Notre Dame men's basketball: An Irish house divided

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

Given his hometown and its passion for a certain professional team, Notre Dame sophomore swingman Cameron Biedscheid had no choice when it came time to establish a baseball allegiance.

He couldn't possibly root for the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees. He couldn't like the Tampa Bay Rays or, God forbid, the Chicago Cubs or Cincinnati Reds. None of those teams would be tolerated around the neighborhood.

“If you're from St. Louis and you're not a Cardinals guy, something's wrong,” Biedscheid said. “You have no choice. The Cards, everyone loves the Cards.”

Same holds true in Boston for its baseball team. A native of Arlington, Mass., Irish junior Pat Connaughton is a proud member of Red Sox Nation.

“We have a pretty good sports city,” he said. “It's something cool to follow even out here in Indiana.”

Even with football heading into the home stretch and basketball ready to kick into another gear across college campuses, baseball still matters for some. For the next week, the Irish men's basketball locker room is a house divided of sorts with the Cardinals and Red Sox in the World Series.

Game One in Boston ended late Wednesday. Game Two is Thursday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Busch Stadium for games three, four and five on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“It's city on city for me and Cam right now,” Connaughton said.

Biedscheid will root on his hometown team to win its 12th World Series title and third since 2006. Connaughton hopes the Red Sox can remain on their season-long roll long enough to win its eighth championship. Fellow New England native Zach Auguste (Marlborough, Mass.) may get in on the act, but Biedscheid will hear none of it.

“Zach tries to act like he knows about the Red Sox,” Biedscheid said. “But every time Coach (Mike) Brey asks him to name five Red Sox on the current roster, Zach says, 'I've got to talk to Pat real quick.'”

The 6-foot-8 Biedscheid was a pitcher in middle school. He wore No. 50 in honor of St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright. Biedscheid's favorite Cardinal was a star before Biedscheid was born — center fielder Willie McGee who helped St. Louis win the 1982 World Series and was the 1985 National League most valuable player.

After leaving St. Louis to play for three other teams, including the Red Sox, McGee closed his career as a Cardinal in 1999. Biedscheid was too young to remember his glory days, but the stories suffice.

“I used to think he was the best,” Biedscheid said. “He was icy. He had swag.”

Watching the Series open at Fenway Park made Connaughton wish he could get back home for a game. Forget the new stadiums of today. Connaughton will take the old red-brick structure on Yawkey Way built in 1912 over all of them.

“Fenway is old school,” said Connaughton. “It's cool for someone young like myself who can still experience what baseball used to be like 100 years ago in that park.

“It's just an intense atmosphere.”

Connaughton was all worked up late Saturday when the Red Sox won the American League pennant, but it had little to do with Shane Victorino's game-changing grand slam. Having attended the Southern California football game at Notre Dame Stadium, Connaughton hustled back to his dorm to catch the final few innings of the Boston-Detroit contest. Only he couldn't find it on his TV guide. He knew it was on the local Fox affiliate, but since the game ran late, all that showed on the schedule was a Modern Family rerun.

Connaughton took to Twitter to ask someone, anyone, for channel counsel. Teammate Demetrius Jackson finally texted him to turn on channel 9.

“Luckily, I found it,” Connaughton said. “It was crazy.”

Also a pitcher on the Irish baseball team with very real pro potential, Connaughton couldn't help but feel for Detroit's Max Scherzer, who had been sailing along with eight strike-outs and one run allowed through 6.1 innings before the bullpen crumbled.

“He pitched good enough to win,” Connaughton said.

Prior to winning the World Series in 2004, generations of Boston fans never got to experience the ultimate following its title in 1918. Connaughton may see it happen for a third time in the last 10 years.

“We're spoiled,” he said.

Don't go planning any Duck Boat parades through Copley Square just yet, Biedscheid said.

“It's going to be fun watching with those guys how the Cardinals are going to beat up the Red Sox,” he said. “Because that's definitely going to be the outcome.”

Yoga? You bet

Doing absolutely nothing one particular Sunday afternoon earlier this fall, fifth-year senior power forward Tom Knight fielded a question by a friend.

Would the 6-foot-10, 258-pound Knight want to join her on campus for a session of hot yoga - — known as Bikram Yoga? Believing the question to be a joke, Knight agreed.

“I was like, 'OK, I'll go with you,'” Knight said. “She was like, 'OK…..it's really hard.' I was like, 'It's not going to be hard.”

Knight walked into the room, which had a special humidifier that helped crank the temperature close to 100 degrees for the hour-long class. High temperatures aside, it didn't take Knight long to break a sweat during the session.

“I did it and was like, 'This is hard.'”

But it was good. Really good. So good in fact that after the class was over, Knight asked if he could go back for the next session two days later. He hasn't missed one since, and can feel how it's helped.

“My body feels so much better,” he said. “I feel amazing. I have more energy. I feel younger than my fifth year.”

Except when a movement calls for a standing triangle pose. If Knight has to put a foot in the air and balance, forget it.

“My hips don't allow that to happen,” he said.

Something on Knight — his hips, a knee, a foot, his ankles — always seemed to hurt during previous preseasons. But as Monday's exhibition opener against Indianapolis nears, Knight has managed to keep his distance from the trainer's room. He credits the hot yoga, and has pushed to get some of his teammates involved. Guard Jerian Grant has shown the most interest.

“It's a good way to get relaxed after a long day and stretch out after practice,” Knight said. “It's good for overall fitness.”

Notre Dame forward Cameron Biedscheid, left, will be rooting for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER