Preview: ND vs. Maine

Mike Brey's Irish will face a (relatively) tougher test tonight at the Purcell Pavilion vs. the veteran depth of the Maine Black Bears. Brey's Irish will head to Orlando for a potential three-game tournament over Thanksgiving weekend beginning with a Turkey Night tussle vs. the University of Georgia.

Notre Dame vs. Maine

Team Records: Notre Dame (3-0). Maine (2-1)

Tip-off: 7:30 PM

Previous outings: Notre Dame defeated Chicago State 106-62 last Wednesday; Maine won 95-44 vs. the Maine Machias Clippers, an NAIA opponent on Friday night.

Previous Meeting: Notre Dame handled Maine 79-55 at the Athletic & Convocation Center on January, 1982. The victory came two days after the Irish upset then-No. 8 Idaho, 50-48 in overtime. Stat to Note: Mike Brey has never lost a home game in November during his 10-plus seasons as Notre Dame's head coach

Early Season Quote to Note: "From the film we saw we knew that he was a natural point guard. I thought he would do well because he has so many shooters around him. I take my hat off to that kid because he's going to be a really good player at Notre Dame." – Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy after the freshman's 12-point/5-assist/3-rebound performance vs. the Panthers last week, the first start of Eric Atkins career.

Assistant coach of note: Former Irish player Chris Markwood is a member of the Black Bears staff. Markwood transferred to Maine midway through the 2002 season, his second with the Irish under Mike Brey.

Point Spread: Not yet available

Notre Dame Starting Lineup

  • Forward: 6'8" 218-pound senior Carleton Scott – Has 24 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals to go along with 27 points over the first three contests…Broke out last week vs. Chicago State hitting 6 of 8 field goal attempts including 3 of 4 from down town…Has committed 3 or 4 fouls in each of the team's first three contests, a trend to monitor as the opposition toughens.
  • Forward: 6'8" 235-pound senior Tim Abromaitis – Still trying to find the range with just four 3-point buckets in 22 attempts this season…Has grabbed 22 boards to go along with 44 points and set a career-high with 7 assists in last Wednesday's blowout win over CSU…Has connected on 16 of 19 from the charity stripe though also uncharacteristically missed one FT in each of the first three contests.
  • Forward: 6'8" 232-pound senior Tyrone Nash – Senior point-pivot has 32 points on just 13 field goal attempts this season…Connected on 18 of 23 freebies through three games while totaling 21 boards (a team-best 10 offensive) with 9 assists vs. just three turnovers.
  • Guard: 6'3" 203-pound senior Ben Hansbrough – Senior has knocked down 21 of 34 shots including 15 for 25 from beyond the arc…Led the Irish in scoring in each of the first three contests, scoring 20 in the opener, following with 19 vs. Liberty, and 22 more vs. Chicago State …Has 10 boards, 14 assists, 3 steals and just 5 turnovers through his first 88 minutes played.
  • Guard: 6'2" 173-pound freshman Eric Atkins – Has made 12 of his first 18 field goal attempts including 5 of 8 from long range…Has amassed 12 assists and only 3 turnovers in his first 76 game minutes…Started the first game of his Irish career last Wednesday in place of injured swingman Scott Martin (back).

Irish Reserves

  • Guard/Forward: 6'8" 219-pound senior Scott Martin – Missed last Wednesday's game with back spasms and his status for tonight's contest remains in question…Shot 4-16 from the field and 1-8 from behind the 3-point line in the first two games of his college career the previous week…Has 8 boards and 5 assists to date while also uncharacteristically struggling from the foul line, making just 4 of his first 7 attempts…Look for Martin to play in preparation for the upcoming Old Spice Classic this weekend.
  • Forward: 6'6" 215-pound sophomore Joey Brooks – Struggled to a 1-6 shooting effort in 17 minutes in his last outing but has compiled 16 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, and 4 steals as the team's third option off the bench…Should see consistent 8th man minutes this season as a sub for like-sized players Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis while also offering an extra ball-handling option as a forward vs. smaller, pressing foes.
  • Center/Forward: 6'9" 244-pound sophomore Jack Cooley – Pulled down 16 boards including 10 offensive in just 41 minutes of action…Scored a career-high 11 points in 16 minutes during the opening win vs. Georgia Southern…Has hit 7 of 9 shots from the field and 3 of 4 from the charity stripe…One of four players to notch at least one assist, steal and blocked shot over three games this season.
  • Forward: 6'9" 248-pound sophomore Mike Broghammer – Has 5 offensive rebounds in 22 minutes while hitting 4 of his first 11 shot attempts...Physical style and assimilation to the Big East late last season makes him an ideal 10th man in Brey's system.
  • Swingman: 6'8" 215-pound freshman Alex Dragicevich – Netted 9 points in 10 minutes during his first collegiate appearance vs. Georgia Southern…Played only the contest's final minute in Game #2 vs. Liberty but logged seven minutes last Wednesday vs. Chicago State, netting four points in the blowout win…Still not in tip-tip game shape after battling Mono earlier in the semester.
  • Center: 6'10" 253-pound sophomore Tom Knight – Scored 7 points with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot in 17 minutes of action…Redshirted last season to preserve a year of eligibility as a true freshman.

Freshman follow-up: According to the South Bend Tribune's Tom Noie, freshman shooting guard Jerian Grant could be next in the line of players withheld from action to preserve a season of eligibility down the line. Grant continues to battle a "stress reaction" in his foot and has yet to suit up for the Irish this season.

Head coach Mike Brey told Noie that a decision to keep Grant on the bench this year will be determined before the team embarks on the Old Spic Classic, a potential three-game tournament which begins Thanksgiving Night for Notre Dame in Orlando vs. the University of Georiga.

According to the Trib, Grant appeared open to the possibility. "If it's something I have to do, then it's going to be done," Grant said over the weekend. "If I take the year and have four more years of starting, that's better."

Current teammates Carleton Scott (2007-08), Tim Abromaitis (2008-09), and Tom Knight (2009-10) each redshirted early in their Irish careers as well.

Meet the Black Bears

Maine returns four starters from a 19-11 group that was upset in the quarterfinals of its conference tournament last March. The American East foe goes a solid 9-10 players deep with nine averaging between 12 and 27 minutes per game with a 10th, 6'7" 250-pound power forward Sean McNally joining the fray with an 18-minute, 13-point effort after sitting out the opening two contests. The hard-nosed McNally earned third team All Conference honors as a junior last year.

Joining McNally up front will be 6'7" sophomore forward/swingman and ace defender Murphy Burnatowski (a member of the America East All-Freshman team last season) along with sophomore forward Troy Barnies who gives the Black Bears another post threat. Each should see significant action against the quartet of 6'8" Irish starters while lanky sophomore Mike Allison (6'9" 205) will contribute on the glass.

Perimeter-oriented shooting guard Gerald McLemore and transfer Raheem Singleton will operate in a deep backcourt. Singleton is the team's best true point guard while McLemore was an All Conference selection as a sophomore last winter.

Stocky reserve forward Alasdair Frazier represents a matchup issue –for both teams –- with his 5'9" 225-pound frame while 6'6" Malachi Peay backs up McLemore at the two and 5'9" junior returnee Andrew Rodgers seeing playing time in a reserve point guard role.

The scheduling of the contest – just three days prior to a matchup with Georgia at the outset of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando – is not coincidental. Maine represents the first seasoned opponent in 2010 non-conference action for the veteran Irish who've walked through younger, less talented foes to date.

The latter still applies, but Maine has enough moxie to put up a fight if the Irish aren't dialed in.

That shouldn't be an issue for the 2010-11 roster - the collective chip on its shoulder should serve as a refreshing change for Irish fans critical of the program since its outstanding 2007-09 season.

Prediction: Notre Dame 91 Maine 70


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