Notre Dame basketball freshmen a cut above
That's the way it has seemed through the early stages of the Notre Dame men's basketball practice for freshmen Zach Auguste, Cameron Biedscheid, Austin Burgett and Eric Katenda. Adjusting to the ways of the Irish basketball world has meant learning a whole new language, and hearing words that rarely were part of their vocabulary as high school hot-shots.
"Feeding the post is a real key thing in our offense," said Irish coach Mike Brey.
Once the group got those words down, it was on to phrases they will hear constantly in every practice.
Trust your teammate.
Swing the ball.
When in doubt, cut.
The last one is new to even Brey's lexicon, something he just happened to say while speaking at a coaching clinic earlier this month at the University of Indianapolis. Counseling a veteran group of Indianapolis players, Brey kept his message simple -- when in doubt, cut.
"That's one I think we have to come back to," he said. "We really added cutting in our offense the last couple years and that's helped us. Guys really get it."
While the Irish veterans have often been left to do what they do best early this preseason, Brey has made it a point and a priority to spend a few moments during each workout with the new guys, either individually or as a group. Several teaching moments often surface during a certain drill or scrimmage situation.
One recent segment required two defensive players to deny two offensive players good scoring position while playing halfcourt defense. On Saturday, the second day of practice, Burgett and Katenda were paired against Auguste and Biedscheid. After one rotation through the drill, Brey gathered the group for a quick word before sending all of them back through the sequence a second time.
"That is a drill that is really important for them, yes for defensive position but more so for learning how to talk, learning the communication in our system," Brey said. "Just trying to help them and reinforce and teach them."
While the freshmen have tried to digest all the information thrown their way, Brey has learned something in watching them work. Auguste and Biedscheid play with high levels of energy and athleticism -- Biedscheid on the perimeter and Auguste underneath. That has allowed Brey to ponder putting them in the game at the same time as subs.
Senior center Garrick Sherman is entrenched as the sixth man -- the first Irish in off the bench. But Brey sees a scenario where Auguste and Biedscheid are sent to the scorer's table together as seventh men.
"Here they come off the bench together," Brey said. "They both give a different kind of spark."