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November 14, 2012
If you were watching pre-game warm-ups, seeking out the athletes on the Notre Dame men's basketball roster, one wouldn't naturally gaze in the direction of the 6-foot-10, 246-pounder wearing No. 11.
Then the game starts. Then you change your mind.
Garrick Sherman, the senior transfer from Michigan State, came off the bench Monday night to score 22 points and grab nine rebounds (six offensive) in 22 minutes of action in Notre Dame's 84-57 victory over Monmouth.
"That's common for him in practice," said fellow big man Jack Cooley. "Guarding him is one of the most frustrating things I've had to do since guarding Luke Harangody.
"He's got moves. He just came out and did what he needed to do today, stepped up, and just played like he does."
From spin moves to tips to reverse lay-ups around the basket, Sherman gives the Irish another big man - along with Cooley - who can control the paint and give mid-major schools like the Hawks more than they can handle size-wise."Guarding him is one of the most frustrating things I've had to do since guarding Luke Harangody."
-- Jack Cooley on Garrick Sherman
"He's really light on his feet and crafty around the bucket," said head coach Mike Brey. "He has the best feel of our big guys to present himself as a receiver in a good spot. Garrick has a good feel to get to spots."
It won't always be as easy for Sherman as it was against Monmouth, whose top big man gave away two inches and more than 30 pounds. But in Sherman, the Irish have a second big man (not to mention a third in 6-foot-10 freshman Zach Auguste) who can team with Cooley or keep the pace when Cooley needs a break or gets into foul trouble.
"It's just incredible seeing us out there and both of us being that productive," said Cooley, who added 16 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. "Us together is going to be unstoppable as the year goes on. It's crazy to see."
Brey is equally happy with what Sherman gives the Irish defensively.
"You've heard me say Scott Martin is a great team defender," Brey said. "Garrick is right there with him, and the two of them during that stretch they played together, during timeouts, talked about how they want to rotate and who they wanted to guard.
"He's getting to be that guy that can come over and rotate with a big body really wisely. He's always been that defensively from day one. He's an experienced player. The offensive stuff, he just had to find a rhythm."
Sherman was pleased to get past the first-game jitters, which contributed to an uninspiring three-point, three-rebound game in 15 minutes of action in the season-opener against Evansville.
"I hadn't been playing up to my potential," Sherman said. "I wasn't making as much of an impact as I expected of myself. I owe it to Coach Brey and this team for taking me on. I owe it to them to play well."
Biedscheid continues to progress: Brey has been pleasantly surprised that 6-foot-7, 186-pound freshman Cameron Biedscheid is progressing at a faster pace than expected, both in terms of adapting to the offense as well as on the defensive end, where it pretty much was assumed he would be a persistent liability, simply because of his slim background in that area.
"I'm really pleased with him," Brey said. "He wants to be good, he wants to be coached."
Biedscheid played 23 minutes against Monmouth, scoring nine points, grabbing three rebounds and handing out five assists. He connected on 4-of-10 from the field, but was 0-of-5 from three-point range and is now 1-of-10 from beyond the arc in two games.
Brey isn't concerned with Biedscheid's slow shooting start. He's more impressed with the other aspects of his game.
"I thought he turned down some shots, but he's trying to please his teammates and his coaches by being easy to play with," Brey said. "I told him during a couple of timeouts, 'Why did you turn that one down?' I got on him about turning shots down. I didn't do that the first couple weeks of practice.
"Now I've got to kind of bring him back to not being afraid to step up and stick it. His shot selection was excellent and he's getting better defensively. He has improved defensively."
Biedscheid is still learning that delicate balance between scorer and team player.
"When we're early in the shot clock, we run our sets," Biedscheid said. "If we get nothing from those, late in the shot clock, I'll call Jack or Sherm or Scott for a ball screen and just work off the ball screen. If not, we can go one-on-one when it's late."
Brey never has been one to put limits on shooters/scorers.
"He's going to have to make shots for us," Brey said. "We're a little streaky out there and I just think he's a guy that can make three of them in a night or five of them in a night. He can do that. He's done that in practices."
A third big man: Zach Auguste, the 6-foot-10, 230-pounder from Marlborough, Mass., was limited during the pre-season by an ankle injury, and then didn't play in the season-opener against Evansville.
Making his collegiate debut against the Hawks, Auguste showed flashes of why he's such an exciting part of the future. In four minutes of action at the end of the first half, Auguste connected on a 12-foot jump shot, grabbed a couple of defensive rebounds and blocked a shot. He added another basket, rebound and blocked shot in five more minutes of action in the second half.
"I was really happy we could get Zach into the rotation," Brey said. "We had some foul trouble on that frontline and we could go to another big.
"Obviously, he is very active. There's a lot to work with. We're trying to make up for some lost time in practice with those injuries. But he's going to be important for us over the long haul."
Mr. Underrated: He was Notre Dame's third-leading scorer against Monmouth and the leading three-point shooter while tying for the team-lead in assists. But somehow, Pat Connaughton has a way of flying under the radar.
Perhaps that's because Connaughton has taken it upon himself to be a glue guy for the Irish, filling in the cracks wherever he is needed.
"It's just being more consistent," said the 6-foot-5, 212-pound sophomore who averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds during his rookie season while starting 18 games.
"I've grown up, I've matured, my body's changed. I'm stronger, quicker. I had to improve my ball handling, drive a little more, not just be one dimensional with the shot."
Connaughton, who had 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-8 from three-point range against the Hawks, is a more well-rounded basketball player.
"I had to figure out somewhere else to contribute, and it's defense," said Connaughton, who also had five assists. "I think it's just a matter of more being expected of me, which I love. I love being out there."
Burgett burns year of eligibility: He may not be in a position to contribute much as the ninth or 10th man in the rotation. But 6-foot-9, 214-pound freshman Austin Burgett wants to be a part of the active roster.
So Brey inserted him into the game with 2:24 remaining against Monmouth, thus burning a year of eligibility.
"We talked a little bit about a five-year program last week," Brey said. "When we've done that, I've always told the young man that you have to agree to it. (I told him), 'This is going to be your minutes.'
"He talked to his family about it and he said, 'You know, coach, I want to keep playing. I want to do it, I want to get in there.' I said, 'Great, no debate here.' So he's part of it.
"When you have those 10 guys, it's a long year. Right now, he may not get much, but he does get great stuff in practice every day."
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