By Tom Noie, South Bend Tribune
11:54 PM EST, November 12, 2012
SOUTH BEND — Explaining away his first game at Notre Dame as one that didn't work out well simply because of nerves would have been too easy for senior center Garrick Sherman.
Leaving Purcell Pavilion late last week following his first college basketball experience in far too long after sitting out last season as a transfer from Michigan State, Sherman refused to lean on any excuse — he just had to play better.
On Monday, Sherman looked like a totally different guy. He looked like the guy who tore it up on a regular basis in high school back in Kenton, Ohio.
Active and aggressive on both ends and crafty and consistent and relentless around the basket from the minute he checked in early in the first half, Sherman scored a career-high 22 points with nine rebounds in 22 minutes as No. 20 Notre Dame rolled to an 84-57 victory over Monmouth in the second round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
“I played terrible the other night,” said Sherman, who had three points, three rebounds and four turnovers in 15 minutes Saturday against Evansville. “I don't think I was aggressive enough and I was a little too passive trying to come in and not screw anything up.
“I wasn't playing the way I'm capable of playing.”
Sherman decided that would change Monday. But he didn't get geared up for the game by listening to any motivational speeches in his orange headphones during warm-ups. He just followed his same routine — be consistent, be steady, but just slow down, embrace the moment and go play.
Then he was the best player on the court, something that seldom has happened in his collegiate career.
“It was all my mentality,” he said. “Tonight when I was in, I was going to do what I do and just be aggressive and play my game.”
Irish senior Jack Cooley added 16 points and nine rebounds. Having spent his freshman season as practice fodder for Luke Harangody, the senior tri-captain insisted that guarding Sherman is every bit the challenge as it was trying to slow the former Irish All-American and second-leading scorer in school history.
“You'll play your best defense you can possibly play, textbook post defense and then they score,” Cooley said. “Garrick does that. All. The. Time. That's how he plays. He's just going to score on you.
“It's hard to find any player that can come off the bench and do that, especially a big who can give you rebounds and points like that.”
Sherman's solid work allowed the Irish (2-0) to dominate the final numbers. Notre Dame finished with 40 points in the paint and a 42-24 rebounding advantage. The Irish scored 49 points in the second half, had 28 points off turnovers, 18 second-chance points and 37 points from the bench.
Sherman tag-teamed with fellow reserve Cameron Biedscheid to give the Irish, who were as lifeless as the rest of Purcell Pavilion at the start, an early booster shot of energy. Shortly after the two checked in, Notre Dame found some zest and ran off a 12-2 spurt that saw a tie game become a 10-point Irish advantage.
“We were just able to come in off the bench and give our team a spark,” Biedscheid said. “I was just really trying to attack the lane and really just move and find the open guy.”
Biedscheid scored nine points with five assists in 23 minutes, all career highs for the freshman in his second game.
“He wants to be coached; he wants to be good,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “I think he's trying to please his teammates and his coaches by being easy to play with.”
Dion Nesmith, who previously played quarterback at Northeastern before transferring and turning his attention to hoops, led Monmouth with 13 points. The Hawks committed 18 turnovers and shot 38.9 percent from the floor, 18.2 percent from 3. Monmouth (1-1) had plenty of energy early, but it didn't last against a Notre Dame team that was just better in every phase.
“Hopefully someday we can get better and at least be able to give them a game,” said second-year Hawks coach King Rice. “I take my hat off to those kids, man, because they really know how to play basketball.
“They play the right way, they share the ball.”
Notre Dame finished with 24 assists.
Irish freshman Zach Auguste saw the first action of his collegiate career and was a factor in the low post. He finished with four points, three rebounds and two blocks in nine minutes.
“He is very active; there's a lot to work with,” Brey said. “He's going to be important for us long haul.”
Fellow freshman Austin Burgett, who had been a candidate to sit out the season and preserve a year of eligibility, scored two points with a rebound in the final two minutes. Sitting out no longer is an option. And that's OK.
“He said, “I want to do it. I want to get in there,” Brey said. “Then we said, 'Great. No debate here.' So he's part of it.”
MONMOUTH (57): Marcus Ware 2-5 2-4 6, Ed Waite 3-6 0-0 6, Dion Nesmith 5-10 3-4 13, Jesse Steele 1-5 2-2 4, Andrew Nicholas 4-8 0-0 9, Max DiLeo 0-1 2-2 2, Christian White 1-4 0-0 3, Khalil Brown 2-6 0-2 4,
Jalen Palm 0-2 0-0 0, Tyrone O'Garro 1-1 0-0 2, Stephen Spinella 1-3 2-3 4, Gary Cox 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 21-54 13-19 57. Record: 1-1.
NOTRE DAME (84): Jack Cooley 4-6 8-12 16, Eric Atkins 2-4 0-0 5, Scott Martin 3-7 1-4 8, Jerian Grant 2-7 0-2 5, Pat Connaughton 5-10 0-0 13,
Cameron Biedscheid 4-10 1-1 9, Zach Auguste 2-3 0-0 4, Patrick Crowley
0-0 0-0 0, Garrick Sherman 8-10 6-7 22, Austin Burgett 1-1 0-0 2, Tom
Knight 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-58 16-26 84. Record: 2-0.
Halftime — Notre Dame 35-23. 3-Point Goals — Monmouth (NJ) 2-11
(Nicholas 1-3, White 1-3, Nesmith 0-1, Palm 0-2, Steele 0-2), Notre
Dame 6-21 (Connaughton 3-8, Martin 1-2, Atkins 1-2, Grant 1-4,
Biedscheid 0-5). Fouled Out — Waite, Ware. Rebounds — Monmouth (NJ) 24 (Brown, Nesmith, Ware 3), Notre Dame 42 (Cooley, Sherman 9). Assists — Monmouth (NJ) 13 (Steele 5), Notre Dame 24 (Atkins, Biedscheid, Connaughton, Grant 5). Total Fouls — Monmouth (NJ) 23, Notre Dame 17.
Technicals — Monmouth (NJ) Bench, Biedscheid. A — 7,427.
Staff writer Tom Noie:
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