Undefeated and Nationally Ranked Notre Dame Getting Stability from Atkins

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Entering the college basketball season, Notre Dame knew that the primary issue was “who’s going to run the point?” with Tory Jackson, the second leading assist man in school history, graduated.

“You go right into the issue of Tory Jackson leaving the building, you had the ball in his hands 38 minutes a game and you didn’t have to worry, and the toughness factor, and maybe more than anything how he led and helped me manage the locker room,” Head Coach Mike Brey said at Media Day.

Whoever takes over though had one advantage going for them.

“Trying to stay old with the guys who are on the floor for us is very important and we managed our roster to try and be that with red-shirts and transfers and bringing guys along earlier in their careers,” Brey continued.

What about Eric Atkins, the highly heralded freshman from Baltimore?

“He certainly has to be a big part of things, he is the one true guy who has played the position for us. What helps the so-called point guard, we have a team that handles the ball pretty well as a group and that takes the pressure off just one guy,” Brey said.

So far, the results have been promising. Atkins is sporting a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, 47% 3 pt, and 51% from the field. He was the co-leader in scoring on Sunday as the Irish beat the Wisconsin Badgers in the Old Spice Classic title game. They stayed undefeated and earned the #25 spot in this week’s poll, their first antional ranking of the season.

ND won its third in-season tournament title in 11 seasons under Brey. The 7-0 mark also matched the 2001-02 team for Brey’s best start at Notre Dame.

Atkins, who’s favorite player is Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, said he talks with Tory a lot and the most important advice he receives is just to always be confident.

Brey’s standard policies in the way he deals with freshmen has helped too. “I think I have to be more forgiving, more positive and a confidence giver completely,” he said.

So far this early season, the Irish have oodles on confidence, and plenty to be confident about.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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