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October 29, 2012

Irish open exhibition play

Coming off their sixth straight 20-victory campaign and a No. 3 finish in the Big East, No. 22/23 Notre Dame - 22-12 in 2011-12 - opens exhibition play Monday night at Purcell Pavilion versus Division II Quincy University at 7 p.m. ET.

Mike Brey begins his 13th season as Irish head coach. He is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big East, behind only Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. His 133 conference victories rank fifth in Big East history.

Brey has 88.7 percent of Notre Dame's scoring and minutes played returning from the 2011-12 season. Senior Jack Cooley, who was the Big East's most improved player and second-team all-Big East, is back in the middle after averaging 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in conference play.

The backcourt of Eric Atkins (12.1 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 4.1 apg.) and Jerian Grant (12.3 ppg., 5.3 apg.) should be one of the finest in the country while sixth-year senior Scott Martin (9.5 ppg., 5.7 rpg.) serves as the elder statesman up front. Sophomore Pat Connaughton had a fine rookie season, averaging 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Notre Dame's frontcourt will be bolstered by the return of senior Tom Knight (2.9 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) and Garrick Sherman, a Michigan State transfer who sat out the 2011-12 season.

The Irish also expect contributions from freshman guard Cameron Biedscheid and freshman big man Zach Auguste.

Division II Quincy University is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Hawks were 18-9 (11-7) in 2011-12 under the direction of Marty Bell, who begins his 10th season as head coach. Bell also serves as the school's athletic director. His top returning scorer is 6-foot-4 junior Chris Babbitt, who averaged 10.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 2011-12.

Notre Dame hosts Cardinal Stritch this Friday, Nov. 2, at 9 p.m. ET in its final exhibition game of the pre-season. The Irish open regular-season play at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, Nov. 10, versus Evansville.


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