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    Great Afternoon for the Irish

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    A pair of Fighting Irish teams fell behind early, but both mounted comebacks and picked up BIG EAST conference victories to stay undefeated at home this season.

    The women's lacrosse team struggled early in its matchup with Louisville, falling behind 5-1, before rattling off nine straight goals on its way to a 13-11 victory in the BIG EAST debut for first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny.

    The Fighting Irish improved to 7-0 in their return to Arlotta Stadium, after nearly a month away from home. Lindsay Powell led the offensive attack with four goals, while Maggie Tamasitis added a hat trick.

    Next door, the Notre Dame baseball team also fell into an early 2-0 hole, but plated three runs in the home half of the first inning. Joe Hudson knocked a two-run single, before Tommy Chase executed a squeeze play to provide what turned out to be the winning run in a Saturday afternoon pitchers' duel.

    Adam Norton pitched 8.1 strong innings, allowing just five hits and two runs, while striking out four. Dan Slania came on for the final two outs and after yielding back-to-back singles, centerfielder Charlie Markson made a leaping catch for the final out. Slania picked up his fifth save of the season, and the Irish improved to 14-7 with the win.

    Meanwhile, it was a big day for Notre Dame football too, as the team suited up in full pads for the first time this spring. The media got a chance to watch the last few minutes of practice, paying special attention to the four Irish quarterbacks battling for the starting job - Tommy Rees, Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix, and Gunner Kiel.

    Check back later for UND.com video coverage from today's action at the LaBar Practice Fields.

    It's another busy afternoon tomorrow, when the men's lacrosse team takes on Rutgers and baseball goes for the sweep against Pittsburgh. Catch both games live at 1:00 pm ET, right here on UND.com.

    And don't forget, the Notre Dame women's hoops team plays St. Bonaventure for a spot in the Elite Eight at 2:30 pm ET on ESPN2.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish By The Numbers

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    Outside, it has felt like summer training camp for most of the week, but on the calendar, today was just the second practice of the spring season for the Notre Dame football team. The Fighting Irish will be back on the field tomorrow, four weeks away from the Blue-Gold game (April 21).

    With the start of spring ball comes a few updates to the roster, and with that, a nice opportunity to take a by-the-numbers look at the Irish. Here are some interesting tidbits from the 2012 Notre Dame Spring Football Prospectus:

    By Class

    Graduates (7): C Braxston Cave, C/G Mike Golic Jr., WR John Goodman, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, OT Dennis Mahoney, S Dan McCarthy, S Jamoris Slaughter

    Seniors (20): S Blake Breslau, ILB Carlo Calabrese, LS Jordan Cowart, TE Tyler Eifert, WR Nick Fitzpatrick, OLB Dan Fox, TE Jake Golic, OT Zack Martin, S Zeke Motta, RB Theo Riddick, S Chris Salvi, CB Will Salvi, NG Tyler Stockton, OL Matt Tansey, K Nick Tausch, ILB Manti Te'o, WR Robby Toma, P Ben Turk, OG Chris Watt, RB Cierre Wood

    Juniors (23): S Austin Collinsworth, C Bruce Heggie, QB Andrew Hendrix, CB Bennett Jackson, WR TJ Jones, WR Ryan Liebscher, G/T Christian Lombard, TE Arturo Martinez, WR Luke Massa, ILB Kendall Moore, OT Tate Nichols, NG Louis Nix III, RB Tyler Plantz, QB Tommy Rees, RB Cameron Roberson, CB Joe Romano, DE Kona Schwenke, OLB Prince Shembo, WR Daniel Smith, OLB Danny Spond, ILB Justin Utupo, TE Alex Welch, CB Lo Wood

    Sophomores (29): RB George Atkinson III, CB Josh Atkinson, K/P Kyle Brindza, CB Jalen Brown, RB Amir Carlisle, S Connor Cavalaris, OG Brad Carrico, OLB Ben Councell, WR DaVaris Daniels, S Matthias Farley, QB Everett Golson, ILB Jarrett Grace, C/G Conor Hanratty, S Eilar Hardy, C Matt Hegarty, DE Chase Hounshell, TE Ben Koyack, WR Eric Lee, OLB Connor Little, DE Aaron Lynch, G/T Nick Martin, RB Cam McDaniel, TE Troy Niklas, OT Jordan Prestwood, ILB Anthony Rabasa, ILB Joe Schmidt, NG Tony Springmann, DE Stephon Tuitt, OLB Ishaq Williams

    Freshmen (2): DE Sheldon Day, QB Gunner Kiel

    By State

    • California (9): Atkinson III, Atkinson, Breslau, Carlisle, Niklas, Roberson, Schmidt, Utupo, C. Wood
    • Colorado (2): Liebscher, Spond
    • Connecticut (3): Golic, Golic Jr., Hanratty
    • Florida (10): Cowart, Heggie, Lynch, Martinez, Motta, Nix III, Prestwood, Rabasa, Turk, L. Wood
    • Georgia (3): Jones, Slaugther, Tuitt
    • Hawaii (3): Schwenke, Te'o, Toma
    • Illinois (9): Cavalaris, Daniels, Lombard, Plantz, Rees, Romano, C. Salvi, W. Salvi, Watt
    • Indiana (10): Cave, Day, Eifert, Fitzpatrick, Goodman, Kiel, N. Martin, Z. Martin, Smith, Springmann
    • Iowa (1): Lee
    • Kentucky (2): Collinsworth, Nichols
    • Michigan (1): Brindza
    • Minnesota (1): Little
    • New Jersey (5): Calabrese, Jackson, Riddick, Stockton, Tansey
    • New Mexico (1): Hegarty
    • New York (1): Williams
    • North Carolina (4): Councell, Farley, Moore, Shembo
    • Ohio (9): Carrico, Fox, Grace, Hardy, Hendrix, Hounshell, Massa, McCarthy, Welch
    • Pennsylvania (1): Koyack
    • South Carolina (1): Golson
    • Texas (4): Brown, Lewis-Moore, McDaniel, Tausch

    Returning in 2012

    Offensive Lettermen (18): Atkinson III, Cave, Eifert, Golic Jr., Goodman, Hendrix, Jones, Koyack, Lombard, Mahoney, Z. Martin, Niklas (lettered at OLB), Rees, Riddick, Smith, Toma, Watt, C. Wood

    Defensive Lettermen (20): Calabrese, Collinsworth, Fox, Hounshell, Jackson, Lewis-Moore, Lynch, McCarthy, Moore, Motta, Nix III, C. Salvi, Schwenke, Shembo, Slaughter, Spond, Te'o, Tuitt, Williams, L. Wood

    Special Teams Lettermen (4): Brindza, Cowart, Tausch, Turk

    Remember to visit UND.com often for video updates on the Irish throughout the spring.
    Believe it or not, it's already that time of year. Spring football.

    Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly kicks off the spring season with a press conference on Tuesday at noon ET in the Isban Auditorium at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. The Fighting Irish will have their first spring practice on Wednesday morning and UND.com will have plenty of coverage as the team gears up for the 2012 season and the Blue-Gold game on April 21.

    Follow the live blog coverage right here on Irish UNDerground and check back to UND.com later in the afternoon for video of coach's presser.

    Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

    Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

    Irish Connection - Episode 38

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    How are Coach Kelly's Fighting Irish spending the off-season before spring practice begins? Check out the latest episode of Irish Connection.

    Stay tuned into UND.com in the coming weeks for more football coverage. Spring practice begins March 21 and the Blue-Gold game will be a month later, on April 21 at 1:30 pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.

    Relive the Bouts

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    If you weren't at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, did not get a chance to watch the live broadcast on UND.com, or just feel like watching again, check out this YouTube playlist for all eleven championship fights from the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts finals.


    Assumption.edu - Assumption College has announced that Brian Kelly ('83) will deliver the address at the College's 95th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 12, 2012. During the ceremony, Kelly will also receive an honorary degree.

    "Brian has remained closely connected with Assumption and has proudly articulated how his Catholic liberal arts education and the strong sense of community at Assumption have served as a great foundation for his successful career," said Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo. "He is passionate about how Assumption College uniquely combines both intellectual and spiritual development that supports and encourages each student, and I expect that our graduating seniors and audience members will find inspiration from his life story and experiences."

    A 1983 graduate of Assumption College, Kelly is a veteran of 21 seasons as a head football coach in the collegiate setting. He is heading into his third season as the head football coach at Notre Dame, the 29th in their storied history, and he has guided the Fighting Irish to 16 wins and two bowl games over the last two seasons. Kelly became the first Notre Dame head coach to win a bowl game in his first season with the Fighting Irish. Currently the fifth-winningest active coach in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), his 110 victories as head coach since 2001 are more than all but two active FBS head coaches - Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Mack Brown of Texas.

    Born in Everett, Mass., and raised in Chelsea, Mass., Kelly attended St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass. A four-year star linebacker for the Assumption College club football team, and captain of the squad in 1981 and 1982, the Assumption teams in those years finished 8-3 and 7-1-1. After graduating from Assumption with a bachelor's degree in political science, he served the College as linebacker coach and defensive coordinator (as well as softball coach) from 1983 to 1986.

    Kelly has long praised the value of an Assumption College education and its role in his spiritual and intellectual development, which "allowed me to grow as a human being," he said. "I am a proud graduate of Assumption College. I greatly value the education I received there as well as what the College taught me about commitment to service. I am delighted to return to my alma mater to address the graduating class of 2012."

    He joined Michigan's Grand Valley State University staff in 1987 as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach. There, Kelly became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989 and took over, at age 28, as head coach in 1991. Kelly compiled a 118-35-2 record (.767) in 13 seasons as head coach of the Lakers, highlighted by NCAA Division II national championships in 2002 and 2003. In 2009, he was inducted into the Grand Valley State Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2011 Grand Valley State renamed its Laker Turf Building the Kelly Family Sports Center. The Kelly Family Sports Center is a 138,000-square-foot building that houses a regulation football field and a six-lane, 300-meter track.

    After coaching three seasons at Central Michigan where Kelly helped the Chippewas win the Mid-American Conference title in 2006, Kelly spent three seasons at the University of Cincinnati from 2007 to 2009. Kelly led the Bearcats to a 34-6 record (.850) and two straight outright BIG EAST Conference titles that earned BCS appearances in 2008 (FedEx Orange Bowl) and 2009 (Allstate Sugar Bowl). He became the first BIG EAST football coach to win the conference's coach of the year honor three years in a row and Kelly's 12-0 squad in 2009 helped him earn ESPN/Home Depot National Coach of the Year Award. At the time he accepted the position at Notre Dame, he qualified as the winningest active BIG EAST football coach as well as the only league coach with more than 150 wins.

    The parents of three children, Kelly and his wife Paqui host annual events to benefit the Kelly Cares Foundation, established to support organizations, initiatives and programs that align with the goals and values of their family. Paqui, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and Brian have their charity focus on three main areas: personal involvement, with emphasis on breast cancer research, prevention, education and awareness; education and institutional advancement; and community involvement in selected initiatives and projects.

    In June 2010, Brian and Paqui made a $250,000 gift to the University of Notre Dame in support of endeavors in research, academics and community engagement. The gift directly supports three Notre Dame initiatives: cancer research, the Hesburgh Libraries and the Robinson Community Learning Center.
    On Saturday night at 7 pm ET, UND.com will be streaming the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts finals. The bouts are a charity boxing tournament to benefit the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. Catch all 12 championship bouts right here on UND.com, and if you're an Irish football fan, pay extra attention to the 188-lb weight class, as safety Chris Salvi goes for the title. Here's a quick preview of Saturday's fight night:

    And to get you in the spirit...

    Coaching Wisdom

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    With a newborn daughter and a new job, Mike Harrity, the university's associate athletics director for student-athlete development and community programming, amazingly also found time to finish writing a book.

    Coaching Wisdom: Champion Coaches and Their Players Share Successful Leadership Principles was published in late February and is available now.

    Harrity, who joined the Notre Dame family in Dec. 2011 after spending six years at Kansas, spoke with 13 coaches who have combined to lead their teams to an unbelievable 103 national championships, Stanley Cups or Super Bowl titles.

    Brad Stevens, who wrote the foreword for Harrity's book, is the only coach featured who has not won a title, but the 35-year-old is one of the most promising young coaches in college basketball, having led Butler to back-to-back Final Fours and championship game appearances.

    Although "Coaching Wisdom" is based on firsthand interviews with coaches and their players, Harrity explained that it is about more than athletics. "This isn't a book about sports. It's a book for anyone who is a leader - of a family, a school, an organization, or a team," he says.

    "I have a passion for exploring how leaders are able to create a culture that leads to achieving sustainable success. After spending time with the 13 coaches, from a broad range of sports, and their former players, I discovered common themes that emerged strongly. Each theme is represented by the chapters in the book."

    These chapters include Creating a Caring Environment, Communicating Effectively, Keep it Simple, Building Team-First Unity, Motivating and Inspiring Your Team, and Finding Your X-Factor.

    One of Harrity's remarkable discoveries in speaking with these coaches and their players was that in each case, the players' experience and what they valued had mirrored exactly what the coach had intended of his or her team.

    The book began as an idea in spring 2004, when Harrity went out on a limb and wrote to basketball legend John Wooden. Originally, Harrity planned to focus the project on the former UCLA coach, but within the last couple years, it evolved to include other collegiate and professional coaches from across several sports.

    Wooden responded to Harrity's letter, gave him his home phone number, and the two soon set up a meeting at Wooden's home in California. Harrity explains that he asked Coach Wooden for an hour and a half of his time, and ended up spending the entire day with the 93-year-old ten-time NCAA champion.

    Like many, Harrity had heard stories and read books about Wooden's leadership and the many lives he had impacted off the court. Still, he was struck by just how welcoming, friendly and helpful the coaching legend was to him, a total stranger.

    "He had more energy than me," Harrity says. "We developed a strong friendship. He really wanted to help me achieve my goals and dreams."

    Among those that Harrity interviewed were nine-time Stanley Cup champion Scotty Bowman, two-time Super Bowl winner Don Shula, 21-time NCAA champion women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and Notre Dame football legend Lou Holtz, who wrote the book's preface.

    It has been an incredibly rewarding process for Harrity. Of all the coaches he contacted hoping to interview, not a single one declined his request for a meeting.

    "I have been continually amazed at how generous all of the coaches and their former players have been with sharing their time and wisdom. Many have become friends. But even if I only sell one copy to my wife and one copy to my parents, I'm a better man, husband and father having had the opportunity to learn from and spend time with some of the greatest leaders of our time."

    You can purchase Harrity's book on Amazon.com and soon, at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish at the Combine

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    The NFL Scouting Combine came to a close yesterday in Indianapolis, as the safeties and cornerbacks completed their workouts. Many fans know the combine for the 40-yard dash seen on television. While important, a player's opportunities to make an impact on NFL teams are about more than how fast he runs in a straight line.

    There are a series of on- and off-the-field evaluations, screenings and interviews that help teams get a better idea of how they will use their selections in April's NFL Draft.

    Six former Notre Dame football student-athletes participated in this year's combine - cornerback Robert Blanton, offensive lineman Taylor Dever, running back Jonas Gray, linebacker Darius Fleming, wide receiver Michael Floyd and safety Harrison Smith.

    Gray is still rehabbing the knee injury he suffered this past November against Boston College, and was only able to participate in the bench press segment of the physical tests. He hopes to be ready for Notre Dame's Pro Day in April.

    Here's a look at some notable performances from the Irish who took part in the combine:

    - Robert Blanton tied Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma) and Josh Robinson (Central Florida) for third among cornerbacks in the 20-yard shuttle. Blanton's time of 3.97 seconds also ranked third for all defensive backs in the drill.

    Blanton also fared well in the three-cone drill. His 6.71 placed fifth among cornerbacks, seventh among defensive backs and 11th among all combine participants.

    The Matthews, N.C. native tied for seventh among all defensive backs in the 60-yard shuttle, clocking a time of 11.28.

    - On Saturday, Taylor Dever ran a 7.49 in the three-cone drill, tying Nate Potter (Boise State) for fourth out of 43 offensive linemen who completed the test.

    - Darius Fleming completed the combine drills on Monday, where he ranked sixth among linebackers in the three-cone drill (7.03) and tied for seventh in the 20-yard shuttle (4.28).

    Fleming also placed sixth in the 225-lb bench press test with 27 reps. The Chicago native tied Keenan Robinson (Texas) and Luke Kuechly (Boston College), winner of the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy.

    - Michael Floyd ran a 4.47 (13th among wide receivers) in the 40-yard dash, quieting some critics who had previously questioned his speed. With the exception of Miami's Tommy Streeter and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill none of the other wideouts who ran faster share the 6'3," 220-lb receiver's combination of size and speed.

    - Harrison Smith, the 2011 Notre Dame captain, had an impressive Tuesday, the final afternoon of the combine. Smith's best drill was the three-cone test (6.63), where he placed first among safeties, fifth for defensive backs and seventh among all combine participants.

    The safety ran a 4.57 in the 40 and completed 19 reps in the bench press test, both good for seventh at his position.

    Smith also turned in a strong showing in the 20-yard shuttle, running a 4.12 - good for second among safeties and 13th among all defensive backs. He tied LSU's Morris Claiborne, who is projected as a possible top-5 pick.

    These former Fighting Irish players aspire to play on Sundays, but no matter what happens eight weeks from now in New York, and in the free agency period thereafter, each will have a degree from the University of Notre Dame - and that will benefit them long after their playing days are complete.

    Notre Dame's NFL Combine participants, as well as other Fighting Irish professional hopefuls will be back in action just over a month from now on Pro Day, to be held on April 3 in the Loftus Sports Center.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Daily Dish - 2.29.12

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    - The names of three former Notre Dame football all-stars--Dave Casper, Raghib Ismail and Jim Seymour--appear on the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) ballot . . . The Hall of Fame class will be announced May 15 and then inducted at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
    Here are details on the three former Irish players on the ballot:

    * Dave Casper - Offensive Lineman/Tight End - 1973 consensus first-team All-American . . . Notre Dame co-captain and offensive MVP in 1973 on national championship team . . . 1973 Academic All-America selection . . . received post-graduate scholarships from NCAA and National Football Foundation . . . received NCAASilvery Anniversary Award and is member of Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

    * Raghib Ismail - Wide Receiver - Two-time first-team All-American earning consensus honors in 1989 and unanimous honors in 1990 . . . Walter Camp Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1990 . . . led Notre Dame to a Fiesta Bowl and two Orange Bowls . . . set NCAA record by twice returning two kickoffs for TDs in a single game (Rice 1988, Michigan 1989).

    * Jim Seymour - End - Two-time first-team All-America selection in 1967-68 . . . set Notre Dame career records for receptions (138) and receiving yards (2,113) and for pass receptions in a game (13 vs. Purdue in 1966) and still holds record for receiving yards in a game (276 in that same game).

    Notre Dame has 43 former players and six former coaches already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, providing more inductees than any other institution. The most recent addition is former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, who was inducted in 2009 and enshrined in July 2010 in South Bend.

    - Consecutive losses dropped the Notre Dame men's basketball team to a projected #7 seed in two bracketology versions, with both versions sending the Irish to Greensboro. SI.com projected the Irish against #10 Harvard; CBSSports.com projected theIrish against #10 Southern Miss. In both cases the other half of the bracket featured #2 North Carolina.

    - Notre Dame's quarterfinal game in the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championships at 2 p.m. Sunday in Hartford will be against either #8 DePaul, #9 USF or #16 Pittsburgh.

    - For the third time this season, Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week, it was announced Tuesday by the conference office. Diggins joins Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers as the only three-time BIG EAST Player of the Week selectionsthis season, with the Fighting Irish floor general adding four other BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll citations to her current resume. In addition, this marks the 75th time a Fighting Irish women's basketball player has earned a BIG EAST weekly award (44 Players of the Week, 31 Freshmen of the Week), the second-most selections in conference history despite the fact Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, a full 14 seasons after the league began sponsoring women's basketball (1982-83). Both fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) and senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) also have been named BIG EAST Player of the Week at some point this season (Novosel on Dec. 19, Peters on Jan. 23). What's more, rookie forward Markisha Wright (Des Moines, Iowa/Des Moines East) was chosen as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Jan. 2. . . .

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