April 14, 2014
NOTRE DAME, ind. – Senior point guard Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md.), the first three-time captain in the 109-year history of the Fighting Irish men’s basketball program, walked away as the recipient of the 2014 Notre Dame Monogram Club Team MVP award on Monday evening (April 14) at the team’s annual “An Evening With Notre Dame Basketball” celebration.
Senior walk-on Patrick Crowley (Las Gatos, Calif.) was honored with the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award for the second straight year. Senior center Garrick Sherman (Kenton, Ohio) received the Best Rebounder Award, while junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass.) was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Fifth-year senior Tom Knight (Dixfield, Maine) received the Community Service Award presented by the Saint Joseph Valley Regional Medical Center and freshman Steve Vasturia (Medford, N.J.) was the recipient of the Newcomer of the Year Award.
This marked the third year of the annual event in which the Notre Dame basketball coaches, players and fans gathered for one final time in celebration of the 2013-14 campaign. The special one-of-a-kind evening began with a change in format from past postseason basketball events ion 2012. Those in attendance were once again treated to an all-access tour of the Irish basketball facilities, including the men’s basketball locker room, team room, coaches’ offices, auditorium, “The Pit” and the Fighting Irish Digital Media Show Control Room. Coaches and players were stationed at various locales and fans had the opportunity to talk with each member of the team, pose for pictures and get autographs throughout the tour.
A photo booth also was added to this year’s event and proved quite popular as fans of all ages had their pictures taken with members of the Fighting Irish team.
A three-year starter for the Irish, Atkins averaged 19.0 points and 4.9 assists in his final season in a Notre Dame uniform. He played in 133 outings and made 105 starts during his career. Atkins scored 1,421 points (10.7 ppg.) and dished off 589 assists (4.4 aspg.) during his career and was one of five players in Notre Dame history to score more than 1,000 points and dish off 500-plus assists. He had 100 or more assists in each of his four seasons and is one of just four players in program history to achieve that feat.
Atkins averaged a career-best 13.9 points per game while starting all 32 contests and playing an average of 37.8 minutes per game. He reached double figures in 24 contests (73 times during his career) and netted 20-plus points in six games this past season. Atkins notched a career-high 30 points in Notre Dame’s 87-81 overtime win against Canisius on Dec. 29.
A third team All-ACC selection as selected by the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches and an honorable mention selection from ACSMA (Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association), Atkins was twice named the ACC Player of the Week earning the accolades in back-to-back weeks. He earned the award for the second time after posting his only double-double of the season as he scored 19 points and dished off 11 assists in Notre Dame’s 79-77 win over Duke. Atkins finished his career with five double-doubles.
He concluded his career tied for second all-time in career games played and ninth in career starts made. In Notre Dame’s 18 ACC contests, Atkins was the Irish leader in points (14.4), assists (5.1), steals (1.1) and minutes per game (39.2). He also scored in double figures in 14 of thos 18 league contests.
A three-year walk-on, Crowley became the eighth different Irish player to win the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award on more than one occasion. He played in 29 career contests from 2011-14. A fifth-generation member of his family to attend Notre Dame, he will graduate with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business next month.
Sherman had the best season if his career as he averaged 13.5 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game. In his second campaign in an Irish uniform, Sherman started all 31 contests he played and missed just one game (final regular-season contest at North Carolina) due to an injury. He scored in double figures in 21 contests and led the Irish with six double-doubles. One of Sherman’s top performances of the season came in a loss at Iowa on Dec. 3 as he registered a career-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. That marked one of five 20-plus point outings during the campaign for the Irish center. Sherman grabbed 10-plus rebounds in six games, including a personal-best 18 versus North Carolina State on Jan. 7 that also included a 21-point scoring performance.
The Irish captain played two seasons in an Irish uniform after transferring from Michigan State following the 2010-11 campaign. Sherman played 61 games at Notre Dame, earning starts in 33 of those contests and scored 630 points (419 this season). He also ranked second in the ACC in field gal percentage, connecting on 50.6 percent of his shots.
Connaughton joined Atkins as the only two players who started all 32 games for the Irish in ’13-’14. A honorable mention all-ACC selection, he averaged career bests of 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in overall contests and averaged 13.9 points and 7.1 boards in conference play. Connaughton netted double figures in a team-high 25 contests and 48 games overall during his career. He scored 20-plus points in four games, including a season-high 22 points against Miami on Feb. 19.
Connaughton, who also served as a team captain along with Atkins, Sherman and Knight, recorded five double-doubles and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in seven games. He pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds in a 63-61 loss at North Carolina on March 3 and also finished with 17 points. Connaughton ranked second on the team in minutes played at 37.2 per game. He led the team with 76 three-pointers and shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Hurricanes, he made a career-best six in the contest.
Connaughton has never missed a game during his Notre Dame career and has played in 101 contest and earned starts in 85 of those games, including 82 consecutive games started.
Knight averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing in 27 contests and earning seven starts as a fifth-year senior. He scored in double figures in two contests and registered a season-high 13 points against Miami of Ohio in the season opener on Nov. 8 and matched his career high with nine rebounds against Boston College on Feb. 16. After sitting out his freshman season in 2009-10, Knight played in 99 career games and made 26 starts during his while playing in an Irish uniform. Named Notre Dame’s Most Improved Player following the 2012-13 campaign in which he played in 28 contests and earned starts in the final 16 games of the season, the Irish captain averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds last year.
Knight graduated in May 2013 with a degree in management from the Mendoza College of Business and took graduate school classes during the past school year. He was key member of Notre Dame’s Advisory Council (SAAC) and was the SAAC officer to the Monogram Club and ACC. A nominee for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Allstate Good Works Team, Knight spearheaded many community service activities for the Irish basketball team throughout the school year.
Vasturia enjoyed strong rookie season with the Irish as he averaged 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds. He played in 27 of the 32 games, made 12 starts overall and started the final six games of the season. Vasturia reached double figures in four contests and scored a career-high 15 points in Notre Dame’s overtime loss to Pittsburgh and also grabbed a season-high six rebounds. He followed that game up two days later with an 11-point outing at North Carolina. Vasturia’s first double-figure scoring effort came in Notre Dame’s 61-55 loss at Syracuse as he registered a 13 points versus the Orangemen. Two games later, he tallied 11 points in a double-overtime win over Clemson, a game in which he played 41 minutes.
Vasturia was named the ACC Rookie of the Week following Notre Dame’s win over Duke in its conference opener. He came off the bench and played 22 minutes while scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds.