Notre Dame men's basketball: Biedscheid watches ND's victory
SOUTH BEND - Hands clasped at his waist and chomping on chewing gum in front of the Notre Dame bench, sophomore swingman Cameron Biedscheid watched his teammates run through layup lines before the second half of Monday's exhibition opener against Indianapolis.
The sight of Biedscheid off to the side and in street clothes may be a common occurrence this season.
In what was supposed to be a routine evening of a one-sided exhibition opener for Notre Dame — which led by as many as 28 points, placed six scorers in double figures and won 95-69 — became a whole lot more interesting with news that Biedscheid, a Top 30 recruit in 2012, wants to sit out this season to preserve a year of eligibility.
This summer, Irish coach Mike Brey and his staff kicked around the idea of holding back Biedscheid to get stronger and more mature. This past weekend, Biedscheid walked into Brey's office and told him that he too was thinking that a year off might be best for his game.
“It's something we want to talk about with him and his family,” Brey said. “It may be the best thing for him in the long run. It's kind of an on-going discussion.
“We've never forced it on a guy. A guy's going to want to do it.”
A native of St. Louis, Biedscheid appeared in 34 of 35 games as a freshman. He averaged 6.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes a game. He shot 35.6 percent from the floor, 30.3 percent from 3 and 81.8 percent from the foul line.
Biedscheid was unavailable for comment after the game. During media day last month, Biedscheid told the Tribune that last season's extended struggles with his confidence and his shot helped drive him this summer to be better. There were times during scrimmages when he was the best player on the court.
“I buckled down and took everything in that was given to me, the feedback” Biedscheid said. “It motivated and drove me in the offseason to come back better to the team.”
“It was a big summer for him and he delivered,” Brey said.
Biedscheid often worked as the team's sixth man last season and would be a key reserve off the bench this year. But none of that is guaranteed given the depth of the current roster.
“It's crazy,” Biedscheid said last month. “There's talent all over the floor.”
It's that talent from freshmen V.J. Beachem, Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia, all of whom played well in their respective debuts Monday, that can allow Brey and Biedscheid to entertain any thought of a five-year plan.
“We've got a lot of guys on the perimeter who can play,” Brey said. “I don't think you can even consider from what's best for our team unless your freshmen guards have been really impressive and consistent and solid.
“All three of them have been.”
Jackson, the former Marian standout and McDonald's All-American, scored 10 points with four assists in 21 minutes.
“It feels good to finally put the jersey on,” Jackson said.
Biedscheid will sit out Friday's exhibition finale against Tusculum (Ohio). Even if a decision is made sometime next week for him to go the five-year route, he still could play — and lose that additional year — at any time this season.
Current Irish Jerian Grant and Tom Knight each sat out seasons to preserve eligibility. Also going the five-year route in recent years under Brey were Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott.
Abromaitis sat out as a sophomore.
Sophomore Austin Burgett was offered the chance to go on the five-year plan last season but declined. He played sparingly last year, then made his first collegiate start Monday and delivered 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals in 25 minutes.
“I was just able to come in and fill a role, play my game,” Burgett said. “Playing consistently is going to be a big thing, coming out every night and showing what you can do.”
Notre Dame was without the services of three others who are hurt. Zach Auguste is still recovering from a broken left hand suffered in practice earlier this month. Sophomore power forward Eric Katenda is out for the next six weeks following right knee surgery and Knight sat out because of back spasms.
The only healthy true power forward, Garrick Sherman, scored a game-high 21 points on 10-of-14 from the floor. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
“It was fun just to get out and play again,” Sherman said. “I played pretty well.”
Indianapolis hit its first four shots against Notre Dame's man-to-man defense. The Irish then went to a 2-3 zone and delivered three consecutive stops, which helped flip a 9-4 deficit to a 9-9 game. Notre Dame trailed 23-22 at the 8:43 mark of the first half before closing on a 26-5 run. Effectively mixing man and zone, going big or playing small, old or really young, the Irish held the Greyhounds to one field goal the final 8:43.
Reece Cheatham led Indianapolis with 14 points.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said coach Stan Gouard. “This is a good experience for us.”
Notre Dame led in the first half by as many as 22 (48-26) when the first two Michiana natives to sign under Brey — Jackson and Penn's Austin Torres — tag-teamed on the break for a bucket. Torres flipped a pass to Jackson, who scored his first basket to cap a 17-1 run.
It was one of 29 assists for the Irish.
“That was a fun night,” Brey said. “We were able to be efficient. It's a good start for us.”