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Irish Look to Escape the Winter Blues

Jan 24, 2013, 4:04 PM EDT

Photo by Joe Raymond AP

Following a frigid week in South Bend, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team heads to South Florida this evening, and the Irish are hoping it’s more than just the weather that warms up in Tampa.

Just minutes before Notre Dame and Alabama met in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7, the Irish defeated Cincinnati to improve to 14-1 on the season.

But since that impressive road victory, the team has dropped three of its last four games. On Monday, the Irish shot just 35% from the field and fell to Georgetown, 63-47, in one of the worst home losses in recent memory.

On his radio show the next day, head coach Mike Brey announced that tri-captain forward Scott Martin is out idefinitely, due to recurring problems in his left knee.

One-third of the way through the BIG EAST schedule, the Irish are at a bit of a crossroads. At this point last season, they were 12-8 overall and 4-3 in the conference, and coming off of the memorable upset of #1 Syracuse that sparked a nine-game winning streak.

This year, Notre Dame is 15-4 with a 3-3 mark in conference play, and still trying to find itself in the BIG EAST. In Martin’s absence, Brey will have to shake up a starting lineup that has played together for much of the past season and a half.

Averaging 17.2 minutes per game, freshman Cam Biedscheid seems like the most likely candidate to fill the void in place of Martin. Biedscheid has shown great promise during his first season with the Irish, but struggled mightily against the Hoyas, finishing 0-for-8 from the field.

This was a team with high expectations when the season began in November, and even without Martin, it’s a team built upon veteran players – one that is still very capable of accomplishing a lot between now and March. And as college basketball proves to us year in and year out, anything can happen once we get to March.

The Irish will look to bounce back against the Bulls on Saturday at noon ET on the Big East Network, before returning home to face Villanova on Wednesday at 6 pm ET.

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Welcome to In The Paint, the official blog providing in-depth and exclusive access to the Notre Dame basketball programs. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the Purcell Pavilion, we are committed to bringing you coverage of the Fighting Irish unlike any you can find elsewhere.

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