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Ben Hansbrough Visits Practice

Oct 26, 2012, 8:52 PM EDT

This week was the final stretch of preparation for Notre Dame basketball. The season starts off on Monday with an exhibition game against Quincy, and on Thursday, the team went its hardest in a final scrimmage.

Head coach Mike Brey was greeting the referees when his former point guard, Ben Hansbrough, walked onto the court. The NBA rookie couldn’t even sit down before Brey rushed over to give him a hug.

Hansbrough may be coming back to Notre Dame as an NBA player, but he wasn’t wearing Pacers gear when he came to practice. It was a surprise to no one that his shirt read Notre Dame.

“Just being in this arena is exciting for me,” he said. “I’ve still got teammates and friends playing.”

That seems like an understatement. All of the upperclassmen have played with Hansbrough, and they greeted him like a long lost brother.

Hansbrough himself was pleased to be back. He watched the scrimmage with a basketball in his hands, tapping his feet restlessly and coaching his old teammates under his breath.

“Give it to Jack, give it to Jack,” he muttered when Jack Cooley was looking for the ball.

At one point, Scott Martin shot a three-pointer, and Hansbrough made a swish noise moments before the ball went in.

source:  Martin was more than just a teammate to Hansbrough—the two lived together for multiple years when they were both students at Notre Dame. Their bond is especially obvious when the two sat down to talk after the scrimmage. Hansbrough remarked that after the practice, the two were heading out to dinner.

Hansbrough speaks, too, about the progress of Eric Atkins, who played under him when Hansbrough was the starter.

“He’s going to get better and better as time goes on,” Hansbrough explained. “He ran last year’s team, but I’m sure we haven’t even seen the best of Eric yet.”

With the season starting in just three days, the hope is that Hansbrough’s right—that we haven’t seen the best of Atkins yet, but also that the best of Notre Dame basketball is yet to come.

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