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Men’s Basketball: Maine next on schedule for Irish

Eric Prister | Monday, November 22, 2010

Senior guard Ben Hansbrough is averaging 20 points per game for the Irish this season, and he has led the team in scoring in each of its first three games. Despite that, Irish coach Mike Brey said he is not concerned about what will happen to the offense if Hansbrough has an off game as Notre Dame prepares to take on Maine tonight.

“I’m not [worried about the offensive production],” Brey said. “I feel that we’ll have a little by committee, and that we’ll be able to read what is open. I think we have enough threats where different guys can do that for us. I’m pleased with how [Hansbrough’s] letting the game come to himself, and he’s got to understand that he doesn’t need to force things. He just has to get back and defend and let us try to figure it out as a group where we’re going to get scoring from.”

Notre Dame (3-0) is coming off a 50-point drubbing of Chicago St in which five players scored in double digits and the Irish passed the century mark for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Irish are averaging 90 points per game and have won by at least 19 points in each contest.

“One of the things we talk about is that it’s a long game, and not to panic if we’re not in a flow early, and not to panic if a team is throwing in threes like [against Chicago State] or just to understand that it’s a longer game,” Brey said. “When we do get in a rhythm, offensively you can really put some numbers on the board.”

The Irish were without senior forward Scott Martin against Chicago State. Martin has been suffering from back spasms, but Brey said that he is confident Martin will play against Maine.

“For about three weeks, he’s had some back spasms,” he said. “I think a lot of it is your body being in a little bit of shock with the intensity of what you’re doing every day. It’s not anything we can’t treat, but we felt with where we were at, not to push it. He felt like ‘Hey coach, if this was a Big East game, I could play.’ But I think we need to be smart. I would anticipate he will play Monday.”

Freshman guard Eric Atkins, who started in place of Martin, scored 12 points and recorded five assists in 32 minutes of play against Chicago State. Sophomores Jack Cooley and Joey Brooks also played significant minutes in the win.

“I feel we have six starters with Atkins,” Brey said. “Then with Cooley coming in and doing what he does, and doing it more confidently than he did last year is important. And Joey embracing that role, I think that’s still a work in progress and we have to keep teaching.”

Tip off between Notre Dame and Maine will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Purcell Pavilion and the Joyce Center.