FIGHTING IRISH BACK HOME TO FACE MAINE ON THURSDAY
Notre Dame (5-4) will play host to Maine (3-2) on Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The game will be aired on the Internet via ESPN3 with Anthony Calhoun (play-by-play) and Austin Croshere (analyst) calling the action.
The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and LaPhonso Ellis (analyst) will call the action on radio (affiliate listings on Pg. 5) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
This will be the third meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Maine. The Irish lead the series 2-0, which includes a 97-72 victory last season at Purcell Pavilion (Nov. 22, 2010). The Fighting Irish claimed a 79-55 home win over the Black Bears during the 1981-82 campaign. Current Irish senior Scott Martin scored 15 points in last season's win over Maine, while current junior Jack Cooley had 13 points. Both Martin and Cooley had five boards against the Black Bears.
Maine is the first America East Conference school the Irish have faced since defeating UMBC, 93-53, last season (Dec. 22, 2010). Notre Dame topped three America East foes last season (Maine, Stony Brook, UMBC). The Irish are 14-0 against teams currently in the America East.
Notre Dame has a 24-game home win streak.
The Fighting Irish are 59-14 (.808) in December under head coach Mike Brey.
COACHING AGAINST HIS OLD CONFERENCE
Playing an America East foe will be nothing new for Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. Brey spent five seasons at Delaware (1995-2000) while the Blue Hens were part of the America East Conference.
Brey posted a 60-30 league record at Delaware. He and the Blue Hens captured the conference title in 1998 and 1999. Brey guided Delaware to postseason play during his final three seasons at the school (2 NCAA, 1 NIT).
Brey went 6-6 against Maine during his time with the Blue Hens. Brey's Notre Dame squad topped Maine, 97-72, last season.
Sophomore guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant registered solid games on Sunday against Maryland in a return to the Washington, D.C. area. Atkins is from Columbia, Md., while Grant hails from Bowie, Md. Grant matched a career-high total with 20 points, while Atkins added 16 points. Atkins played a career-high 40 minutes against the Terrapins, while Grant matched a career-best total by playing 39 minutes.
Sophomore guard Jerian Grant has team-high totals in points (130), assists (40), steals (11) and minutes played (308). He also has made a team-high 13 three-pointers.
Grant is shooting 56.2% (41-73) from the field, which includes a 44.8% (13-29) mark from three-point range. Grant has a team-best 2.86 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Grant matched a career-high total with 20 points on Sunday against Maryland. He also scored 20 against Georgia on Nov. 22.
He has scored in double-figures a team-best eight times this season (out of nine games). Grant has led Notre Dame in scoring in three of the past four games.
Grant posted his first career double-double by notching 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Bryant on Nov. 27.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is averaging 14.1 points-per-game this season, which ranks second among all Irish players. Atkins has scored in double-figures in five of the seven games he has played this season. He missed two games (Sam Houston State & Delaware State) due to illness.
Atkins dished out a career-high nine assists against Bryant on Nov. 27.
Atkins scored a career-high 27 points in the season-opening victory over Mississippi Valley State. Against Mississippi Valley State, Atkins was 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, and 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Both the three-point and free-throw totals were career-high figures.
Atkins is 32-39 (.821) from the charity stripe this season and he is 11-21 (.524) from three-point range.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
The Irish committed a season-low seven turnovers on Sunday against Maryland.
BROGHAMMER BRINGS PRODUCTION OFF THE BENCH
Junior forward Mike Broghammer posted career-high totals in rebounds (7), blocked shots (2) and minutes played (16) on Sunday against Maryland. It was the first team-leading rebound effort of his career.
Freshman Pat Connaughton has scored in double-figures four times this season.
Connaughton's 24 points against Sam Houston State (Nov. 16) were the most for a Notre Dame freshman since Torin Francis had 25 against Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA Tournament (March 27, 2003).
Connaughton's six made three-pointers (on 10 attempts) against Sam Houston State were the most for an Irish freshman since Chris Thomas had six against Connecticut in the semifinals of the 2002 BIG EAST Tournament (March 8, 2002).
Connaughton's 24 points off the bench in the Sam Houston State game were the most bench points by an Irish player since Chris Quinn netted 25 against Quinnipiac during the 2003-04 campaign (Dec. 23, 2003).
COOLEY CRASHING THE BOARDS
Junior forward Jack Cooley notched his first career double-double by registering 11 points and 17 rebounds against Delaware State (Nov. 18). The 17 rebounds, which included 10 offensive boards, were a career-high total for Cooley. He became the first Irish player to haul down that many rebounds in a game since Luke Harangody had 17 against Louisville during the 2008-09 season (Feb. 12, 2009).
Cooley leads the Irish with a 7.0 rpg. average this season.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Notre Dame has hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game three times this season. The Irish deposited 11 treys against Bryant (Nov. 27) and Delaware State (Nov. 18) and they hit 10 versus Sam Houston State (Nov. 16). The Fighting Irish made 10 or more three-pointers in a game seven times last season.
417 AND COUNTING
Notre Dame has made at least one three-pointer in 417 straight contests dating back to the 1998-99 campaign. The Fighting Irish have made at least one three pointer during every game of the Mike Brey era. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer in a game was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999. Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in that contest. In 2008-09, the Irish set a single-season three-point record with 319.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Five Irish players - Eric Atkins, Joey Brooks, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant, and Scott Martin - scored in double-figures in the 84-59 win over Bryant on Nov. 27. It was the first time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers in a game since the semifinals of the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament against Louisville (March 11, 2011).
SHARING THE BALL
The Irish have registered 20 or more assists in a game three times this season. Their season-high total was 24 (on 31 made baskets) against Bryant on Nov. 27.
Eight teams on Notre Dame's 2011-12 schedule are ranked in the latest Associated Press top-25 poll. Six of the squads - #3 Syracuse, #5 Louisville, #9 Connecticut, #11 Marquette, #15 Pittsburgh and #18 Georgetown - are BIG EAST foes, while the Fighting Irish faced #10 Missouri and #23 Gonzaga in non-conference action. The Irish will face ninth-ranked UConn twice during the regular season.
Notre Dame will battle instate rival Indiana in the inaugural Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The game between the Irish and the Hoosiers is part of a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 17. Purdue and Butler meet in the first game at 2:00 p.m. (ET) followed by Notre Dame and Indiana at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Notre Dame will have 17 television appearances during the 2011-12 season. The Irish will appear on ESPN's family of networks 16 times in addition to being on CBS once.
Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. Connaughton is the 66th Notre Dame student-athlete to compete in both basketball and baseball and the first to do so since Tom Hansen during the 1973-74 academic year.
Forward Tim Abromaitis suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee at a morning team practice on Nov. 25 and will miss the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign. Abromaitis, who is in his fifth season with the Irish, had played in two games (Missouri and Georgia) and was averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. He had missed Notre Dame's first four games due to a misunderstanding of a technicality in an NCAA rule governing seasons of competition that dated back to the 2008-09 campaign when he played in the first two exhibitions of his sophomore campaign and then sat out the remainder of that season.
Abromaitis was selected to the 2011-12 preseason watch lists for both the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. Both awards are presented annually to the national player of the year. He also was named to the six-man preseason All-BIG EAST First Team. In addition, the Irish forward is one of 30 candidates up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin will captain the Fighting Irish during the 2011-12 season. Abromaitis is the 19th player in program history to serve as a two-time team captain.
WHAT A RUN
The past four seasons has produced the most regular-season BIG EAST victories (46) in school history. The Irish have gone 46-26 in BIG EAST regular-season play over the past four seasons.
Last season's 27 wins overall (27-7) were the most in the modern era of Fighting Irish basketball. Notre Dame's highest win total ever was 33 (33-7) in 1908-09.
The 14 regular-season BIG EAST victories in 2010-11 tied the program standard. The Fighting Irish went 14-4 in BIG EAST play in 2007-08.
Notre Dame's 15 BIG EAST wins (14 regular season, 1 tournament) last season were the most in program history (combined regular season and tournament).
Mike Brey is in his 12th season along the Irish sidelines. He is the third-longest tenured coach in the BIG EAST, behind only Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Jim Calhoun of Connecticut. Brey stands sixth all-time in career BIG EAST victories (both regular-season and tournament) with his 119-83 (.589) mark. He is one of eight coaches in BIG EAST history to record 100 conference wins.