Jan. 10, 2014
Notre Dame (10-5, 1-1)
Georgia Tech (9-6, 0-2)
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014
FIGHTING IRISH TRAVEL TO GEORGIA TECH FOR FIRST ACC ROAD TEST
After opening Atlantic Coast Conference play with two home games, Notre Dame (10-5, 1-1) will face its first league road test Saturday at Georgia Tech (9-6, 0-2). The contest is scheduled for noon (ET) inside McCamish Pavilion. The game will be broadcast by the ACC Network with Bob Rathbun (play-by-play) and Cory Alexander (analyst) calling the action. A free audio broadcast will be available on WatchND.tv. Jack Nolan will handle play-by-play duties, while former Irish standout Jordan Cornette will serve as the analyst. The broadcast can also be heard on The Notre Basketball Radio Network headed by WSBT 96.1 FM and 960 AM in South Bend. A complete affiliate list is available on page 5 of this notes packet. The broadcast also is available on Sirius 135/XM 192. Georgia Tech is one of Notre Dame's "partner schools" in the ACC and the Irish will face the Yellow Jackets twice each season (home and away). Notre Dame will play host to Georgia Tech on Feb. 26. Boston College is the other "partner school" for the Irish. Saturday will be the first of two straight road contests for the Irish, who are at Maryland on Wednesday.
THE GEORGIA TECH SERIES
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech have met eight times on the basketball court, but only once since 1990. The last encounter occurred at the 2007 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Yellow Jackets came away with a 70-69 victory in the third-place game of the tournament. The Yellow Jackets have won the last four showdowns with the Fighting Irish and lead the series 6-2. Notre Dame's last victory over Georgia Tech was a 71-52 decision on Jan. 30, 1969, in South Bend. The Fighting Irish are 0-3 all-time at Georgia Tech. This will be Notre Dame's first trip to Atlanta since a 90-80 setback to the Yellow Jackets on Feb. 25, 1989.
GEORGIA TECH CONNECTION
Notre Dame assistant coach Rod Balanis played at Georgia Tech from 1990-94. The Yellow Jackets made four NCAA tournament appearances in that span, including two trips to the Sweet 16 and an appearance in the 1990 NCAA Final Four in Denver, although Balanis was medically redshirted that season.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has scored in double-figures in each of the last four games and is averaging 18.3 ppg. in those four contests. Atkins has been named ACC Player of the Week each of the last two weeks. He recorded his first double-double of the season and the fifth of his career by tallying 19 points and 11 assists in last Saturday's win over Duke. He committed just two turnovers in a team-high 38 minutes against the Blue Devils. He scored a career-high 30 points and played all 45 minutes in the overtime victory over Canisius on Dec. 29. He was the first Irish player to score 30 points since Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough both netted 30 against Villanova on Feb. 28, 2011. Atkins deposited a career-high six three pointers (on eight attempts) and finished 10-of-14 from the field. The six treys were a team-high total this season.
SHERMAN PUTTING ON A DOUBLE-DOUBLE DISPLAY
Senior center Garrick Sherman posted his team-best fourth double-double of the season with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds on Tuesday against North Carolina State. Sherman is the first Irish player to score at least 20 points and pull down 18 rebounds since Jack Cooley notched 22 points and 18 boards on Feb. 15, 2012, against Rutgers. All four of Sherman's double-doubles have occurred in the last seven games.
SHERMAN ON A HOT STREAK
Senior center Garrick Sherman has scored in double-figures in each of the last 12 games. That is a career-best streak and the longest streak for a Notre Dame player since Jack Cooley netted double-figures in 14 straight games last season. Sherman is averaging career-bests in points (14.9) and rebounds (8.3) this season. In ACC play, he has team-high averages in points (17.5) and rebounds (13.0). Sherman has a team-high four double-doubles this season. Sherman is shooting a team-best 52.1% (88-169) from the field. He also is shooting 74.6% (47-63) from the free throw line. Heading into the season, Sherman was just 31-47 (66.0%) from the line at Notre Dame and was a career 55.7% (49-88) free-throw shooter. He tallied a career-high 29 points at Iowa (Dec. 3). Sherman has a team-high 16 blocked shots this season.
PAT AN ALL-AROUND PERFORMER
Junior swingman Pat Connaughton is averaging 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the first two ACC games. He is 7-of-13 (.538) from three-point range in those two contests. Connaughton produced an all-around performance on Saturday against Duke. He netted 16 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists in 37 minutes on the floor. Connaughton was 6-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range. Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds this season. He has scored in double-figures in 12 games this season, including nine times in the last 10 contests. He has topped the 20-point mark twice this season (Delaware 21, North Dakota State 21) and has three double-doubles.
IRISH OPEN ACC ERA WITH WIN OVER DUKE
Last Saturday was a historic day for Notre Dame as it opened its Atlantic Coast Conference era with a 79-77 victory over No. 7 Duke. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Blue Devils that began in 1988. It was Notre Dame's first victory over Duke since a 70-66 overtime win on Feb. 15, 1987, at the Joyce Center.
WHAT A RUN
Duke's largest lead on Saturday was 10 points (60-50) with 11:35 left in the second half, but Notre Dame responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game with 8:01 remaining. In fact, the Irish extended it to a 20-4 run to take their largest lead (70-64) of the game with 4:18 left to play.
FIGHTING IRISH TAKE DOWN ANOTHER TOP-10 FOE
The win over No. 7 Duke gave Notre Dame its fifth straight home victory over a team ranked in the top-10 of the Associated Press poll. Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame is 13-6 at home against teams ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll. Overall, Notre Dame is 5-4 in its last nine showdowns with an AP top-10 foe. The Irish are 18-27 against teams ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll under Brey.
IRISH SWEEP ACC WEEKLY HONORS
For their efforts in Saturday's win over Duke, senior point guard Eric Atkins and freshman guard Steve Vasturia earned weekly honors from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Atkins was named the league's player of the week for the second straight week, while Vasturia was tapped as the rookie of the week for the first time. Atkins notched a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists. He committed just two turnovers in a team-high 38 minutes against the Blue Devils. Vasturia came off the bench to register career-high marks in points (9) and rebounds (4) versus Duke. The rookie was 3-of-5 from three-point range in a career-high tying 22 minutes on the court.
BURGETT HAS A BLOCK PARTY
Sophomore forward Austin Burgett's career-high five blocked shots against Duke were the most for an Irish player since Jack Cooley had six versus Evansville in the 2012-13 season opener.
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior point guard Eric Atkins' 2.35 career assist-to-turnover ratio ranks third among all active Division I players. Atkins has 507 careers assists and just 216 turnovers. The career assist total currently ranks 13th nationally. This season, Atkins has 74 assists and 28 turnovers for a 2.64 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is seventh-best in the ACC. On Saturday versus Duke, Atkins dished out a season-high 11 assists and had only two turnovers. Those were the most assists for any Irish player this season and it marked the sixth time of his career that he had 10-plus assists in a game.
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame ranks fifth nationally and second in the ACC with a 1.70 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish have the country's eighth-best assists-per-game mark (17.6), which is first in the ACC. Last Saturday versus Duke, Notre Dame committed just six turnovers and had an assist on 18 of its 30 made field goals. The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this `season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in seven games.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks 30th nationally in free throw percentage (.746). That is the third-best percentage in the ACC.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Eric Atkins (143) and Pat Connaughton (138) rank 12th and 14th, respectively, in Notre Dame history in three-point field goals made. Connaughton is 39-of-87 (.448) from three-point range this season, while Atkins is 26-of-71 (.366). As a team, Notre Dame is shooting 38.8% from beyond the arc. That ranks 31st nationally and is the third-best mark in the ACC.
Junior Pat Connaughton has never missed a game during his Fighting Irish career. He has played in all 84 games, including 68 starts. Connaughton has started 65 consecutive contests. He is averaging 34.9 minutes per game this season. Senior point guard Eric Atkins has played in 80 straight games (all starts). He has only missed two contests during his Notre Dame career and has competed in 116 games (88 starts). Atkins is averaging a team-high 36.9 minutes per game this season. That figure ranks 16th nationally and is first in the ACC. He is averaging 34.2 minutes per game during his career.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 126-12 at home since the beginning of the 2006-07 season. That .913 winning percentage over the course of the last eight seasons ranks fifth nationally.
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 36-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 63-5 when outrebounding its opponent and 65-5 when leading at halftime.
With Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, senior center Garrick Sherman now is playing in the third different conference during his collegiate career. Sherman played his first two seasons (2009-11) in the Big Ten Conference while at Michigan State and then transferred to Notre Dame following the 2010-11 campaign. After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Sherman played last year in Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference.
The 87-81 win over Canisius on Dec. 29 improved Notre Dame to 7-1 in its last eight overtime contests. The Fighting Irish have won four straight games that have been decided in overtime. Notre Dame is 14-9 in overtime contests under head coach Mike Brey.
IRISH ENTER THE ACC
Following 18 seasons in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame is in its first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame will face each of the other 14 ACC member schools at least once during this season's 18-game conference schedule. Along with home-and-away dates with its "partner schools" Boston College and Georgia Tech, Notre Dame will meet both North Carolina and Virginia twice during the season. The Fighting Irish also will play host to Clemson, Duke, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Notre Dame's other road opponents are Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse and Wake Forest. The 2014 ACC men's basketball tournament is scheduled for March 12-16 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. Notre Dame was picked to finish fifth in its inaugural season of Atlantic Coast Conference play according to a vote of media in attendance at the league's annual "Operation Basketball." Duke was picked to win the ACC title.
BREY NO STRANGER TO THE ACC
Perhaps no person is better prepared to navigate the Irish basketball program into its new basketball conference home than head coach Mike Brey. A Rockville, Md., native, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin basketball fan and his first coaching job in the collegiate ranks was as an assistant coach at Duke for eight seasons. Beginning in 1987-88, he helped Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski take his teams to six NCAA Final Fours and four national title games while winning back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992. The Blue Devils posted a sterling 216-65 record for a 76.8 winning percentage during his tenure at the school. Brey recruited and worked daily with four of the greatest players in that program's history -- Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.
KNIGHT AND SHERMAN JOIN ATKINS AND CONNAUGHTON AS IRISH CAPTAINS
Tom Knight (GS/F) and Garrick Sherman (Sr./C) will serve as captains for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign alongside teammates Eric Atkins (Sr./G) and Pat Connaughton (Jr./G-F). The announcement was made Dec. 27 by Irish head coach Mike Brey. The last time Notre Dame added a captain at midseason was two years ago (during the 2011-12 campaign) when Atkins, then a sophomore, served as a tri-captain with Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin. Atkins is the first three-time captain in the 109-history of the program, while Connaughton, Sherman and Knight are first-time captains.
TRUE FRESHMAN START
Irish freshman Demetrius Jackson earned the first start of his young career on Dec. 1 against Cornell. He has started each of the last 10 games. Jackson scored 11 points against the Big Red in 27 minutes of action while also dishing off four assists and committing just one turnover. He has scored in double figures four times this season and he posted career-highs in points (13) and rebounds (8) against Santa Clara. Current junior Pat Connaughton was the last true freshman to start for the Irish in 2011-12. He started 18 of the 34 games he played in during his first season.
NOTRE DAME'S NEW MOTTO
Prior to the 2013-14 campaign, Notre Dame men's basketball players would close out their huddles with the slogan "Together." That all changed this season as the team has adopted a new motto "One More" when it breaks its huddles. The reference was developed this summer when the team went through a two-day workout session with The Program. Founded in 2008, The Program's goal is to provide professional and collegiate athletic teams with the best leadership development and team building services in the country. The objective of The Program is to help athletes understand and internalize this reality, and in doing so take their leadership and teamwork skills to the next level -- the championship level. Notre Dame's One More theme signifies the team's desire and ability to go beyond the normal levels of preparation -- it represents the desire to win one more game by focusing on the business at hand in order to achieve that goal. For the Ohio State game on Dec. 21, the Irish debuted One More shooting shirts for the first time. The motto has found its way onto Notre Dame Basketball social media circles with the hashtag #OneMore.
ATKINS ON BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior Eric Atkins was named to the watch list for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Atkins is averaging 13.6 points and 4.9 assists per game this season and boasts a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. Atkins has 1,181 career points and 507 assists. The annual honor, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic point guard Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's basketball. A committee of well-respected media members and influential people within collegiate basketball from around the country comprise the committee. This year's watch list will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then a final five in early March.
DIGGER PHELPS TO BE INDUCTED INTO NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL RING OF HONOR
Forty years to the day that one of the greatest moments in Notre Dame's illustrious athletics history occurred, the man who engineered the stunning 71-70 victory over top-ranked UCLA on Jan. 19, 1974, that ended the Bruins 88-game win streak will be inducted into the Notre Dame Basketball Ring of Honor. Richard "Digger" Phelps will become the sixth inductee into the Ring of Honor at halftime of the Fighting Irish men's basketball game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 19, 2014. Phelps, who led Notre Dame to a sterling 393-197 record (.666) over his 20 seasons (1971-91) on the Irish hardwood, will become the first coach inducted into the Ring of Honor. The all-time winningest men's basketball coach at Notre Dame, he will join Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley, Skylar Diggins, Luke Harangody and Ruth Riley. Diggins was inducted at the Notre Dame women's basketball game against Valparaiso on Nov. 16.
NOTRE DAME STUDENT-ATHLETES AGAIN RANK #1 IN NCAA GRS
For the eighth time in nine years, the University of Notre Dame ranks number one on a percentage basis in terms of number of Graduation Success Rate (GSR) 100 scores, among all NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Twenty of 22 athletics programs at Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, including the men's basketball team, according to the ninth year of GSR measurements developed by the NCAA. It's the first time Notre Dame's programs have combined for 20 perfect scores-after four previous years with 19. None of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) programs in the country had a higher percentage of 100 GSR scores than did Notre Dame with its .909 number (20 of 22). In addition, Notre Dame ranked second among all FBS institutions with nine perfect scores among 22 sports (.409) in the federal graduation rate analysis.
Notre Dame has earned appearances in the postseason in each of the last 14 seasons, which marks the longest stretch in school history. The Irish have been to the NCAA Championship on nine occasions and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) five times during this current stretch. Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame has played in the NCAAs nine times, including a current stretch of four straight trips, and NIT four times.
NOTRE DAME LOOKS TO NOTCH ANOTHER 20-WIN CAMPAIGN
The Irish have recorded seven straight 20-win seasons. It's the first time in program history that Notre Dame has compiled seven consecutive 20-win campaigns. The Fighting Irish have reached the 20-win plateau 10 times in 13 seasons under head coach Mike Brey. Last season's 25 wins were tied for the second-most of the Brey era. The most wins for the Irish under Brey are 27 (27-7) in 2010-11.
Junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a standout pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. He has appeared in 22 games, including 20 starts, and boasts an 8-6 career record with a 2.43 earned-run average (ERA). He has logged 92.2 innings and has notched 69 strikeouts. As a sophomore, Connaughton went 4-2 and posted a 1.71 ERA. Connaughton recently was named the No. 46 prospect among 2014 draft-eligible players by Perfect Game in the publication's post-fall college top-50 list. The publication ranked Connaughton as the No. 22 right-handed pitcher. Connaughton was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 50th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
BREY TO BE INDUCTED INTO GEORGE WASHINGTON ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
In January, Irish head coach Mike Brey will be inducted into the George Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame. Brey will be honored by his alma mater on the eve of Notre Dame's matchup with Maryland on Tuesday, Jan. 14, during a special halftime ceremony at the Colonials' men's basketball game against VCU at the Charles E. Smith Center. Brey played one season (1981-82) at George Washington after transferring from Northwestern State. During his one season on the Colonials' roster, he averaged 5.0 points and 4.8 assists while serving as team captain. He led George Washington in assists that season with 116 in 24 games and earned his bachelor's degree in physical education. Brey is among seven former student-athletes comprising the 2014 George Washington Athletics Hall of Fame class. In addition to Brey, the class includes Greg Condon (`03, Baseball), Kwame Evans (`96, Men's Basketball), Cathy Joens (`04, Women's Basketball), Elena Meyer (`07, Softball) and Kim Warner (`04, Women's Soccer).
KNIGHT A NOMINEE FOR NABC GOOD WORKS TEAM
Senior forward Tom Knight is among 117 nominees for the 2014 Allstate NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Good Works Teams. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service.
NOTRE DAME ADDS TWO FRONTLINE PLAYERS FOR 2014-15 CAMPAIGN
Irish head coach Mike Brey recently announced the signing of two frontcourt players to his 2014-15 roster. Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-6, 200-pound forward out of New Bedford, Mass., and Martin Geben, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from Vilnius, Lithuania, have signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. The duo will enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2014.