Irish Look to Remain Unbeaten Against Mizzou
By, Matthew Lang
Coming off a perfect 4-0 start to the season, Notre Dame will take on the Missouri Tigers Monday in the semi-finals of the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Playing without star forward Tim Abromaitis due to a misunderstanding of an NCAA eligibility rule, the Irish have received big performances from sophomore guards Eric Atkins, Alex Dragicevich, and Jerian Grant.
Atkins, along with junior forward Joey Brooks, have been battling illness and both missed action in each of the past two games as a result. With Atkins and Brooks unavailable in addition to Abromaitis’ absence, an opportunity for younger players to perform was created.
“I hope it is a blessing in disguise,” Head Coach Mike Brey explained. “Some of our other guys have had to play long minutes, and we’ve found out about them. I think it can help in the future, and I hope that future is Monday night.”
Brey will have Abromaitis, and likely Atkins and Brooks available to play significant minutes against the Tigers. Missouri is led by a talented backcourt duo in Marcus Denmon and Kim English, along with three other returning starters. Their experience and chemistry figures to challenge Brey and his young corps of players.
“They’re really good and really fast,” said Brey. “We’re going to have to pick up the tempo.”
In last Friday’s win against Delaware State, four different players scored in double figures for Notre Dame led by co-captain Scott Martin’s career-high 23. Dragicevich, Grant, and junior forward Mike Broghammer also set or tied career highs in points during the game. This balance and early experience should provide a huge boost when the Irish face their first ranked opponent Monday. Brey’s squad understands it needs to capitalize on an early season opportunity against a highly rated team.
“I think [these first four games] speaks a lot about our team,” said Martin. “We were able to get through that, and we’re excited to be at full strength. We’re looking forward to the next challenge and excited to get out there.”