Irish top Lewis in tune-up
Mike Monaco | Monday, November 10, 2014
Six days after Jerian Grant let the game come to him in his first outing back in a Notre Dame uniform, the senior guard grabbed control from the early moments and hardly let up.
After tallying a modest 12 points Saturday in his first game after missing the spring semester due to an academic issue, Grant poured in an easy 30 as the Irish trounced Division-II Lewis, 82-59, on Friday night at Purcell Pavilion in Notre Dame’s final exhibition tune-up.
“I think last game I tried to fit in, tried to get my rhythm, but being aggressive early I think helps me and my team,” Grant said. “The guys tell me from the jump, ‘Jerian, attack early.’ That’s something I did today.”From the pre-game introductions, Grant’s 6-foot-5 frame exuded his standard business-like demeanor. There was no pomp and no flash for Grant, just high-fives in introductions, a quick fist-pump after forcing a Lewis shot-clock violation and a slight head shake after connecting on his fifth 3-pointer of the first half — this one a four-point play for good measure.
“He’s one of the best basketball players in the country,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “He’s a heck of a college basketball player. I think he’s come back in a really great frame of mind.”
Brey said he told Grant to shoot more at Monday’s practice, and Notre Dame called some early plays to jump-start Grant, even from the first possession when he curled through the lane for the first shot of the day.
“He was more aggressive,” Irish junior forward Zach Auguste said. “I talked to him personally, tried to hype him up.”
The Irish buried 10 of their first 16 3-point tries, including the five from Grant. Notre Dame finished 13-of-28 from behind the arc, with Grant accounting for seven.
“[The aggressiveness is] something I need to determine on my own, but it helps when your coach and starting center [Auguste] are telling you to attack early and make plays for the team but also make plays for yourself,” Grant said.
Irish sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson added 19 points on six-of-10 shooting, and Auguste chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds. Notre Dame limited the Flyers to 34.9-percent shooting from the floor. The Irish lead never dropped below 16 after the opening minute of the second half.Notre Dame steamrolled its way through the first half with a lead that swelled to as much as 22, thanks in large part to a 17-1 run. The Irish connected on 10-of-18 3-pointers in the opening stanza. Grant finished the first half with 20 points.
“Now I have the confidence to take the shots,” Grant said. “If I have a slight look, I know I can knock it down. That will be something I use for the rest of the year.”
Before the game, Notre Dame announced Irish senior guard/forward Pat Connaughton will serve as the team’s lone captain this season. Connaughton, who was a captain last season as well, is Notre Dame’s first solo captain since former Irish forward Rob Kurz guided the team for the 2007-08 season.
Brey said Connaughton has been Notre Dame’s “strongest voice,” but Brey said he thinks the Irish also have a “leadership council” with Grant and junior forward Austin Burgett as strong forces.
Irish sophomore forward Austin Torres suffered a muscle strain in his right shoulder with 8.1 seconds remaining in the second half after snatching a defensive rebound. Brey said the shoulder did not “pop out,” and the timeline should be “a couple days.”
Notre Dame opens its regular season Friday when it hosts Binghamton at 9 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.