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    Welcome to the new Fighting Irish Hoops Blog! Notre Dame fans can get a look inside the world of Fighting Irish athletics from coaches, players and staff. Check back on a regular basis for news and notes about Notre Dame athletics and our various teams, and for even more news on the Fighting Irish, follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/UND_com) and Facebook (go to Facebook.com and search for "und.com"). Go Irish!!!


    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Off to a 9-1 start for the second consecutive season, the Notre Dame men's basketball team is looking to close out the non-conference portion of its schedule against Stony Brook (Dec. 19) and UMBC (Dec. 22) before breaking for the Christmas holiday. Coach Mike Brey and his squad will be looking end its non-conference slate with two victories over two formidable America East foes before facing the challenges of an 18-game BIG EAST regular-season slate.

    Winning the Old Spice Classic down in Orlando, Fla., over the Thanksgiving weekend further fueled the team's desire to win a BIG EAST title in March and enjoy a long run in the NCAA Tournament this spring. The Irish have set high goals for this season with a great motivation to meet their expectations. While the team hope, the Irish started the season somewhat under the radar and were not ranked in preseason polls, yet have been ranked each of the last two weeks.

    Senior forward and one of the team's four captains, Tyrone Nash, is not a doubter. Nash has full confidence that he and his team will be able to meet all of their goals, and says that "a lot of people are unaware of our capabilities, but that's ok because we plan to show everyone when the conference season starts." Nash says that the victories in Orlando showed the team the different ways that they could win in a number of different ways. He says that the Irish's high- powered offense, led by senior guard Ben Hansbrough, and its defense, are a great combination for Notre Dame when BIG EAST play begins.

    The BIG EAST is arguably the nation's best conference with seven teams (including Notre Dame) represented in this weeks Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 rankings. The Irish will be face three of the top teams in the league in consecutive outings to start the season. Notre Dame opens up against Georgetown at home on Dec. 29 and then travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange at the Carrier Dome to ring in the New Year on Jan. 1. Three days following that matchup, the Irish return home to take on Connecticut.

    Nash believes that it will be another exciting and unpredictable year in the BIG EAST. From top-to-bottom, each and every season, the BIG EAST provides great basketball and excitement for fans. It will be an interesting conference race in 2011 and one that will provide much drama in March.

    But the Irish won't have to wait until March for all the Madness. Irish fans should mark their calendars for December 29 -- that's when all the fun begins!

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Fans of all ages turned out to watch the Irish squad practice in Purcell Pavilion on October 27th. The team invited fans to watch their second open practice of the year. The first was for Notre Dame students and occurred on October 15th. At practice, fans watched the team run through a series of drill and participate in five-on-five scrimmage. The practice session lasted nearly two hours and was followed by a dinner where players and coaches interacted with fans.

    Following the practice, players joined fans seated at tables and visited with them as they all ate together. Where the Notre Dame men's basketball team goes, there is sure to be an atmosphere full of jokes and laughter, and the scene was no different at the dinner. The guys were constantly kidding around with each other and entertaining the fans.

    Before the dinner started, Coach Brey walked around to all of the tables and talked to the fans at those tables. He opened the dinner by thanking everyone for their turnout and support throughout the years. Brey received chuckles from the crowd when he talked about how he has learned a lot from the fans about the history of the Notre Dame basketball program when he sees the fans in the community at such places like the checkout line of Martin's Grocery Store.

    He called the evening "special" for the team and himself and called those in the room "die-hard fans. After the dinner, Brey talked about the season, the schedule, as well as the BIG EAST Conference. He noted that this would be one of the toughest schedules in school history. Brey noted that while the 2008-09 was the most demanding in his 10 seasons along the sidelines, this year's schedule may prove to be the second toughest in program history.

    After Coach Brey and a few players spoke to the capacity crow, fans had the opportunity stick around for an autograph session by the players. There was a long line of people waiting patiently and eagerly to have the Irish sign team pictures. While the writing hands of the players may have tired, the smiles of their faces never faded. Senior forward Carleton Scott said "I love signing autographs for kids. I just remember when I was younger and being in awe of pros and people in college. I try my best to never turn down kids when they ask for autographs. It humbles me and it is very gratifying." It seemed like the night was a success for all who participated including players, coaches, and fans alike.

    Seven days remain before the season opener against Georgia Southern on Friday, Nov. 12 at 8:30 p.m. Notre Dame plays its final tuneup against Catholic University on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7:00 p.m.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    The men's and women's basketball teams got a lesson in what not to do when it comes to dealing with the media. In what has become part of an annual training session, the teams watched YouTube videos, participated in mock interviews and took turns acting as media members and asking their teammates some very pointed and creative questions.

    Sue Casterino, president and co-owner of The Speaking Specialists, a company based out of Chicago, Ill., area and one of the most highly-regarded professionals in the industry, met with teams more than hour. Her presentation included a session that taught the players how to give an appropriate interview and how to answer even the most difficult, touchy and personal questions without awkward hesitation or creating a scene.

    Players saw examples of how misspoken statements made by athletes of all levels can be transmitted around the world almost instantly through communication sites such as YouTube and popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. They also got to practice interviews while their team mates asked them questioning. This portion of the night was definitely the liveliest as the players enjoyed grilling their team mates on numerous issues that caused the whole room to explode into laughter. Sophomore Forward Jack Cooley was one of the chosen interview candidates for the evening. He said the interview was challenging to do because his teammates were affectionately being "knuckleheads," but that "it was good practice in case someone acts that way in real interviews".

    Players thought that the session was helpful because it demonstrated all of the negative things, backlash and misinterpretation that can come from a single statement. Cooley knows about misinterpretation by the media first hand. He told a reporter that when he went on vacation with his family they saw the DePaul men's basketball team and they mistook him for former Irish standout Luke Harangody. Cooley politely corrected the team and enjoyed his vacation. Later that year, after rewatching a game, Cooley heard a different reporter telling the story he told, but it was not the entire story.

    The basketball teams are now well educated in how to respond to and handle questions from the media. Some of them had experienced media missteps personally, but all saw the danger and consequences that come from not being on their game off of the court.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Basketball isn't the only sport that sophomore guard Joey Brooks is practicing diligently these days. Brooks has been honing his football skills while playing Xbox NCAA Football. Thanks to the newly fixed Xbox complete with games in the men's basketball locker room, Brooks and his teammates have been enjoying playing a sport other than the one they wear Notre Dame jerseys for during the season.

    The Xbox and games were not the only improvements to the locker room during the offseason. The locker room, located in the new Joyce Center, was refinished and new pictures now cover the walls. The locker room is more visually appealing and comfortable and interesting for the players that occupy it. With a large television and big comfy couches, players have been spending lots of time together. Brooks says that the Xbox has increased team bonding time because everyone is always in the locker room playing NCAA football and having fun. Brooks claims that he has been "wrecking havoc" on the rest of the team and that "they cannot even be seen as competition at this point" in relation to his Xbox skills. Brooks is certain that if the rest of the squad were asked, they would certainly confirm his belief in his total domination.

    After the improvements to the locker room and his alleged domination on the Xbox, it would seem that there would be nothing that Brooks misses from the old locker room, but he says that there is one thing. That one thing is the old entry code. He said players had to memorize a new code to type in when entering the locker room. Seeing as Brooks has been getting in significant Xbox time, he has dominated the memorization of the code as well as Xbox NCAA Football. While their skills on the field have yet to be confirmed, Brooks and his teammates agree that the refinishing of the locker room scored a touchdown.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

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