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Notre Dame

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Irish taking new-season approach

Replacing Grant a major challenge

Grant

– Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey will get to work on a new plan for his team when the players return Thursday after Christmas break.

The Irish lost leading scorer Jerian Grant for the rest of the season when it was revealed Sunday in a statement by the senior guard that he is suspended for the spring semester because of what he called “an academic matter that I did not handle properly.”

“One of the things that I talked to my team about and will talk even more about is it is really like a new season,” Brey said during a teleconference Monday, which was the official end of the fall semester and the first time he said he could discuss Grant’s situation because of university policy.

“It’s like the beginning of a new season for us, and that’s kind of how we have to approach it.”

Brey has dealt with situations like this before in his 14 seasons with the Irish.

Guard Kyle McAlarney was suspended for the spring semester of the 2006-07 season after an arrest for marijuana possession.

The Irish also dealt with a knee injury that sidelined forward Luke Harangody for five games near the end of the season. He was able to return for the season finale and four postseason games in the 2009-10 season.

Notre Dame also lost forward Tim Abromaitis to a knee injury six games into the 2011-12 season and dealt with forward Scott Martin’s season ending with 17 games to go because of a knee injury last season. In each of those seasons, Notre Dame reached the NCAA tournament.

Brey said the loss of Grant was different, because the first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason selection was so important to the offense and the Irish (8-4) are set to begin their first season in the ACC when they play host to Duke on Jan. 4 after finishing the nonconference schedule at home against Canisius on Sunday.

Grant led the team in scoring (19 points per game), assists (6.2 per game) and steals (2.0).

“Being very up front, this one is going to be the hardest,” Brey said.

Senior guard Eric Atkins, who averages 11.8 points, and freshman guard Demetrius Jackson, who averages 7.6 points, will be counted on to score more with Grant out.

And Brey said he is going to keep an open mind as to how to replace Grant in the starting lineup and how to reset the rotation.

“I think you consider everything when you lose a player of this caliber,” Brey said.

The only two players who will not be part of the Irish’s plan going forward are sophomore forwards Cameron Biedscheid, who will continue to sit out as planned before the season to preserve a year of eligibility, and Eric Katenda, who is recovering from knee surgery.

Biedscheid may not be part of the Irish’s plans is upcoming seasons, either, as reports surfaced Monday evening that he would request a release from Notre Dame in order to transfer.

The university had no comments on the reports.

Freshman guards Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem, a former New Haven standout, could be included more.

Vasturia has averaged 1.4 points in 7.4 minutes per game, while Beachem has averaged 0.7 points in 4.3 minutes per game.

“I think in games, there is no question that Steve has had a little bit of the upper hand, but V.J.’s got to be part of things … and he is ready,” Brey said.

“I think the coaching staff looks and says we’ve got a lot to work with here and it’s our job to nurture V.J. even more.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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