Big East Summer Capsules: Notre Dame Fighting IrishPosted by mlemaire on August 7th, 2012
While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Notre Dame.
1. You win some and you lose some… eligibility petition that is.
It was a tumultuous May for Notre Dame fans and head coach Mike Brey emotionally. The beginning of the month brought the somewhat expected bad news in that that star forward Tim Abromaitis‘ petition for a sixth year of eligibility had been denied despite his sterling academic record and unfortunate injury history. It had always been a long shot but if Abromaitis had been able to return, the Fighting Irish could have been a contender for next season’s conference crown. A little more than a week later the news was better as forward Scott Martin‘s petition for a sixth year of eligibility was granted by the NCAA, giving the program’s fan base the shot in the arm they were looking for. Now, Martin is assuredly not the same player as Abromaitis, but he did post 9.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG last year while offering positional versatility, smart decision-making, and veteran leadership. It would have been wonderful for the program to get both players back, but they should be more than content to even get one guy back from what seemed like an unlikely possibility. Martin is a consummate glue guy and will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s success next season.
2. It certainly doesn’t seem like Mike Brey is going anywhere any time soon.
With still three years left on his contract extension, Notre Dame didn’t bother waiting to show Brey exactly how much they appreciated his run at the helm of the program, giving him a new, 10-year contract that will run through June 2022. Brey has made a name for himself in the Big East by taking the program to eight NCAA Tournaments despite slightly lesser talent than some of his peers. Brey is a three-time conference coach of the year and he is best known for his methodical offensive approach that often allows Notre Dame to stay in close games even when they are athletically over-matched. There is no question that Brey deserves the contract and the Fighting Irish are doing the right thing by showing Brey they are committed to him as their basketball coach, because he is one of the best in the business and the university isn’t and never will be a basketball school. At the same time, a lot can happen between now and 2022.
3. How quickly can Cameron Biedscheid start scoring ?
With Jack Cooley manning the paint and Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant controlling the backcourt, really the only place where Notre Dame will be looking for contributors will be on the wing. Abromaitis is gone, and sharpshooter Alex Dragicevich transferred out of the program after last season, leaving sophomore Pat Connaughton and Scott Martin as the only two experienced wing players. Both will play major roles for the club this coming season, but Connaughton, while well-rounded, isn’t a true scoring threat, and Martin’s game is similar to his. Enter Biedscheid, who rose quickly through the recruiting rankings as more evaluators got a chance to see him in person and he ended the year as one of the top 30 players in the country coming out of high school and the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. At 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds, Biedscheid will probably need to add some muscle to his lithe frame, but there is no doubt about his lethal scoring ability, something the Fighting Irish will hope to utilize often this season. Atkins and Grant are both high-volume scorers who can tend to be a little streaky. Biedscheid has a more versatile offensive game and if he can get acclimated quickly, he will be a headache for opposing defenders. It is just a matter of making sure he gets acclimated quickly.