Jan. 11, 2004
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (8-3, 2-0)
AT 15/15 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (16-0, 2-0)
Date: Monday, January 12, 2004
Place: Petersen Events Center (12,508)
Time: 7:00 p.m. (EST)
Television: ESPN — Sean McDonough (play-by-play analyst), Bill Raftery (color analyst) and Jay Bilas (color analyst)
Radio: Notre Dame Sports Properties (Jack Lorri, Jack Nolan) originates the Notre Dame Radio Network (includes WNDV 92.9 FM and 1490 AM in South Bend, Ind./Michiana Region, Elkhart, Michigan City, Gary and Hammond), ESPN 1000 AM in Chicagoland Area), ESPN 950 AM (Indianapolis), WGL 1250 in Fort Wayne, WEFM 95.9 in Michigan City and Gary and WLUV AM 1520 (Rockford, DeKalb, Beloit, Janesville). All radio broadcasts can also be heard through the World Wide Web at www.und.com.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics will be available from the official Pittsburgh athletic website (www.pittsburghpanthers.com).
* The 2003-04 campaign marks the 99th season of basketball at Notre Dame.
* Notre Dame heads into today’s game riding a six-game winning streak.
* The Irish used a late 9-0 run and Villanova missed six of 10 free throws in the final minute in Notre Dame’s victory on Saturday in the Wachovia Center. Chris Thomas led five Irish players in double figures with 26 points, while Torrian Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds. The win was the first for Notre Dame in eight meetings with Villanova since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96 and the first for the Irish over the Wildcats since 1984.
* A win today would give Notre Dame its first 3-0 start in BIG EAST Conference play since joining the league in 1995-96.
* Today’s game is a matchup of two of the five teams as yet unbeaten in BIG EAST play this season. Defending NCAA champion #17 Syracuse, #15 Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame are all 2-0, while #1 Connecticut and Seton Hall each won its conference opener.
* The Irish are playing back-to-back games on the road for the first time this season, after defeating Villanova 82-78 Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. It was the first Irish game away from the Joyce Center in just under a month, since Dec. 14 at DePaul. Notre Dame played eight of its first 10 games of the 2003-04 campaign at home.
* Notre Dame will open up BIG EAST action by playing three of its first five conference games on the road.
* The current six-game winning streak is the longest for the Irish since they won eight straight contests last season – from Nov. 30, 2002-Jan. 4, 2003 (Albany, Marquette, Maryland, Texas, DePaul, Canisius, Vanderbilt and Valparaiso).
* Notre Dame’s three losses this season have been by a total of 18 points. The Irish dropped consecutive games to Marquette (71-58), Central Michigan (69-68), and Indiana (66-63) in the first 10 days of December.
* Notre Dame leads the BIG EAST Conference and ranks second nationally in free throw percentage at 76.0. On the season, Notre Dame is getting 23.5 percent of its points from the charity stripe. The Irish are outscoring opponents 190-106 from the line and have attempted 102 (250-148) more free throws, due largely to ranking second in the nation in fewest fouls per game (14.0). Chris Thomas is third in the league and 23rd in the NCAA, having hit 44 of 50 (87.1%) free throws.
* The Irish rank 20th nationally with 5.73 blocks per game and are one of eight BIG EAST teams among the NCAA’s top 23 blocking teams. Torin Francis and Jordan Cornette are tied for seventh in the conference leaders with identical averages of 2.27.
* For the sixth consecutive game, and seventh time this season, Notre Dame had more assists (13) than turnovers (10) against Villanova. Overall this season, Notre Dame owns a 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio with 164 assists and 131 turnovers. The Irish are averaging 14.9 assists and 11.9 turnovers. ND had a season-best 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio against Morehead State, as the Irish had 20 assists and committed just eight turnovers. The Irish have turned the ball over 10 or fewer times on five occasions this season. Against American, Notre Dame had a season-low seven turnovers. In the season opener against Northern Illinois, Notre Dame dished off 14 assists and turned the ball over just eight times. In the last six games, Notre Dame has committed a total of 62 turnovers (10.3 per game).
* After not having a double double in his first 100 career games, Torrian Jones has had double doubles in each of the last two contests. He had 17 points and 14 rebounds last Wednesday vs. West Virginia and followed that up with 10 points and 11 rebounds against Villanova on Saturday.
* Chris Thomas has scored 20 or more points five times this season and 31 times in his career.
* Chris Thomas had four assists vs. Villanova, bringing his career total to 550, which passed Tim Singleton (1987-91) for second in the Irish recordbook. David Rivers (1984-88) holds the school record with 586 assists.
* Chris Quinn has scored in double figures in six consecutive games and is averaging 16.2 points in those games. He is shooting 59.9% (33-58) from the field and 51.4% (19-37) from three-point range over that span. Quinn started the first five games of the season, but has come off the bench in each of the last Irish six victories.
* Chris Quinn has turned the ball over just nine times in 371 minutes this season, an average of 41.2 minutes between turnovers. He had a stretch of 159:00 on the floor without a turnover from the first half vs. DePaul (12/14) until the first half against Villanova on Saturday.
* Torin Francis is among the BIG EAST leaders in six categories: rebounding (2nd, 9.7), defensive rebounds (2nd, 6.5), offensive rebounds (4th, 3.3), field goal percentage (5th, 55.9%), blocked shots (7th, 2.27), and scoring (18th, 16.0).
* Chris Thomas ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in six categories: free throw percentage (3rd, 87.1%), assists (4th, 5.6), scoring (5th, 18.9), three-point field goals (9th, 2.18 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (11th, 2.00), and three-point field goal percentage (11th, 28.9%).
* Chris Quinn is among the top five in the BIG EAST leaders in three categories. He leads the league in assist-to-turnover (3.89) and is fourth in three-point field goal percentage (42.2%) and fifth in three-point field goals (2.45 per game).
* Colin Falls has hit 19 of his last 42 three-point field goals (45.2%), a stretch extending back eight games. Of his 24 field goals this season, 19 have been from beyond the three-point arc.
* Three Irish players are netting double figures with Chris Thomas leading the team with an 18.9 scoring average. Torin Francis is nearly averaging a double double — 16.0 points and 9.7 rebounds — while Chris Quinn comes in at 13.8. Torrian Jones has contributed 9.0 points per contest.
* Five Notre Dame players are averaging better than 30 minutes per game – Chris Thomas (37.2), Torin Francis (34.0), Chris Quinn (33.7), Jordan Cornette (31.1), and Torrian Jones (31.0).
* Notre Dame owns a 0.8 rebounding edge over its opponents (35.5 to 34.7) this season and has won the battle on the glass in each of its two BIG EAST contests. The Irish outrebounded West Virginia 43-26 last Wednesday before edging Villanova 39-38 on Saturday. Notre Dame has outrebounded its opponents six times this season, including in three of the last four games.
* Notre Dame’s defense is allowing 67.2 points per game. The 78 points allowed against Villanova on Saturday were the most surrendered by the Irish this season. Notre Dame has held eight of 11 opponents to fewer than 70 points. The 52 points given up by the Irish against West Virginia were the fewest allowed this season.
* In Notre Dame’s consecutive losses to Marquette, Central Michigan and Indiana, the Irish shot a combined 58-165 (.325) from the field and 19-70 (.271) from three-point range. Since those three losses, Notre Dame has shot better than 50.0 percent in three of six games and is 160-332 (.482) from the field and 52-136 (.382) from three-point range.
* Notre Dame has held four opponents to under 40.0 percent shooting this season. After allowing American (on Dec. 21) to shoot 63.0 percent from the field, Notre Dame has held two of its last four opponents to under 40.0 percent. Quinnipiac connected on just 34.4 percent of its shots, while West Virginia made good on only 36.8 percent of its attempts. Northern Illinois converted just 33.3 percent from the field in the season opener and Mount St. Mary’s shot just 38.2 percent in the second game of the ’03-’04 campaign.
* Mike Brey earned his 70th win along the Irish sidelines against American on December 21. He owns a 74-34 (.685) overall record as the Irish head coach in three-plus seasons. Brey coached in his 100th game on Dec. 1 and in his 250th career game against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 29.
* Notre Dame has a 20-6 record when playing on January 12.
* Notre Dame is 16-8 during the month of January under Brey.
* Notre Dame is 22-4 in its last 26 games at the Joyce Center. Before losses to Connecticut and Syracuse in the final two contests of the 2002-03 season, the Irish owned a 16-game homecourt win streak. Since that time, the Irish are 6-4 in their last 10 home games.
* Today ‘s contest is the 47th meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame holding a 25-21 advantage in the series. Pittsburgh holds a 13-10 edge at home.
* This will be the first of two games this season between the teams, with the squads hooking up again Feb. 7 in the Joyce Center. The Irish and Panthers will meet twice in the regular season for the seventh time in nine years since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST. In 1996-97 and 1998-99, they played just once. The latter season is the only campaign since 1995-96 that Notre Dame has not played at Pittsburgh.
* Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame has won nine of 15 games with Pittsburgh, but the Panthers have won four of seven at home. The Irish are 5-2 against Pittsburgh in the Mike Brey era.
* In 2002-03, the teams split two meetings, with each winning on its home court. On Jan. 6, the #6 Panthers exploded in the second half for a 72-55 win in the Petersen Events Center. Pittsburgh shot 60 percent in scoring 42 second-half points after the game was tied 30-30 at the break. Ontario Lett led the Panthers with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds, while Chevon Troutman had 12 points on six of eight from the field to go along with 12 rebounds. Matt Carroll had 31 points for the Irish, but it could not overcome #5 Notre Dame’s 7-of-31 (23%) second-half shooting.
* Torin Francis took a pass from Chris Thomas and layed it in with 0.6 seconds remaining to give #10 Notre Dame a 66-64 win over #4 Pittsburgh in the most-recent contest between the teams, Feb. 9, 2003 in the Joyce Center. Thomas led Notre Dame with 24 points and eight assists, while Francis took just three shots in the game, finishing with eight points. The Irish shot 59% in the second half to rally from a 41-33 halftime deficit. The Panthers got 19 points from Julius Page, while Chevon Troutman had 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
* Pittsburgh is one of eight Division I teams still undefeated this season. The Panthers, the BIG EAST’s only unbeaten, are 16-0, having a 2-0 mark in league play. It took double overtime for Pittsburgh to beat Miami 84-80 on the road Saturday. The Panthers’ other BIG EAST win was a 78-59 victory over Virginia Tech at home. Other than the Hurricanes, only Alabama (71-62), Georgetown (Ky.) College (79-74), and Florida State (63-56) have played Pittsburgh to within 10 points.
Irish Player Tidbits:
* Chris Thomas leads the Irish in scoring (18.9) and assists (5.6). He has registered 20 or more points in five of the last eight games, including a season-high 28 vs. American on Dec. 21. Thomas was key down the stretch for the Irish in that game, as he tallied 11 points in the final 3:18. He was held to a season-low seven points against Quinnipiac which snapped his streak of 27 consecutive games in double figures. He has reached double digits in 65 of 78 career contests. Prior to the game against the Bobcats, the last time Thomas failed to score 10 points was at Pittsburgh (Jan. 6, 2003) when he netted just five points. He had a season-high 11 assists against Quinnipiac, marking the first time in 2003-04 (and 15th time in his career) with 10 or more assists in a game. Thomas had four assists vs. Villanova, bringing his career total to 550, which passed Tim Singleton (1987-91) for second in the Irish recordbook. David Rivers (1984-88) holds the school record with 586 assists. Thomas ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in six categories: free throw percentage (3rd, 87.1%), assists (4th, 5.6), scoring (5th, 18.9), three-point field goals (9th, 2.18 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (11th, 2.00), and three-point field goal percentage (11th, 28.9%).
* Chris Quinn started the first five games of the season, but has come off the bench in each of the contests in Notre Dame’s six-game winning streak. He has averaged 16.2 points over that stretch and is shooting 59.9% (33-58) from the field and 51.4% (19-37) from three-point range in Notre Dame’s last six games. He has registered double figures in nine of 11 games. Quinn posted back-to-back career outings against American and Quinnipiac, scoring 19 and 25 points, respectively. In addition, he netted 17 points versus Morehead State. He is averaging career bests of 13.8 points and 2.8 rebounds, in addition to 3.2 assists. In just his fourth collegiate start, he played all 40 minutes in Notre Dame’s loss to Central Michigan. He has turned the ball over just nine times this season in 371 minutes, averaging 41.2 minutes between giveaways. He had a streak of 159:00 minutes on the floor without a turnover snapped in the first half against Villanova on Saturday. The stretch extended back to the Dec. 14 contest with DePaul. Quinn is among the top five in the BIG EAST leaders in three categories. He leads the league in assist-to-turnover (3.89) and is fourth in three-point field goal percentage (42.2%) and fifth in three-point field goals (2.45 per game).
* Torin Francis has posted double doubles in five games this season. In 44 career outings (all starts), he has 15 double doubles. Francis is Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer (16.0 ppg.) and leading rebounder (9.7). In addition, he shares the team lead with 2.27 blocked shots per game. He has scored 20-plus points in three contests, netting 24 in the season opener against Northern Illinois, 23 in the Dec. 1 loss at Marquette and 21 against Morehead State. He also had 19 rebounds in the season opener, a total that still stands as the top performance by a BIG EAST player this season. Dating back to 2002-03, he has had eight doubles doubles in the last 17 games. Francis also has scored 20 or more points on seven occasions and has registered 10 or more rebounds 17 times. He has scored in double figures in 30 instances, including every game in 2003-04. He is shooting 62.1 percent from the field (36-58) in the last six games. Francis is among the BIG EAST leaders in six categories: rebounding (2nd, 9.7), defensive rebounds (2nd, 6.5), offensive rebounds (4th, 3.3), field goal percentage (5th, 55.9%), blocked shots (7th, 2.27), and scoring (18th, 16.0).
* Torrian Jones has started all 10 games he has played. He missed the Central Michigan affair with a hip flexor and did not dress. He is averaging 9.0 points and 5.9 rebounds. After not having a double double in his first 100 career games, he has had double doubles in each of the last two contests. He had 17 points (tying a career high) and a career-best 14 rebounds last Wednesday vs. West Virginia and followed that up with 10 points and 11 rebounds against Villanova on Saturday. Jones played a career-high 38 minutes in the WVU game, hitting seven of his eight shots. He has scored in double figures in five of the 10 games he has played and 10 times during his career. His double-digit scoring efforts in both the Mount St. Mary’s and Marquette games marked the first time in his career that he scored 10 or more in consecutive outings. In addition to his 12 points against the Mount St. Mary’s, he had seven rebounds and a career-high six assists.
* Jordan Cornette has started 10 of the 11 Irish games this season. He started the first five Irish contests before coming off the bench in the sixth game of the season against DePaul. That outing proved to be his best in an Irish uniform as Cornette finished with 17 points against the Blue Demons, marking the second time in his career that he has reached double figures. He was awarded the Wendell Smith Award as the game’s MVP. Cornette shot 6 of 10 from the field and was 5 for 7 from three-point range. In addition, he grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in 34 minutes. He has 117 career blocks in an Irish uniform. His season-high 10 rebounds against Marquette marked the fifth time in his career with 10 or more rebounds. Cornette ranks seventh in the BIG EAST Conference with 2.27 blocks per game, which is tied for tops on the Irish
* Tom Timmermans has played in each of Notre Dame’s last four games after missing the previous four outings (Central Michigan, Indiana, DePaul and American) with a back injury. He also missed the Mount St. Mary’s contest. He has played in six games overall, averaging 11.3 minutes. In Timmermans’ return, against Quinnipiac, he finished with three points and five rebounds, and then had two points and four rebounds vs. Morehead State. He recorded season highs with seven points and 19 minutes vs. Villanova. He is averaging 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds.
* Rick Cornett returned to action vs. West Virginia after missing three games (American, Quinnipiac and Morehead State) due to suffering a sprained foot in practice on December 18. In his first career, he played a career-high 16 mintues against DePaul, finishing with 10 points (on 4-of-6 shooting from the field) and five rebounds. He had two points and a rebound in three minutes vs. WVU in his first game back. He is averaging 3.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.4 minutes.
* Colin Falls has started each of the last six games and is averaging 21.6 minutes while netting 6.7 points and grabbing 2.1 rebounds. He has hit 19 of his last 42 three-point field goals (45.2%), a stretch extending back eight games. Of his 24 field goals this season, 19 have been from beyond the three-point arc. He earned his first career start against Central Michigan and played 33 minutes while netting 11 points. He made his second start of the season against the Blue Demons and finished with a season-high 12 points. Falls has averaged 8.6 points (69 points) in Notre Dame’s last eight outings. He scored a combined five points in Notre Dame’s first three games.
* Russell Carter saw action for the first time in coming off the bench against Mount St. Mary’s and recorded the first collegiate points of his career when he hit a three-pointer at the buzzer at the end of the first half. He has seen action in six games this season.
Series Record Vs. Pittsburgh:
Today ‘s contest is the 47th meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame holding a 25-21 advantage in the series. Pittsburgh holds a 13-10 edge at home. Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame has won nine of 15 games with Pittsburgh, but the Panthers have won four of seven at home. The Irish are 5-2 vs. Pittsburgh during the Mike Brey era. This will be the first of two games this season between the teams, with the squads hooking up again Feb. 7 in the Joyce Center.
In 2002-03, the teams split their meetings, with each winning on its home court. On Jan. 6, Pittsburgh exploded in the second half for a 72-55 win in the Petersen Events Center. Pittsburgh shot 60 percent in scoring 42 second-half points after the game was tied 30-30 at the break. Ontario Lett led the Panthers with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds, while Chevon Troutman had 12 points on 6-of-8 from the field to go along with 12 rebounds. Matt Carroll had 31 points for the Irish, but it could not overcome Notre Dame’s 7-of-31 (23%) second-half shooting.
Torin Francis took a pass from Chris Thomas and layed it in with 0.6 seconds remaining to give #10 Notre Dame a 66-64 win over #4 Pittsburgh in the most-recent contest between the teams, Feb. 9, 2003 in the Joyce Center. Thomas led Notre Dame with 24 points and eight assists, while Francis took just three shots in the game, finishing with eight points. The Irish shot 59% in the second half to rally from a 41-33 halftime deficit. The Panthers got 19 points from Julius Page, while Chevon Troutman had 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
Notre Dame stopped a couple of notable streaks over the past week. On Wednesday, West Virginia’s Drew Schifino managed just nine points vs. the Irish, snapping his school-record string of 48 consecutive contests with 10 or more points. It was the longest active streak of that nature in NCAA Division I at the time. On Saturday, Notre Dame posted an 82-78 victory over Villanova, registering a win against the Wildcats for the first time since 1984. Villanova had previously beaten the Irish eight consecutive times since Notre Dame became a BIG EAST member in 1995-96. The teams did not play between 1984 and ’96.
Fast BIG EAST Start:
Notre Dame’s victories over West Virginia on Wednesday and Villanova on Saturday have placed them in a tie atop the BIG EAST standings with a 2-0 record. It is just the second time the Irish have opened with a pair of wins in league play since joining the conference in 1995-96. In 1999-2000, Notre Dame beat #2 Connecticut and Boston College to start conference action. The Irish have never started 3-0, as that squad lost to #7 Syracuse in its third BIG EAST game.
Sophomores Torin Francis and Chris Quinn have enjoyed torrid shooting during Notre Dame’s six-game winning streak. Francis is shooting 62.1 percent in the last five games, converting 36-58 from the field. Quinn has been equally impressive from the floor, hitting 56.9 percent of his shots from the field (33-58) and 51.4 percent (19-37) of his three-point attempts. Overall, Francis is shooting 55.9 percent from the field (57-102), while Quinn has nailed 48.1 percent of his shots (50-104). He also leads the team in three-point field goals made (27) and three-point field goal percentage (.422). (See pdf for table of Francis’ and Quinn’s shooting over the last six games)
In Good Hands:
Chris Quinn owns an impressive 3.89 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has played 371 minutes, dished off 35 assists and turned the ball over just nine times, which translates into one turnover every 42.1 minutes. He had a string of 159:00 on the floor without a turnover snapped in the first half vs. Villanova on Saturday. His previous turnover came in the first half of the DePaul game on Dec. 14.
Taking Care Of The Basketball:
A key to Notre Dame’s success this season has been not excessively turning the ball over. The Irish have committed 10 turnovers or fewer on five occasions this season. In the season opener against Northern Illinois, the Irish had just eight turnovers, and in the win over DePaul, they turned the ball over just 10 times. Notre Dame had a season-low seven turnovers in the win over American and committed just eight turnovers against Morehead State and 10 vs. Villanova. The Irish have had more assists than turnovers in six consecutive games and seven times overall in 2003-04. The Irish are averaging 11.9 turnovers and 14.9 assists per game this season.
Threes Finally Falling For Falls:
Freshman Colin Falls seems to have found his three-point range. After missing his first seven three-point attempts, he has come back to make 19 of his last 42 attempts (45.2 percent). Nineteen of the 24 field goals he has made have come from three-point range. Falls is shooting 40.0 percent overall from the field and 39.6 percent from three-point range. He has been in the starting lineup in seven games – vs. Central Michigan and in each of the last six – and is averaging 21.6 minutes per game. Falls hit his first career three-pointer in his first career start in the loss to the Chippewas. Heading into the contest, he was 0-6 from beyond the arc. Falls missed his first three-point attempt against Central Michigan, but nailed his first career three-pointer on his second attempt at the 14:02 mark of the contest.
Double The Pleasure:
Torin Francis’ 21 points and 10 rebounds against Morehead State marked the 15th double double of this career and his fifth of the season. He also had double doubles against Northern Illinois (24 points, 19 rebounds), Central Michigan (10 points, 12 rebounds), Indiana (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Quinnipiac (19 points, 11 rebounds). Francis’ scoring (24 points) and rebounding (19 rebounds) totals in the Northern Illinois game were the second-highest of his career and the rebounding sum remains tops among all BIG EAST players this season. Dating back to the Syracuse game (March 4, 2003), Francis has registered eight double doubles in the last 17 games and in seven of his last 13 outings. He has scored in double figures 30 times during his career and grabbed 10 or more rebounds on 17 occasions.
Irish Defense Shuts Down Mountaineers:
Notre Dame held West Virginia to a season-low 52 points in its 11-point victory on Wednesday. The 52 points matched the second-fewest ever allowed by the Irish in a BIG EAST game. Notre Dame also gave up 52 points in a 69-52 win over Syracuse at the Joyce Center on January 2, 1997. The fewest points surrendered by the Irish in a league game was 51 in a 60-51 victory over Seton Hall in the Joyce Center on January 26, 2002.
Cornette’s Century Mark:
Jordan Cornette blocked his 100th career shot against Marquette and has 117 to his credit for a 1.54 career average in that category. He is one of just four players in Notre Dame history who has blocked 100 or more shots during his career. LaPhonso Ellis (1988-92) holds the school mark with 200, followed by Ryan Humphrey’s (2000-02) 166 and Troy Murphy’s (1998-01) 126.
Torrian Jones had his best game in an Irish uniform in Wednesday night’s win over West Virginia as he recorded his first career double double, netting 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The 17 points equalled his career best, while the 14 boards established a new personal best. It marked the fourth time this season he has scored in double figures and just the second time in his career he has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in a game. He followed up that performance with another double double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds vs. Villanova. Jones has scored in double figures 10 times in his career, and has played more games than any other player on the roster.
Jones Factor This Season:
At the start of this season, senior Torrian Jones had averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per game in his first three seasons. In 11 games in 2003-04, he is averaging 9.0 points and 5.9 rebounds, while averaging 31.0 minutes per game. His back-to-back double-figure scoring efforts against Mount St. Mary’s (12 points) and Marquette (14 points) marked the first time in his career that he accomplished that feat. Jones then recorded his first two career double doubles in consecutive games vs. West Virginia (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Villanova (10 points, 11 rebounds). Prior to the start of the season, he had scored in double figures on just five occasions.
Irish In The Scoring Groove:
Notre Dame has scored 74 points or more seven times in 11 games this season, topping the 80-point barrier three times. The Irish are averaging 73.5 points per contest. Notre Dame’s 84 points vs. Morehead State on Dec. 28 are the most in a game this season, though the Irish put up 82 against both DePaul (82-69, Dec. 14) and Villanova (82-78, Jan. 10). In its three losses, Notre Dame managed just 63.0 points per game. In Mike Brey’s first three seasons, Notre Dame averaged 78.1 ppg. (2000-01), 78.8 ppg (2001-02) and 79.2 ppg. (2002-03).
Notre Dame is yielding just 67.2 points per game and has held eight of its 11 opponents to fewer than 70 points. Marquette, American, and Villanova have been the only teams to hit the 70-point plateau against the Irish this season. In Mike Brey’s first three seasons, Notre Dame allowed 69.5 ppg. in 2000-01, 68.3 ppg. in 2001-02 and 71.3 ppg. in 2002-03.
Thomas Reaches Assist Milestone:
Chris Thomas surpassed 500 career assists on Dec. 1 against Marquette. In 78 career contests, he has 550 for a 7.1 career average. He is one of just three players who has scored more than 1,000 points and dished off more than 500 assists in their career. Thomas has 1,361 career points. The other two players who have scored 1,000 career points and dished off 500 assists are David Rivers (1984-88 – 2,058 points, 586 assists) and Elmer Bennett (1988-92 – 1,488 points, 516 assists). Thomas stands second all-time in career assists and needs just 37 to break Rivers’ career assist mark.
In The Spirit Of Giving:
Chris Thomas’ unselfish play is one of the reasons why the Irish have been successful while he has been in the Notre Dame backcourt. In the 78 games he has directed Mike Brey’s teams, Thomas has helped the Irish compile a 54-24 record for a .692 winning percentage As a freshman, he averaged 7.64 assists to rank fifth nationally. Thomas then dished off 6.9 assists (eighth in the nation) as a sophomore. He is the only player in Notre Dame history to record 200-plus assists in consecutive seasons. He has distributed 10-plus assists in 15 games during his career.
Notre Dame’s 189 blocked shots in 2002-03 set a new single-season team record with a per game average of 5.59. The former mark of 178 was set during the 2000-01 season in which Notre Dame averaged 5.93 blocks. The Irish finished the 2001-02 campaign with 163 blocks for an average of 4.94 per game. Notre Dame’s block totals each of the last three seasons rank as the top three all-time. Notre Dame already has 63 blocks in 2003-04 for an average of 5.73 per game.
Where Charity Begins:
The Irish used free throw shooting as a weapon last season, averaging nearly 17 free throws made per game. Notre Dame outscored its opponents 575-389 and attempted 190 more free throws (756-566). The Irish converted 76.1 percent of those attempts, while their opponents hit on 68.7 percent. Notre Dame is averaging 17.3 made free throws per game this season and have attempted an average of 22.7 per game. Irish opponents are averaging just 9.6 made free throws per game and 13.5 attempted.
Home Stripe Advantage:
Notre Dame was particularly successful from the free-throw line in home games last season as the Irish were 286-373 (.767), compared to 177-257 (.689) for their opponents. In the last 11 home games of ’02-’03, Notre Dame finished 224-279 (.803) from the line as the Irish made an average of 20.4 free throws on 25.4 attempts and averaged just 5.0 misses per game. Notre Dame shot a season-best 95.7 percent from the line against Rutgers (Jan. 14, 2003) as the Irish converted 22 of their 23 attempts. At home this season, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 143-71 from the line and has attempted 92 more free throws (182-90). Overall, the Irish have converted on 77.2 percent of their attempts. In its two best performances of the season, Notre Dame was 19-20 (.950) from the line against Mount St. Mary’s and 18-20 (.900) vs. American. In home games this season, the Irish have converted on 143-182 (.786), while opponents are 71-90 (.789).
Francis, Thomas On Wooden Watch List; Thomas Listed Among Naismith Candidates:
Chris Thomas and Torin Francis are two of 50 candidates named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team. The 50 candidates were announced in early August and selected by the Wooden Award Preseason All-America Committee.
The Irish tandem is among 11 BIG EAST players named to the team, the most of any conference. Only three other teams – Connecticut (Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor) and Syracuse (Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick) -also placed two players on the list.
Thomas, an honorable mention Associated Press All-America selection and second-team all-BIG EAST honoree as a sophomore, was among the top 30 candidates last year for the Wooden Award and also was a finalist for the Naismith and USBWA/Oscar Robertson player of the year awards. Francis was a member of the BIG EAST all-rookie team.
The other BIG EAST players selected as candidates were: Andre Barrett (Seton Hall), Ryan Gomes (Providence), Julius Page (Pittsburgh), Darius Rice (Miami) and Craig Smith (Boston College).
The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 30, 2004, and one member from that squad will be awarded the Wooden Award Trophy, symbolic of the nation’s “Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of Year.” That announcement will be made on Saturday, April 10 and CBS Sports will televise the event live from The Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Thomas also is listed among the top 30 candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year.
The Irish All-Time:
The 2003-04 campaign marks the 99th season of varsity men’s basketball at Notre Dame. Irish teams have posted a 1537-841 record for a .646 winning percentage.
For the first time in the 99-year history of the Notre Dame men’s basketball program, four players will be serving as team captains. Seniors Torrian Jones and Tom Timmermans and juniors Jordan Cornette and Chris Thomas take on the leadership mantle this season.
New BIG EAST Look:
The BIG EAST Conference will play under a new league format in which every team will play each other at least once and three other schools twice during the regular season. Notre Dame is slated to play Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse twice as part of its 16-game conference slate.
The past three seasons have seen the 14-team league play under a format featuring two seven-team divisions. Under the former system, the teams were broken down into East and West divisions. Each school played 12 divisional contests on a home-and-home basis and crossover games against teams from the other divsion (two at home and two on the road), but did not face three schools from the opposite division.
In addition to its home-and-home series with the Huskies, Panthers and Orangemen, Notre Dame’s home conference slate this season also includes matchups against Georgetown, Miami, Providence, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The Irish are scheduled for road games at Boston College, Rutgers, St. John’s, Villanova and Virginia Tech.
Twelve teams will once again advance to the BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden, March 10-13, with the top four finishers during the regular season receiving first-round byes.
Looking To Make It Four In A Row:
The Irish will be bidding for their fourth straight NCAA tournament bid in 2004. That would be a first since Notre Dame made six consecutive appearances from 1985-90. The most consecutive NCAA tournament appearances made by Notre Dame teams was eight – from 1975-81.
Notre Dame is one of just nine schools – also Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland Misouri and Stanford – that has advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament in each of the last three years.
The 20-Win Mark:
Notre Dame’s 24 wins a year ago marked the 30th time in the program’s 98-year history that an Irish team reached the 20-win mark. It marked the fourth consecutive 20-win campaign and first time since 1985-89 that Irish teams posted four consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins.
BIG EAST 10:
Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to win 10-plus conference games during each of the last three regular-season campaigns. The Irish finished 11-5 in 2000-01 and produced 10-6 marks in both 2001-02 and 2002-03. Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to have made the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons.
Brey Has The Formula For BIG EAST Success At Notre Dame:
Since his arrival at Notre Dame, Mike Brey has led Notre Dame to a 33-17 (.660) record in BIG EAST regular-season games and 1-3 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 34-20 (.630) against league foes. In Brey’s first season, the Irish posted their first-ever winning record in BIG EAST play and won the BIG EAST West Division with an 11-5 mark. Under Brey, Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST school to win 10-plus league games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to Brey’s arrival at Notre Dame, Irish teams had a 35-53 (.398) regular-season record in BIG EAST games since joining the league in 1995-96.
Home Sweet Home:
Since the inaugural season (1968-69) at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 426-126 record all-time for a .772 winning percentage. The Irish are 41-12 (.774) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s three seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own an 91-31 mark for a .746 winning percentage. Notre Dame was 14-2 at home in 2002-03, winning 10-plus games for the sixth time in seven years. The Irish have won 22 of their last 26 games at home, but have dropped four of the last 10 on their homecourt dating back to last season.
Over the course of the last three-plus seasons, Notre Dame teams have played well in their non-conference tuneups during the months of November and December. Irish teams own an impressive 34-8 (.810) combined record. Six of the 42 games have been against ranked opponents and have included wins against Cincinnati (2000), Marquette (2002), Maryland (2002) and Texas (2002).
Brey Versus Ranked Opponents:
As a head coach at both Notre Dame and Delaware, Mike Brey has coached in 34 games against ranked opponents and owns a 12-22 record in those matchups. In three-plus seasons at Notre Dame, he has faced ranked opponents on 28 occasions and his teams are 12-16 in those contests. Last season, his team was 5-6 versus ranked teams. The Irish were 3-6 and 4-3 during the 2001-02 and 2000-01 campaigns, respectively.
Brey And The Irish In Overtime Games:
Notre Dame is 3-0 in overtime games (two on the road and one at home) under head coach Mike Brey. The Irish did not play in an overtime affair in Brey’s first season. The first overtime game played by Notre Dame under Brey (during the 2001-02 campaign) was the epic four-overtime classic in 2002 against Georgetown at the MCI Center in which the Irish defeated the Hoyas 116-111. The Irish played two overtime contests in ’02-’03 – at Boston College (101-96) and at home against Georgetown (93-92 in double overtime).
Notre Dame played host to 10 sellouts at the Joyce Center during the 2002-03 season – the most since the 1985-86 campaign when 14 of the team’s 17 games drew a capacity crowd. Three games last season – Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Syracuse – produced the largest crowds to ever witness a Notre Dame basketball game – 11,480. This season, seven games are already sold out – Indiana, Kentucky, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Seton Hall and Georgetown. Student tickets (2,800 to students, 400 to band and Notre Dame student-athletes) were sold out in 5-1/2 hours. Last season, student ticket packages were sold out in 36 hours.
Irish In November Under Brey:
Notre Dame played just two games in the month of November this season. In each of the past two campaigns, the Irish played six games during the first month of the season. Notre Dame owns a 16-1 record during the month of November under head coach Mike Brey. In 2001-02, the Irish completed November with a perfect 6-0 slate, marking the most wins ever by a Notre Dame team in the month of November. The only loss suffered by the Irish during November under Brey was an 80-75 setback vs. Creighton in the championship game of the Guardians Classic in Kansas City, Mo., last season.
Notre Dame began the 2003-04 campaign by playing eight of its first 10 games at home. That’s an advantage the Irish did not enjoy two years ago (2001-02) when they were on the road for eight of their first 11 contests.
Happy Homecoming For Cornett and Falls Against Blue Demons:
The December 14th win against DePaul at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., snapped Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak and provided a happy occasion for two Chicagoland natives – sophomore Rick Cornett and freshman Colin Falls. Both started the contest and were instrumental in the victory. Cornett, making his first career start, scored a personal-best 10 points (all in the first half) as he converted on 4-6 field goals. In playing a career-high 15 minutes, he also grabbed a career-high five rebounds and finished with two steals. Falls, earning his second start of the season, also notched a career best in scoring 12 points. All four of his field goals and all eight of his attempts came from beyond the three-point arc.
Cornette Earns Wendell Smith Award:
Jordan Cornette was named the recipient of the Wendell Smith Award, which is presented annually to the most valuable player of the Notre Dame-DePaul game. Cornette’s selection marks the third straight year an Irish player has claimed the honor. After starting the first five games of the season, he came off the bench to net a career-best 17 points in 34 minutes. It marked only the second time in 71 career games played at the time that he had scored in double figures. The last time he scored in double figures was against Georgetown (Jan. 21, 2002), when he notched 11 points in 31 minutes of action (spanning 56 games). Against the Blue Demons, he connected on 6-10 shots from the field and converted on 5-7 from three-point range. In addition, he grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
Notre Dame All-Time In The BIG EAST:
In eight-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame owns a 68-70 record all-time in conference regular-season play for a .493 winning percentage. In their first five years, Irish teams were 35-53 (.398), but since Mike Brey took over the program, Notre Dame has compiled a 33-17 (.660) mark in regular-season play.
Over The Century Mark:
Notre Dame has scored 100-plus points five times during the Mike Brey era. The Irish went over the century mark twice last season – a 102-71 victory over DePaul (December 14, 2002) and 101-96 overtime decision against Boston College (January 25, 2003).
Jordan Cornette led six Irish players in double figures in the victory over DePaul. He tallied a team-high 17 points, while Chris Thomas netted 13 points. Torin Francis, Colin Falls and Chris Quinn each finished with 12 points, while Rick Cornett chipped in 10. It marked the first time since Jan. 27, 1990, in a 107-60 win at the Joyce Center that six Irish players had 10 or more points. In that game, Kevin Ellery tossed in 17 points to lead the Irish, while Joe Frederick added 14 points and Keith Robinson netted 12 points. In addition, Elmer Bennett and Daimon Sweet each finished with 11 points, while LaPhonso Ellis round out the double-figure scorers with 10 points.
Facing The Defending National Champions:
Notre Dame will meet defending national champion Syracuse twice during the 2003-04 season. It will mark the second straight year the Irish will play the defending NCAA champion. Notre Dame’s matchup last season with Maryland on December 7, 2002 in the first round of the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center marked the 31st time and Irish team had played a team that had won the NCAA crown the previous year. With that victory, Notre Dame owns an 8-23 mark versus those teams, but has been victorious three of the last four times it has gone up against the defending NCAA champion. The 1999-2000 Irish squad beat Connecticut twice – 75-70 at the Hartford Civic Center and 68-66 at the Joyce Center – the season after the Huskies claimed the ’99 NCAA title.
Keeping It Close:
In the 34 losses suffered by Irish teams in Mike Brey’s three seasons, only nine have been by 10 or more points and have been by a combined 245 points for an average of 7.21 points. Notre Dame’s 17-point losses at Pittsburgh and against Arizona in the NCAA Sweet 16 last season were the two worst by an Irish team under Brey. Prior to those two setbacks, the worst defeat was a 16-point decision at Connecticut during Brey’s first season. Notre Dame’s 11 losses during the 2001-02 season were by a combined 49 points for an average margin of defeat of 4.45 points. Only one loss (vs. Georgetown 83-73) was by double figures, while eight of those setbacks were by five points or less.
158 And Counting:
Heading into today’s game, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 158 straight games, a mark that dates back to the 1998-99 campaign. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut in the Hartford Civic Center (Jan. 12, 1999) as Notre Dame finished 0-7 in the contest.
Bosl Joins Irish Roster:
Junior Greg Bosl, a 6-3, 191-pound guard out of Syosset, N.Y., has joined the Irish team as a walk-on. He played prep basketball at St. Dominic High School and averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds as a senior. During his final prep season, he captained his team to a No. 3 ranking in the New York metro area. Bosl’s brother Mike played basketball for one year (1998-99) at Villanova and his sister Christine is a 1999 Notre Dame graduate. He is enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business and is majoring in finance. Bosl has seen action in three games this season: vs. Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, and Morehead State.
Irish Add Carlson To Roster:
Notre Dame has added another walk-on to its roster as freshman John Carlson joined the Irish squad on Jan. 8 for the first time in practice. Carlson, a 6-6, 230-pound forward, is a scholarship member of the Notre Dame football team as a tight end. He did not see action in any games this season for the Irish. A native of Litchfield, Minn., Carlson was a four-year starter at Litchfield High School where he was a three-time all-conference selection and two-time all-state honoree. He was the starting center on his prep basketball team and led his squad to a 114-8 record during his career in winning the Minnesota Class 2A state title three times. A first-team all-state selection as a senior and four-time all-conference choice, he finished his career with 1,676 career points, 974 rebounds and 412 assists. He also played tennis at Litchfield posted a 106-22 mark at #1 doubles as a three-time all-conference honoree.
Notre Dame Wins USA Today/NCAA Academic Achievement Award in 2003:
Notre Dame compiled the nation’s highest overall graduation rate for Division I-A student-athletes to take top honors in the 2003 USA Today/NCAA Academic Achievement Awards.
Ninety-two percent of the Fighting Irish student-athletes who enrolled in 1996 earned a degree from the University. The award included a $20,000 prize and was based on federally-compiled figures submitted by the NCAA member institutions.
The NCAA bases graduation rates on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated within six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. Notre Dame’s graduation rate for student-athletes who complete all fours of athletic eligibility is 99 percent.
Mike Brey Radio Show:
For the second consecutive year, Mike Brey will host a 30-minute radio show live on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-8:00 p.m. at Logan’s Roadhouse on Main Street in Mishawaka. The show will air from Dec. 9, 2003-March 2, 2004 (no shows on Dec. 23, Jan. 20 and Feb. 24) and will broadcast live on 92.9-FM (U93 in South Bend).
Web Site (www.und.com):
Notre Dame’s official athletic department web site can be found at www.und.com, with the extensive offerings including live audio for all Irish men’s basketball games (home and away), as well as real-time statistics for all Notre Dame home games.
ESPN 1000 To Carry Men’s Basketball Game Broadcasts:
ESPN Radio 1000 (WMVP-AM) in Chicago will carry 17 regular-season Notre Dame men’s basketball games live in 2003-04 and another seven on delayed basis, as part of a multi-year agreement that will make ESPN 1000 the home for Irish men’s basketball in that market.
Notre Dame All Over The Big Screen In ’03-’04:
Notre Dame will make more national television appearances -13 – than any other BIG EAST team this season. The Irish will be appear on CBS four times, ESPN five times and ESPN2 on four occasions. It will mark the most single-season national television appearances ever by a Notre Dame basketball team. Connecticut will appear on 11 national broadcasts (excluding the Preseason NIT) during the regular season.
Irish in Barbados:
Notre Dame spent its fall break (Oct. 18-25) in Barbados and played three games. The Irish finished with a 2-1 record on its foreign tour. Notre Dame became the first-ever college team to play a game in Barbados. Coach Mike Brey and his team got a head start on the season with the first of its 10 practices (allowed by the NCAA before a tour) on Sept. 4. ESPN Magazine followed the Irish on their seven-day trip and it was featured in the magzine’s college basketball preview issue. Notre Dame played the Milton Keynes Lions, a member of the British Basketball League, twice, and face off against the Barbados National Team in its other contest.
Notre Dame 12th in Directors’ Cup:
Notre Dame stands 12th in the final set of fall sports standings in the 2003-04 Division United States Sports Academy Directors’ Cup all-sports competition. Irish teams have earned a combined 199 points. Michigan currently leads the standings with 482 points. Notre Dame has reached its highest finish – 11th- on three occasions (1993-94, 1995-96 and 2000-01).