Huge Implications on Senior Day

A topsy, turvy season comes down to one game for the Notre Dame men's basketball team. Despite all the heartbreak the Irish have endured this season, a win on Saturday will punch their ticket to the Big East Tournament. When asked by a reporter about possibly making some noise in New York City, head coach Mike Brey stopped the question dead in its track. First, he said, let's take care of business.

The scenario is simple. The opponent, though, will be a tougher challenge to figure out. Notre Dame hosts DePaul this Saturday at the Joyce Center and looks to avenge an earlier defeat at the hands of the Blue Demons. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and ESPN is televising the game. The Irish sit at 14-12 on the season and 5-10 in the Big East. They hold the tiebreakers over Providence and St. John's, both tied with Notre Dame for 12th place, the cutoff point for the conference tournament. A win over DePaul, currently at the same 5-10 record in the league, would bump out the Blue Demons

This will also be the last home game for the four Notre Dame seniors. Chris Quinn, Torin Francis, Rick Cornett and walk-on Chris Murphy are all dressing up in the home uniforms for the final time in the regular season. More than likely, the Irish are bound for the NIT and could be hosting a few home games because of name recognition.

But this will give Notre Dame fans a chance to show their appreciation to these four players who have seen the highs (NCAA Tournament their freshmen year) to the lows (NIT Tournament the past three seasons). Quinn, in particular, is ending his career on a high note. The senior guard is averaging 18.4 points per game, good for 5th in the Big East. A stat some might not know: Quinn leads the league in assists per contest at six a game. Francis is just a shade under averaging a double double. The senior big man puts up 11 PPG and pulls down 9.7 rebounds a contest. Brey hopes they all can keep their emotions in check on Saturday.

"I think you're worried about your seniors on Senior Day," Brey said. "Some guys have magical afternoons and some guys are tied up in knots. I'm going to spend a little time with our seniors today and tomorrow about just taking it in stride. It's always an atmosphere where your juniors and sophomores and freshmen can help your seniors. Sometimes you see a little changing of the guard.

"Given what your three seniors have been through not only this season but throughout their careers, they are 33-30 in Big East play. They've had three out of four winning seasons in the Big East. They've had some success and been through some disappointments. For the most part, they've handled their business very maturely. I would like to think that's how they are going to prepare for Saturday."

The team they are preparing for, DePaul, will not be a pushover. The Blue Demons just got done trouncing Syracuse on Thursday night 108-69. What is more impressive is that the Orange are a bubble team and fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. DePaul might be lucky to get into the NIT. The Blue Demons (12-14) are led by Sammy Mejia. The 6'6" junior guard averages 14 PPG while fellow backcourt mate Draelon Burns contributes 11 points a contest. Wilson Chandler, who torched Notre Dame earlier in the season for 21 points and 12 rebounds in the Blue Demons 73-67 win, is another threat that might be a handful for Irish defenders.

"Wilson Chandler is back," Brey said. "There's no more talented a freshman. Mejia is going to make money playing this game. They're big, long and athletic. They scare the heck out of me. They have five league wins. They scare the heck out of me and they already beat us.

"DePaul has real good talent. They were thumping us at Allstate Arena. We haven't been blown out by anybody. We've hung in there and came back. But what DePaul did to us at Allstate out of the gate, they really put the whoop on us the first 20 minutes. We made a valiant run at it in the end. I'm going to remind our guys real quick. I'm impressed with their athletic ability." Top Stories