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January 19, 2010

Scott back on solid footing

Ten days ago, Carleton Scott was not in a Notre Dame uniform when the Irish upset No. 8 West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion.

Now, the 6-foot-7, 217-pound junior from San Antonio is an integral part of the seven-man rotation, and his role is expanding.

Scott, who took a leave of absence for a couple of days when he and Mike Brey weren't seeing eye-to-eye on his performance/role, has played productive basketball for the Irish since his return against Cincinnati last Saturday.

He scored five points, grabbed three rebounds, blocked a shot and had a steal in 15 minutes of action in the two-point loss to Cincinnati. Monday night against Syracuse, he made just 1-of-5 from the field. But he snagged nine rebounds - three on the offensive end - and had a couple of assists in 19 minutes of playing time.

In fact, that makes three solid games in a row for Scott, dating back to the South Florida game before his leave of absence when he scored three points, grabbed five rebounds and disrupted the Bulls' flow in just eight minutes of playing time.

"I've been very pleased with him, starting with Cincinnati," Brey said. "We took a break there, talked about things…He's been great.

"We had to step back from the fire a little bit and both of us (had to) improve our communication. I'm very pleased with what he's giving us. I just want him to stay confident. I think he's going to make some more shots as he gets into the rhythm of playing. But I like what he's giving us now. I'm very pleased with him."

Scott was eager to get things straightened out with his head coach.

"I'm just really happy to be back," Scott said. "(Coach Brey and I) discussed all positive things, some things that we've talked about before like my role on the team. Everything is out there. The lines of communication are cleared. Everything is good now."

Although Scott has had difficulty getting into the flow of the offense with his teammates, and sometimes looks to shoot first instead of seeing the court and getting his teammates involved by playing a team-oriented game, there's little doubt that the Irish greatly need his contributions.

Monday night against Syracuse, the Irish were at a clear physical/athletic disadvantage. Scott, with his long arms and leaping ability, helped narrow that gap for Notre Dame. His 19 minutes of playing time - 13 of which came in the first half - were the most by him in conference play this season.

"I'm just going out there trying to get rebounds and play defense, and step up and hit open shots when I can," Scott said. "I bring a lot of energy. That's one thing that we definitely need, especially playing in the Big East. This is a great conference, and you definitely have to have energy and you definitely have to be able to bounce back, whether it's a bad possession on defense or offense."

Scott stayed in town during his absence from the team, and by the start of practice the week of the Cincinnati game, he was back in uniform.

"He's just playing," Brey said. "He's going to make more shots. He can really shoot the ball. He's rebounded and he's helped his teammates. He's been good.

"I think we're going to see some real improvement from him. That's what I've talked to him about the last week. He knows I'm very confident in him. I'm happy with his growth."

Scott is pleased to be back among his teammates.

"It was rough," said Scott of his brief absence. "I want to be here with my boys. These are my guys. It was tough being away from this. They're like my second family, and being away from family is definitely a lonely feeling.

"They wanted me back. I felt bad because I wasn't with them. But now that I'm back, they're just like, 'Hey, it's over with, done with, we're moving on, that's something in the past.'"

During Scott's absence, Brey referred to freshman Joey Brooks' performance against West Virginia, complimenting the Irish freshman for keeping a positive attitude despite limited playing time. Brey referred to Brooks' attitude as "both feet in." In other words, committed to the team's cause.

At the time, it seemed as if Brey was pointing out the difference between a player committed to the greater good and another player taking a more individualistic approach.

"I've always had both feet in," Scott said. "I've never been tip-toeing or anything like that. I've always been 100 percent with my guys. I'm committed to be here. They know that. I've got their back and they've got my back."

Brey is pleased to have a focused Scott.

"The season has interesting sidebars," Brey said. "I'm happy where he's at. Now, we didn't win the last two games. But when you look out there, we need him, and I think he's really helped us."

Asked if he is committed to finishing his collegiate basketball career and degree (in history) at the University of Notre Dame, Scott responded, "Yes, sir."


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