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Men’s Basketball: Squad readies for final exhibition

Mike Monaco | Friday, November 2, 2012

After a dominant performance in the season-opening exhibition against Quincy on Monday, the No. 22 Irish take on Cardinal Stritch on Friday in the final regular-season tune-up.

Notre Dame trounced the Division II Hawks 111-52 and will square off with another opponent from outside the Division I ranks when it battles the NAIA Wolves to close out the preseason. The Irish will then commence the regular season against Evansville on Nov. 10.

“I think it’s good to get in and put the uniform on again on Friday night and play,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We need to keep evaluating ourselves against somebody else. Our veterans and captains have done a good job of setting the tone with our team and I’ve liked our consistent work ethic.”

With the regular season rapidly approaching, Brey said he is pleased with the progress the team has made so far, especially when it comes to ball movement.

“I just like how we share the ball and how we pass the ball,” Brey said. “We’re so unselfish. That’s a great trait to have before you get into the next five months.”

The Irish downed Quincy on Monday with an offensive effort replete with skilled passing. The Irish had 30 assists on 43 made field goals and six players scored in double figures to lead the offensive onslaught.

“Any time you can get 30 assists – I don’t care who you’re playing – I’m thrilled and we only turned it over seven times,” Brey said. “That’s been our M.O. here: offensive efficiency. So we must continue to do that.”

At the other end, the Irish defense forced 20 turnovers and held the Hawks to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor. Brey said the Irish will need to get back in transition against an up-tempo Cardinal Stretch squad.

“I think for us the challenge is going to be transition defense especially when we’re playing big,” Brey said. “Can we get back and stop some speed? [Friday] night, Cardinal Stritch has some guys that can run and get down the floor fast.”

Brey said he will again dole out the majority of the minutes to the top six players in the rotation – graduate student forward Scott Martin, senior forward Jack Cooley, sophomore forward Pat Connaughton, junior guards Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins and senior center Garrick Sherman – while also working in freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid, senior forward Tom Knight and freshman forward Zach Auguste, who missed Monday’s game due to an injury.

“We want to get a feel for the key guys playing together for long stretches,” Brey said.

In addition to establishing continuity with his established rotation, Brey said he will also use the final exhibition to figure out the roles of Auguste and Knight. Auguste, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound rookie from Marlborough, Mass., was rated by ESPN as a three-star recruit and the 25th best power forward prospect in the class of 2012. The left-handed Knight appeared in 30 games for the Irish a year ago and averaged nearly nine minutes per game.

“I think you’re still evaluating Zach Auguste and Tom Knight,” Brey said. “You can’t play both of those big guys. Which guy is it going to be? And maybe it’s going to be both of them at different times throughout the season, but who’s going to be the first guy to get the bite starting next Saturday [in the season opener].”

Notre Dame and Cardinal Stritch tip off Friday at 8 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

 

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu