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Hansbrough, Martin look to make Irish stronger now

Thursday, June 19, 2008


AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin have two goals for the upcoming basketball season: to get stronger and to try to make Notre Dame stronger.

Hansbrough and Martin won't be able to play for the Fighting Irish until the 2009-10 season because they are transfer students. But coach Mike Brey is hoping practicing daily against two players who already have NCAA tournament experience will pay off for the 2008-09 team.

"I just think the competition level of our program has stepped up with the addition of these two guys," Brey said Thursday, talking to the media for the first time about the transfers. "I'm certainly thrilled to have them."

Martin is a 6-8 forward who averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds for Purdue last season, while the 6-3 Hansbrough averaged 10.5 points a game at guard for Mississippi State. The pair transferred to Notre Dame in recent weeks and began summer classes on Tuesday.

Hansbrough and Martin both said they plan to use the year off by hitting the weight room and working on their games.

"I think it's really going to help me out," Hansbrough said.

Brey said Hansbrough, the younger brother of North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough, reminds him of current Irish guard Kyle McAlarney.

"He's good with the ball, he's good coming off stuff. There's a toughness about him. There's a maturity about him that I think is great," Brey said.

Brey, who recruited Martin out of high school, said Martin reminds him of former St. John's standout Chris Mullin.

"Scott is a real skilled perimeter guy, steps out. Having a lefty who comes at you is a little different," he said.

Brey said it will be odd to have 15 players available at practice.

"It probably lets you go 5-on-5 for longer stretches because you have guys to rotate through," he said. "It just makes for a competitive atmosphere."

The transfers are especially important because the Irish didn't sign any high school seniors to letters of intent last fall and lose McAlarney and forwards Ryan Ayers, Zach Hillesland and Luke Zeller after next season.

"Certainly, they can do the math and see what's leaving in the senior class and know the opportunity for playing time really opens itself up. But still yet, there's a lot of very good players to play with when they become eligible," Brey said.

Notes: Hansbrough and Martin will not travel to Ireland with the team in August because they aren't allowed to under NCAA rules, Brey said. The Irish will face teams from Ireland and Poland in the inaugural Emerald Hoops Program. ... Brey said he plans to use six different starting lineups in Ireland to see how various players work together. ... Former Notre Dame standout guard Colin Falls will play for the Irish national team in the tournament, Brey said.

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