NOTRE DAME RETURNS HOME TO FACE GEORGIA TECH ON WEDNESDAY
Following three straight road games, Notre Dame (14-14, 5-10) returns home to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center to play Georgia Tech (13-14, 4-10) on Wednesday. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and WatchESPN with Bob Wischusen, LaPhonso Ellis and Digger Phelps calling the action.
Wednesday night's contest is Notre Dame's first at Purcell Pavilion since the Irish defeated Clemson 68-64 in double-overtime on Feb. 11. Notre Dame will play its final home game on Saturday afternoon against former BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh. The Irish will close out the regular season Monday at North Carolina.
The matchup between the Fighting Irish and Yellow Jackets will be the second of the season between the two schools. Notre Dame dropped a 74-69 decision at Georgia Tech on Jan. 11.
A free audio broadcast will be available on WatchND.tv. Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and former Irish standout Jordan Cornette (analyst) will be on the call. 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 108/XM 190.
The Last Meeting
January 11, 2014
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavilion)
Notre Dame Falls Short At Georgia Tech, 74-69
Eric Atkins had 20 points to lead the Irish, but Georgia Tech's Trae Golden scored 20 points, Daniel Miller added 10 points and 13 rebounds and Georgia Tech beat Notre Dame 74-69 on Saturday.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will meet for the 10th time overall and second time as Atlantic Coast Conference foes. The Yellow Jackets lead the series 7-2 and have won five straight in the series.
The meeting on Jan. 11 was Notre Dame's first ACC road test and first time playing at Georgia Tech since Feb. 25, 1989. The Irish fell behind by as many as 13 points in the second half, but came back to take a two-point lead (66-64) with 2:54 remaining in the contest. Notre Dame led 68-67 with 1:15 to play, but was outscored 7-1 down the stretch.
The Irish are 2-2 at home against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 1-1 when playing inside Purcell Pavilion. The last time Georgia Tech played at Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets came away with an 88-80 victory on Feb. 24, 1990.
BREY ON CUSP OF 300TH VICTORY AT NOTRE DAME
Mike Brey is one win away from notching his 300th victory at Notre Dame. Brey has compiled a 299-156 (.657) record in his 14 seasons in South Bend. Sixteen active head coaches have 300 or more Division I victories at their current institution (see box on Pg.2).
Only two other Notre Dame head coaches have reached the 300-win milestone. Digger Phelps led the Fighting Irish to a 393-197 record from 1971-91. George Keogan notched a 327-97 mark from 1923-43.
Brey is just two victories shy of recording his 400th career win as a college head coach. He has registered a 398-208 (.657) record in 19 seasons at Delaware and Notre Dame.
ROUGH ROAD STRETCH ENDS
Saturday's 70-49 loss at Virginia was Notre Dame's third road contest in six days. The Irish were 1-2 during the road swing.
Notre Dame's travels spanned 5,832 miles over seven days. The trip began at Boston College (a 73-69 win) on Feb. 16 and then the Irish returned to campus before traveling to Miami (a 71-64 loss) on Feb. 19. The team returned to Notre Dame before heading to Charlottesville.
This was Notre Dame's first three-game road stretch since the 2010-11 season (USF, West Virginia, Providence).
PAT AN ALL-AROUND PERFORMER
Junior swingman Pat Connaughton is averaging 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in ACC play. He has scored in double figures in 12 of 15 ACC contests.
He netted a season-high 22 points at Miami last Wednesday. Connaughton was 6-of-7 from three-point range against the Hurricanes. It was his fourth game this season (second in ACC play) with 20-plus points. He also tied a career-high steals mark with three.
Connaughton's 35 three-pointers in ACC games are tied for fifth in the league. His 67 treys overall this season are the second-most among ACC players.
He is averaging 5.7 defensive rebounds per game in ACC play, which is third-best league lead. Connaughton has pulled down 10 or more rebounds in six games this season (three ACC contests). His 7.0 rebounds-per-game average this season ranks ninth in the ACC. He is 11th in league games only (6.9 rpg.).
In ACC play, Connaughton ranks fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.63).
He has four double-doubles (points & rebounds) this season and six for his career.
Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds this season. Last season, he averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.
JACKSON IS BACK
Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson returned to the court last Wednesday against Miami after missing the previous two contests. Jackson netted a career-high 17 points and dished out a career-best five assists in 27 minutes against the Hurricanes. He also matched a career-high mark for three-pointers with three (on five attempts).
Junior Pat Connaughton has never missed a game during his Fighting Irish career. He has played in all 97 contests, including 81 starts. Connaughton has started 78 consecutive games.
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has played in 93 straight games (all starts). He has only missed two contests during his Notre Dame career and has competed in 129 games (101 starts). Atkins is tied for fifth on Notre Dame's career games played list and is ninth in games started.
Atkins has played every minute of a contest eight times this season (six times in ACC play). He was on the court for all 50 minutes of the double-overtime victory over Clemson on Feb. 11.
Connaughton has played all 40 minutes in two of the last three games. He has never left the court in eight games this season (six in ACC play). Connaughton played 49 minutes in the double-overtime win against Clemson.
Atkins ranks fifth nationally and first in the ACC in minutes played per game this season (37:47). Connaughton is 17th nationally and third in the league (36:55).
In ACC contests, Connaughton (39.00) and Atkins (38.87) rank second and third, respectively, in minutes played per game.
A SUPER STARTER
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has notched 101 starts during his Notre Dame career. He is just the ninth player in program history to record 100 career starts. Atkins has been in the Fighting Irish starting lineup in each of the last 93 contests.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Notre Dame made a season-high 13 three-pointers (on 28 attempts) last Wednesday at Miami. It was the third time this season (first time in ACC play) the Irish made 10 or more treys in a game.
Pat Connaughton was 6-of-7 from beyond the arc against the Hurricanes. The six treys tied the most for an Irish player this season (Eric Atkins 6 vs. Canisius).
Atkins (169) and Connaughton (166) rank ninth and 10th, respectively, in Notre Dame history in three-point field goals made.
Connaughton has a team-high 67 three-pointers this season, while Atkins is second with 52.
IRISH BREAK THROUGH AGAINST BC
Notre Dame's 73-69 win at Boston College (Feb. 16) was the first road win for the Irish as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish had been 0-6 in true road games this season (0-5 in ACC play) prior to that game. Overall this season, Notre Dame is 1-8 on the road (1-7 in conference play).
Notre Dame shot 50.9% (27-53) from the field against the Eagles. It was the first time the Irish shot 50% or above from the floor since a 52.6% performance against Duke on Jan. 4.
The win over Boston College combined with the 68-64 double-overtime triumph of Clemson on Feb. 11 marked Notre Dame's first two-game win streak in the ACC.
ATKINS AMONG ACC LEADERS
Eric Atkins is averaging a team-best 13.7 ppg. in ACC play along with teammate Pat Connaughton. That ranks 15th in the league. Atkins has scored in double-figures in 11 of 15 ACC games.
His 1,353 career points are the fourth-most among active ACC players, while his 563 career assists are the most for any current ACC player.
He recorded his first double-double of the season (fifth of his career) by tallying 19 points and 11 assists in the Jan. 4 win over Duke. The 11 assists are the most for an ACC player in a league game this season.
Atkins was named ACC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (Dec. 30 and Jan. 6).
He scored a career-high 30 points and played all 45 minutes in the overtime victory over Canisius on Dec. 29. Atkins deposited a career-high six three pointers (on eight attempts).
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior point guard Eric Atkins' 2.34 career assist-to-turnover ratio is tied for fifth among all active Division I players.
His 563 career assists ranks 14th nationally among active players. This season, Atkins has 130 assists and 53 turnovers for a 2.45 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is seventh-best in the ACC.
He is averaging 4.8 assists per game in ACC play, which ranks third in the league.
Atkins has dished off 100-plus assists in each of his four seasons. He is one of four players in Notre Dame history to have 100-plus assists in four consecutive seasons. The other three players are Chris Thomas (2001-05), Tory Jackson (2006-10) and David Rivers (1984-88).
ATKINS A COUSY AWARD CANDIDATE
Senior Eric Atkins has been named one of the final 23 candidates for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. The original watch list of 80 candidates was narrowed down to the list of 23.
Atkins is averaging 13.4 points and 4.6 assists per game this season and boasts a 2.45 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is averaging 37.8 minutes per game this season.
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. The candidates will be narrowed down to a final five in early March.
HOT STRETCH FOR AUGUSTE
Sophomore forward Zach Auguste has netted double-digits five times in the last eight games. He saw his career-best three-game double-figure scoring streak come to an end last Wednesday at Miami.
Auguste recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Clemson (Feb. 11).
Auguste has been in the starting lineup in eight of the last nine contests and 11 times overall this season.
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally (third in the ACC) with a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Irish have the country's 30th-best assists-per-game mark (15.5), which is third in the ACC.
Notre Dame has turned the ball over just 19 times in the last three games (7 vs. Boston College, 6 vs. Miami and Virginia).
The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in 14 games (eight times in ACC play).
The Fighting Irish are 3-0 in overtime games this season. The 68-64 double-overtime win over Clemson on Feb. 11 was Notre Dame's sixth straight victory in a game decided in overtime. In fact, the Fighting Irish are 9-1 in their last 10 overtime affairs.
Notre Dame is 16-9 in overtime contests under head coach Mike Brey.
Notre Dame's other two overtime victories this season were against Canisius (87-81) on Dec. 29 and Boston College (76-73) on Feb. 1.
SHUFFLING THE STARTERS
Notre Dame has used 10 different starting lineups this season.
Against Virginia on Saturday, the Irish started Atkins, Connaughton, Sherman, Knight and Vasturia. It was the first time the Irish have used that starting lineup.
TOUGH GOING AT PURCELL THIS YEAR
Heading into this season, Notre Dame had lost only nine times at Purcell Pavilion since the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign and had not suffered more than three losses at home in a single season.
The Irish are 12-5 at Purcell Pavilion this season. The five losses are the most since the 2005-06 campaign when that Notre Dame team finished 12-5 at home. That season followed a 13-5 season at home in 2004-05.
CLOSE LOSSES IN LEAGUE PLAY
Notre Dame's 10 losses in ACC play have been by a combined 89 points (8.9 ppg.).
Only three of the 10 setbacks have been by double digits -- twice to Virginia (68-53 and 70-49) and North Carolina (73-62).
Notre Dame's 14 defeats this season have been by a total of just 114 points (8.1 ppg.).
BURGETT SURGERY SUCCESSFUL
Sophomore forward Austin Burgett on Jan. 29 underwent outpatient cardiac procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and returned to the court on against North Carolina on Feb. 8 for the first time since the Florida State game on Jan. 21. He experienced an abnormally fast heartbeat in the second half of Notre Dame's loss against the Seminoles.
He played a career-high 27 minutes Saturday at Virginia.
SHERMAN COMPILING A SOLID SEASON
Senior center Garrick Sherman is averaging career-bests in points (13.6) and rebounds (7.5) this season. In ACC play, he ranks 19th in scoring (12.8 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
Sherman's 50.2% shooting percentage this season ranks second among all ACC players.
He tallied a career-high 29 points at Iowa (Dec. 3).
Sherman has a team-high 19 blocked shots.
SHERMAN PUTTING ON DOUBLE-DOUBLE DISPLAY
Garrick Sherman's six double-doubles this season are tied for the third-most among ACC players. His three double-doubles in ACC play are tied for sixth in the conference.
One of his strongest showings of the year came against North Carolina State (Jan. 7) as he finished with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. The 18 boards are tied for the most by an ACC player in a league game this season.
He scored 20 or more points in consecutive games for the first time of his career when he tallied 21 and 20 against Florida State (Jan. 21) and Wake Forest (Jan. 25), respectively.
Freshman guard Steve Vasturia scored a career-high 13 points at Syracuse (Feb. 3) and also netted double figures with 11 points in a career-best 41 minutes in the double-overtime win over Clemson. He knocked down two crucial three-pointers in the second overtime versus the Tigers.
He has started eight games for the Irish this season (all in ACC play).
Vasturia made a career-high three three-pointers (on five attempts) against Duke on Jan. 4. He was named ACC Rookie of the Week on Jan. 6 for his performance versus the Blue Devils.
Prior to that contest, the last time the Irish had two freshmen in the starting lineup was during the 2006-07 campaign when rookies Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson both earned multiple starts throughout the season.
V.J. Beachem earned his first career start against Clemson (Feb. 11). He became the third different Irish freshman to start a game this season.
The last time Notre Dame had three true freshmen earn at least one start in a season was during the 1999-2000 campaign (Matt Carroll-30, Jere Macura-2 and Ivan Kartelo-1).
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 37-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 66-9 when outrebounding its opponent and 68-6 when leading at halftime.
IRISH OPEN ACC ERA WITH WIN OVER DUKE
January 4 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.
Duke grabbed a 10-point lead (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.
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.
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
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.
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.
DIGGER PHELPS BECOMES SIXTH INDUCTEE INTO RING OF HONOR
Former Irish head coach Digger Phelps became the sixth inductee into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor during halftime of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech game on Jan. 19.
More than two dozen of Phelps' former players from his 20-season era (1971-91) returned to campus to see their former head coach inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Notre Dame also commemorated the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88-game win streak. The landmark victory took place at Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. The win streak still remains the longest in men's college basketball history. Eleven members of the squad were recognized for that achievement during a first-half timeout of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech contest.
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 and will enroll in the fall of 2014.