Aug. 1, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Hi again, loyal and avid followers of the BasketBlog! Hard to believe, but we're now less than a month away from the start of classes here at Notre Dame, and 10 weeks away from the official start of practice for the 2008-09 basketball season.
Been a busy off-season for the Fighting Irish, especially since we last touched base. Our incoming freshmen have made it through their first round of college classes, successfully juggling academics with a heavy dose of strength and conditioning work (no pun intended) and some serious high-intensity pick-up games over at the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center. But for Rock, Fred, Nasty and KW, it should all pay off in a big way when things get going for real in October.
Our upperclassmen also have shown significant improvement during the summer. Each one of them looks to have taken to heart the postseason meetings with their position coaches and have concentrated hard on refining certain aspects of their game. Sometimes, the players are challenged to work on tangible things like a quicker release on a three-point shot, finishing strong in the lane with contact or crashing the boards for an extra rebound (or three!). Other times, the challenge from the coaches involves more cerebral things such as leadership skills and focus in late-game situations (especially when you're tired).
Team chemistry is another thing that evolves during the summer, particularly when you have some new faces joining the team. We've been extremely fortunate in recent years to have teams that exhibited amazing chemistry, where everyone was on the same page and everyone was pointed toward the same common goal. Judging by some of the off-season workouts I've gotten to see, this year's Fighting Irish squad may have some of the best chemistry yet ... and that's going to be very important when you consider that we won't lose anyone off this year's team. That's right -- we have the same core group of players in place for the next two years, which means we have a rare opportunity to not only develop chemistry, but to strengthen it and take it to a new level that few (if any) teams get to experience.
To paraphrase one of the popular sayings in basketball -- championships aren't won during the season; they're won in the off-season. In other words, it's the team that does the little things when no one's watching, putting in that extra effort and intensity in the weight room or on the track or during pick-up games ... that's the team that's going to be holding up the championship trophy next April in St. Louis.
Speaking of St. Louis, the road to the 2009 Women's Final Four will begin right here at the Joyce Center, as we've been selected to be one of 16 host sites for first- and second-round games in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Tickets have already gone on sale for the tournament, and I'd recommend getting those tickets early because there's no telling what may be left once the brackets are announced in March. We've put together a pretty cool web page with some more information on next year's NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center ... just click here and check it out! (And extra bonus points if you can identify the great moments associated with all the photos in the slideshow on that page)
As for the rest of our schedule, we're probably about another 6-8 weeks away from releasing it publicly. While we do know our opponents for the season (including LSU in the season-opening State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16), the dates and times for the BIG EAST schedule haven't been ironed out yet. Basically, the conference has to coordinate its basketball schedules (particularly the men's slate) around the dates for the upcoming NBA season, since many BIG EAST men's programs share an arena with an NBA team. Once those dates and times are finalized, we have to go through an additional step here at Notre Dame and have the full schedule approved by the university's Faculty Board on Athletics, which studies it to make sure we aren't missing too many class days for our road trips. This is where being able to take a charter plane on all of our long-distance trips really comes in handy, and believe me, we all know how incredibly fortunate and blessed we are to have that luxury.
So hang in there on our schedule and we'll get that to you as soon as we can. In the meantime, we've put together another player Q&A for your enjoyment. In the last BasketBlog, we spoke with our incoming freshmen, and this time, we go to the other end of the spectrum and sit down with our senior-to-be, guard Lindsay Schrader. So, read on and remember to get your season tickets now (click here for more information!) because it's going to be one tremendous 2008-09 season here at Notre Dame ... GO IRISH!!
60 Seconds With Senior Guard Lindsay Schrader
What have you been doing since school ended in May?
How have your summer workouts been going?
Have you been concentrating on any one particular thing during your workouts?
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you or a teammate this summer?
What did you do for the 4th of July?
Do you have any big vacation plans or taking a trip anywhere?
Is there is anything exciting that has happened to you recently that you'd like to share?
What are you most looking forward to this season?
What are some of your goals for this season?
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?