NOTRE DAME AND DELAWARE PREPARE FOR FIRST-EVER MATCHUP
Notre Dame (5-2) will face Delaware (5-3) at 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. It is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
The game is the first of three consecutive home contests for the Irish in the regional rounds of the BlackRock Gotham Classic. Notre Dame is slated to play three games in the next five days.
Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Regional Sports Network (check local listings) with Mike Hogewood (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (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 great LaPhonso Ellis 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/XM 85 (ESPN Xtra).
TOUGH STRETCH CONTINUES FOR IRISH
Notre Dame continues a grueling stretch in which the Irish play six games in 18 days.
The Irish are playing their second game this week after falling to Iowa 98-93 in Iowa City on Tuesday night. That contest was part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Notre Dame continues play in the BlackRock Gotham Classic on Monday night when it plays host to Bryant and then entertains North Dakota State on Wednesday night.
Notre Dame concludes the week with a matchup against Indiana on Dec. 14 in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.
A FAMILIAR FRIEND
Mike Brey, who began his head coaching career at the University of Delaware in 1995, faces the Blue Hens for the first time since he was named head coach at Notre Dame in July 2000.
Brey coached at Delaware from 1995-2000 and compiled a 99-52 mark with the Blue Hens. Under Brey, Delaware won two America East regular-season and tournament championships (1998 and 1999) and guided the Blue Hens to the NCAAs in each of those two seasons. His teams also advanced to the National Invitation Tournament in his final season in 2000.
Irish assistant coach Anthony Solomon also spent a year at Delaware as a graduate assistant during the 1988-89 campaign.
NOTRE DAME VERSUS THE COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
When Mike Brey served as head coach of the Blue Hens, Delaware was a member of the America East Conference, but currently are members of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Notre Dame has an 11-0 all-time record versus teams from the CAA.
BREAKING DOWN THE BLACKROCK GOTHAM CLASSIC
Notre Dame will play host to three games at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as part of the second annual Gotham Classic before heading to New York City to take on Ohio State in the showcase game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Dec. 21. That contest will be televised by ESPN2.
The Irish will host three games in a five-day span. Notre Dame will face Delaware on Saturday, Bryant on Monday and North Dakota State on Wednesday.
The format of the Gotham Classic features 10 games with all five teams playing each other. In addition to the games at Notre Dame, the slate of contests also includes: North Dakota State at Bryant (Dec. 7), Bryant at Ohio Sate (Dec. 11), North Dakota at Ohio State (Dec. 14), Delaware at North Dakota State (Dec. 16) and Delaware at Ohio State (Dec. 18).
Bryant and Delaware will meet at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 21 in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader.
GRANT JOINS 1,000-POINT CLUB
With his 20-point performance against Cornell on Dec. 1, senior guard Jerian Grant became the 55th player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 career points.
It marked the second time in the young season that the Irish have had a player reach the 1,000 point mark. Grant's backcourt mate Eric Atkins reached the 1,000-point mark on Nov. 17 against Indiana State.
Grant has a career scoring average of 13.3 points per game and has started 74 of 76 outings in his two-plus seasons playing. Atkins has earned 80 career starts in 108 contests during his three-plus seasons and has averaged 10.0 points per game.
Grant is averaging a team-best 18.6 points per game this season. He is the only Notre Dame player to score in double-figures in all seven games.
ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior point guard Eric Atkins' career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.40 ranks first among all active Division I players. Ohio State's Aaron Craft is second on the list (2.28).
Atkins has 467 career assists and just 194 turnovers. The career assist total currently ranks 11th nationally.
This season, Atkins has 34 assists and just six turnovers for a 5.7 assist-to-turnover, which is the fifth-best mark in the country.
Fellow Notre Dame senior guard Jerian Grant currently ranks 28th in career assists (406) among active players nationally. Grant has a team-best 43 assists this season to go along with just 11 turnovers for a 3.91 assist-to-turnover ratio, which tied for 16th nationally.
Junior Pat Connaughton ranks 10th nationally in assist-to-turnover (4.60) this season.
As a team, Notre Dame has the country's second-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.13) this season. The Fighting Irish also are second nationally in assists per game (20.8).
PUTTING UP THE NUMBERS
The Irish topped the 90-point mark for the third consecutive game in its 98-93 loss at Iowa. It is the third time in the Mike Brey era that Notre Dame has netted 90-plus points in three consecutive outings. The last time was during the 2002-03 campaign when the Irish did it against Texas (98-92 win), DePaul (102-71 win) and Canisius (93-75 win).
Notre Dame topped the 100-point mark in its win over Cornell on Dec 1. It was the first time the Irish went over the century mark in a game decided in regulation since a 106-65 win over Sacred Heart on Dec. 19, 2011, and was the 15th time during Mike Brey's 14-year tenure that one of his Irish teams scored 100-plus points.
That game followed up Notre Dame's 93-point effort against Army on Nov. 24.
Notre Dame has shot better than 50.0% from the field in three consecutive games. The Irish shot a season-best 56.5% (35-62) from the floor against Army, 54.3% (38-70) versus Cornell and 51.5% (35-68) at Iowa.
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame is averaging 20.9 assists per game and just 9.7 turnovers. In five contests, the Irish have dished off 20-or more assists and in four of seven games, have committed fewer than 10 turnovers.
The Irish dished off a season-high 28 assists against Cornell and committed just five turnovers in the game (one in the second half).
In the loss at Iowa, Notre Dame had 20 assists and seven turnovers. For the second straight contest the Irish turned the ball over just once in the second half after having six first-half turnovers.
In back-to-back outings against Army and Cornell, Notre Dame outscored its opponents 60-35 (combined 120-70) in the second half in each of the two contests. The 60 points put up in both of the games were the most in any half for the Irish since a 62-point first-half effort against Georgia Southern on Nov. 12, 2010. They were the most second-half points for the Fighting Irish since they went for 64 against Cincinnati on Jan. 15, 2008.
The Irish shot 75% (24-32) from the floor in the second half against Army. That matched the highest percentage in any half for Notre Dame under head coach Mike Brey. The Irish also shot 75% (18-24) in the first half against West Virginia on Jan. 9, 2010, and in the second half (18-24) versus Niagara on Dec. 21, 2012.
Notre Dame was 23-37 from the field (54.3%) in the second half against Cornell.
Notre Dame's 19 second-half assists (on 24 made field goals) versus the Black Knights tied the most in a half for an Irish team under the direction of Brey. The Fighting Irish also dished out 19 assists in the first half of a 99-71 win over Canisius on Dec. 19, 2000.
The Irish outscored Iowa (50-46) in the second half in the loss to the Hawkeyes.
TRUE FRESHMAN START
Irish freshman Demetrius Jackson earned the first start of his young career on Dec. 1 against Cornell. It marked the first time since the 2011-12 campaign that a true freshman was in the Notre Dame starting lineup.
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.
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 in three of Notre Dame's last four contests and is averaging 8.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.43 assists in the seven games he has played.
Jackson's best game was against Santa Clara as he netted 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, both career bests.
Connaughton is 17-of-37 (.459) from three-point range this season, while Grant is 13-of-29 (.448) and Atkins is 16-of-37 (.432).
Notre Dame ranks 21st nationally in three-point percentage this season (.432). The Irish made a season-high 12 treys (on 25 attempts) versus Cornell on Dec. 1.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks 15th nationally in free throw percentage (.777). Senior guard Jerian Grant is shooting a team-best 90.0% (27-30) from the charity stripe (minimum 10 attempts). Senior center Garrick Sherman is connecting on 84.6% (22-26) of his attempts.
EARNING HIS STRIPES FROM THE LINE
Senior center Garrick Sherman's career high 29-point performance against Iowa on Tuesday night was highlighted by him connecting on 12-of-18 shots from the field and he made all five of his free throw attempts in a career-high 32 minutes.
Sherman is having his best season from the line as he has connected on 84.6% of his attempts (22-26). 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.
For Atkins, his selection proves to be historic, as he becomes the first three-time captain in the 109-history of the program, while Connaughton is in his first season in the captaincy role.
The backcourt trio of seniors Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant along with junior Pat Connaughton has logged significant playing time together over the past two-plus seasons. Notre Dame's four returning starters from 2012-13 (including senior forward Tom Knight) have started a combined 237 contests with 214 of those starts coming from the Atkins-Grant-Connaughton combination.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 122-10 in their last 132 games played at home. That .924 home winning percentage over the course of the last eight seasons ranks fourth nationally.
Notre Dame is 57-4 (.934) in its last 61 home games.
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 35-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 59-5 when outrebounding its opponent and 62-5 when leading at halftime.
The Fighting Irish went 5-4 against ranked teams last season. Over the last four-plus seasons, Notre Dame is 22-17 (.564) against teams ranked in the Associated Press top-25 poll, including a 12-2 mark at home.
Notre Dame is 4-3 in its last seven showdowns with a team ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll. The Irish are 17-26 against teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll under head coach Mike Brey.
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 15.3 points and 4.9 assists per game this season. He also boasts a 5.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Atkins has 1,084 career points and 467 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.
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.
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.
FIGHTING IRISH RETURN TO CROSSROADS CLASSIC
Notre Dame will battle Big Ten rival Indiana in the third annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The game between the Irish and the Hoosiers will be the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 14. Butler and Purdue will square off in the second contest.
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.
IRISH ENTER THE ACC
Following 18 seasons in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame is entering 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.
Senior guard Jerian Grant was named to the five-man Preseason All-ACC Team.
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.
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.
He 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 the 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 NOMINIEE 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.