a season opener at home was against Miami of Ohio on November 13, 1998.

Stat to Note: Notre Dame has won 69 of its last 75 home games including a 31-5 mark in its last 36 Big East home games.

Early Season Quote to Note: "Our five guys that start are pretty good together; they're kind of at one level and probably should be. They've been in our program for 3-4 years and all been in college 4 or 5 years and certainly that's a great advantage." – Mike Brey on his senior quintet.

Point Spread: ND by 24.5

Notre Dame Starters and Key Contributors

Senior swingman Scott Martin will make his starting debut for the Irish tonight. It will be Martin's first official game played since March 2008.

  • Forward: 6'8" 218-pound senior Carleton Scott – Averaged five points and 4.6 boards last season though his numbers improved greatly over the season's final six regular season contests…Stepped in for injured All-America forward Luke Harangody to aid the Irish in a six-game winning streak to conclude the regular season, notching three double-doubles while averaging 10.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his nine starts…Posted career bests of 17 points and 14 rebounds during the season-ending stretch.
  • Forward: 6'8" 235-pound senior Tim Abromaitis – A pre-season second team All Big East selection, Abromaitis ranks as the team's leading returning scorer at 16.4 points per contest…Connected on 49.5 of his field goals last season including a blistering 42.9 clip from beyond the arc and a team-best 87.3 rate from the charity stripe. Finished the season as an Honorable Mention All Big East selection after beginning the 2009-10 campaign as an unknown, untested redshirt-junior on the Irish bench.
  • Forward/Center: 6'8" 232-pound senior Tyrone Nash – Notched a career-best 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, his first as a starter…Improved greatly from the charity stripe, connecting on 60.2 percent last season after a two-season adventure on the freebies from 15-feet…Hit better than 54 percent from the field in just over 26 minutes of action last season…Returns as the team's reigning Defensive Player of the Year with a notable effort against Big East Tournament MVP Da'Sean Butler, as Nash held the West Virginia sharpshooter without a field goal in the semi-final game's final 11 minutes.
  • Guard/Forward: 6'8" 219-pound senior Scott Martin – Sat out the 2008-09 season due to NCAA Transfer rules then missed the 2009-10 season due to a pre-season knee injury…Averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 boards and 1.4 assists as a true freshman contributor for a 25-9 Purdue team in 2007-08 season…Started eight games while appearing in 32 of the Boilers 34 contests during a second-place finish in the Big 10 and second round exit in the NCAA Tournament…Scored 25 points with 11 rebounds over the team's two exhibition contests last week.
  • Guard: 6'3" 203-pound senior Ben Hansbrough – Averaged 12 points, 3.9 boards and nearly 5 assists last season while connecting on better than 45 percent of his field goal attempts including a 41.9 clip from long range…Finished 27th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio though he ranked among the nation's top 5 for the bulk of the season…Led the Irish in scoring in the season's final two tournament games vs. West Virginia and Old Dominion, notching 17 in both losses…A prime threat to notch the program's second career triple double this season.

Key Reserves:

  • Guard: 6'2" 173-pound freshman Eric Atkins – The only true point guard on the Irish roster, Atkins averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals while leading Mount Saint Joseph (Columbia, MD) to a 28-3 record last season.
  • Forward: 6'6" 215-pound sophomore Joey Brooks – Played in 22 games last season, the most among three contributing Irish freshmen. Scored 45 points, grabbed nine rebounds and totaled nine steals…Contribution of five points and solid first-half defense helped key a 20-point lead at intermission over nationally ranked West Virginia in a Purcell Pavilion upset last January.
  • Center/Forward: 6'9" 244-pound sophomore Jack Cooley – Appeared in 21 contests as a true freshman last year, grabbing 37 rebounds while adding 20 points and five blocked shots…A 5-point, 5-rebound, 2-steal effort in a double overtime loss at Louisville cemented his late-season role in Notre Dame's surprising season-ending winning streak, one which the short-handed group road to within on three-point shot of the Big East Tournament Finals.
  • Sophomore power forward Mike Broghammer continues to work back from a pre-season knee injury while classmate Tom Knight and freshman guard Jerian Grant could also see limited action in tonight's contest. Freshman guard Alex Dragicevich was slowed by mononucleosis in October.

Meet the Eagles

Head coach Charlton Young – a 1994 Southern grad – finished 9-23 in his first season at the helm. The Eagles return three key players from last year's squad including senior Rory Spencer (9.8 ppg. and 4.6 boards last season), junior point guard Ben Drayton III (9.4 per game) and sophomore Cameron Baskerville who notched three consecutive games to start the 2009-10 season with double digit rebounds last season before succumbing to injury.

Southern's incoming freshmen class ranks among the top recruiting hauls for mid-major programs. One of those freshman, Jelani Hewitt will team with Drayton at the point while Marvin Baynham (HW) is expected to contribute immediately inside. Small forward Eric  Ferguson will also push for early playing time as will 6'2" shooting guard Tré Bussey and 6'6" swingman Sam Mike

Prediction: Notre Dame 91 Georgia Southern 67


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