Notre Dame Looks to Senior Duo For Leadership
By Andrew Bartolini and Matthew Lang
Basketball is back in South Bend, but this time around Notre Dame will rely
upon a completely new rotation of players. Gone is the trio of senior starters composed of BIG EAST Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott, who as a group, contributed just over 50 percent of the team’s scoring total.
The Irish will call upon pre-season all-BIG EAST first team selection Tim Abromaitis and fellow co-captain and returning starter Scott Martin to lead the attack. Both are experienced players who will be asked to guide a much younger core of players this season.
“The young guys have really worked hard to get better,” explains Martin. “They have been working hard in the gym and in the weight room and getting themselves ready. As Coach Brey was saying, everybody on this team is going to play and we’re excited for that. This is everyone’s team; it’s not just the captain’s team. It’s everyone combined and we’re all going to contribute.”
Sophomore Eric Atkins will see an expanded role running the motion offense and leading the team as he steps in as the full time starter at the point guard position.
“Last year helped me to step into this leadership role a lot,” said Atkins. “Ben (Hansbrough) especially. The work during the summer has also helped. Everyone expected me to lead during the workouts and during the pick-up games. Everything from last year and this summer has helped me be ready for this season.”
In addition, junior forward Jack Cooley and sophomore swingman Jerian Grant figure to round out the starting five. Cooley’s steady improvement last season suggests he is ready to become a force to be reckoned with in the paint, while Grant’s overall athleticism should create a mismatch for most defenses.
Head coach Mike Brey enters his 12th season at Notre Dame after earning national coach-of-the-year honors last year. Although the team is less experienced than in the past, he feels his guys are hungry to compete. “I think we can really share the ball and we know how to play, which has been the moniker on us,” said Brey. “I’m trying to figure out who we will be defensively and how we will play defensively with some of these new[er] guys.”
Tickets for the Championship Rounds of the Progressive CBE Classic at Sprint Center in Kansas City can be purchased by calling 800-745-3000 or at ticketmaster.com.