Irish take on Buckeyes in Preseason NIT
By BRIAN KESSLER
The Matt Doherty era officially begins tonight when Notre Dame and Ohio State square off in the first round of the preseason NIT in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 4 in the country and are fresh off last year's Final Four appearance.
"Right now, I wih we were opening against a Division II school," first-year head coach Matt Doherty said jokingly. "But it's exciting to play team of their caliber on ESPN with all hype. I think we'll be up for the challenge and compete and after that let the chips fall where they may."
Ohio State has arguably the best back court in the country in junior Michael Redd and senior Scoonie Penn. Penn was named to the Associated Press Preseason First Team All-America team.
"Penn and Redd are probably the best guard combination in the nation," Doherty said. "But their whole team is athletic. They get the ball up the court quickly and coach Jim O'Brien has them playing well together."
The Irish are led by their sensational sophomore class in the frontcourt. Troy Murphy, last season's Big East rookie of the year, averaged 19.2 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per contest.
"Troy's doing very well, but I expect a lot more out of him from a defensive and leadership standpoint," Doherty said. "I made Troy a captain this year and I expect him to lead and take care of other people."
Small forward David Graves was second on the team in scoring last season averaging 12.3 points per game. Center Harold Swanagan emerged late in the season as a force, scoring in double figures in eight games.
Freshman Matt Carroll will make his first career start at shooting guard. Carroll played a key role in Notre Dame's 84-79 exhibition over the International Select All-Stars. He had 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Freshman forward Jere Macura added 13 points and eight boards while junior guard Martin Ingelsby chipped in with 10.
The Irish dropped their second exhibition contest to Marathon, 105-81.
Murphy had 28 points and 15 rebounds but it was not enough to overcome the 39 points and 13 assists turned in by Marathon's Darnell Hoskins.
Doherty was not pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"I was very disappointed and embarrassed with our defense," Doherty said. "I want to apologize to everyone that was at that game. That's not what we want to put on the floor and we hope everyone will give us another chance."
Ohio State was 2-0 in preseason play with wins over One World All-Stars and Marathon.
Senior George Reese led the Buckeyes during the exhibition season with 32 points (16.0 ppg) after a 21-point effort against Marathon. Penn averaged 15.5 points and 3.5 assists. Redd and sophomore Boban Savovic led the team with 4.0 assists per game.
The Buckeyes went 14-1 in their inaugural season at Value City Arena. Tonight's game is a sellout and will be televised on ESPN2.
"It's exciting for our players, but none those 19,000 people will be on the court blocking a shot or taking a shot," Doherty said. "The court is the same length as it is in the Joyce Center, so hopefully the noise will help us. It's exciting to have a chance to take the crowd out of the game."
Notre Dame posted a 14-16 record last season and a 8-10 mark in Big East play, while Ohio State finished 27-6.
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 6-4, but the two teams have not met since the 1973-74 season.
The winner of tonight's game will play the winner of the Davidson-at-Siena game.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, November 16, 1999