Providence-Notre Dame Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Mike Brey is getting Notre Dame prepared for an unusual senior night in which he will focus on one that won't be playing as opposed to the one that will be.
His No. 20 Fighting Irish try to avoid their first three-game losing streak Friday night when they host Providence, which has lost eight straight in this series.
This is the regular-season finale for Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5 Big East), needing a win to assure itself a double-bye in the conference tournament.
Brey is petitioning the NCAA to allow seniors Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin to gain a sixth season of eligibility. Abromaitis played two games this season before being lost to a torn ACL while Martin was plagued by injuries at Purdue before transferring to play the last two seasons in South Bend.
Brey believes Martin, a starting forward averaging 9.4 points, has a better chance of gaining another year. Abromaitis graduated in 2010 and will be in uniform, with the Fighting Irish planning to make him the focal point of Friday's festivities.
"I guess I look at it as, certainly we could not get either one of them back but I think Scott's case as I've said has more of a chance than Tim's," Brey said. "I kind of look at it as a night for Tim, to really honor him for all he's done for our basketball program."
Notre Dame is 15-1 at home, where they return after losing two straight on the road. The Irish made 7 of 48 3-pointers over losses Saturday to St. John's and Monday to No. 11 Georgetown.
"We've always been able to come back and win at home," Brey said.
Providence (15-15, 4-13) is seeking its first three-game Big East win streak since Jan. 19-28, 2009.
The Friars trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half of Tuesday's 72-70 home win over Connecticut, using a stunning 26-5 run to take control.
"I think their best position is to be down," Brey said. "They certainly have nothing to lose overall given where they are with their record but then when they're down, they're even more fearless."
LaDontae Henton, third among conference freshmen in scoring at 14.2 points per game, has totaled 42 points in the last two games for Providence.
"There's not a shot LaDontae doesn't like," coach Ed Cooley said. "That mentality is great at some points, and he's always ready to shoot."
The Irish need to get point guard Jerian Grant back on track after he missed 17 of 20 shots and totaled 10 points in the last two contests.
Grant faces a tough assignment in Vincent Council, who leads the Big East with 6.8 assists per game after totaling 22 in his last two outings.
"Council, first of all, controls the whole thing," Brey said. "He's playing as well as any point guard in the league. He just happens to be on a team that hasn't won a lot of games."
The Friars shot 54.4 percent - their best effort over the last two seasons in conference play - in last season's 94-93 home loss to the Irish. Notre Dame's last defeat in the series was a 73-59 loss Feb. 24, 2004.
Updated March 1, 2012