First up: San Francisco on Saturday night at the Joyce Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 PM. The Irish (7-2), who have won five straight after back-to-back losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech, are riding a 25-game winning streak at home, which is a school record. On Wednesday, the team got back into a regular practice mode after a few sessions during the final examination period.
"The three times we got together (during final exams), we just scrimmaged," head coach Mike Brey said on Thursday. "We got them together, played four-minute periods and switched the jerseys and got up and down the floor. You can really only get their attention for 60 minutes during a heavy academic time. It keeps the conditioning up and we didn't play any games. We just need to get up and down the floor and play. I thought that helped us."
After San Francisco, Notre Dame has home contests left against Brown and North Florida. Barring an upset, the Irish should have a 28-game home court winning streak heading into the Big East opener against West Virginia in South Bend. The three teams left on the non-conference slate will never be confused with North Carolina or Duke. But Brey is trying to get his team to focus on one game at a time and not to stare ahead to the Mountaineers. If the focus is lost, an occurrence like Wednesday night's Wofford upset win over Purdue could take place.
"We just look at our opponent," Brey said. "Look at what happened in West Lafayette last night. San Francisco is a Big East game. I don't ever want to come across like, ‘We're working on this to get ready for the Big East' because college basketball is amazing. We'll concentrate on San Francisco. We're work on some of their tendencies in practice. Same thing with Brown and North Florida and treat them as separate entities."
***A look at the national rankings shows Notre Dame 35th in scoring offense and 50th in scoring defense. The best area, statistically speaking, for the Irish is taking care of the basketball. Notre Dame is fifth in the country in assists per games and assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish are good at sharing the basketball. For example, in back-to-back wins over Colgate and Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame dished out 43 assists to just 17 turnovers. Brey credits the intelligence of his players.
"Basketball IQ is a term you've heard a lot around here," Brey said. "Certainly, that's something we've hung our hat on. Morgan Wooten used to say, ‘It's not what you coach. It's what you emphasize.' That's something we've emphasized that the ball is valuable and gold. We take good care of it and are unselfish. Our guys want to know at the end of the game how many assists we had and how many times we turned it over."
***Brey on Miami Heat and former Notre Dame guard Chris Quinn, who is averaging five PPG and 1.7 APG: "He's a basketball junkie. I had a great night last night. I was flipping through the channels between (Troy) Murphy, Quinn and (Matt) Carroll. They were all playing at the same time and I was going back-and-forth on my couch for an hour and a half. I don't know what (Quinn's) assist-to-turnover ratio is but it's got to be up there. He's so safe with it."
***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed to this report.