NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame’s 2012-13 men’s basketball team looks a whole lot like the 2011-12 team over the second half of the season.
Balanced, unselfish, good.
Six players scored in double figures and the Irish handed out 30 assists en route to an easy-as-it-sounds 111-52 exhibition victory over Division II Quincy (Ill.) University.
“I’m just so impressed with how we pass the ball,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “I don’t think anybody in the country can pass better than us.”
Eric Atkins, who made all six of his shots from the field, including three from beyond the arc, finished with 13 of Notre Dame’s 30 assists, scored 17 points and made five steals.
Jack Cooley led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, most of which came on dunks and lay-ups against Quincy’s undersized group. Jerian Grant tossed in 19 while Pat Connaughton, Garrick Sherman and Cameron Biedscheid each scored 12. Grant dished out eight assists and Scott Martin just missed becoming the seventh Irish player in double digits, scoring nine.
“Everybody we play really knows what to do with (the basketball),” Brey said. “To have 30 assists, I don’t care who you’re playing. That we’re sharing like that is something that’s a good trait and really positive.”
Notre Dame’s first 20-point lead came with 7:43 left in the first half, and that propelled the Irish to a 52-21 halftime lead. A 25-0 run that spanned 6:13 in the second half put the Hawks away for good. No Quincy player scored in double digits. Jens Kennedy scored nine and Scott Hahn tallied eight.
Notre Dame out-rebounded the Hawks, 44-21. Connaughton and Sherman each had eight while Cooley snagged seven.
For Sherman, his first appearance in a Notre Dame uniform was a thrill.
“It was awesome,” said Sherman, the transfer from Michigan State. “It was a long time coming, but I was excited and it was fun.
“Definitely nerves, definitely nerves, because I have a lot to prove. It was only one step, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Biedscheid’s debut was equally exciting. The 6-foot-7 scorer played 22 minutes - fifth among the 10 players who participated - but took the most shots (13). He connected on just four, including 2-of-9 from three-point, and grabbed four rebounds.
Brey was pleased with Biedscheid’s aggressiveness.
“He’s got to score it for us,” Brey said. “I still think his shot selection is a work in progress. But when you have a guy who can put it in the hole - and you know my history with guys like that - I don’t want to yell at him too much for a bad shot. I don’t want him gun-shy. You just kind of suggest a little bit.”
Brey liked what Biedscheid and Sherman gave the Irish off the bench, subbing in simultaneously.
“(Sherman) going in with Cam is kind of neat because it’s almost like he’s his big brother,” Brey said. “He’s been very helpful to Cameron, teaching him some stuff and getting on his backside when he’s had breakdowns.
“All I know is those guys had 17 points coming off the bench at halftime. That’s interesting to me.”
Biedscheid enjoyed his first experience in a Notre Dame uniform.
“Coach wants me to be a scorer, a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter,” Biedscheid said. “If I can get to the rack, score, or dish it off. He just wants me to be a scorer and a playmaker. As far as defense goes, he wants me to work on guarding more aggressively and getting through screens better.”
Austin Burgett, a 6-foot-9 freshman who Brey anticipated red-shirting, scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes.
“Austin Burgett has been maybe as good as anybody the last four or five days,” Brey said. “He’s made it very interesting on me. How do we handle his situation? Those are decisions we need to talk about next week after the (next) exhibition.”
Zach Auguste, a 6-foot-10 freshman who also has impressed Brey in recent weeks, sat out the game after aggravating an ankle injury. He is expected back in practice Wednesday.
“He was really good for us before he went down,” said Brey of Auguste. “But you know what’s amazing about this team now is the train’s moving. It’s survival of the fittest. There are a lot of guys out there.”
Also on the bench in street clothes were seniors Joey Brooks and Mike Broghammer, and sophomore Eric Katenda. Brooks will red-shirt, earn his degree, and possibly play elsewhere in his fifth year of eligibility. Katenda likely will red-shirt as he continues to try to revive his career after suffering an optic nerve injury that has left him permanently blind in his left eye. Broghammer’s knee injuries have put an end to his career at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame takes on Cardinal Stritch Friday, Nov. 2, in the final exhibition game of the pre-season. Tip-off is 9 p.m. ET. The Irish open the regular season on Nov. 10 at home against Evansville.