Notre Dame becomes the last Atlantic Coast Conference team to open its season when it hosts Cal State Northridge on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
The first game can’t come a minute too soon for Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey. Not only does he have a veteran team that might be flying a bit under the ACC radar, but he also knows a fifth straight season without a NCAA Tournament berth might mark the end of his two-plus decades on the Notre Dame bench.
“I’m very motivated to get us back,” Brey said. “I put immense pressure on myself to do that and get this group back. I kind of like where we’re at. Here we go. Let’s play.”
Notre Dame will tip off with perhaps the most experienced team of Brey’s tenure. The Irish have five players who combined for 99 starts just last season and has added 2019-20 Ivy League Co-Player of the Year Paul Atkinson, a 66.1 percent career shooter from the field in three seasons at Yale.
The headliner for the Irish is point guard Prentiss Hubb, who led the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and assists (5.8 per game) a season ago.
The Matadors opened their season on Tuesday night at Southern California, taking an 89-49 loss against their Pac-12 opponent. Darius Brown II and Atin Wright each scored 10 points for Northridge, which converted just 32.8 percent from the field.
“When things get tough, we have to stay together, you’ve got to compete and dig,” Matadors interim head coach Trent Johnson said. “There was a five-minute period there where I really struggled with that, and it had to be addressed.”
Johnson, who took over the program on July 20 after the university put head coach Mark Gottfried and his staff on paid administrative leave as it reviews potential rules violations, owns 276 career wins at four previous stops.
He inherited a team with just one player who has made more than 10 college starts and six newcomers. Northridge was tabbed for a last-place finish in the Big West Conference’s preseason poll.
–Field Level Media