Working out the kinks

Notre Dame begins its exhibition season with an 85-52 win over Marian University.

A massive new scoreboard, the official reveal of four team captains, five senior starters (three that can return next season) and unselfish, extra pass basketball highlighted Notre Dame's first exhibition of the 2010-11 basketball season tonight at the Purcell Pavilion.

With the outcome never in doubt, Notre Dame jumped on the visitors from Marian University early, claiming leads of 14-6, 24-8, and 38-17 en route to a 50-26 advantage at intermission and 85-52 final tally.

Interspersed in the continual first-half spurts by the Irish was a healthy dose of like-skilled players creating open shots with crisp ball movement among a host of quality shooters and – not unlike the tail end of last season – a renewed commitment to defense and defensive communication vs. an admittedly overmatched, undersized foe.

"I thought our unselfishness was great," Brey noted of a group that doled 16 assists including 12 in the decisive first half. "That older group can really pass and catch and we have a lot of different guys that can make shots when they're open."

The Irish connected on 16 of 23 first half field goals including a 7 for 11 effort from beyond the arc over the contest's first 20 minutes. Two of the team's recently minted captains, Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott, combined to hit 8 of 9 first half field goals (4 of 5 from long range) while totaling 23 of the team's first 50 points.

Scott finished with 13 points, 7 defensive rebounds and three help-side blocked shots.

"We did well defensively. We came out the gate and jumped on them early and didn't let up," Scott noted of the Irish effort that limited the visitors to an 18 for 54 field goal effort including a 6 for 22 performance beyond the arc.

Brey's squad featured an eight-man rotation in the opener, working in 6'9" 245-pound sophomore banger Jack Cooley and promising freshman guard Eric Atkins early; then later implementing sophomore swingman Joey Brooks for the bulk of the half's final 12 minutes.

Atkins received extensive second half action, finishing with eight points and an assist; knocking down an early three-pointer for his first collegiate points. The team's only true point guard, Atkins displayed a much higher confidence level and flashed full-court quickness in 11 second half minutes.

"We were able to substitute and rotate our guys the way we would, I'd anticipate, in a game," Brey offered of six players (including Atkins) that received between 21 and 27 minutes of court time with two others (Brooks and Cooley) playing 16 and 14 minutes respectively.

Former Purdue transfer and 2009-10 injury redshirt Scott Martin made his Notre Dame debut nearly 27 months after hitting campus. The oft-discussed offensive weapon drilled two of his first three 3-point shots in a relatively quiet first half but finished tied with fellow sharp-shooter Tim Abromaitis for the game high total of 15 points. Martin squeezed off a team-high 10 shots in 26 minutes and was the only Irish offensive player to commit more than one turnover (3) while adding two steals.

"He's deceptive (offensively), noted Marian head coach John Grimes. "Martin can do a lot of things out there."

Brey's Irish enjoyed four double-digit scorers while another senior captain, Tyrone Nash, helped run the operation while contributing 9 points with a game-high 8 rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes. Nash displayed his versatility throughout the contest, working from both the high and low post and aiding the Irish as one of three lead ball-handlers on the perimeter. (The only thing Nash won't do for Brey's Irish is attempt a field goal outside of eight feet this winter.)

Ben Hansbrough, the team's fourth captain and only starter under 6'8", finished with 14 points and 6 assists. Five of his dimes occurred in the game's first 20 minutes. Hansbrough gave Irish fans a brief scare when he crashed into media row at the game's 4:00 minute mark.

The hard-nosed senior was up and back on defense before the Knights advanced past half-court.

"He only knows one way to play," Brey said of his penetrating guard.

Senior guard Tucker Jordan led the Knights with 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting over a game-high 32 minutes.

With the exception of power forward Mike Broghammer (still nursing a knee injury), each of the scholarship Irish saw first half action. Freshman backups Alex Dragicevich (6 minutes) and Jerian Grant (7 minutes), and redshirt-freshman big man Tom Knight (6) received their first collegiate action. Dragicevich broke into the scoring column late while Grant registered an assist, turnover, blocked shot and steal in 7 active minutes.

Notre Dame's second and final exhibition game is Saturday, November 6 vs. Catholic University.


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