Notre Dame Men and Women Make a Statement on Opening Weekend

Tony BishopCorrespondent INovember 16, 2008

While most sports fans were watching their fantasy teams and maybe an NFL game this Sunday, Notre Dame basketball fans were given an early dose of how good this season might be. November 16th was the much anticipated start for both the men's and women's Irish basketball squads and neither team disappointed.

Women's coach Muffet McGraw had her 14th-ranked team well-prepared in a rare top-25 opener against the 34th-ranked Lady Tigers of LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic held in Baton Rouge.

A tight game for the first half turned into a mini-rout as the Irish opened the second half with a 14-4 run, guided by guard Ashley Barlow's 10 points. Although LSU fought back and came within three points midway through the second half, the Irish scored ten straight points and coasted the rest of the way to the final whistle, winning 62-53.

Barlow's ability to hit jumpers from beyond the men's three-point line was the emotional spark that jolted the Irish offense, but one of the unspoken players of the game has to be sophomore Devereaux Peters with her ability to be...well...everywhere on the court.

The victory also marks the first time that the women have defeated an SEC school on their home court.

Later that night, coach Mike Brey's team enjoyed a more traditional season opener against a much weaker USC-Upstate at the Joyce Center in South Bend.

Led by Big East Preseason Player of the Year Luke Harangody's double-double (30 pts. and 14 rebs.), the ninth ranked Irish easily polished off the Spartans 94-58.

Notre Dame was firing on all cylinders, shooting 50% from the floor and 47% from behind the arc, led by Luke Zeller (4 of 6). Even Harangody sunk his only attempt for three points.

The men won't know for sure how they stack up against true competition for another week when they travel to the Maui Invitational, but they proved that the offense is there and even showed signs of phenomenal man-to-man defense.

The women must be happy to have traveled down south and get a huge resume builder to start off the season before returning home to a much more favorable schedule.

Add the wins by the football team to grant them bowl eligibility, a weekend sweep for the hockey team, and the advancement of the No. 1 women's soccer team to the sweet sixteen and it's safe to say that it was a good weekend to be Irish.