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Irish Insights

Associated Press

Tangling with Tigers

Notre Dame is facing a different Missouri basketball team from last season, which can make coach Mike Brey's job a little harder to get the Irish (3-0) prepared for Monday's CBE Classic semifinal game in Kansas City, Mo.

The No. 25 Tigers (2-0) have a new head coach as Frank Haith replaced Mike Anderson, who left for Arkansas after last season.

The biggest change for No. 25 Missouri has been a toning down of the full-court pressure Anderson had the team applying in his five seasons in Columbia, Mo.

"I haven't seen them pressuring as much as last year," Brey said during a Thursday teleconference. "What they do, whether they are picking up full court, they are a great in passing lanes team. … They've got guys that can hit passing lanes and get their hands on the ball. We really have to be good with the ball no matter what they are playing defensively, because they are so quick reacting guys.

"We've been traditionally very good with the ball. That's the ultimate test, us taking care of the ball against their speed."

Notre Dame will also have to worry about the play of Missouri's guards.

Four of the Tigers' five players averaging double-digits in points are guards, led by Kim English's 18.5 points per game. Marcus Denmon and Phil Pressey each average 16 points, and Michael Dixon averages 11.

"The one thing that concerns me is guarding their guards," Brey said. "They spread you out. They are so good, and they play together. They are so good off dribble and finding each other and spotting up. They really spread you out and put pressure on your defense. I don't think that has changed, even though the coach has changed."

Notre Dame has resorted to a four-guard lineup this season when it pulled out a 59-53 win over Detroit on Monday.

"We can get smaller and more active when we have (forward Tim) Abromaitis (will be playing his first game Monday after serving a four-game suspension to start the season) and (swingman Scott) Martin as our two biggest guys and then we are playing (guards Eric) Atkins, (Jerian) Grant and (Pat) Connaughton. I think some of our best moments have been playing a little smaller and getting our true center, Jack Cooley, out of the lineup."