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Men’s Basketball: Irish host Quincy in final exhibition game

Eric Prister | Friday, November 6, 2009

At the start of a season with many questions still unanswered, coach Mike Brey is still looking to fill in the pieces of his lineup around star seniors Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody. Tonight’s exhibition game against Quincy University is simply the next step in that process.

“I think when you’ve been coaching a while you cycle into more of a teaching mode with a new group, and I certainly like it,” Brey said. “It’s energizing. There are new things to talk about every day, as somebody does something and you say ‘Wow, I didn’t know he could do that. Maybe we should tweak things.’ I’m still trying to figure out our identity a little bit and we’re still going to be trying to do that, but it’s a fun atmosphere to work in.”

Since the start of practice, Brey has looked to five upperclassman to fill in the spots around Harangody and Jackson — seniors Jonathan Peoples and Ben Hansbrough, along with juniors Tyrone Nash, Carlton Scott and Tim Abromaitis — each of whom will need to prove himself to earn his role on the squad. With only three combined starts between the five entering the season, acquiring experience for them is another important goal for Brey and the Irish.

“I look at the five guys playing with Harangody and Jackson, and it’s almost new territory for them,” Brey said. “They’re all playing new roles and so a lot of my attention has been on those five, trying to get them confident. It’s also a little bit with Harangody and Jackson, adjusting to five new guys. They’ve played their roles with a similar nucleus for a long time so I think there’s an adjustment period there for those guys too.”

Of the five, Peoples and Nash received the most playing time last season, averaging just over 14 and 11 minutes, respectively. Both played in at least 34 of Notre Dame’s 35 games last season, but averaged just three points apiece, something that will need to improve for the Irish to be successful.

“Nash has more of a role, and for Peoples, to start a game, that’s kind of new territory for him,” Brey said. “Those guys have been good trying to figure out how to play together, and we’re trying to help them with that. Last year, when we started practice, we were kind of a finished product, and we were good. (This year) we’re going to change a lot, and we have a chance to do some things. And that’s where we’re different, and they need to be patient, and I have to remember to be patient as I watch them and try to figure it out.”

The Irish are coming off of a 70-59 exhibition victory over Lewis University, a game in which they trailed with 15 minutes to go in the second half. Harangody led the Irish with 33 points and nine rebounds, and Hansbrough, a transfer making his first start in an Irish uniform, chipped in 12 for Notre Dame.

“We played too fast,” Brey said. “That’s the biggest thing offensively. We want to play fast, but we never down-shifted. It was just some of that excitement, but we just have to play a little slower. And even our two seniors played 100 miles an hour, so that’s something I’d like to do better on Friday.”

The Irish tip off against Quincy tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the new Purcell Pavilion the Joyce Center.