Sophomore forward Austin Burgett is expected to return to play against North Carolina on Saturday.
Burgett has not played in the last four Irish games since leaving the Jan. 21 loss to Florida State early due to an irregular heartbeat. He underwent a procedure to correct the issue Jan. 29 and could be on the way back to help the Irish (12-11, 3-7 ACC).
He has ridden a stationary bike and ran on a treadmill in recent days and Brey’s plan was for the 6-9 forward to participate in a “partial practice” Thursday before experiencing a full one Friday.
“He’s feeling good and his frame of mind is very positive,” Brey said. “I feel very good about where he’s at.”
The Tar Heels (15-7, 5-4) are riding a four-game winning streak after stumbling out of the gate in league play.
Jerian Grant Update
When the Irish lost 61-55 at No. 1 Syracuse on Monday, Jerian Grant’s parents, Harvey and Beverly Grant, wore Orange jerseys courtside, but that is because their other son, forward Jerami Grant, starts for Syracuse.
“We lose a tough one and I’m sitting with Bev and Harvey and they both have Syracuse jerseys on in my locker room. I said, ‘God, just some weird stuff,’” Brey quipped Thursday. “They were great and talked a lot about the process of coming back.”
Jerian Grant — the Irish guard-in-exile — is currently in California training with his uncle and former NBA forward Horace Grant. Brey spoke with his former leading scorer Wednesday.
“We talked a lot about Italy and the foreign tour [next summer], and our rotation,” Brey said. “He had some great insights on [freshman guard Steve] Vasturia. I told him, ‘Call Vasturia for me.’
Suspended guard Jerian Grant continues to express his desire to return to Notre Dame next semester.
“I have every reason to believe he’ll be back with us. Harvey said to me, ‘Can he come back in May? When can we get him back there?’ I said, he can come back in May. Summer school doesn’t start, but we can get him a job. I told him, ‘It’s mid-February. You’re getting closer to getting back here.’”
Brey and Grant met at the team hotel when the Irish traveled to Maryland last month, at which time the guard expressed his excitement for coming back and playing in Under Armour jerseys after the university struck a deal with the apparel provider in January.
Future Scheduling Notes
It’s around February each year that programs across the country begin to look ahead to next year’s schedule and fill out the non-conference slate. During fall camp, Brey expressed his desire to renew rivalries with former Big East foes, specifically Villanova, St. John’s and Marquette.
Because of the 2014-15 commitments to which Notre Dame has already agreed, that plan might not be carried out until the following season. Brey indicated that the Irish will host an ACC-Big Ten challenge game next December (it played at Iowa this season) and participate in the Hall of Fame Holiday Classic, which will include matchups with Providence (an old conference foe) and UMass in Springfield, Mass.
“I don’t know if we’re going to get to them next year,” Brey said. “The year after is when we’re looking at a Villanova or a St. John’s. Next year also there is a chance we could have [an early] league game here. … The rest we’re still piecing together. … You could have two power games here before Christmas.”
As far as conference scheduling goes, Brey hopes next year’s slate includes an off date during the week or one weekend, something the early league game could help bring about. The Irish did not have any vacant spots on the schedule after beginning ACC play against Duke Jan. 4.
“I wonder if that’s a case of us being plugged into the matrix as the last team [when the university joined the ACC in] February,” Brey said. “That may help us, though. We’ve had to steal some time. This was a nice gap [after playing Monday in Syracuse] to get some rest. Next week, we have a Tuesday to Sunday [stretch off]. It’s no secret that for us [the conference tournament] will be very important. To almost have a stretch of training camp before you go to Greensboro, N.C., is probably a good thing right now to rest and what we want to do differently. I often wonder if it’s the result of, ‘Let’s give them the bye there. That’s all we have left.’ You do what you do.”