IRISH TO FACE #3/2 BUCKEYES IN GOTHAM CLASSIC SHOWCASE GAME IN NYC
Notre Dame (8-3) returns to the court following a week off for final exams to face No. 3/2 Ohio State (11-0) Saturday in the showcase game of the BlackRock Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET).
The Fighting Irish are coming off a 79-72 victory over Indiana last Saturday at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. Notre Dame never trailed in the game.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast by ESPN2/WatchESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dan Dakich (analyst) and Jeff Goodman (reporter) 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 134/XM 193.
BATTLING THE BUCKEYES
Saturday will be the 13th meeting between Notre Dame and Ohio State and the first since a 67-62 Buckeye victory on Dec. 6, 2008, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Ohio State leads the series 7-5.
The only other meeting between the two schools since 1973 was a 59-57 Irish victory over the No. 4/6 Buckeyes in Columbus during the 1999 Preseason NIT.
IRISH GETTING FAMILIAR WITH THE BIG TEN
Ohio State is Notre Dame's third Big Ten Conference opponent this season. The Irish dropped a 98-93 decision to Iowa in Iowa City on Dec. 3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and then defeated Indiana, 79-72, last Saturday in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.
The Fighting Irish are 233-208 (.528) all-time against teams from the Big Ten.
Notre Dame is 7-11 against the Big Ten under Mike Brey.
FIGHTING IRISH IN THE GARDEN
Notre Dame owns a 58-48 (.547) record all-time when playing inside Madison Square Garden.
The Fighting Irish posted an 11-18 record inside the venue in 18 appearances in the BIG EAST Championship.
The Irish went 2-2 inside MSG last season (2-1 in the BIG EAST Championship).
SHERMAN STEPPING UP
Senior center Garrick Sherman has scored in double-figures in each of the last eight games (a career-best streak). It also is the longest current streak for any Irish player.
Sherman is shooting a team-best 54.1% (60-111) from the field. He also is 37-49 (.755) 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 on Dec. 3. Those are the most points for any Irish player this season. He was 12-of-18 from the field against the Hawkeyes.
On Saturday against Indiana, Sherman posted 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor in addition to blocking a career-high four shots and pulling down six rebounds.
Sherman recorded the first double-double of his career with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds versus Bryant on Dec. 9. He followed that up with another double-double as he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds against North Dakota State.
Junior swingman Pat Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.9 points (third-leading scorer) and 7.3 rebounds (second-leading rebounder). He has been in double figures in scoring this season in all but two games (Santa Clara and Army).
Connaughton has topped the 20-point mark in two of the last four games. He netted 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win over Delaware and finished with 21 points in the loss to North Dakota State.
His current six-game double-figure scoring streak is the longest of his career.
Connaughton leads the team with three double-doubles this season.
Connaughton has been in the starting lineup in 61 consecutive games since his freshman season.
Senior guard Jerian Grant has eclipsed the 20-point mark in three of the last four games and six times overall this season. Grant has scored in double-figures in 10 of 11 games this season and is averaging a team-best (and career-high) 19.1 points per game.
Grant netted a career-best 26 points in the season opener versus Miami (Ohio) and scored 25 points against Delaware on Dec. 7 as he connected on a personal-best 10 field goals. He had 23-point efforts versus Bryant and Indiana along with notching 20 points against Santa Clara and Cornell.
Grant recorded his first double-double of the season against Iowa on Dec. 3 when he finished with 13 points and 10 assists.
GRANT AND ATKINS ... A DYNAMIC DUO
Backcourt mates Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant both reached the 1,000-point mark this season. Atkins accomplished the feat against Indiana State (Nov. 17), while Grant did so versus Cornell (Dec. 1).
Grant and Atkins have combined to play in 192 contests and make 162 starts. Together they have scored 2,201 points, dished off 916 assists and made 239 steals.
ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior Jerian Grant's 2.42 career assist-to-turnover ratio ranks first among all active Division I players, while teammate Eric Atkins' 2.39 mark ranks him second. Ohio State's Aaron Craft is third on the list (2.29).
Grant and Atkins have combined for 120 assists and just 31 turnovers this season.
Akins has 483 careers assists and just 202 turnovers. The career assist total currently ranks 11th nationally. This season, Atkins has 50 assists and just 14 turnovers for a 3.6 assist-to-turnover, which ranks 19th nationally.
Jerian Grant currently ranks 24th in career assists (433) among active players nationally. Grant has a team-best 70 assists this season (ninth-most in the country) to go along with just 17 turnovers for a 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is seventh nationally. Grant dished off nine assists last Saturday versus Indiana. That was the third time this season that he had nine-plus assists in a game.
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame has the country's best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90) this season. The Fighting Irish are fourth nationally in assists per game (18.8), while they are 19th nationally in fewest turnovers per game (9.9).
The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in six games.
NOTRE DAME'S NEW MOTTO #ONEMORE
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, the Irish will debut 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.
CANISIUS GAME TIME CHANGE
Notre Dame's home game against Canisius on Sunday, Dec. 29 has moved to a 5 p.m. (ET) tipoff from the original 2 p.m. start time. The contest will be televised by ESPNU.
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 six 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.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks ninth nationally in free throw percentage (.774). Senior guard Jerian Grant is shooting a team-best 88.4% (61-69) from the charity stripe (minimum 10 attempts). Senior center Garrick Sherman is connecting on 75.5% (37-49) of his attempts.
Grant was 11-of-11 from the free throw line in Saturday's win over Indiana.
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 249 contests with 226 of those starts coming from the Atkins-Grant-Connaughton combination.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 124-11 in their last 135 games played at home. That .919 home winning percentage over the course of the last eight seasons ranks fifth nationally.
Notre Dame is 59-5 (.922) in its last 64 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, 61-5 when outrebounding its opponent and 65-5 when leading at halftime.
Over the last five 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 11.9 points and 4.5 assists per game this season and boasts a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Atkins has 1,108 career points and 483 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.
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 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.