Insistent that he will play this season with more confidence, junior swingman Joey Brooks has made good on that vow less than a week into preseason practice. He’s used his Big East-ready body (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) to be the consistent defender needed to replace Carleton Scott. Brooks also has become a better screener to get Tim Abromaitis, Eric Atkins and Scott Martin open for quality looks and has rebounded at a consistent clip.
"I’ve really been impressed with Joey Brooks," said coach Mike Brey. "I just feel really good where he’s at, what we need and him understanding that to have a big impact."
Brooks has been so good on one end of the floor that Brey joked he might have to offer the Houston native a promotion.
"I’ve told him at times, ‘Why can’t you just be our defensive coordinator?’" Brey wondered. "He’s got the best voice and he can guard. That can help us. That has stood out."
Brooks is in a mix with Patrick Connaughton, Alex Dragicevich and Jerian Grant all chasing the starting shooting guard spot opposite Atkins.
A bit player his first two seasons, Brooks believes he understands what it takes to be a good, consistent player at this level. Not all of it involves scoring and rebounding or defending. A good chunk of it is how he approaches the game from a mental standpoint — an area he admittedly has wrestled with in his collegiate career.
Brooks averaged 7.6 minutes last season — eighth-best on the squad. He averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds and struggled to make shots from all spots. He shot 35.3 percent from the field, 7.7 percent (1-for-13) from 3 and 45.9 percent from the foul line.
"I didn’t play with much confidence last year; I was playing not to make a mistake," he said. "I really feel that my confidence is at a level that it really has never been at since I’ve been at Notre Dame."
A sure sign of how the early practices are going can often be found by what Brey carries into workouts. In many years after four days, Brey is seldom without a bag of cough drops to soothe a hoarse voice.
Earlier this week, Brey arrived with a cup of his ever-present sweet iced tea. Cough drops have not been needed. With only one new eligible face — Connaughton — the Irish have moved through the teaching aspect of camp relatively easily — something Brey did not expect for a team with so many new pieces needing to find a place.
"Pat’s not like your typical freshman struggling to pick things us," he said. "He’s picked up our defensive philosophy and has fit in.
"We’ve moved almost as fast as last year putting stuff in. We’re quick."
nþNotre Dame has finalized plans for a foreign tour of Canada in August 2012 after the second summer school session ends. The Irish will get 10 practices leading into the trip, which will include a handful of exhibition games in the Toronto area.
Foreign tours are allowed by the NCAA every four years. Notre Dame has taken two — to Barbados (2003) and to Ireland (2008). The Irish have played in the post-season National Invitation Tournament in each season that has followed a foreign tour.
Notre Dame is scheduled for visits from nine prospects — one official visit, eight unofficial — for this weekend’s football game against USC.
Current commitments Zach Auguste (New Hampton, N.H.), V.J. Beachem (New Haven, Ind.) and Austin Burgett (Avon, Ind.) are expected. Burgett, who committed in September 2010, is the lone official visit. Guard Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka) and power forward Alex Foster (Chicago) are two of the prep juniors expected in on unofficial visits. The Irish have two scholarships to offer current prep juniors.
Auguste and Burgett, along with Cameron Biedscheid (St. Louis) are prep seniors who will sign their letters-of-intent next month. Biedscheid has homecoming this weekend at his high school (Cardinal Ritter Prep) and will not visit.Staff writer Tom Noie: