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January 30, 2013

Biedscheid delivers, Irish needed it

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On the way out of the Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday night, Villanova head coach Jay Wright acknowledged Cam Biedscheid.

It was long after the Notre Dame freshman torched the Wildcats for a career-high 18 points. Wright brushed by Biedscheid while walking to the team bus, the rookie guard seated in the front row of an empty arena waiting for a ride.

Wright probably expected Biedscheid to be left behind in Notre Dame’s game plan too considering the freshman had scored just 19 points the past six games and gone 2-of-15 from three-point range. Instead, Villanova got the former national recruit’s best performance in a college uniform.

“You’ve really got to give Notre Dame credit, especially Biedscheid,” Wright said. “He was great.”

Notre Dame doesn’t need greatness from Biedscheid moving forward as it slogs through the Big East schedule, just hoping to win more conference games than it loses. But it needs something from the freshman now that Scott Martin is sidelined indefinitely with Mike Brey willing to experiment with lineups.

Biedscheid didn’t make his first three-pointer until there was 42 seconds left in the first half, then he exploded into the second half when Notre Dame grabbed control of the game until the final nervy seconds. He finished 5-of-7 from distance and even made three free throws after getting fouled on one attempt.

“That would be great for us if it is a regular thing,” said point guard Eric Atkins. “He keeps hitting like that, teams are really going to start keying in on him, but I think he was a great spark for us today, hitting those threes when me and Pat (Connaughton) weren’t hitting them today

“He was a great spark for us coming off the bench.”

Not letting that spark get snuffed has been a team effort for Brey and the rest of Notre Dame’s roster over the past two weeks. After shooting 0-of-8 against Georgetown last weekend, Biedscheid apologized to Brey. The head coach backed his freshman in the media, keeping the shooting light green.

That’s what Biedscheid needed to hear, with that message reinforced by teammates.

“Coach Brey just fills me with so much confidence, you can really tell he believes in each and every one of us and what we can do,” Biedscheid said. “No matter how bad you do it one time or a few times or even a few games, he knows that you can still do it and he pushes you to do it and gives you confidence to feel like you can do it.”

Biedscheid didn’t have a technical explanation for the cold spell that saw him shoot 7-of-31 in his seven Big East games before Wednesday, calling it a “slump.” The fact it didn’t turn into anything more might be as much Biedscheid working overtime with assistant Martin Ingelsby on his shot as Brey constantly supporting the freshman.

“Guys that can shoot it, I don’t want them ever sheepish about it, looking over their shoulder,” Brey said. “He is such a gamer. He just loves to play. He loves to compete.”

As Notre Dame continues to shuffle the deck without Martin moving forward, Brey admitted he doesn’t know where consistent scoring will come from. But after knocking off Villanova, Brey knows his faith in Biedscheid has been repaid.

“It’s really all mental,” Biedscheid said. “One bad, two bad games, three bad games, that doesn’t make you a bad player. Three good games doesn’t make you a great player. It’s just believe in yourself and having the veteran guys in our team believe in you as well as the coaches to tell you, ‘Bro, just step up and shoot the shot.’”

On Wednesday night, Biedscheid did.

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