Head coach: King Rice (2nd year) - 12-20 (10-8) in one season at Monmouth. Tri-captain of the 1990-91 North Carolina team for Dean Smith, which advanced to the Final Four. Served as assistant coach at Oregon, Illinois State, Providence and Vanderbilt.
You should know: That after losing their first eight games of the 2011-12 season, the Hawks went 12-12 the rest of the way, including wins in eight of the last 10 NEC games?Monmouth opened the 2012-13 season with a 91-62 home victory over Hofstra Friday night. The Hawks scored 50 points in the first half, forced 28 turnovers (with 17 steals), held the Pride to 29.2 percent shooting, and handed out 25 assists on the offensive end?Five of Monmouth's top six scorers return from last season?Athlon Sports rated Monmouth sixth among 12 teams in its pre-season projections. Other teams in the conference include LIU Brooklyn (last year's winner of the Northeast Conference), Wagner and Robert Morris.
Top losses: Mike Myers-Keitt (8.4 ppg., 3.5 rpg.)
Top players: The Hawks are led by 5-foot-8 senior Jesse Steele, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.2 assists per game last season. He also paced the Hawks with 62 three-pointers and shot .819 from the free-throw line. He had 10 points and six assists in the season-opening victory over Hofstra.
Andrew Nicholas, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, tossed in a career-high 28 points Friday night, connecting on 4-of-8 from three-point range. He averaged 8.8 points per game last year, but shot just .569 from the free-throw line.
Ed Waite is a 6-foot-3 senior who paced Monmouth in offensive rebounds last season with 71 while averaging 7.1 points, and 5.4 rebounds. He shot just .587 from the free-throw line. Waite scored nine points and had six rebounds in the season-opener.
Dion Smith, a 6-foot-0 senior, averaged 8.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12. He was second on the team in three-pointers with 38. Khalil Brown, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, had nine rebounds against Hofstra while 6-foot-5 senior Gary Cox had 10 points in six minutes of action. Marcus Ware, a 6-foot-8 senior, had eight points and three rebounds against the Pride.
Brey on Monmouth: "They beat the heck out of Hofstra by 30. They scored 90-something. With King Rice, the former North Carolina guard, I hear they're doing a lot of old Dean Smith's run and jump. We had Indiana/Coach Knight stuff (against Evansville). Monday, we have Dean Smith stuff, which is interesting. A lot of run and jump. Trapping the pass, trapping the dribble, which is how Dean Smith played a lot before the three-point line."
Brey on Saturday-Monday turnaround: "I talked to the team about it. I said, 'You know, this is a good warm-up for four pivotal Saturday-Mondays in the Big East season, so let's practice this thing and be really good at it.'"
Inside the Irish: Notre Dame opened the 2012-13 season with a 58-49 grind-it-out victory over Evansville Saturday. The Irish shot just 40.0 percent from the field (18-of-45), 4-of-17 from three-point range (23.5 percent) and 18-of-30 from the free-throw line (60.0 percent). Jack Cooley scored 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had six blocked shots. Jerian Grant was the only other Irish player in double figures with 11 points. Scott Martin grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, including 15 on the defensive end. The Irish assisted on 14 of 18 field goals?Tonight's game is the second preliminary-round game of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. The Irish travel to Brooklyn for Friday's game at the Barclays Center to take on St. Joseph's. Saturday, they play the winner/loser of the Florida State-Brigham Young game to complete the CVC Classic?Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against Monmouth. The last time the Irish and Hawks met was in December of 2007 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Island. Notre Dame won that game, 76-33, which ranks as the fewest points allowed by a Mike Brey-coached team?The Irish are 101-7 (.935) at Purcell Pavilion, including victories in 36 of their last 37?Three opponents on the 2012-13 schedule currently rank among the nation's top 10 - No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Kentucky and No. 9 Syracuse.
Prister's Prediction: Notre Dame 83, Monmouth 62
Prister's record: 1-0 straight up; 1-0 vs. points