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The New Journey Begins

Oct 28, 2013, 11:54 PM EDT

Pat Connaughton played well in the first of two exhibition contests for the Irish Pat Connaughton played well in the first of two exhibition contests for the Irish

Mike Franz, the official 2013-14 men’s basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College. Over the course of the year Mike will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

The Notre Dame Men’s Basketball team played their first exhibition game of the season against the University of Indianapolis on Monday at Purcell Pavilion. Although the team got off to a little shaky start, once Notre Dame got rolling there was no stopping them. The Irish handled the Greyhounds, defeating them 95-69.

The four freshman (Demetrius Jackson, V.J. Beachem, Austin Torres, Steve Vasturia) played extremely well, with all four of them scoring at least one bucket in their first game with the squad. However, the upperclassmen stole the show tonight with an absolute clinic on the offensive side of the ball.

The two seniors from Maryland, Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, proved why they are the leaders of this team. Scoring 13 and 14 points, respectively, this tandem is a force to be reckoned with this season. Grant and Atkins have some of the best communication between one  another on the court, knowing exactly where the other is at all times.

This was best exemplified tonight when Atkins was inbounding the ball in the middle of the second half. Atkins threw a little alley-oop in front of the basket with Grant charging in from the top of the key, unbeknownst to the players of Indianapolis, to put in the easy layup.

Another East Coast student-athlete, Pat Connaughton, made his presence known to the Greyhounds. This junior proved he can not only throw a wicked curve ball as a pitcher for the Irish baseball team, but he also can score buckets from inside the paint as well. This multi-sport Irish student-athlete ended the game with 12 points.

The things that impressed me with Connaughton were his ability to stay strong when underneath the basket and get chances to complete the “old school” three-point play, along with his free throw shooting ability going a perfect 3-3 from the line.

The real star of the game for me was Garrick Sherman. Scoring 21 points in the game, rebounding the ball well, and being that big presence underneath the basket were just a few of the things that Sherman did well tonight in Purcell. With Knight and Auguste out due to injury, it was great seeing this grad student from Ohio step up and be that big guy underneath that players could toss a pass down to and have Sherman put it in for the easy bucket.

Head Coach Mike Brey was really proud of Sherman’s performance tonight, saying “Sherman’s gotta be a really rock solid guy for us and I think he can do that.”

Brey suggested this was the start of a great senior year for this kid. “Guys have great senior years here… Why can’t he?”

This game tonight was a great showing of what is to come for these four upperclassmen and the rest of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team this upcoming season. Notre Dame’s last exhibition game is this Friday, November 1, against Tusculum at 9 PM in Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised for free online at WatchND.tv.

About In The Paint

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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