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November 1, 2013

Burgett's audition continues

In 60 minutes, Austin Burgett totaled 11 points and 10 rebounds. No, that is not a stat line for one multi-overtime contest. Rather, that is the sophomore forward’s stat line from the entirety of last season.

Monday night, in Notre Dame’s 95-69 exhibition victory over Indianapolis, Burgett scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Not only that, but he started.

“It felt pretty good, getting out on the court and playing with the main guys,” Burgett said, though he knows his days as a starter are likely limited. “My goal is to be the sixth man. We’ll see what happens when the real games come around.”

With senior forward Tom Knight and sophomore forward Zach Auguste on the bench battling back spasms and a broken hand, respectively -- not to mention sophomore swingman Cam Biedscheid’s possible red-shirt -- Burgett saw Monday night for what it was: an audition. The most influential critic liked Burgett’s performance.

“I was very impressed with Austin Burgett,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “He played tonight how he has practiced. He gives us a stretch-four man that we really don’t have in the program. Zach and Tom are different.

“I thought it was a great night for him to get more confident.”

Brey’s may be the most important review, but Burgett is his own harshest critic. On one of Notre Dame’s first possessions, he saw a shot bounce off the rim and instinctively launched himself high in the lane. Few expected Burgett to come close to a dramatic tip-slam, but he anticipated nothing less, and was disappointed to barely miss the highlight-worthy play.

“A lot of people underestimate me and don’t think I can jump,” he said. “I timed it, and it was just off to the left a little bit, and I couldn’t reach it. I thought I had it.”

The missed highlight bothered Burgett but briefly. Long-term, fundamental mistakes stay on the Indiana-native’s mind. Looking at a stat sheet, he ignored his two assists, two blocks and two steals, only focusing on two missed free throws.

“(The 11 points) were kind of quiet. I thought I only had eight or nine. Honestly, I try not to keep track in the game and just keep playing,” he said, before continuing as he pointed at the missed free throws on the stat sheet. “What I couldn’t get out of my head, was I missed two free throws.

“I have to let it go, because it’s on to the next play, but sometimes it sticks in my head.”

A year ago, Burgett did not often have the opportunity for missed chances to stick in his head. This season, he hopes to have many opportunities, but not miss them.

Notre Dame faces Tusculum tonight in its final exhibition opener. Tip-off is at 9 p.m.

The Irish open their regular season next Friday when they host Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m.

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