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Men’s Basketball: Irish move on without Martin

Mike Monaco | Friday, January 25, 2013

Irish coach Mike Brey paused the tape and waited. 

No. 20 Notre Dame, loser of three of its last four games, was in a film session Tuesday preparing for Saturday’s matchup against South Florida.

With team leader and graduate student guard Scott Martin out indefinitely with an injury, Brey waited for other players to chime in and lead the team.

In addition to newfound vocal leadership, the Irish (15-4, 3-3 Big East) are also in search of a fifth starter for Saturday’s tilt with the Bulls (10-8, 1-5). After losing to Georgetown 63-47 on Monday, Notre Dame will try to move forward without Martin.

“He’ll go take care of his business to see if he can get healthy,” Brey said of Martin. “In the meantime we can’t count on that. We’ve got to move forward with our basketball team right now. We’re 3-3 and we’ve got to figure this thing out.”

Brey said getting back on track began with utilizing the four days in between games.

“We needed a couple good days of hard practice, [Tuesday], [Wednesday], [Thursday],” Brey said. “Right now when you’re at where we’re at – we’ve lost three out of four – you need to get back into a good practice rhythm and I think we need to clean up some things offensively: screening better, we certainly need to rebound better.”

On Monday the Hoyas outrebounded Notre Dame 35-24. Irish senior forward Jack Cooley hauled in 10 rebounds and sophomore guard/forward Pat Connaughton recorded four of his own. No other Irish player had more than three rebounds. Martin is second on the team this season with an average of six rebounds per game.

Brey said he has not decided on who will replace Martin in the starting lineup against South Florida, who enters Saturday on the heels of a 61-58 win over Georgetown on Saturday and a 55-47 loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday. 

Irish senior center Garrick Sherman started the season as one of the top two reserves but has since found minutes hard to come by. Sherman played five minutes against St. John’s on Jan. 15 and has not played in the past two games.

Other candidates to replace Martin’s minutes include senior forward Tom Knight and freshman forwards Austin Burgett and Zach Auguste. Knight has been the first big man off the bench as of late, while Burgett and Auguste saw action down the stretch against Georgetown. Brey said every option remains a possibility for Saturday’s game as well as the rest of the season.

“You’re evaluating who are you going to start in that spot on Saturday,” Brey said. “Austin Burgett, Garrick Sherman had a really good practice yesterday. Everybody’s back on the board. Zach Auguste. You could play small which we’ve done at times with [Connaughton] and [freshman forward] Cam [Biedscheid] in there with our guards and [Cooley]. I think all of those things are things we have to evaluate and not just this week. That’s kind of who we’re going to be here moving forward.”

Brey said the Irish need to improve their offense in order to stop the recent losing skid. Notre Dame has failed to hit the 70-point plateau in each of the past five games.

“In our three [recent] losses we’re averaging [roughly] 57 points,” Brey said. “We’ve got to score more. We talked about ball reversal in the last week. I think we need to emphasize screening for each other more. … We’re trying to find ways to get better looks offensively.”

The Bulls, meanwhile, have allowed an average of 60.6 points per game, which is good enough for sixth in the Big East and 56th nationally.

Junior forward Victor Rudd leads South Florida in scoring and rebounding with 11.2 points per game and 7.4 rebounds a night. Senior guard Jawanza Poland and senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick are each averaging nearly 11 points to go along with five rebounds per game.

The Irish take on South Florida on Saturday at noon at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.

 

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu