Prep Work

Down one team captain due to injury, Notre Dame basketball tipped off its two-game pre-season with a 90-72 victory over St. Xavier last night at the Purcell Pavilion.

Tim Abromaitis scored 20 of his 28 points in the first half and Jack Cooley added 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as Notre Dame won its opening exhibition game of the 2011-12 season, 90-72 over St. Xavier (Ill.).

Playing without co-captain Scott Martin who was nursing an ankle injury, Mike Brey's new-look Irish debuted with the sophomore back court of Eric Atkins and first-time contributor Jerian Grant. Grant was withheld from action last season as a true freshman.

Atkins scored 19 points on the strength of an 11-13 effort from the charity stripe. He added six assists vs. one turnover in 30 minutes. The latter number might serve as a season-low as the Columbia, Maryland native is the team's only true point guard among 10 eligible scholarship players.

Grant was joined as a first-time starter by junior swingman Joey Brooks but the newcomers struggled from the field, managing a combined seven points on 2-13 shooting. Grant corralled five rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes; Brooks four assists in 24.

The starters received relief aid from sophomore swingman Alex Dragicevich (6 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers in 22 minutes) and freshman Pat Connaughton who, as the last scholarship player to appear (7:36 mark of the first half) finished with 7 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and no turnovers in 16 minutes.

St. Xavier was led by Valparaiso high school-product Brad Karp, who finished with 25 points on 10-21 shooting. Karp added a team-best nine boards in 37 minutes. Cougars point guard Roosevelt Green added 19 points and 7 assists before fouling out after 31 hard-charging minutes.

Three-headed monster?

Cooley was strong in the middle for 23 intermittent minutes, but the junior received pivot support from classmates Tom Knight and Mike Broghammer, the latter a player whose full-season contributions to the squad would be invaluable after multiple knee surgeries and procedures over the last 13 months.

Broghammer played just six minutes, all in the first half, grabbing two boards and recording a bucket and a steal. His physical presence and still-present athleticism is much-needed for what would become a nine-man scholarship roster without him.

Knight scored 7 points with 6 boards in 15 minutes, hitting 3 of 5 shots vs. the undersized Cougars, over who the Irish held a 45-34 rebounding advantage.

First-team recognition: A pre-season All Big-East first team selection by the league's coaches, Abromaitis was clearly the most polished, confident player on the court. The 5th-year senior knocked down 10 of 20 shots though he missed six of nine offerings from long range.

Abromaitis will be sidelined for Notre Dame's opening quartet of contests (Mississippi Valley State, Detroit, Sam Houston State, and Delaware State) due to an NCAA technicality that does not allow a sophomore player to appear in games, then receive a non-medical red-shirt for the duration of the season.

The team captain and two-time Big East honoree will return for Notre Dame's November 21 game vs. Missouri in Kansas City

Notre Dame's final exhibition contest is slated for Monday, November 7 when the Irish entertain Stonehill College.

Note: For continued discussion regarding Notre Dame basketball's opener and the first look at its newcomers, enter our Irish Hoops message board. Top Stories