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Men’s Basketball: Notre Dame off to a good start

Douglas Farmer | Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Irish fans have waited two years to watch senior guard Scott Martin take the court, and they have waited months to see how freshman guard Eric Atkins would do leading the offense.

As Notre Dame defeated Marian 85-52 in an exhibition game Monday, Martin tied with fourth-year forward Tim Abromaitis as the leading scorers in the contest with 15 points apiece.

He went six-for-10 from the field, including three-for-five from 3-point range, and hit his first shot of his Notre Dame career.

“I was a little nervous at the start, a couple butterflies, but I got going there and got more comfortable,” he said. “[The first shot] was nice. I just stepped into it, and knocked it down. I was wide open so I had to shoot it.”

Atkins, a freshman from Columbia, Md., finished the night with eight points on two-for-two shooting, along with one assist.

Before the game, the only people who had really seen Martin and Atkins in action were the players passing them the ball.

“It was [a long time coming], but it was fun,” said Martin, who sat out the 2008-09 season after transferring from Purdue and then missed last season due to a torn ACL. “I’m just happy I got out there and played with [my teammates] rather than against them for once.”

Martin, still sporting a knee brace to protect his surgically-repaired knee, said he entered Monday’s contest with relatively low goals, especially when compared to his 15 points.

“Individually, I was just happy to get into the game,” he said.

“That’s all I wanted to do, to play for a minute and then I would have been happy. That was where my goals kind of stopped.”

Instead, Martin logged 26 minutes, while Atkins notched 21 in his first action at the college level.

“I would say the best thing is I didn’t miss a shot. two-for-two. Everything was good,” Atkins said. “Everybody else got involved. Scott [Martin] being back is a big part.”

Atkins came off the bench with 13:30 left in the first half, extending his wait by six and a half more minutes.

“I was excited all day to get out there. It felt good to finally get out there with everybody,” he said. “After pre-game shootaround, I felt like [the game] was right there, but we had to wait another three or four hours. It’s good to get the first one out of the way.”

Preventing Atkins from starting alongside Martin was the newly-named quartet of Irish captains: Abromaitis and seniors Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott and Ben Hansbrough. In 27 minutes, Nash, a forward, tallied nine points and eight rebounds, while Scott added 13 points and seven rebounds. Hansbrough contributed 14 points.

Despite the balanced offensive attack, the captains said the best aspect of Notre Dame’s game was its defense, which led to a quick start and a 24-8 lead after less than nine minutes had passed.

“We did well defensively,” Scott said. “We came out of the gate, jumped on them early and didn’t let up. … They are a great team. They control the ball well. Coach is going to say we have to get out there and defend shooters, and that is what we did.”

Notre Dame held the Knights to 33.3 percent shooting on the game, including 27.6 percent in the second half. Meanwhile, the Irish ended the game at 59.2 percent shooting from the field, including 9-of-16 on three-pointers.

Notre Dame will play its second and final exhibition game Saturday against Catholic University from Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m. at the Purcell Pavilion.