Procedure goes well for Notre Dame forward Burgett

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

Seeing a player limp through the Notre Dame men’s basketball office in the middle of winter seldom means good news.

But Irish coach Mike Brey couldn’t have been happier when he spotted sophomore power forward Austin Burgett in the hallway outside his office late Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Burgett underwent a two-hour outpatient cardiac procedure to address a rapid heartbeat that surfaced late in the first half of the Jan. 21 game at Florida State. The procedure required doctors to enter the femoral artery, one of the body’s largest and located in the thigh, which was cause for Burgett’s limp. Burgett told Brey that the area around his heart felt fine; it was the region around the incision that offered the most discomfort.

After spending a night in the university infirmary, Burgett stopped through with his parents to check in with Brey.

“He looked upbeat,” Brey said. “The procedure went as we thought. There were no surprises. Doctors feel they have fully addressed the issue.

“The good news is it was what they thought it was.”

Burgett suffered from junctional tachycardia. He first experienced the rapid heartbeat, which included a feeling of heaviness in the chest area and shortness of breath, during an AAU basketball tournament during his sophomore year of high school. That was the last time anything like that had happened before the episode in Tallahassee. He was immediately treated by the Florida State cardiologist with an Electrocardiogram (EKG) during the Irish loss before returning to campus.

Burgett planned to play through the scare and address the issue after the season or once it reoccurred. Twenty minutes into his first practice back, Burgett felt all the similar symptoms.

A procedure was scheduled for this week. He’s expected to be out seven to 10 days. Burgett will rejoin the Irish on Friday for practice – he’ll just watch – and be on the bench for Saturday’s home game against Boston College. He will remain on campus when the Notre Dame traveling party leaves Saturday for Central New York and Monday’s matchup against No. 2 Syracuse.

Burgett’s rehabilitation process will begin the middle of next week.

“It’s a very correctable non-life threatening issue,” Brey said.

Reassured that the procedure should allow Burgett’s heartbeat to return to its normal rhythm during strenuous activity, Brey is anxious to have him back in the mix. Prior to the episode against Florida State, Burgett was starting, and also starting to play his best basketball.

“I look forward to getting him back because he was playing well,” Brey said of the 6-foot-9 native of Avon, Ind. “We’ll be cautious with it. I’m glad we’ll get him back.

“We need him.”

Burgett plans to be back. He’s averaging 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15.7 minutes. He’s second on the squad with 15 blocks.

Strange situation

What already has been one weird year for myriad reasons around the Irish will be even more so this weekend for Brey.

For the first time during his tenure, Brey will work a game Saturday that features a player he recruited, signed and coached when Boston College junior guard Alex Dragicevich returns.

Part of a recruiting class that included guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, Dragicevich played two years at Notre Dame before transferring following the 2011-12 season. Playing his first season after sitting out last year under NCAA transfer regulations, Dragicevich is shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from 3 and 71.4 percent from the foul line.

“I have a lot of respect for Alex,” Brey said. “He was a part of a lot of big wins (48 in two seasons) here. He was helpful to us in the years that he was here.”

Dragicevich was a main guy during his sophomore season when Notre Dame ran off a school-record nine consecutive Big East wins. That streak was snapped in Madison Square Garden against St. John’s when his game-tying corner 3-pointer bounced off as time expired in a three-point loss.

It was earlier in that year when the win streak started following a loss at Rutgers that likely marked the beginning of the end for the 6-8 Dragicevich at Notre Dame. Coming out of that Rutgers loss, Brey juggled the starting lineup. In went then-freshman and now junior captain Pat Connaughton. Out went Dragicevich.

Connaughton has remained a starter since.

“I thoroughly understood why he decided to leave – more playing time and the reality is Connaughton really started going,” Brey said of Dragicevich. “That’s just college athletics.”

Dragicevich averaged more points (6.6), rebounds (1.8) and minutes (20.9) in his final season at Notre Dame than he has to date at Boston College, where he’s averaging 4.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 17.0 minutes. He scored eight points on 2-of-3 from 3 and two free throws in 22 minutes off the bench during Wednesday’s win over Virginia Tech.

“He really played well,” Brey said. “I think Alex has found a niche out there at BC. He certainly will be very ready to play against us.”

Dragicevich, through a Boston College spokesman, declined a Tribune interview request.

TNoie@SBTinfo.com 574-235-6153 Twitter: TNoie@NDInsider

Notre Dame forward Austin Burgett, left, and guard Steve Vasturia, right, go after a loose ball from Virginia Tech forward Joey Van Zegeren, center, during the Jan. 19 game at Notre Dame. Burgett is expected to be back with the Irish soon following Thursday's heart procedure. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER via FTP