Fighting Irish Host Hokies On Sunday
January 18, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
NOTRE DAME PRESS
Jan. 17, 2014
Virginia Tech (8-8, 1-3)
Notre Dame (10-7, 1-3)
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014
6 p.m. (ET)
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center
Notre Dame, Ind.
Carter Blackburn (play-by-play)
Jay Williams (analyst)
Allison Williams (reporter)
Broadcast on WatchND.tv (free)
Sirius 108/XM 190
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Jordan Cornette (analyst)
NOTRE DAME LOOKS TO END THREE-GAME SLIDE ON SUNDAY VS. VIRGINIA TECH
• Notre Dame (10-7, 1-3) looks to end its three-game slide on Sunday evening when the Irish entertain Virginia Tech (8-8, 1-3) in the first-ever meeting between the two teams as Atlantic Coast Conference foes. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. • The game will be broadcast on ESPNU/WatchESPN with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Jay Williams (analyst) calling the action. Allison Williams will be the sideline reporter. • A free audio broadcast will be available on WatchND.tv. Jack Nolan and former Irish standout Jordan Cornettewill call the action. 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 108/XM 190. • This will be the only regular-season meeting between the Irish and Hokies. • The Fighting Irish return home after suffering back-to-back road setbacks to Georgia Tech (74-69) and Maryland (74-66). • Notre Dame has suffered its first three-game losing streak since the 2009-10 campaign when the Irish were beaten by Seton Hall (Feb. 11), St. John's (Feb. 14) and Louisville (Feb. 17) in BIG EAST play. The last time Notre Dame dropped four straight contests was during the 2008-09 season when it experienced a seven-game losing streak.
DIGGER PHELPS SET TO BECOME SIXTH INDUCTEE INTO RING OF HONOR
• Former Irish head coach Digger Phelps will become the sixth inductee into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor during halftime of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech game. The ceremony will be shown live on ESPNU. • More than two dozen of Phelps' former players from his 20-season era will return to campus to see their former head coach inducted into the Ring of Honor. • Notre Dame will also commemorate the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88-game win streak. The landmark victory took place at Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. The win streak still remains the longest in men's college basketball history. Eleven members of the squad will be recognized for that achievement during a first-half timeout of Sunday's game.
"88 AND 1"
• In celebration of the 40-year anniversary of Notre Dame's 1974 victory over UCLA, Fighting Irish Digital Media, in partnership with 3 Penny Films, has produced a one-hour special presentation titled "88 AND 1," presented by Coca-Cola, premiering at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 19 on ESPN2. ESPNU will re-air the show at the following times: 10 p.m. EST on Jan. 19, 4 p.m. EST on Jan. 21, 6 p.m. EST on Jan. 24 and 1 a.m. EST on Jan. 30.
THE VIRGINIA TECH SERIES
• This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools and the first matchup as Atlantic Coast Conference foes. • The first time the two schools played was in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament as the Irish dropped a 92-91 overtime decision at Madison Square Garden. • The three other times Notre Dame and Virginia Tech have played were when the two schools were members of the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish won all three of those contests, including two in Blacksburg, Va. • Virginia Tech will be playing at Notre Dame for just the second time. In their lone visit to South Bend, the Hokies dropped a 98-76 decision on Feb. 22, 2003.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
• Senior point guard Eric Atkins has scored in double-figures in each of the last six games and is averaging 17.3 ppg. in those six contests. • Atkins was named ACC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (Dec. 30 and Jan. 6). • He recorded his first double-double of the season and the fifth of his career by tallying 19 points and 11 assists in the Jan. 4 win over Duke. He committed just two turnovers in a team-high 38 minutes against the Blue Devils. • He scored a career-high 30 points and played all 45 minutes in the overtime victory over Canisius on Dec. 29. He was the first Irish player to score 30 points since Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbroughboth netted 30 against Villanova on Feb. 28, 2011. Atkins deposited a career-high six three pointers (on eight attempts) and finished 10-of-14 from the field. The six treys were a team-high total this season. • Atkins netted his third 20-plus outing of the season (seventh of his career) last Saturday at Georgia Tech.
SHERMAN PUTTING ON A DOUBLE-DOUBLE DISPLAY
• Senior center Garrick Sherman posted his team-best fifth double-double of the season last Saturday at Georgia Tech with 13 points and 12 rebounds. It came just four days after he recorded a 21-point and career-high 18-rebound effort against North Carolina State. • Sherman is the first Irish player to score at least 20 points and pull down 18 rebounds since Jack Cooleynotched 22 points and 18 boards on Feb. 15, 2012, against Rutgers. • All five of Sherman's double-doubles have occurred in the last nine games.
SHERMAN ON A HOT STREAK
• Senior center Garrick Sherman has scored in double-figures in each of the last 14 games. That is a career-best streak and the longest streak for a Notre Dame player since Jack Cooleynetted double-figures in 14 straight games last season. • Sherman is averaging career-bests in points (14.9) and rebounds (8.4) this season. In ACC play, he is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game and leading rebounder (11.0). • Sherman has a team-high five double-doubles this season. • Sherman is shooting a team-best 51.8% (103-199) from the field. He also is shooting 71.6% (48-67) 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 (Dec. 3). • Sherman has a team-high 16 blocked shots this season.
PAT AN ALL-AROUND PERFORMER
• Junior swingman Pat Connaughtonis averaging 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the first four ACC games. • He registered his fourth double-double of the season and sixth of his career last Saturday at Georgia Tech as he netted 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in addition to dishing off a career-high seven assists. Connaughton had a game-high 19 points on Wednesday in Notre Dame's loss at Maryland. • Connaughton produced an all-around performance in the ACC opener against Duke. He netted 16 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists in 37 minutes on the floor. Connaughton was 6-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range. • Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds this season. He has scored in double-figures in 14 games this season, including 11 times in the last 12 contests. Connaughton also has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in four contests. • He has topped the 20-point mark twice this season (Delaware 21, North Dakota State 21).
FRESHMEN IN THE STARTING LINEUP
• Notre Dame had two freshmen -- Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia -- in the starting lineup against Maryland on Wednesday night. It marked the 12th consecutive start for Jackson and the first career start for Vasturia. • The last time the Irish had two freshmen in the starting lineup was during the 2006-07 campaign when rookies Luke Harangody and Tory Jacksonboth earned multiple starts throughout the season, including the final game of the season, a 74-64 loss to Winthrop in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH
• Senior point guard Eric Atkins'2.31 career assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth among all active Division I players. • Atkins has 517 careers assists and just 223 turnovers. The career assist total currently ranks 13th nationally. This season, Atkins has 84 assists and 35 turnovers for a 2.40 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is eighth-best in the ACC. • Against Duke, Atkins dished out a season-high 11 assists and had only two turnovers. Those were the most assists for any Irish player this season and it marked the sixth time of his career that he had 10-plus assists in a game.
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
• Notre Dame ranks fourth nationally and second in the ACC with a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish have the country's sixth-best assists-per-game mark (17.2), which is first in the ACC. • The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in eight games.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
• Notre Dame ranks 29th nationally in free throw percentage (.735). That is the third-best percentage in the ACC.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
• Eric Atkins (148) and Pat Connaughton(142) rank 12th and 13th, respectively, in Notre Dame history in three-point field goals made. • Connaughton is 43-of-102 (.422) from three-point range this season, while Atkins is 31-of-82 (.378). • As a team, Notre Dame is shooting 37.3% from beyond the arc. That ranks third in the ACC.
• Junior Pat Connaughton has never missed a game during his Fighting Irish career. He has played in all 86 games, including 70 starts. Connaughton has started 67 consecutive contests. He is averaging 35.4 minutes per game this season. • Senior point guard Eric Atkinshas played in 82 straight games (all starts). He has only missed two contests during his Notre Dame career and has competed in 118 games (90 starts). Atkins is averaging a team-high 37.1 minutes per game this season. That figure ranks 10th nationally and is first in the ACC. He is averaging 34.3 minutes per game during his career.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
• The Fighting Irish are 126-12 at home since the beginning of the 2006-07 season. That .913 winning percentage over the course of the last eight seasons ranks fifth nationally.
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
• Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 36-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 63-5 when outrebounding its opponent and 65-6 when leading at halftime.
IRISH OPEN ACC ERA WITH WIN OVER DUKE
• January 4 was a historic day for Notre Dame as it opened its Atlantic Coast Conference era with a 79-77 victory over No. 7 Duke. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Blue Devils that began in 1988. It was Notre Dame's first victory over Duke since a 70-66 overtime win on Feb. 15, 1987, at the Joyce Center. • Duke grabbed a 10-point lead (60-50) with 11:35 left in the second half, but Notre Dame responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game with 8:01 remaining. In fact, the Irish extended it to a 20-4 run to take their largest lead (70-64) of the game with 4:18 left to play.
FIGHTING IRISH TAKE DOWN ANOTHER TOP-10 FOE
• The win over No. 7 Duke gave Notre Dame its fifth straight home victory over a team ranked in the top-10 of the Associated Press poll. • Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame is 13-6 at home against teams ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll. • Overall, Notre Dame is 5-4 in its last nine showdowns with an AP top-10 foe. The Irish are 18-27 against teams ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll under Brey.
IRISH SWEEP ACC WEEKLY HONORS
• For their efforts in the win over Duke, senior point guard Eric Atkins and freshman guard Steve Vasturiaearned weekly honors from the Atlantic Coast Conference on Jan. 6. Atkins was named the league's player of the week for the second straight week, while Vasturia was tapped as the rookie of the week for the first time. • Atkins notched a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists. He committed just two turnovers in a team-high 38 minutes against the Blue Devils. • Vasturia came off the bench to register career-high marks in points (9) and rebounds (4) versus Duke. The rookie was 3-of-5 from three-point range in a career-high tying 22 minutes on the court.
BURGETT HAS A BLOCK PARTY
• Sophomore forward Austin Burgett's career-high five blocked shots against Duke were the most for an Irish player since Jack Cooleyhad six versus Evansville in the 2012-13 season opener. • Burgett reached double figures for the first time his career against Georgia Tech on Jan. 11 as he finished with 11 points.
• With Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, senior center Garrick Shermannow is playing in the third different conference during his collegiate career. Sherman played his first two seasons (2009-11) in the Big Ten Conference while at Michigan State and then transferred to Notre Dame following the 2010-11 campaign. After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Sherman played last year in Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference.
• The 87-81 win over Canisius on Dec. 29 improved Notre Dame to 7-1 in its last eight overtime contests. The Fighting Irish have won four straight games that have been decided in overtime. Notre Dame is 14-9 in overtime contests under head coach Mike Brey.
IRISH ENTER THE ACC
• Following 18 seasons in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame is in 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.
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.
KNIGHT AND SHERMAN JOIN ATKINS AND CONNAUGHTON AS IRISH CAPTAINS
• Tom Knight (GS/F) and Garrick Sherman (Sr./C) will serve as captains for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign alongside teammates Eric Atkins (Sr./G) and Pat Connaughton (Jr./G-F). The announcement was made Dec. 27 by Irish head coach Mike Brey. • The last time Notre Dame added a captain at midseason was two years ago (during the 2011-12 campaign) when Atkins, then a sophomore, served as a tri-captain with Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin. • Atkins is the first three-time captain in the 109-history of the program, while Connaughton, Sherman and Knight are first-time captains.
NOTRE DAME'S NEW MOTTO
• 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.
ATKINS ON BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
• Senior Eric Atkinswas named to the watch list for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Atkins is averaging 13.8 points and 4.9 assists per game this season and boasts a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. • Atkins has 1,181 career points and 507 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 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.
• 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 Connaughtonalso 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. • Connaughton 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.
KNIGHT A NOMINEE FOR NABC GOOD WORKS TEAM
• Senior forward Tom Knightis 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.
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 and will enroll in the fall of 2014.