Notre Dame cruised to a 95-69 win over Indianapolis in its first exhibition game at Purcell Pavilion, but the bigger story that emerged Monday surrounded sophomore forward Cam Biedscheid.
Head coach Mike Brey said after the 95-69 win over Indianapolis that sophomore forward Cam Biedscheid might sit out the season to preserve a year of eligibility.
Biedscheid did not dress for Notre Dame, and head coach Mike Brey said after the game that the program is considering sitting him out for the season and pursuing a five-year plan that has been common for players in recent years. While a final decision isn’t likely until next week, Brey sat Biedscheid because the NCAA counts all game competition, including exhibition contests, inside its eligibility purview for non-freshmen. Biedscheid scored 6.2 points and grabbed 1.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game a year ago.
“It’s something we want to talk about with him and his family and think about it,” Brey said. “It may be the best thing for him in the long run to get older, get stronger, academically, all the above, those are usually the points. … It’s kind of an ongoing discussion.”
Brey said he and the coaching staff discussed it over the summer, but Biedscheid approached the head coach this past weekend about the possibility.
“We’ve never forced it on a guy,” Brey said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’ve been thinking about it, my family and I have been talking about it, what do you think?’ I kind of went through things with him and you get into the balancing point about what’s best for the kid and best for the team. That’s what we’ve got to kind of figure out. We’ve got a lot of guys on the perimeter who can play.
“I don’t think you can even consider [a redshirt] for what’s best for our team unless your freshman guards have been impressive and consistent and solid and all three of them have been,” Brey said. “If that wasn’t the case, the discussion would’ve ended Saturday in my office with, ‘You can’t do it.’”
With fifth-year senior Tom Knight (back) and sophomore forwards Zach Auguste (hand) and Eric Katenda (knee) out for the Irish, sophomore forward Austin Burgett earned his first-career start for Notre Dame and scored 11 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. Fifth-year senior center Garrick Sherman scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds to pace the Irish.
“[Sherman] has to be a really rock solid guy for us and I think he can do that,” Brey said. “Why can’t he do that in his senior year like many of the guys in our program?”
All four freshmen saw the court in the victory. Mishawaka, Ind., native Demetrius Jackson entered five minutes into the game to a loud applause from the crowd. The freshman guard scored his first points late in the first half to give the Irish a 48-28 lead heading into the locker room and scored 10 points and recorded four assists in the game. Notre Dame finished the half on a 26-5 run after the Greyhounds hung around for most of the first half.
Junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton scored 12 points and led the Irish with nine rebounds Monday.
Freshman guard Steve Vasturia made both of his 3-point attempts in the first half and scored eight in the game. Freshman forward V.J. Beachem contributed with an impressive finger roll at the 5:11 mark in the first half to cap a 9-0 Irish run.
“I was so pleased that when we played young guys, they [did not commit turnovers],” said Brey, who noted that the 29-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio has been a hallmark of the program in recent years. “I thought our veterans set the tone and every young guy we put in the game looked like he had been there before and contributed.”
Junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton displayed the versatility Brey praised in the preseason by performing at both the 3- and 4-positions. He led the Irish in points (9) and rebounds (4) at the half and finished with 12 and nine, respectively.
Even with a visible size advantage — Indianapolis’ tallest player is 6-foot-9 — the Irish struggled on the boards. The Greyhounds outrebounded Notre Dame 40-36 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds compared to seven for the Irish.
“I still think it’s a concern for us,” Brey said. “I think we couldn’t get our hands on enough of them tonight in one-and-done situations, so it put a lot of pressure on the offense. Fortunately we were able to be efficient.”
Indianapolis jumped out to a 9-4 lead by shooting 4-for-4 from the field against Notre Dame’s man-to-man defense. Brey switched to a 2-3 zone and the Greyhound offense slowed immediately.
Brey noted the effect of the NCAA rule change that highlights the enforcement of hand-checking rules in a game where a total of 38 fouls were called.
“They’re calling it close and they call it on both ends and the games are longer,” Brey said. “I like the rule. I think it’s better for us because we’re a smart team and we’re a smart program. I think we can play defense and keep our hands off for the most part.”
Notre Dame closes out exhibition play Friday at home at 9:00 against Tusculum. The team opens the regular season Nov. 8 against Miami (Ohio) at Purcell Pavilion.