SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 20, 2013

More responsibility, bigger challenges for ex-SJP hoop star Connaughton at Notre Dame

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The grind of a Big East Conference basketball season can at times be overwhelming for a freshman no matter how talented he is.

Zach Auguste knows the feeling. A promising 6-foot-10 rookie out of Marlborough, Auguste has had his ups and downs while coming off the bench for Notre Dame this season.

But regardless of how he’s playing, Auguste says he feels fortunate to have Pat Connaughton in his corner. For one thing, Connaughton had his own initiation into big time college ball last season and can guide him through the rough spots.

“He’s definitely helped me already,” Auguste, who is averaging 3.8 points in limited minutes, said of Connaughton after Providence College drubbed the No. 21 ranked Fighting Irish, 71-54, here over the weekend. “He gave me a lot of advice, especially early in the season. He went through it as a freshman and the stuff he told me helped me a lot.”

The fact that Connaughton is also a Massachusetts kid – he comes from Arlington and led St. John’s Prep of Danvers to a state championship two years ago – has proven to be a massive bonus for Auguste.

“Pat is a funny guy,” said Auguste. “Being from Massachusetts, we relate to a lot of things that the other kids on the team don’t (understand). I mean, just the way we talk, with the (Boston) accent. Pat has to hear it from the guys every now and then, and I can relate.

“But you know what? We just had a Dunkin Donuts open up in South Bend (Indiana). A lot of guys didn’t know about that, but we can tell them that’s a spot to go to and that we’re really familiar with (being from New England).”

In retrospect, Notre Dame could’ve used gallons of coffee prior to the Providence game because it never did get the wake-up call it needed. The Friars made a 20-5 team look awful and Connaughton, who has a very solid sophomore season (8.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg), was way off his game. He didn’t take a single shot in the opening half and then missed all four of his shots from three-point land in the second half. He ended up scoreless in 27 minutes.

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