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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame
vs. St. Xavier
What: Exhibition game
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Associated Press
Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis joins fellow forward Scott Martin as the only returning starters for the Irish this season.

Irish set for season to tip off

3 new starters to play in exhibition tonight

Notre Dame takes the first step in reshaping its men’s basketball team today when it plays host to St. Xavier in a 7:30 p.m. exhibition game.

The Irish, who went 27-7 and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament, are replacing starters Ben Hansbrough, Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash this season.

“Obviously with Ben and Carleton and Ty leaving there’s a void for guys to step up,” said forward Tim Abromaitis, who will play in Notre Dame’s two exhibition games but has to sit out the first four games this season because of a misunderstanding about eligibility rules.

“We’ve really been working hard, and I think we’re ready to step up to the plate.”

Abromaitis and senior Scott Martin are the only two returning starters. Abromaitis is the team’s leading scorer after averaging 15.4 points last season, and Martin averaged 9.7.

They will be counted on to fill the leadership void left by Hansbrough, who was the Big East player of the year last season.

“I will speak up when it’s needed, and so will Tim,” Martin said. “Between the two of us, we make sure we get the message across. We are definitely two guys who tend to lead more through example, but there are times when things need to be said. And one of us will say it.”

Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.2 assists in 25.4 minutes per game, and junior forward Jack Cooley, who averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game, will likely move into the starting lineup after being the Irish’s top reserves last season.

Notre Dame will need to find a fifth starter and lineup depth from numerous players who have been with the program for a while but haven’t been called on to contribute.

Guard Joey Brooks and forwards Mike Broghammer and Tom Knight are juniors. Guards Jerian Grant, Alex Dragicevich and Patrick Crowley are sophomores, and the lone freshman is guard Pat Connaughton.

“I think we have a lot of really good candidates because only one of them is a freshman,” coach Mike Brey said. “The other ones have been in our program, and usually when we ask those guys to step forward that have been in our program, they’ve been pretty successful. Never have we counted on so many of them to earn a NCAA tournament bid

“I love the fact that (Jerian) Grant, (Alex) Dragicevich, (Tom) Knight, certainly (Joey) Brooks, (Mike) Broghammer, they’ve all been around and felt it for the last couple years. And they’ve been around some good stuff. So I’m counting on that for some osmosis to help.”