Nov. 25, 1997
Garrity Spends Working Summers in Exotic Locals
By Mike May
Pat Garrity's passport has gotten a lot of use the last couple of years. Greece, Spain, Italy and Australia are all stops the senior forward has traveled to since arriving on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 1994.
But Garrity hasn't been traveling the world for rest and relaxation. Instead, while most college basketball players return home during the summer to reminisce on a completed basketball season, Garrity has been just starting his second season.
Each of the last two summers Garrity has crossed the ocean to play basketball. In 1996, prior to his sophomore season he played on the NIT All-Star team. That same summer Garrity, along with his Notre Dame teammates, traveled to Italy for five games. This past summer, Garrity was the leading scorer and second leading rebounder on the United States Under-22 Team that finished fifth in the world.
Sure traveling the world is a great opportunity, but what Garrity has found is that it is a great way to improve your game.
"It's a great time to improve because you don't have any school to worry about," says Garrity. "It's just the experience of playing every day - day in and day out. Playing with other players who are better than you I think is helpful. Whether there from the United States or other parts of the world doesn't matter, it's just repetition. If you make good use of your time you can really make a big improvement."
And improvement is exactly what Garrity has done - each season at Notre Dame.
A relatively unheralded high school player from Monument, Colo., Garrity was not ranked among the nation's top 100 high school prospects upon graduation from Lewis Palmer High. But just four years later, the 1996 BIG EAST player of the year was named a preseason first-team All-American by both Street and Smith's yearbook and Inside Sports.
You don't get to the level Garrity is at by just improving during the season. Much of Garrity's success can be traced to his work ethic during the summer months.
"When you get in a position where all you think about is basketball it helps you get better," says Garrity. "You're around basketball players and you think about basketball all day. It really gives you a chance to get better."
That's something that hasn't gone unnoticed by coach John MacLeod.
"Each season he has come back improved and that's because he has really worked on his game in the offseason," says MacLeod. "He's a joy to have because he's a worker and he's a battler. He's a big man who battles his tail off. He's a winner."
This past summer Garrity played for the prestigious United States Under-22 Team. A team of college players coached by Rick Majerus of Utah, the squad traveled to Australia to battle teams from around the world.
Garrity was selected to tryout for the squad for the second consecutive season and went to Los Angeles for a two-week tryout.
After making the squad and traveling to Australia for some exhibition games prior to the tournament, Garrity struggled to find his role.
"I started out not really playing a lot of minutes," says Garrity. "I was playing a lot at small forward and I really wasn't able to score."
Soon Garrity settled into his more natural power forward position.
"When we got to Melbourne I started playing better," says Garrity. "I started playing more aggressively and my minutes increased. By the tournament I was playing 30 minutes a game and it was just like playing at Notre Dame. I started to have that kind of confidence."
Garrity ended up leading the college all-star team in scoring while connecting on 53.9 percent of his field goal attempts and 33.3 percent of his three-point shots. Garrity added 4.5 rebounds a contest to rank second on the squad.
"It was the best competition I've played against, probably in my life," says Garrity. "First playing in the Los Angeles summer league for two weeks against some of the top rookies and second-year pros and then the international competition was unbelievable."
Garrity believes the summer competition helped him get ready for his senior campaign.
"It helps a tremendous amount because of the confidence you get during summer from playing so many games," says Garrity. "It's part of becoming a more experienced basketball player. It just helps your confidence level. It was a chance to play intense basketball like you do during the season, in the summertime. It was basically like an extra season for me."
"It had to help," says MacLeod. "He came back this year better than he ever was. This is what has made Pat Garrity a special kid, he improved from his senior year in high school to his freshman year. Then when he came back as a sophomore he improved. Then when he came back as a junior he improved. Then when he came back as a senior, he still improved. He got significantly better every year."
Garrity says his improvement is not just athletic.
"I think I improved my overall athletic ability this summer," says Garrity. "Coach (MacLeod) says that I look quicker coming back this year. I think I improved my overall knowledge of the game from playing those extra games."
Despite the concentration on basketball, the opportunity to see one of the worlds most beautiful areas wasn't lost on Garrity.
"Australia is one of the most exotic places you can go," says Garrity. "The different wildlife that is there and the melting-pot of cultures with European and Asian culture. That's probably a place I never would have gotten without basketball. I'm just glad I got to see that part of the world."
Garrity's rise to prominence as one of the top college basketball players has been nothing short of amazing. In a time when so much emphasis is placed on high school evaluation, Garrity defied the critics.
"You can put a number on a kid but he didn't listen to what they're saying," says MacLeod. "Pat kept working . You can't measure heart size, you can't measure determination level."
As for his senior campaign, Garrity hopes the Irish continue to make improvement and can make the next step.
"Our goal is definitely an NCAA berth," says Garrity. "Before that, going .500 or above in BIG EAST Conference because that's something we haven't done. But the big goal is the NCAA tournament."