Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 18, 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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48 NOV. 18, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED MEN'S BASKETBALL BY JACK SOBLE G uards Markus Burton, Braeden Shrewsberry and Logan Imes didn't play like freshmen on All Saints' Day Nov. 1 in an exhibition game against Division III Hanover. They were Notre Dame's three lead- ing scorers with 18, 14 and 14 points, respectively, while helping the Irish cruise to a 96-62 win. The Hanover exhibition served as a tune-up game for Notre Dame head coach Micah Shrewsberry's first season, which began against Niagara Nov. 6 in South Bend. Notre Dame will stay home for a Nov. 11 afternoon tilt against Western Car- olina before traveling to the Bar- clays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Legends Classic Nov. 16-17. In Brooklyn, the Irish will face Auburn on the first night and either Oklahoma State or St. Bonaventure the next. Burton stood out first against Hanover, scoring at all three levels and finishing through contact with his 5-foot-11 frame. Then it was the younger Shrewsberry, catching fire from three-point range and finishing 4 of 8 on the night. Imes made 2 quick threes in a row to start the second half and scored efficiently, shooting 5 of 6 from the field. He also led the team with 3 assists. After the game, the elder Shrewsberry said his freshman guards are confident. And he's incredibly confident in them. "They fit me," Shrewsberry said. "If you look at the rankings, nobody thought Braeden was any good. Nobody thought Markus was any good. Nobody thought Logan was any good. Those guys come out every single day to prove how good they are." Burton and Braeden Shrewsberry didn't feel any nerves entering their first college games, which were also their first college starts. They know the Irish will have to count on them this season. "Honestly, our coaches always told us, 'Just be confident,' Burton said. "Basket- ball is basketball, and if you can put the basketball in the goal, that's all it takes." "We don't have a lot of older guards to rely on and learn from, so we really had to come in from Day 1 and be one of the main guys," Braeden Shrewsberry said. "Just finding my spots to win that game." Even though the game was just an ex- hibition, it was a special night for Burton and Shrewsberry. Burton, who gradu- ated from Mishawaka Penn High School, played in front of friends and family in his hometown. He didn't know exactly how many supporters he had at the game, but he certainly received the loudest cheer in starting lineup introductions. Shrewsberry was playing for his dad for the first time, with his brother, Nick sitting behind the bench. The emotions set in when he heard the sounds of pre- game at Notre Dame. "It was pretty surreal to go out there, hear the fight song and the 'Here come the Irish' in the warm-ups, I was get- ting chills," Shrewsberry said. "It was a really good experience for my family." Micah Shrewsberry, on the other hand, felt none of that — at least during the game. When he saw his oldest son streak across the half court and splash a catch-and-shoot three-pointer, his first instinct was, "Get back on defense." Incidentally, Shrewsberry did not believe the Irish did that enough. "I didn't think we sprinted back on defense," Shrewsberry said. "Too much celebrating after makes instead of sprinting and turning around. I thought that was part of why we started slow." The slow start he referenced was real. Sophomore forward Kebba Njie scored the first basket of the game to put the Irish up 2-0, but Hanover responded quickly and built a 15-11 lead. "Expect to score," Shrewsberry said. "You don't have to be cele- brating or doing some kind of cele- bration on the way back, man. Turn around and build a wall on defense." Shrewsberry thought his son, among others, checked out at some point in the second half. If you play for Notre Dame, Shrewsberrry said, you play the same way for 40 min- utes no matter what the score is. Seven second-half turnovers irked Shrewsberry, too. He made his players aware that he wouldn't let that slide. "Four in the first four minutes," Shrewsberry said. "I knew. I let 'em know, too. There's no moment that's gonna go by. I'm not coaching the score." Defensively, Shrewsberry was disap- pointed Notre Dame didn't pick up an ac- tion that the team had walked through in a recent practice, and Hanover ran it about four times, he recalled. The Irish left too many shooters open off switches, which will hurt them more against ACC teams. There's no excuse for that, Shrews- berry said, but he thought the team guarded well overall. "We're still building our defensive system," Shrewsberry said. "We've gotta get good at our defensive system." That will be a consistent theme in Shrewsberry's first season in South Bend: building. ✦ Irish Freshmen Shine In Debut, But Still Much To Improve Freshman guard Markus Burton tallied a team-high 18 points in Notre Dame's 96-62 exhibition win over Division III Hanover Nov. 1. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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