Oct. 27, 2013
Exhibition Game 1
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 2013-14 season has finally arrived for the University of Notre Dame men's basketball team, well sort of. While exhibition games don't count in terms of records and statistics for the year, these contests allow coaches to evaluate personnel and they give teams the opportunity to play against opponents other than themselves.
Monday night's matchup against the University of Indianapolis at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center at 7 p.m. (ET) is the first of two exhibition contests for head coach Mike Brey and his Fighting Irish squad this week. Notre Dame entertains Tusculum College on Friday night.
Exhibition games for the fans are just that, exhibition games. But for coaches and players it proves to be a litmus test in many ways and Brey and his staff will get an opportunity to play individuals in certain game situations.
With four starters returning from last year's squad that finished 25-10, Brey has a pretty good idea of his core nucleus for the season. But from these two exhibition games, someone could emerge.
One of those players looking to take on a bigger role this season is sophomore forward Austin Burgett, a 6-9, 214-pound forward from Avon, Ind. Burgett who averaged 0.6 points and 0.6 rebounds in 18 games during the 2012-13 season, has played well for the Irish so far in practice and is a player Brey has pointed to throughout the preseason.
"I've been very pleased by Austin during preseason and throughout the summer," Brey says. "He's been playing awfully well of late and he is going to be someone that we want to be able to count on this season. Austin can have a big impact for us this season because he gives us that face-up man at the four spot on the floor where we can play smaller and open up the floor. We've had a lot of success on past teams I've had playing that way."
Burgett, who played just 60 minutes during his freshman campaign, may find himself in a unique position on Monday night -- in the starting lineup. The Irish are likely to be without the services of Tom Knight (back spasms) and Zach Auguste (broken wrist) and they are not scheduled to return until the regular-season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 8. That leaves Burgett to fill the second frontline spot along with senior Garrick Sherman.
"I'm really looking forward to these first two exhibition games," Burgett says. "It's a lot different for me this year. I'm anxious to see how we play together as a team and see what the rotation is. I feel like this year is different that last year. I want to see how well I can play and what I can do for this team. I really want to contribute."
The difference Burgett notes from last year to this year is his growing confidence and maturity as a player. In the preseason, Brey noted that what he wanted most from Burgett this season is for him to be "hungrier about the game on a daily basis."
"I really want to play more confidently this season, look for my shot more often and play better defense," Burgett says of how he can help this team early on and earn playing time on the court. "My goal is to be the sixth man coming off the bench on a consistent basis. I know right now that there are other guys in there who are going to be in the role as starters, but I just want to come in right away and hit shots. I believe that I can be most effective for the team that way and that's something that I've really focused on in the preseason.
"I like how I'm playing right now and how this team is playing. We're really close and we're just excited to get the season started. Monday night is going to be good for us because it's going to show us where we are at this point into our practices and the season."