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Notre Dame Basketball

Helping hand: Notre Dame hands out 22 assists, roles on hardwood

November 5, 2021

Notre Dame has completed the exhibition portion of its men's basketball schedule, and one thing seems consistent: the Fighting Irish are rather generous.

In fact, Mike Brey's squad is sharing at a remarkable clip.

Getting 22 assists against just 11 turnovers, Notre Dame pummeled visiting St. Norbert College, 78-44, Friday night inside Purcell Pavilion.

“As long as we keep sharing the ball,” Brey said postgame, “I don't have a problem with anybody.”

Doling out assists, to go along with strong offensive and improved rebounding, appears a strength of the Irish; they have 40 helpers through 80 minutes of preseason play.

In this game, the Irish outscored their guests 39-22 in each half. Paul Atkinson finished a board shy of another double-double, with 15 points and nine rebounds.

“I wanna keep reinforcing us sharing the ball like this,” Brey said. “Paul had a bunch of those passes where he's kicking out of the post and there's one more pass, that's his hockey assist.

“If we just keep moving the ball, I think we're going to get it. I think we've carried over our defensive stuff and are trying to be better there.”

While Nate Laszewski missed on each of his five 3-point attempts, the Irish senior post tallied 15 of Notre Dame's 45 rebounds.

Trey Wertz flourished off the bench for Notre Dame, after he had missed last week's exhibition opener with a sprained ankle. Wertz matched Atkinson's 15 points; he hit on 5-for-7 from distance.

“With Trey healthy, it was interesting to get a feel for just subbing those seven,” Brey said.

The Irish starting backcourt trio of Prentiss Hubb, Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin combined for 35 points and 11 assists.

Ahead just 12-8 nearly eight minutes into the game, Notre Dame outpaced its guests 27-14 into the intermission.

That closing run into intermission, coupled with a ratcheted-up defensive presence, carried the Irish. St. Norbert hit just 18-for-54 from the floor, only 2-for-15 from long-range.

“We have more depth and more guys,” Brey said. “Thank God everybody is healthy. I think we've made it clear, you're going to have to do what we ask you to do, starting with the defense. …

“I think over time, over time, No. 1 we're going to be better defensively. We've emphasized it more. Over time, our efficiency and shot-making ability can win out.”

Notre Dame added nine steals in this game and closed with 16 for the two exhibitions; the Irish made 11 of 15 free-throw attempts in the two practice games.

Now, the Irish initiate their season next Saturday against visiting Cal State Northridge. Tip is noon, and ACC Network Extra is carrying the telecast.

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