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October 18, 2013

Auguste injury thins post depth

Just last week, Irish head coach Mike Brey raved about the possibilities sophomore forward Zach Auguste brought to this year's version of Notre Dame basketball. He would pick up where Jack Cooley left off, play with reckless abandon and high energy, and provide a change of pace for the Irish in the post.

One day later, Auguste broke his left hand, removing those possibilities for 4-to-6 weeks.

"This is really unfortunate for Zach that he suffered this injury because he had such a great summer and pre-season for us," Brey said in a release announcing Auguste's injury Thursday.

"Zach is going to be a key for us on the frontline this season. I love the energy and passion he has brought to practice. Since the end of last season, he's been really focused on improving all aspects of his game and he's really matured. Zach knows and understands that he's a big piece of the puzzle for us this year and that we are counting on him at both ends of the floor."

Bringing Notre Dame to the ACC for its inaugural season, Brey had heard all summer and early fall about the Irish frontline's size. That frontline featured the 6-foot-10, 242-pound Auguste and fifth-year seniors Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman -- both standing at least 6-foot-10 and weighing 255 and 258 pounds respectively. Supposedly, it was -- and in 4-to-6 weeks, is -- bigger than nearly all of the ACC.

"Zach has a little bit of that reckless abandon. Quite frankly it's a little too reckless for me some days but I love it," Brey said on Oct. 9 at media day. "He's always going 100 miles an hour. He'll get a tip-dunk and then a goal-tend, but he's going to make stuff happen."

Last season Auguste was Notre Dame's fourth post option, playing in 25 of 35 games. He averaged 3.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 10.7 minutes per game, with a career-high 15 points coming in a loss to Marquette.

Even as the fourth option, he was much-needed in the five-overtime February thriller against Louisville, logging 36 minutes. This year, Brey, Auguste and everyone else around the Notre Dame program expects the Massachusetts native to raise those numbers dramatically.

Surgery was for the injury was deemed unnecessary. Auguste's left hand will not be placed in a cast, either. In his absence, sophomore forward Austin Burgett will have a chance to earn a spot in the Irish rotation.

Auguste will miss exhibition games against Indianapolis (Oct. 28) and Tusculum (Nov. 1). Notre Dame opens the regular season against Miami of Ohio on Nov. 8, which will be four weeks and a day after Auguste's injury. The Irish play Stetson, Indiana State and Santa Clara within a two-week span after the opener.

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