CUA ready to take on Fighting Irish inside Joyce Center
NOTRE DAME, IND. - CUA Men's Basketball Coach Steve Howes is as optimistic a person as you'll ever meet. He believes in his team and prepares to win each game. He's also a realist.
The Cardinals will tonight take on the most talented team it's played since it moved to the Division III level in 1981. Notre Dame is a well-coached, dynamic team that plays in the upper echelon of Division I.
CUA and the Fighting Irish meet in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion. You can watch the game at http://www.und.com/sports/m-baskbl/sched/nd-m-baskbl-sched.html.
"Given their size and talent, it's going to be a very difficult game for us," Howes said. "We understand the reality of our challenge, but we're also motivated by the enormity of that challenge. We'll face no greater competition this season, but it will also provide us with the greatest learning experience."
Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey, who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, will use the contest as a springboard to its first official game next Friday. This is the Irish's second exhibition game this week and gives Brey the opportunity to get his player's into a game-day and in-game routine.
Brey was asked what his club stands to gain playing the Cards.
"First of all, Catholic's got good experience; they're an older team that's won together and so well-coached," Brey said. "This is going to be a heck of a test for us. We've been preparing for it for two days just like it's a Big East game. We're in to our Big East preparation and trying that routine."
CUA senior point guard R.J. Dixon played with numerous Division I players as a youth in Charlotte, N.C., including the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry. He'd like to see how he and his teammates measure up against the Irish.
"I think because I played with a lot of Division I players growing up that I'm not in awe anymore," Dixon said. "We all lace our shoes up the same way and put our uniforms on the same way. It's a matter of how you take it. I think it'll be a good experience and I'll be in awe of the experience, but not in awe of the competition because I'm pretty much used to it."
Dixon and senior forward Jason Banzhaf lead the Cardinals, who are the preseason favorites to win the Landmark Conference. Banzhaf averaged a team-high 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last year. Dixon averaged 12.7 points and 3.4 rebounds. CUA has won 18 games each of the past two seasons.
"I've been impressed with how unselfish this group is," Brey said. "They've played together for a while; they've won together. It's a test for us; it's a game night. We prepared the last two days like we would if it was Georgetown here."
The test will be more difficult for the Cards.
"It's a great test to see how good of a team we really are," Dixon said. "We've worked hard for these past two weeks, so it's nice to play somebody who's very good at the high Division I level. Plus, we get to match our skills and see how good we are individually."
"We just want to play our game and see how it turns out," Banzhaf said.
Story written by Chris McManes, former CUA Sports Information Director