Feb. 6, 2004
NO. 4 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (21-1, 7-1) AT
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (10-8, 4-4)
Date: Saturday, February 7, 2004
Place: Joyce Center (11,418)
Time: 7:00 p.m. (EST)
Television: ESPN2 Sean McDonough (play-by-play analyst) and Len Elmore (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 are available for all home games, via the Notre Dame athletic website (www.und.com).
- The 2003-04 campaign marks the 99th season of basketball at Notre Dame.
- The Irish look to rebound from back-to-back BIG EAST road losses at Rutgers (72-62) and Boston College (76-69) when the Irish play host to fourth-ranked Pittsburgh. The last time Notre Dame played host to a top-five team at the Joyce Center was on February 9, 2003 when the Irish defeated the Panthers 66-64 on Torin Francis’ basket with sixth-tenths of a second remaining in the contest.
- Tonight’s game begins a three-game homestand for the Irish who will play host to No. 5 Connecticut on Monday night (February 9). Following that contest, the Irish entertain Seton Hall on Saturday, February 14.
- Notre Dame has not played top-five teams in back-to-back outings since the 1990-91 campaign when the Irish dropped decisions to No.3 Arizona (91-61) and No. 6 Duke (85-77) in the semifinal and consolation games of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 21 and 23, respectively.
- Tonight’s game will mark the second meeting of the regular-season between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The Irish dropped a 74-71 decision to the Panthers in Pittsburgh on January 12.
- This will be the fifth game against a ranked opponent. In addition to the Panthers who were ranked 13th at the time of their first meeting, the other ranked foes that the Irish have faced have been Marquette, Syracuse and Kentucky.
- Notre Dame played five of its first eight BIG EAST games on the road and were 2-3 in those contests. Their league wins thus far have come at Villanova and Virginia Tech.
- Point guard Chris Thomas heads into tonight’s contest needing just three assists to become the school’s career assist leader. He has 584 career assists, two shy of the record of 586 held by David Rivers’ (1984-88). Thomas’ career assist average of 6.9 ranks first all-time.
- Notre Dame is yielding 69.3 points per game and has held 10 of its opponents to under 70 points this season. In the last two games however, the Irish have surrendered an average of 78.5 ppg. The 81 points scored by Rutgers one week ago marked only the second time this season that the Irish had given up more than 80 points in a game. Syracuse also scored 81 points in the Orangeman’s 81-70 victory at the Joyce Center on January 17.
- Prior to the Pittsburgh loss on January 12, the Irish’s six-game winning streak was the longest for the Irish since they won eight straight contests during the 2002-03 campaign – from Nov. 30, 2002-Jan. 4, 2003 (Albany, Marquette, Maryland, Texas, DePaul, Canisius, Vanderbilt and Valparaiso).
- Notre Dame’s eight losses this season have been by a total of 69 points (a margin of 8.6 points per game). The Irish dropped consecutive games to Marquette (71-58), Central Michigan (69-68), and Indiana (66-63) in the first 10 days of December. Since winning six straight, Notre Dame is 2-5 in its last seven contests.
- Chris Thomas has started every game of his Irish career (85 contests) and is tied with John Paxson for second all-time in consecutive games started. Next up on the record list for Thomas will be Pat Garrity’s mark (1994-98).
- The Irish have had more turnovers than assists three of the last five games. Notre Dame has had more assists than turnovers in 10 games this season, and in one stretch, had more assists than turnovers in eight straight contests. Overall this season, Notre Dame owns a 1.21 assist-to-turnover ratio with 260 assists and 215 turnovers. The Irish are averaging 14.4 assists and 11.9 turnovers. The Irish had a season-best 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio against Morehead State as they dished off 20 assists and committed just eight turnovers. The Irish have turned the ball over 10 or fewer times on seven occasions this season. In the last 12 games, Notre Dame has committed a total of 132 turnovers (11.0 per game).
- Notre Dame has seen its free-throw percentage drop to 73.3 percent and out of the top-25 nationally in that category. Just nine games ago, the Irish stood second nationally in that category with a 78.7 average. Since BIG EAST play started, Notre Dame has connected on just 106-159 from the charity stripe (66.7%) in league play. The Irish converted just 3-8 from the line against Pittsburgh, both season lows. On the season, Notre Dame is getting 21.3 percent of its points from the charity stripe. The Irish are outscoring opponents 277-198 from the line and have attempted 91 (378-287) more free throws, due largely to ranking second in the nation in fewest fouls per game (14.3). Notre Dame opponents have outshot the Irish from the line in four of the last five games.
- Chris Quinn scored 20 of his career-tying 25 points (also a game-high) in the second half of the Boston College game. It marked the second time that Quinn has topped the 20-point mark in his career. He also netted 25 points in Notre Dame’s win over Quinnnipiac on December 23.
- Heading into the Boston College game, Torin Francis has topped the 20-point mark in two of the last four games and was coming off of a 23-point outing at Rutgers. Against the Eagles, Francis was held to a season-low six points, marking just the second time this season that he failed to score in double figures. Dating back to the 2002-03 campaign, he has scored in double figures in 17 of the last 19 contests.
- After not having a double double in his first 100 career games, Torrian Jones registered back-to-back double doubles against West Virginia and Villanova. He had 17 points and 14 rebounds against the Mountaineers and followed that up with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the win over the Wildcats.
- Chris Thomas has scored 20 or more points eight times this season and 33 times in his career. He has topped the 20-point mark in four of the last nine games, with his most recent 20-point outing coming at Virginia Tech on January 20 (23 points).
- Torin Francis owned the longest consecutive double-figure scoring streak on the team (15 games) before netting just eight points against Kentucky on January 25. That streak included the first 14 games of the 2003-04 campaign and the final contest of the 2002-03 campaign (NCAA tournament versus Arizona).
- Chris Quinn had his nine-game double-figures scoring streak snapped (the longest of his career) against Kentucky when he netted nine points in the game, but came back against Miami to score 15 points. He is averaging 16.2 points per game in the last 13 contests (210). He is shooting 49.0% (71-145) from the field and 45.6% (41-90) from three-point range over that span. Quinn has started 12 games overall and been in the starting lineup in each of the last seven contests.
- Chris Quinn has turned the ball over just 20 times in 636 minutes this season, an average of 31.8 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. He has been without a turnover in six games this season, spanning 206 minutes.
- Heading into the season, Jordan Cornette had played in 65 career games and scored in double figures in just one contest. In two of the last three games, he has netted double figures, including Wednesday night’s 11-point effort against Boston College. Overall this season, Cornette has been in double figures in three games.
- Three Irish players are netting double figures with Chris Thomas leading the team with a 17.7 scoring average. Torin Francis is averaging 15.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, while Chris Quinn is netting 14.7 ppg. Torrian Jones has contributed 8.8 points per contest.
- Four Notre Dame players are averaging better than 30 minutes per game – Chris Thomas (37.7), Torin Francis (34.2), Chris Quinn (35.3) and Torrian Jones (32.2).
- Prior to the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Torrian Jones averaged 14.2 minutes of playing time in his first three seasons. This season, he has played 30-plus minutes in 12 contests. In the loss at Rutgers, he played all 40 minutes.
- Boston College’s 42-31 advantage on the backboards Wednesday night marked the largest rebounding margin of the season (11). The only other double-digit margin was in the season opener against Northern Illinois as the Huskies owned a 53-43 advantage on the class. Notre Dame’s largest rebounding margin of the season was against West Virginia as the Irish outrebounded the Mountaineers 43-26.
- Notre Dame has held six 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 held two of its next 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. Notre Dame held Virginia Tech to just 26.4 percent accuracy in the victory over the Hokies.
- Mike Brey earned his 70th win along the Irish sidelines against American on December 21. He owns a 76-39 (.661) 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. He earned his 175th career win the win over Miami on January 28.
- Notre Dame has a 16-8 record when playing on February 7.
- Notre Dame is 19-10 during the month of January and 25-9 in the month of February under Mike Brey.
- Notre Dame is 23-6 in its last 29 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 7-6 in their last 13 home games.
- Beginning with tonight’s matchup against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame is at home for its next three games – its longest three-game BIG EAST homestand of the season. The Irish will not be on the road again until February 16 when they travel to Syracuse.
- The Irish have won five of the last eight meetings between the two schools.
- Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame has won nine of 16 games with Pittsburgh, but the Panthers have won five of eight at home. The Irish are 5-3 against Pittsburgh in the Mike Brey era.
- Pittsburgh heads into the contest with a 21-1 overall record and 7-1 mark in league play. The only blemish on the Panther schedule was a 68-65 setback at Connecticut on January 19.
IRISH PLAYER TIDBITS:
- Chris Thomas leads the Irish in scoring (17.7 and assists 5.3). He has registered 20 or more points in seven of the last 15 games, including a season-high 29 points in the Irish’s loss at Pittsburgh. That performance followed a 26-point outing against Villanova in which he scored 21 of those points in the second half. It marked the second time this season that Thomas has registered back-to-back 20-point efforts. Against Virginia Tech, he scored a game-high 23 points with 19 of those coming in the second half. 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 71 of 85 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 against Boston College, bringing his career total to 584, second all-time in the Irish recordbook. David Rivers (1984-88) holds the school record with 586 assists. Thomas ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in sixe categories: free throw percentage (6th, 85.0%), assists (4th, 5.33), scoring (8th, 17.7), assist-to-turnover ratio (14th, 1.78), three-point field goal percentage (11th, 28.6%) and three-point field goals made (2.22).
- Chris Quinn has been in starting lineup on 12 occasions this season and has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 13 games. He earned starts in the first five contests and came off the bench during Notre Dame’s six-game win streak. Quinn has been in the starting lineup for each of the last seven contests. He is coming off of a 25-point outing against Boston College, which tied his career-high set earlier this season in Notre Dame’s win over Quinnipiac. In the last 13 games, he has averaged 16.2 points (210 points) over that stretch and is shooting 49.0% (71-145) from the field and 45.6% (41-90) from three-point range. He has registered double figures in 15 of 18 contests, and prior to the Kentucky game, had netted double figures in nine straight (against the Wildcats he was held to nine points). 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 14.7 points and 2.9 rebounds, in addition to 3.4 assists. In just his fourth collegiate start, he played all 40 minutes in Notre Dame’s loss to Central Michigan. Quinn also played 40 minutes against Syracuse and Kentucky. He has turned the ball over just 20 times this season in 636 minutes, averaging 31.8 minutes between giveaways. He had a streak of 159:00 minutes on the floor without a turnover snapped in the first half against Villanova. 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 ratio (3.05), is second in three-point field goal percentage (41.9%) and fourth in three-point field goals (2.72 per game).
- Torin Francis has posted double doubles in seven games this season. In 52 career outings (all starts), he has 17 double doubles. He has scored in double figures in 16 of 18 contests and in 17 of his last 19 games dating back to last season. Francis is Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer (15.6 ppg.) and leading rebounder (9.4). In addition, he is first on the team with 1.94 blocked shots per game. He has scored 20-plus points in five contests. Francis netted 24 in the season opener against Northern Illinois, 23 in the Dec. 1 loss at Marquette, 21 against Morehead State , 22 against Virginia Tech and most recently 23 in the loss at Rutgers. 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 10 doubles doubles in the last 24 games. Francis also has scored 20 or more points on nine occasions and has registered 10 or more rebounds 20 times. He has scored in double figures in 35 instances, including every game but two (Kentucky and Boston College) in 2003-04. He is shooting 57.7 percent from the field (75-130) in the last 12 games. Francis is among the BIG EAST leaders in six categories: rebounding (4th, 9.4), defensive rebounds (2nd, 6.22), offensive rebounds (4th, 3.22), field goal percentage (2nd, 55.2%), blocked shots (7th, 1.94) and scoring (15th, 15.6).
- Torrian Jones has started all 17 games he has played and is enjoying his best year. He missed the Central Michigan affair with a hip flexor and did not dress. He is averaging 8.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 32.2 minutes per game. Jones played all 40 minutes in Notre Dame’s recent outing at Rutgers. After not having a double double in his first 100 career games, he has recorded two double doubles this season. He had 17 points (tying a career high) and a career-best 14 rebounds vs. West Virginia and followed that up with 10 points and 11 rebounds against Villanova. Jones played 38 minutes in the WVU game, hitting seven of his eight shots. He has scored in double figures in seven of the 17 games he has played and 11 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 scored 10 or more in consecutive outings. In addition to his 12 points against Mount St. Mary’s, he had seven rebounds and a career-high six assists. Jones has been in double figures twice in Notre Dame’s last three games, scoring 16 and 12 against Kentucky and Miami, respectively.
- Jordan Cornette has started 13 of 18 games this season and has been in the starting lineup in each of the last three contests. He started the first five 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. Cornette registered his second career double double in the win over Miami three days ago as he finished with 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots. He also did not turn the ball over in 33 minutes of action. Cornette also has 126 career blocks in an Irish uniform and ranks 8th in the BIG EAST Conference with 1.89 blocks per game.
- Tom Timmermans has earned starts in four games this season. He had his best performance in an Irish uniform against Syracuse as he registered career bests in points (16), field goals (7), field goals attempted (10), rebounds (8), assists (4) and minutes played (32). After missing the Central Michigan, Indiana, DePaul and American contests, Timmermans has played in each of the last 11 games. In his four starts, he averaged 26.0 minutes per game, 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He has played in 13 games overall, averaging 17.2 minutes, 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds.
- Rick Cornett returned to action vs. West Virginia after missing three games (American, Quinnipiac and Morehead State) after suffering a sprained foot in practice on December 18. In his first career start, he played a career-high 16 minutes 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. Cornett has played in 12 contests and is averaging 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds.
- Colin Falls has made six starts and is the only Irish rookie who has seen action in all 18 games. He is averaging 17.4 minutes per game, while netting 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds. Of his 29 field goals this season, 23 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 scored in double figures in three games overall this season. He also scored 12 points (all in the first half in Notre Dame’s win over Villanova).
- Russell Carter saw action for the first time 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 seven games this season, but has not seen time off the bench in any of Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST contests.
SERIES RECORD VS. PITTSBURGH:
This evening’s contests will mark the 48th meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame holding a 25-22 advantage in the series. The Irish have won five of the last eight meetings and Mike Brey owns a 5-3 record overall against the Panthers. This will be the 17th time the two teams have faced each other since Notre Dame became a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96. The Irish are 9-7 in those matchups.
Notre Dame has stopped a couple of notable streaks this season. In the BIG EAST opener against West Virginia on January 7, 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. One week ago at Villanova, 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 and Villanova marked 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. A win today would match the second-best start by an Irish team in the first seven games of league play.
Sophomores Torin Francis and Chris Quinn have enjoyed torrid shooting during Notre Dame’s last 13 games. Francis is shooting 57.7 percent, converting 75-130 from the field. Quinn has been equally impressive from the floor, hitting 49.0 percent of his shots from the field (71-145) and 45.6 percent (41-90) of his three-point attempts. Overall, Francis is shooting 55.2 percent from the field (96-174), while Quinn has nailed 46.1 percent of his shots (88-191). He is Notre Dame’s top three-point shooter with 49 three-point field goals. His 41.9 shooting percentage from beyond the arc also leads the team.
IN GOOD HANDS:
Chris Quinn owns an impressive 3.05 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has played 636 minutes, dished off 61 assists and turned the ball over just 20 times, which translates into one turnover every 31.8 minutes. He had a string of 159:00 minutes on the floor without a turnover snapped in the first half vs. Villanova. His previous turnover came in the first half of the DePaul game on Dec. 14. Quinn dished off a career-high eight assists against Miami in 37 minutes and turned the ball over just one time. 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 seven 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 seven of the last 11 games and are averaging 11.9 turnovers and 14.4 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 23 of his last 56 attempts (41.1 percent). Twenty-three of the 29 field goals he has made have come from three-point range. Falls is shooting 38.7 percent overall from the field and 38.3 percent from three-point range. He has been in the starting lineup in seven games this season and is averaging 17.4 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’ 22 points and 16 rebounds against Virginia Tech marked the 17th double double of his career and his seventh 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) , Quinnipiac (19 points, 11 rebounds), Morehead State (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Syracuse (17 points, 10 rebounds). Francis’ scoring (24 points) and rebounding (19 rebounds) totals in the Northern Illinois game were the second-highest of his career. Dating back to the Syracuse game (March 4, 2003), Francis has registered 10 double doubles in the last 24 games and in nine of his last 20 outings. He has scored in double figures 35 times during his career and grabbed 10 or more rebounds on 20 occasions.
IRISH DEFENSE SHUTS DOWN MOUNTAINEERS:
Notre Dame held West Virginia to a season-low 52 points in its 11-point victory in its BIG EAST opener. 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 126 to his credit for a 1.5 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 Notre Dame’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 heads into the Boston College game having scored in double figures in two of the last three contests. He reached double figures for the sixth time this season with his 16-point outing against Kentucky and followed that up with a 12-point effort against Miami three nights later. Jones has scored in double figures 12 times in his career, and has in played in more games (109) 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 17 games in 2003-04, he is averaging career bests of 8.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 32.2 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. Jones played all 40 minutes for the first time in his career against Rutgers one week ago.
Tom Timmermans’ performance against Syracuse on January 17 marked his best effort in 73 games in an Irish uniform. He registered double figures for the first time in his career with his 16-point effort. Timmermans hit on 7-10 shots from the field, both career highs. In addition to playing a personal best 32 minutes, he matched his career best with eight boards and dished off a personal high four assists. Timmermans finished with 10 points against Kentucky, marking the second double-figures scoring effort of his career.
IRISH TRYING TO GET IN THE SCORING GROOVE:
Notre Dame has scored 74 points or more eight times in 18 games this season, topping the 80-point barrier just three times. The Irish are averaging 72.1 points per contest. Notre Dame’s 84 points vs. Morehead State on Dec. 28 have been 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 69.3 points per game and has held 10 of its 18 opponents to fewer than 70 points. Marquette, American, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Kentucky 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 85 career contests, he has 584 for a 6.9 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 1,471 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 three to break Rivers’ career assist mark.
Chris Thomas has started all 85 games of his Irish career and is tied for second all-time in consecutive games started. Pat Garrity (1994-98) started all 111 games of his Notre Dame career, while John Paxson (1979-83) made 85 consecutive starts (86 total during his career) . Paxson started every game in his final three seasons.
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 85 games he has directed Mike Brey’s teams, Thomas has helped the Irish compile a 56-29 record for a .659 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 has 93 blocks in 2003-04 for an average of 5.17 per game.
WHERE CHARITY BEGINS:
The Irish used free-throw shooting as a weapon last season, averaging 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 15.4 made free throws per game this season and have attempted an average of 21.0 per game. Irish opponents are averaging 11.0 made free throws per game and 15.9 attempts
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 183-99 from the line and has attempted 108 more free throws (240-132). Overall, the Irish have converted on 76.2 percent of their attempts at home. 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.
Irish had coach Mike Brey has juggled his starting lineup frequently this season and has had a different starting five on five occasions. Below is a look at each starting lineup’s record.
- Jordan Cornette, Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Colin Falls and Torrian Jones – 5-0
- Jordan Cornette, Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Chris Quinn and Torrian Jones – 3-4
- Rick Cornett, Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Colin Falls and Torrian Jones – 1-0
- Torin Francis, Tom Timmermans, Torrian Jones, Chris Thomas and Chris Quinn – 1-3
- Jordan Cornette, Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Chris Quinn and Colin Falls – 0-1
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 1539-846 record for a .645 winning percentage. New BIG EAST Look:
The BIG EAST Conference is playing under a new league format in which every team faces 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 35-21 (.625) record in BIG EAST regular-season games and 1-3 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 36-24 (.600) 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 427-128 record all-time for a .769 winning percentage. The Irish are 42-13 (.764) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s three seasons-plus, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own an 92-31 mark for a .748 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 23 of their last 29 games at home, but have dropped six of the last 13 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 37 games against ranked opponents and owns a 12-25 record in those matchups. In three-plus seasons at Notre Dame, he has faced ranked opponents on 31 occasions and his teams are 12-19 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, three games have already been sell outs – Indiana, Syracuse and Kentucky. with four more – Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Seton Hall and Georgetown – already sold out. This year, 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.
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.
ANOTHER HAPPY HOMECOMING:
Notre Dame’s win on the road at Villanova not only was the first for an Irish team over the Wildcats in nine meetings, but it also marked the homecoming for two Irish players and a member of the coaching staff. Torrian Jones, a native of Morrisville, Pa., registered his second consecutive double double as he finished with 10 points and 11 boards. Russell Carter, from nearby Paulsboro, N.J. did not get in the game. The contest also marked the return of former Irish point guard Martin Ingelsby to the Philadelphia, Pa., area. Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pa., starred for Notre Dame from 1997-01. He currently serves as the program’s coordinator of basketball operations.
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 70-74 record all-time in conference regular-season play for a .486 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 35-21 (.625) 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 one more time during 2003-04 season. The January 17 matchup against the Orangemen marked the second straight year the Irish faced 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 Irish team had played a team that had won the NCAA crown the previous year. Notre Dame owns an 8-24 mark versus teams which have won the NCAA crown in the previous season. Heading into the matchup against Syracuse, Irish teams had been victorious in three of the last four times it had 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 39 losses suffered by Irish teams in Mike Brey’s three seasons, only 10 have been by 10 or more points and have been by a combined 285 points for an average of 7.31 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.
165 AND COUNTING:
Heading into tonight’s game against Pittsburgh , Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 165 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 airs from Dec. 9, 2003-March 2, 2004 (no show on Feb. 24) and is 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).