Eric Atkins had a discussion with coach Mike Brey in the locker room on Dec. 21 at Madison Square Garden.

Notre Dame had just suffered a crushing loss to Ohio State, and the players knew they were about to lose leading scorer Jerian Grant for the remainder of the season because of an academic matter.

“(Atkins) said ‘coach, we’re going to be all right,’” Brey said during Monday’s ACC teleconference. “I’ll tell you what, coach needed to hear that right then that night. He’s delivered on setting the tone.”

Atkins scored 30 points in the Irish’s next game, an overtime win against Canisius. The senior guard then finished with 19 points and 11 assists in Saturday’s upset victory against Duke in Notre Dame’s ACC debut.

“I thought Atkins had a great, great game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s had great games. He’s an outstanding guard.”

Atkins earned ACC Player of the Week honors Monday. It’s the second straight week he’s won the award. He’ll look to keep the roll going today against North Carolina State (10-4, 0-1 ACC).

“With (Jerian) Grant out of the lineup, he’s obviously felt the need to be more aggressive, look for his shot more, use the ball screen more to get to the rim. He’s just so much more involved right now in these last two games,” North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said. “He’s playing with great confidence and he’s playing with great aggressiveness. It’s added a dimension to his game.”

Atkins is averaging 13.6 points per game. Gottfried has seen growth throughout the Irish’s (10-4, 1-0) roster.

“They move the ball extremely well. They are very unselfish,” Gottfried said. “I think that (center Garrick) Sherman, from a year ago to today is playing with great confidence. Everybody on the floor can potentially score the ball. Each individual guy is getting better.

“You look at those guys a year ago, and you watch them as individual players and then you watch them now, I think they are so much more effective.”

Note: Notre Dame freshman guard Steve Vasturia was named the ACC Rookie of the Week. He had nine points (making 3 of 5 three-pointers) Saturday against Duke.