Dec 10, 2013, 9:09 AM EDT
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.
Notre Dame played their second regional round game in the Gotham Classic against Bryant University Monday night at Purcell Pavilion. Although Bryant made a couple runs here and there, the Irish remained focused and never gave up the lead in the second half, beating the Bulldogs 70-59 in front of 7,300 fans.
The leading scorers for the Irish squad included Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton and Garrick Sherman scoring 23, 17 and 14 points respectively. One Irish player who is usually a leading scorer for the team who has not been the past two games is senior Eric Atkins.
The Maryland native scored three points on Monday and two points in the Delaware game on Saturday. This is very strange territory for the veteran point guard as he has been averaging 13.6 points a game. A dry spell is a part of basketball and every player goes through it – that is why you have teammates to pick up the slack and score buckets when you are struggling. Atkins has great teammates, which helped the Irish to victory tonight.
Although Atkins is struggling shooting the ball, he is playing very well in other aspects of the game. He racked up six total rebounds tonight and four assists in the team’s victory. As usual, Atkins was the team’s facilitator tonight.
This year players will have to understand their role during each game. Atkins understood tonight that he was being double teamed by Bryant players so he got his boards and passed the ball off to his open teammates for the good looks at the basket.
Three Notes I Made During The Game
1) Bryant Represents Australia Pride – The Bryant Bulldogs have four Australian players on their roster this year. When I heard all the Australian accents on the court I wanted to yell “Crikey!!!” in honor of the late Steve Irwin.
2) Costly Turnovers – Although Notre Dame held onto their lead in the second half, their lead kept dwindling because of a lot turnovers by veteran leaders like Sherman and Grant. The way the team was making these turnovers was extremely sloppy. To a point it almost looked like the Notre Dame players were trying to pass the ball to Bryant. This falls directly on communication; something the team will have to do much better going into the second half of their schedule.
3) Free Throws = Gold – Tonight the Irish shot 28 free throws and made 21 of them. This year, when the Irish shoot more free throws than their opponent they are undefeated. Shooting 75% from the line helped the Irish keep the Bulldogs at bay and improved the team’s record to 7-2.
Notre Dame has an off day on Tuesday and then play their final regional round game of the Gotham Classic against North Dakota State at 7:00 PM in Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday. This will be their fourth game in 11 days. Notre Dame needs every fan’s support during this tough stretch. And if you need another reason to go to the game on Wednesday evening, I have it on very good authority that one Digger Phelps, will be dressing up as Mother Ginger and performing a piece from the Nutcracker ballet during halftime.
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