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Men’s Basketball

ND looks to recover against struggling Eagles

| Friday, January 31, 2014

After dropping six of their last seven contests, the Irish look to break out of their slump Saturday when they host a Boston College squad in the midst of a similarly difficult season.

Notre Dame (11-10, 2-6 ACC) committed a season-high 20 turnovers Tuesday in a 68-53 loss to Virginia on the way to its third-straight losing result. Irish coach Mike Brey said the team rebounded from the home defeat with promising practices.

Senior guard Eric Atkins drives during Notre Dame’s 68-53 loss to Virginia on Jan. 28. Atkins leads the Irish in total assists this season.Jodi Lo

Senior guard Eric Atkins drives during Notre Dame’s 68-53 loss to Virginia on Jan. 28. Atkins leads the Irish in total assists this season.

“I was really encouraged with how we practiced yesterday,” he said. “Had some good energy in practice, tried to fine tune some things offensively as far as screening off the ball a little bit more to help our guys … and I think when you have a tough night you gotta come back and compete right away and almost kind of flush it a little bit.”

Still, Brey said the only way to restore confidence in his squad is to come out on the right side of a few games.

“You need to come into that locker room and feel good about a win to kind of feel good about yourself, and you can’t simulate that in practice,” he said. “I think you want to send a team out on Saturday that’s loose and ready to compete and not like, ‘Oh my gosh, we need a win.’ Because that won’t help us.”

Boston College (6-14, 2-5) enters the game off a decisive 76-52 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, its first victory in four tries and only the second win in the last nine outings. The Eagles are 10th in the ACC in scoring offense but last in both scoring defense and scoring margin. Against the Hokies (8-12, 1-7), Boston College shot 44.4 percent from the field and hit 14 three pointers on 37 attempts.

“Saturday we play a team that can shoot the heck [out] of it and played well [Wednesday], and in a lot of the same situations we’re in,” Brey said. “You know, as they’re trying to figure it out.”

The Eagles placed four players in double-figure scoring against Virginia Tech, including sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan, who leads the team with a season average of 18.6 points per game.

Eagles redshirt junior guard Alex Dragicevich, who transferred from Notre Dame following his sophomore campaign, will make his return to the Purcell Pavilion with his new unit. Dragicevic has made 11 starts for Boston College and has played in all 19 games this year. After scoring eight points against Virginia Tech, Dragicevich is averaging 4.6 points per game and is hitting 43.1 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

“Alex has found a niche out there at BC,” Brey said. “I know he wasn’t playing there for a while, but he certainly played well [Wednesday]. And he certainly will be ready to play against us. And you know what, I have a lot of respect for Alex because he was part of a lot of big wins here. He was helpful to us in the years that he was here.”

Brey said the Irish will focus on the offensive side of the ball.

“I think we’ve tried to simplify lately, just on the offensive end, how can we help each other,” he said. “Reversing the ball and screening off the ball more, I think there’s been some slippage there.”

Irish sophomore forward Austin Burgett underwent surgery to address a heart issue Wednesday. The procedure went according to plan, Brey said, and Burgett will join the Irish on the sideline Saturday before beginning rehab sometime next week.

After hosting Boston College, Notre Dame will travel to face No. 2 Syracuse before returning home for contests against North Carolina and Clemson.

“The history of us here is when you’ve been in these kind of situations, you get one or two [wins] and all of a sudden you feel a little better about yourself, and one or two can become a couple more,” Brey said. “I know a couple years ago, one became nine, or eight more. I don’t know if we can do that with this personnel, I’m just being flat-out honest with you. But can we pick off a couple and feel a little better and get a little more confident? That way is probably more who we are.”

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About Joseph Monardo

Joseph Monardo is a senior from Atlanta studying International Economics. A participant in the Bologna study abroad program, Joseph likes pickup sports, fantasy baseball and trivia nights with his friends.

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