March 25, 2003
HOW “SWEET 16” IT IS – For the first time since 1987, Notre Dame (24-9) has advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals. The No. 5 seed Irish earned a spot in Thursday night’s (March 27) West Regional semfinal contest with victories over No. 12 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee (70-69) and No. 4 seed Illinois (68-60) at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. The last time Notre Dame advanced to the round of 16 that Irish team was the No. 5 seed in the East Region and defeated No. 12 Middle Tennessee State (84-71) and No. 4 seed TCU (58-57) en route to the regional semifinal. Notre Dame eventually ended up losing to No. 1 seed North Carolina 109-97 to end its tournament run. Notre Dame is back in the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year. The last time Irish teams made three straight NCAA appearances was from 1988-90. This is the 27th appearance overall for the Notre Dame men’s basketball progam in the NCAA tournament. Irish teams own a 29-30 (.492) all-time record in NCAA competition. Since the expansion of the NCAA tournament field to 64 or more teams, Notre Dame’s only appearance in a regional semifinal was in ’87. This is the highest seed a Notre Dame team has earned since ’87. The Irish were a No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region in 2001 and a No. 8 seed in the South Region in 2002.
WEST REGIONAL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP – Notre Dame will face No. 1 seed Arizona (27-3) in Thursday’s regional semifinal matchup. The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 after posting an 80-51 victory over Vermont in first round action and registering a 96-95 double overtime win over Gonzaga in the second round.
SCOUTING THE IRISH – This is the fourth straight 20-win season for the Irish and third under head coach Mike Brey. The last time Notre Dame teams registered four straight 20-win campaigns was from 1985-89 – 1985-86 (23-6), 1986-87 (24-8), 1987-88 (20-9) and 1988-89 (21-9). Brey is the only coach in Notre Dame history to have his teams post 20-win seasons in each of his first three seasons. Notre Dame won 22 games during the regular season and were the most since the 1986-87campaign when that Irish squad finished with a 22-7 mark during the regular season before posting a 2-1 record in NCAA tournament competition to finish the season with a 24-8 record. The Irish’s 24 wins are the most since that season. The last time a Notre Dame team won 25 or more games was in 1973-74 when it finished with a 26-3 record. Notre Dame finished the BIG EAST regular season tied for third with Seton Hall as the Irish registered a 10-6 mark in the West Division. Brey’s squad earned the fourth seed in the BIG EAST championship and dropped an 83-80 decision to St. John’s in first round action. ELITE COMPANY – Notre Dame is one of just nine schools – Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Stanford – who have advanced past the first round each of the last thee years.
HISTORY MADE – Notre Dame’s five wins over top 10 opponents (Texas, Maryland, Marquette, Pittsburgh and Illinois) are the most in a single season by an Irish team.
IRISH EARN HIGHEST SEED SINCE 1987 – Notre Dame’s fifth seed in this year’s NCAA tournament marks the highest for the Irish since they were the No. 5 seed in the East Region in the 1987 NCAA Championship. It also marks the third straight year the Irish have earned a top-eight seed, with Notre Dame eighth in the South region in 2002 and sixth in the Midwest in 2001.
GO WEST FOR A CHANGE – This year marks the first time in 27 NCAA tournament appearances that Notre Dame is in the West region. The Irish were placed in either the Midwest (nine times), East (seven), or Mideast (seven) regions in 23 of their previous 26 trips to the NCAA Championship. This is the second straight year Notre Dame is playing in a region for the first time as the ’02 Irish were the first to play in the South region.
CALIFORNIA HERE WE COME – This is Notre Dame’s first visit to the state of California to play a basketball game since February 5, 1995 when the Irish dropped a 92-55 decision to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The Irish made two trips to California during that same 1994-95 season when they played at San Diego (lost 90-76) and at Loyola Marymount (won 76-73) Notre Dame owns an 11-23 record all-time in the 24 games it has played in California with most of those contests coming against the Bruins (6-16 versus UCLA at Pauley Pavilion).
PLAYER TIDBITS – * Matt Carroll (Horsham, Pa.) owns the Notre Dame career records for games played (132), starts (124) and three-point field goals (298). He leads the team in scoring with a 19.8 scoring average and is also averaging 5.0 rebounds. Carroll had his 37-game double figure scoring streak snapped against Wisconsin-Milwaukee when he scored just two points against the Panthers. He played just 14 minutes in the contest after being sidelined for a majority of the second half with a sprained ankle. He has scored in double figures in 32 games and in 38 eight of his last 39 games. In 16 BIG EAST games during the regular season, he averaged a career best 21.9 points per game. Carroll tied a Notre Dame single-game record with eight three pointers against Syracuse on March 4. His 96 three pointers this season are a Notre Dame single-season record. He has topped the 30-point mark on three occasions this season and four times during his career and has scored 20-plus points in 14 games this season. * Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) is averging 20.4 points and 7.0 assists in Notre Dame’s last nine games. He owns an 18.7 scoring average overall and averaged 19.7 points in BIG EAST play. He leads the team in assists (7.0) and steals (1.8). Thomas registered his fourth double double of the season with his 21 points and 13 assists against Virginia Tech on Feb. 22. He has dished off 10-plus assists in five games and has topped the 20-point mark 14 times this season. Thomas has 231 assists this season and is the only player in Notre Dame basketball history to dish off 200-plus assists in consecutive seasons. He has 483 career assists for a 7.3 career average. * Dan Miller (Mt. Holly, N.J.) is Notre Dame’s third-leading scorer, averaging 14.0 points per game and stands second in the scoring column with a 5.7 rebounding average. He tied his personal best with 23 points against Illinois as he knocked down five three pointers (on seven attempts) in the game. Miller has scored in double figures in 24 games and has scored 20 or more points on eight occasions. He scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished off six assists against St. John’s. * Torin Francis (Roslindale, Mass.) leads the team with nine double doubles and averaged 14.0 points and 14.0 rebounds in Notre Dame’s two NCAA tournament games. He is averaging 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds this season. He registered his team-leading ninth double double of the season against Milwaukee-Wisconsin when he scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. In the win over Illinois, he also had 14 boards in the contest. Francis had the game-winning layup with six-tenths of a second remaining in the Pittsburgh game on February 9. He has started all 33 games and has reached double figures in 18 contests and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 11 games. * Torrian Jones (Fairless Hills, Pa.) earned his first start of the season (and 10th of his career) in Notre Dame’s win at Georgetown in the regular-season finale and also was in the starting lineup against St. John’s. The junior swingman has been the Irish’s most impressive player off the bench. He had his best all-around effort in an Irish uniform against Virginia Tech, playing a career-high 31 minutes and finishing with 12 points, a season-high nine rebounds, five assists (tying a personal best) and three blocked shots. Jones hit the game-winning free throw with four seconds to play in Notre Dame’s 93-92 double overtime victory over Georgetown. He is averaging 5.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and a career-high 18.9 minutes of playing time. In addition, Jones has scored in double figures in four games and has played 20-plus minutes in 10 of the last 17 games he has played and in 15 contests overall. * Jordan Cornette (Cincinnati, Ohio) has been in the starting lineup in 21 games this season. He started the first six games, before being replaced by Tom Timmermans in the next eight contests. Cornette regained his starting job for the 15 games prior to the March 8 matchup against Georgetown. He played a career-high 33 minutes in the win over Rutgers (January 14), scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking eight shots. Cornette has had a real impact for the Irish on the defensive end of the floor. He is averaging 3.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, in addition to 2.2 blocked shots. In the season opener against Belmont, Cornette registered his first career double double with an unlikely combination of 13 rebounds and a Notre Dame and Joyce Center record 11 blocked shots. His 68 blocked shots this season are 51 more than he blocked all of last season. * Chris Quinn (Dublin, Ohio) is averaging significant minutes off the bench at 15.5 minutes per game and has played 20-plus minutes in 10 contests. He played a career-high 29 minutes against Georgetown and finished with eight points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Quinn scored a career-high 12 points versus Marquette in the seventh game of the season and is averaging 3.9 points and 1.6 rebounds. He, along with Francis, is the only rookie who has played in all 33 games. He has connected on 42 field goals with 28 coming from three-point range. He was a key in the first half against Boston College on January 25 as he scored 10 points in 12 minutes of action. * Tom Timmermans (Driehuis, Netherlands) has started 10 games for the Irish this season with his most recent starts coming against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois. He made his first career start in the victory over Marquette on December 1 and is averaging 12.6 minutes of playing time. Timmermans equalled his personal best of nine points against West Virginia on January 29, in addition to grabbing a career-high eight boards. He is averaging 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds.
HEAD COACH MIKE BREY – Mike Brey is in his third year as the Notre Dame head coach and eighth in the collegiate ranks. He was named the 17th head coach in the program’s history on July 14, 2000, following five seasons (1995-2000) as head coach at the University of Delaware, where he led the Blue Hens to an overall record of 99-52. Brey owns a 66-30 mark (.688) with the Irish and earned his 50th victory at Notre Dame with the win over Texas in the championship game of the BB&T Classic. He is the only coach in Notre Dame history to lead his teams to three straight 20-win campaigns and consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in his first three seasons. In 2001-02, Brey led his team to a 22-11 record and 10-6 mark in BIG EAST play after guiding the 2000-01 Irish to the BIG EAST West Division crown with an 11-5 record and finishing with a 20-10 overall record. Six of his nine teams have advanced to postseason competition (five NCAA and one NIT appearance). Since his arrival, he has led Notre Dame to a 31-17 mark in BIG EAST play during the regular season for a .646 winning percentage and a 32-20 overall (including regular season and championship contests). Brey has an overall record of 165-82 (.668) as a head coach. His 150th career win came on December 14, 2002 with Notre Dame’s 102-71 victory over DePaul (the 224th game of his coaching career).
BREY NO STRANGER TO NCAA TOURNAMENT SUCCESS – Mike Brey is no stranger to the NCAA tournament. He has a 4-4 record in the NCAA tournament (4-2 at Notre Dame) and will be coaching in his 45th NCAA tournament game when Notre Dame faces Arizona. In 10 coaching appearances (as either a head coach or assistant coach) he is 35-9 (.795) with six final four appearances and two national titles as an assistant coach. Brey reached the NCAA tournament seven times as an assistant at Duke from 1988-95. In that span, Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils posted a 31-5 mark which included final four berths 1988, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92 and ’94. From 1988-92, Duke reached the the final four in five consecutive seasons and compiled a 25-3 record, including back-to-back national titles in 1991 and ’92. As the head coach at Delaware, he guided the Blue Hens to NCAA tournament berths in 1998 and ’99.
NCAA WINS AS THE LOWER SEED – Since 1979 when the NCAA began officially seeding teams, Notre Dame has won three games over higher seeded opponents. 2003 No. 5 Notre Dame def. No. 4 Illinois 60-68 (March 22 in Indianapolis, Ind.) 1989 No. 9 Notre Dame def. No. 8 Vanderbilt 81-65 (March 17 in Providence, R.I.) 1987 No. 5 Notre Dame def. No. 4 TCU 58-57 (March 14 in Charlotte, N.C.)
BREY VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS – As a head coach at both Notre Dame and Delaware, Mike Brey has coached in 32 games against ranked opponents. The Irish were 3-6 and 4-3 during the 2001-02 and 2000-01 campaigns, respectively. This season, Brey is 5-5 versus ranked foes and has a 12-14 record at Notre Dame versus ranked opponents. Overall, in his seven-plus seasons as a head coach, he owns an 12-20 record all-time against ranked opponents.
ICING ON THE CAKE – Notre Dame’s 68-60 victory over Illinois to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 was extra special for Irish head coach Mike Brey as the third year Irish mentor celebrated his 44th birthday on that day (March 22).
BIG EAST BEAST – The BIG EAST Conference is a perfect 8-0 in the NCAA tournament with four teams (the most of any conference) in the Sweet 16 – Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. Here is a conference breakdown of teams headed to the regional semifinals: BIG EAST (4), Big 12 (3-Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas), ACC (2-Duke, Maryland), SEC (2 – Kentucky, Auburn), Big 10 (2-Michigan State, Wisconsin), Pac-10 (1-Arizona), Conference USA (1-Marquette) and Horizon League (1-Butler).
BREY, CARROLL AND THOMAS HONORED BY NABC – Mike Brey was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) as its District 10 Coach of the Year, while Irish players Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas were first-team selections to the District 10 team. Notre Dame’s backcourt duo of Carroll and Thomas also were named the the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).
BREY VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS – As a head coach at both Notre Dame and Delaware, Mike Brey has coached in 31 games against ranked opponents. The Irish were 3-6 and 4-3 during the 2001-02 and 2000-01 campaigns, respectively. This season, Brey is 4-5 versus ranked foes. Overall, in his seven-plus seasons as a head coach, he owns an 11-20 record all-time against ranked opponents.
BREY NAMED ONE OF 25 FINALISTS FOR NAISMITH AWARDS – Mike Brey is one of 25 finalists for the Naismith College Basketball Coach of the Year Award, presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. He is one of four BIG EAST coaches named to the list. The others include Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Jim Calhoun of Connecticut and Ben Howland of Pittsburgh.
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 31-17 record in BIG EAST regular-season games for a 64.6 winning percentage and 1-3 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 32-20 (.615) against league foes. The Irish won the BIG EAST West Division title in 2001 by fashioning an 11-5 record (the most conference wins in its six-year tenure in the league). Under Brey, Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST school to win 10-plus league games each of the last three seasons. Prior to Brey’s arrival at Notre Dame, Irish teams had a 35-53 (39.8 percent) regular-season record in its conference games since 1995-96.
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 during his tenure. The Irish did not play an overtime game in Brey’s first season. The first overtime game played by Notre Dame under Brey was last season’s four-overtime epic matchup against Georgetown in which the Irish defeated the Hoyas 116-111 at the MCI Center. The Irish have played two overtime contests this season – at Boston College (101-96) and at home against Georgetown (93-92 in double overtime).
OVER THE CENTURY MARK – Notre Dame’s 101-96 overtime victory against Boston College on January 25 marked the second time this season the Irish went over the century mark. The Irish also reached the century mark in their 102-71 victory over DePaul on January 14. Notre Dame has scored 100 points or more points five times during Mike Brey’s tenure with the Irish.
SERIES RECORD VS. ARIZONA – This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools and the first since the semifinals of the 1999 National Invitation Tournament when the Wildcats defeated the Irish 76-60. Notre Dame has dropped three straight since winning the first-ever meeting in Tuscon, Ariz. (46-24) on January 4, 1934. In the two other games played, Arizona defeated the Irish 91-61 on November 21, 1990 in New York, N.Y. and 98-79 on December 21, 1993 in Lahaina, Hawaii.
COMMON OPPONENTS – Notre Dame and Arizona have played one common opponent – Texas. The Irish defeated the Longhorns 98-92 in the championship game of the BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2002, while Arizona defeated Texas (73-70) one week later on December 15 in Tuscon, Ariz.
IRISH VERSUS THE PAC 10 – Notre Dame is 31-37 against Pac-10 opponents – 18-26 versus UCLA and 13-11 versus the rest of the league. This is the first Pac-10 opponent the Irish have faced since playing Arizona in the semifinals of the ’99 Preseason NIT in Madison Square Garden on November 24, 1999.
CROSSING OVER – Since the inception of divisional play in the BIG EAST Conference in 2000-01, Notre Dame owns a 9-3 record against the league’s East Division foes. During the first year, the Irish were 3-1 against those teams with their only loss coming against Connecticut. Last season, Notre Dame registered a 2-2 mark with wins over Miami on the road (90-77) and Providence at home (76-68) and losses to Villanova at the Joyce Center (74-72) and to St. John’s (84-81) at Madison Square Garden. Notre Dame is already 3-1 this season against teams from the East Division with wins over Providence, Boston College and Virginia Tech and its only loss coming at the hands of Connecticut.
BIG EAST BONANZA – Senior Matt Carroll headlined three Notre Dame players named to the 2002-03 BIG EAST All-Conference teams, earning first team all-conference honors, while sophomore Chris Thomas was on the second team and Torin Francis was named to the league’s all-rookie team. Carroll’s selection to the first team marked the fourth straight year – and sixth time in the last seven seasons – Notre Dame had a player earn a spot on that team. The Irish have had more first-teamers over the last seven years than any other school in the league. Carroll is the fourth different player to earn first-team honors, joining Ryan Humphrey (2001-02), Troy Murphy (1999-2000 & 2000-01), and Pat Garrity (1996-97 & 1997-98). Thomas, who was a third-team selection a year ago, is the second Irish player (also Murphy in 1998-99) to be named to the second team, while Francis joined Thomas, Murphy and Martin Ingelsby as the only Irish players to earn all-rookie honors.
THE 20-WIN MARK – Notre Dame’s 24 wins this season marks the 30th time in the program’s 98-year history that an Irish team has reached the 20-win plateau. This is Notre Dame’s fourth straight 20-win season and the first time since 1985-89 that Irish teams posted four consecutive 20-win seasons. REMEMBER NOVEMBER – For the second straight year, Notre Dame played six games during the month of November and finished up the first month of the season with a 5-1 record. Last year, the Irish completed the first month of the season with a perfect 6-0 slate. It marked the most wins ever by a Notre Dame team in the month of November and the third time in the program’s history that the Irish played six games during that month. Notre Dame also played six games in the month of November during both the 1999-2000 and 1998-99 campaigns and finished with 4-2 and 2-4 marks, respectively. Under Irish head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame owns a 14-1 mark in November.
A PERFECT DECEMBER – With its win over Vanderbilt on December 30, Notre Dame finished the month of December with an unblemished 6-0 mark. The last time an Irish team went undefeated during December was during the 1980-81 campaign as that Notre Dame squad also posted a perfect 6-0 mark.
A JANUARY JUMP – Notre Dame finished the month of January with a 6-2 record in the eight games it played during the past month. Two years ago, Notre Dame compiled a 5-3 record in eight games during the first month of the New Year. Last season, Notre Dame was 4-4 in its eight January contests. Overall, the Irish are 15-9 (.625) under Brey during the month of January.
HOME SWEET HOME – Since the inaugural season (1968-69) playing in the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 420-124 record all-time for a .772 winning percentage. The Irish are 35-10 (.778) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s two-plus seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own a 85-29 mark for a .746 winning percentage.
THE IRISH ALL-TIME – The 2002-03 campaign marks the 98th season of men’s basketball at Notre Dame. Irish teams have posted a 1529-837 record all-time for a .646 winning percentage.
NOTRE DAME ALL-TIME IN THE BIG EAST – In seven-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame owns a 66-70 record all-time in conference regular-season play for a .485 winning percentage. In its first five years, Irish teams were 35-53 (.398), but since Mike Brey took over the program, the Irish have compiled a 31-17 (.646) mark in regular-season play.
THE HOME ADVANTAGE – Notre Dame suffered back-to-back home losses in the final two regular season contests, but still finished the season with a 14-2 record at the Joyce Center. Its first home loss of the year on February 24 against Connecticut. Heading into a February 24 matchup with Connecticut, Notre Dame owned a 16-game home win streak dating back to the 2001-02 season when the Irish won the their final two home games of the regular season. It marked the second-longest win streak at the Joyce Center since the building opened in 1968-69. Prior to the loss to the Huskies, Notre Dame had not been beaten at home since February 17, 2002 when the Irish dropped a 68-65 decision to Syracuse. The only other time Notre Dame won 16 straight at the Joyce Center was from December 9, 1982-November 26, 1983.
BIG EAST 10 – Since the inception of the BIG EAST East and BIG EAST West divisional formats, Notre Dame is the only league team to win 10-plus conference games during of the last three regular seasons. The Irish finished 11-5 in 2000-01 and produced 10-6 marks in both 2001-02 and 2002-03. Notre Dame owns a 31-17 ledger in BIG EAST regular-season play in the last three seasons.
PRIDE OF THE BIG EAST – The BIG EAST has four teams in this year’s NCAA tournament field. In addition to the Irish, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut are also representing the conference. Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to make the NCAA tournament each of the last three seasons.
IRISH FIND SUCCESS AT THE MCI CENTER – Notre Dame has found the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. to be its home away from home as the Irish own a 6-1 mark in the building. The victory over Georgetown on Saturday, March 8 was its sixth straight at the MCI Center. In 2002-03, the Irish produced a 3-0 record in the building, registering the win over the Hoyas, in addition to the two wins over Maryland and Texas in December to win the BB&T Classic. Since dropping a 76-56 decision the first time a Notre Dame squad took the floor of the MCI Center against Georgetown on February 7, 1998, Irish teams have won five straight with three wins coming against the Hoyas. Certainly one of the most memorable was the epic four-overtime contest as the Irish prevailed 60 minutes later with a 116-111 victory in February of 2002.
BREY SHOWS IRISH THE WAY ON THE ROAD – Notre Dame played just 13 home games during the 2001-02 campaign, but found life on the road to be rather friendly. The Irish were 8-4 in contests played on the opponent’s home floor and were 5-3 in neutral site contests for an overall record of 13-7 away from the Joyce Center. In Brey’s first year, Notre Dame was 6-4 on the road and 2-2 in neutral site games for an overall record of 8-6. In three seasons under Brey, Notre Dame has a 18-13 (.581) road mark and 13-6 (.684) mark in neutral site contests. Over the past two-plus seasons, Irish teams have compiled a 31-19 (.620) record playing away from home.
THOMAS ENJOYS INDY HOMECOMING – Notre Dame’s wins over Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. were particularly satisfying for Irish point guard Chris Thomas, an Indianpolis, Ind. native. Prior to the two games over the weekend, Thomas had played three other contests in that building while at Pike High School. In 1998 (as a freshman), he his Pike High School team capture the 1998 Indiana state championship in that building. Three years later, He and his teammates won the title, in Thomas’ freshman year, at the RCA Dome. Three years later, as a senior in 2001, Thomas led his team to the state crown at Conseco Fieldhouse. His teams are now 5-0 when playing at the RCA Dome.
CORNETTE FAMILY IN THE SWEET 16 FROM COAST TO COAST – The parents of Jordan Cornette – Joel and Christi – are certainly going to be busy this weekend. While Jordan is playing in Anaheim, his older brother Joel also is enjoying his first trip to the Sweet 16 as a member of the Butler Bulldogs. Butler is playing its East regional games (a Friday & Sunday format) at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y. Like his brother Jordan, Joel and the Bulldogs will be facing a No. 1 seed – Oklahoma – when it takes the floor on Friday evening.
HISTORY MADE II – Wins over No. 10 Marquette, No. 8 Maryland and No. 2 Texas in consecutive outings proved historic as the 2002-03 Irish squad became the first team in school history to beat three consecutive top 10 foes. The victory against the Longhorns marked just the third time a Notre Dame team has beaten three top 10 teams in the same season. It also marked the fourth time in the history of the program that an Irish team has faced three consecutive top 10 opponents.
A HISTORIC LEAP – Notre Dame’s rise from being unranked to No. 10 in the Associated Press Poll on December 9th marked the third highest jump since the ranking began including 25 teams. Kansas went from unranked to 4th on November 27 1989, while Arizona made its debut at No. 8 on November 20, 2001.
A LITTLE MORE HISTORY – * Notre Dame concluded the season with 14-2 record at home, winning 10-plus games for the sixth time in seven years. The Irish won their first 14 home games before losing their final two homes to Connecticut and Syracuse (92-88). Heading into the contest with the Huskies on February 24, the Irish owned a 16-game home win streak. That streak (dating back to the final two home games of the 2001-02 campaign), was the second longest ever at the Joyce Center and longest since the mid-80’s when Notre Dame won 16 straight at home from December 9, 1982-November 26, 1983. The Irish have averaged just over 12 wins per season since the 1996-97 campaign. * Notre Dame finished with a 4-5 record in the nine games its played on its opponent’s home floor and were 4-1 in neutral site contests. * The Irish have played 10 ranked opponents this season and have faced four of those teams at home. Brey’s team was 2-2 in those contests, with victories over Marquette (92-71) and Pittsburgh (66-64) and a loss to Connecticut and the Orangemen. The last time Notre Dame played four ranked opponents at home was the 1993-94 campaign when the Irish faced Missouri (t25th AP), UCLA (4/t2nd), North Carolina (4/4) and Louisville (13/10). Notre Dame went 2-2 in those contests after winning the first two games. Overall in ’02-’03, the Irish are 5-5 against ranked teams. * Notre Dame has played five top 10 opponents and owns five wins over those teams – No. 10 Marquette (92-71), No. 8 Maryland (79-67), No. 2 Texas (98-91), No. 4 Pittsburgh (66-64) and No. 10 Illinois (68-60). The Irish earned the victories over the Golden Eagles, Terrapins and Longhorns in consecutive outings over a six-day stretch (Dec. 2-8). It marked the first time that an Irish team had beaten three straight top 10 opponents in the program’s history. Prior to the victory over the Golden Eagles on December 2, Notre Dame had not beaten a top 10 team since Brey’s first season when that Irish squad defeated Boston College (10th in AP and 9th in ESPN/USA Today polls). The win over the Longhorns was Notre Dame’s first win over a top five opponent since January 5, 2000 versus No. 2 Connecticut (75-70) at the Hartford Civic Center. * Notre Dame’s 66-64 last-second victory over Pittsburgh on February 9 at the Joyce Center marked just the second time in school history that an Irish team had beaten four top 10 opponents in the same season. The only other team in Notre Dame history to post four wins over top 10 teams was the 1977-78 squad which advanced to the Final Four. That Irish team defeated No. 5 UCLA (69-66) and then a No. 3 UCLA squad (75-73), No. 1 Marquette (65-59) and No. 3 DePaul (84-64). * The Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game also was the first victory for an Irish team at the Joyce Center against a top five opponent (Pittsburgh was ranked fourth at the time of the game), since Notre Dame defeated UCLA 79-63 on February 5, 1994 (the Bruins were ranked fourth in the AP poll and were tied for second the Coaches’s poll). The Notre Dame-Pittsburgh matchup also marked the first contest between two top 10 teams at the Joyce Center since December 9, 1980 when No. 9 Notre Dame defeated No. 7 Indiana 68-64. * The 98 points by the Irish against Texas were the most scored by an Irish team over a ranked opponent since a 101-98 victory over Syracuse (ranked 10th at the time) on Feb. 15, 1992 at the Carrier Dome. The 21-point margin of victory against Marquette was the largest over a ranked opponent since a 98-67 win over then third-ranked Missouri on March 3, 1990. * Notre Dame’s 13 three-pointers against Illinois were the most ever by an Irish team in an NCAA tournament game and also matched a season-high (versus Albany and Texas). Notre Dame has hit 10 or more three pointers on 10 occasions.
CARROLL ONE OF 10 FINALISTS FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD – Matt Carroll is one of 10 finalists for the Senior Class Award (acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School). The award is presented to a male and female senior NCAA Division I basketball player. It was presented last year for the first time and was awarded to Juan Dixon of Maryland and Sue Bird of Connecticut. The initial idea for the award came from CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg, who now serves as Honorary Chairman of the award. This year’s award will be presented at the Senior CLASS Award Tribute Gala in Kansa City, Mo., on Friday, April 23. In addition to Carroll, the finalists include Nick Collison (Kansas), Brian Cook (Illinois), Kirk Hinrich (Kansas), Reece Gaines (Louisville), Jason Gardner (Arizona), Josh Howard (Wake Forest), Kyle Korver (Creighton), Hollis Price (Oklahoma) and David West (Xavier).
THOMAS NAMED FINALIST FOR THREE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS – Sophomore point guard Chris Thomas is among the finalists for three national player-of-the-year honors – the John R. Wooden, the Naismith Award and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA)/Oscar Robertson awards.
THREE PLAYERS REACH 20-POINT MARK – Matt Carroll, Dan Miller and Chris Thomas combined for 68 points in Notre Dame’s 98-76 win over Virginia Tech on February 22 as all three players topped the 20-point mark. It marked the first and only time this season that the Irish had three players score 20-plus points. Carroll finished with 25 points, followed by Miller’s and Thomas’ 22 and 21 points, respectively.
HOT SHOTS – Notre Dame connected on a combined 58.2 percent of its shots from the field in back-to-back wins against DePaul and Canisius. The Irish shot 60.0 percent from the field against the Blue Demons as they made 30-50 shots. It marked the best shooting performance by an Irish team since November 22, 2000 when Notre Dame converted 36-56 field goals (64.3 percent) against Loyola (Chicago). It also was the second time a Brey-coached team shot 60 percent or better in a game. The Irish were 34-60 (.567) from the field against Canisius. Overall, Notre Dame is shooting 44.6 percent from the field this season and has shot 50.0 percent or better on seven occasions.
‘CARROLL’-ING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS – Senior guard Matt Carroll etched his name into the Notre Dame record books on February 1 when he became the school’s career three-point shooting leader. His six three-pointers (equalling his personal best at the time) against Georgetown moved him ahead of David Graves’ (1998-2002) record of 259. In an Irish school record 132 career games played, Carroll has 298 three-point fields for an average of 2.26. With 124 career starts to his credit, he owns the Notre Dame career mark for that record as well, surpassing the one established by David Rivers’ (1984-88) who made 116 starts during his career. In addition to the three career records, he also tied the Irish single-game three-point mark with his eight three-pointers against the Orangemen at the Joyce Center on March 4.
THOMAS REACHES 1,000-POINT MARK – Chris Thomas’ became the 42nd player in Notre Dame basketball history to score 1,000 career points this season. In 66 career games, he has scored 1,133 points for an average of 17.2 points per game. Only six former Irish players reached the mark during their second season in a Notre Dame uniform – Austin Carr (1968-71), Adrian Dantley (1973-76), Troy Murphy (1998-2001), Tom Hawkins (1955-59), Bob Arnzen (1966-69) and John Shumate (1972-74).
MILLER REACHES 1,000 CAREER POINTS – Dan Miller reached the 1,000-point mark in his career against Syracuse. He has scored 1,070 points in 137 career games for a 7.8 scoring average. Miller has scored 462 points in an Irish uniform this season. In the three seasons he played at Maryland, Miller scored 608 points.
WHERE CHARITY BEGINS – Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 564-380 from the free throw line this season and has attempted 183 more free throws (738-555). The Irish have made 76.4 percent of their free throw attempts, while their opponents are hitting on 68.5 percent. In 24 games, Notre Dame has made more free throws than its opponents and hit on better than 75.0 percent on 21 occasions.
HOME STRIPE – Notre Dame was particularly successful from the charity stripe in home games as the Irish were 286-373 (.767) compared to 177-257 (.689) for their opponents. In the last 11 home games, 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. Coach Mike Brey’s squad shot a season best 95.7 percent from the line against Rutgers as the Irish converted 22 of its 23 attempts.
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS – Heading into the West Virginia game January 18, the Irish had been outrebounded in six straight games, and in 12 games overall. Notre Dame reversed that fortune versus the Mountaineers as the Irish owned a decisive 51-27 advantage on the boards – the most rebounds in a game this season as well as the largest rebounding margin. The 51 rebounds also were the most by the Irish since last year’s Georgetown game at the MCI Center when they totalled 64. It also was the largest rebounding margin ever by Notre Dame in Mike Brey’s two-plus seasons. In the Pittsburgh game on February 9, the Irish were outrebounded 24-10 in the first half, but owned a 16-9 advantage in the second half. In back-to-back games against West Virginia and Virginia Tech, Notre Dame outrebounded its opponents by 13 (42-29) and 15 (43-28), respectively. The Irish have been outrebounded in 21 of its 33 games this season.
KEEPING IT CLOSE – Notre Dame’s 17-point loss (72-55) to Pittsburgh on January 6 marked the worst loss for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey (spanning 90 games total). Prior to the contest, Notre Dame’s worst loss was a 16-point setback to Connecticut during Brey’s first season, the 2000-01 campaign. The Irish’s 11 losses last season were by a combined total of 49 points for an average margin of defeat of 4.45 points. Only one loss (versus Georgetown – 83-73) was by double figures, while eight of those setbacks were by five points or less. In the 30 losses the Irish have suffered under Brey over the course of the last three seasons, only seven have been by a double-digit margin. In his first season (2001-01), Brey’s squad lost 10 games by a combined 85 points with its biggest loss coming against Connecticut.
IRISH HAVE FACED DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 31 TIMES – The Irish’s matchup against Maryland on December 7 marked the 31st time an Irish team had played a team that had won the national title the previous year. With its win over the Terrapins, Notre Dame now owns an 8-23 mark those teams, but has been victorious three of the last four times it has gone up against a team which had won the national championship the previous season. Notre Dame’s 1999-00 squad beat Connecticut twice – 75-70 at the Harford Civic Center and 68-66 at the Joyce Center – the season after the Huskies claimed the ’99 NCAA title.
HE’S IRISH NOW – Notre Dame forward Dan Miller played his first three seasons at Maryland before transferring in June of 2001. He faced his former team in the first round of the BB&T Classic on December 7 and had 17 points and seven rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Prior to that contest, the last time the Irish and Terrapins played each other in the consolation game of the Preseason NIT, Miller was wearing a Terrapin uniform. Miller started the game and played 32 minutes, while finishing with 12 points and four rebounds. Current Irish players Matt Carroll and Jere Macura played in the game. Maryland won the game 72-67 to claim third-place in the tournament.
THERE’S NO SLOWING HIM DOWN – Matt Carroll ended the 2001-02 campaign by scoring 20 points in Notre Dame’s two BIG EAST and two NCAA tournament games. Carroll has continued that streak by scoring 20-plus points in 14 of the 33 contests of the season. He has netted 20-plus points in nine of the last 19 games. Carroll has had three 30-point outings this season, which include a career-high 36-point performance against Georgetown and a 31-point effort at Pittsburgh. He has notched four 30-point outings during his career. Carroll has recorded 18 20-point efforts in his last 37 games in an Irish uniform and owns 24 20-plus point games during his career.
MILLER TIME – After sitting out the 2001-02 campaign following his transfer to Notre Dame in the summer of 2001, Dan Miller is averaging 14.0 points (third best scoring total on the team) and 5.7 rebounds (second highest scoring average). He recorded double doubles in the first two games of the season against Belmont and IUPUI and has scored in double figures in all but nine contests. Miller also has registered 20-point outings in eight games – 20 points versus Furman, Marquette and Texas; 22 points versus Albany and Virginia Tech; a career-high 23 points in a win over Canisius in which he made a personal best six three-pointers and against Illinois; and 21 points in the loss at Seton Hall. Against Belmont, he had 19 points and 10 rebounds and came back against IUPUI the following night to score 17 points and grab 11 rebounds (career-high). In his three seasons with the Terrapins (104 career games), he did not record a double double and never grabbed more than seven rebounds in a game; he also had scored in double figures just 19 times and had only finished with 20 or more points on one occasion. Miller had equalled his career best with 11 boards against Georgetown – the third time this season with 10-plus rebounds.
FANTASTIC FRANCIS – Rookie Torin Francis was Notre Dame’s hero after putting in the game-winning layup against Pittsburgh in the 66-64 victory on February 9 and against Wisconsin-Milwaukee with 33 seconds remaining. He is averaging 10.7 points and a team-leading 8.4 rebounds, in addition to registering a team-best nine double doubles – versus IUPUI, Bucknell, Albany, Marquette, Texas, Vanderbilt, Valparaiso, Syracuse and Illinois. He has had two 20-point outings this season which came in back-to-back outings against Maryland (20 points) and Texas (a former career best) at the BB&T Classic. Francis has been in double figures in 18 of 33 games and has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 11 contests. In addition to his 21 points against the Longhorns, he grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked a career best eight shots. In the win over Maryland, he connected on all eight of his shot attempts. Francis had 20 rebounds in the third game of the season versus Bucknell, the most since former Irish All-American Troy Murphy grabbed 20 rebounds against Seton Hall on January 8, 2001 and the most ever by an Irish freshman. Against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in his first-ever NCAA tournament game, he scored a career-high 23 points
IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING – Chris Thomas’ unselfish play continues to be one of the reasons why the Irish have been so successful the past two seasons in compiling a 46-20 (.697) mark over the last 66 games. As a freshman, he ranked fifth nationally with a 7.64 assist average. This season, Thomas is averaging 7.0 assists, good for fourth nationally. He has dished off 10-plus assists in five games – IUPUI (11), Marquette (10), DePaul (10), Canisius (13) and Virginia Tech (13). His 13 assists in the Canisius and Virginia Tech contests matched his career high. Thomas has dished off 10 or more assists 15 times during his career.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL – During the 2000-01 and 2001-02 campaigns (63 games), Notre Dame averaged 18.3 assists and just 13.7 turnovers for a 1.34 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish ranked third last season with a 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio and ninth in ’01-’02 with a 1.23 ratio. Notre Dame’s 629 assists last season were second-most in school history – the 1999-2000 team had 643 assists in 37 games for a 17.4 assist per game average. Notre Dame has had more turnovers than assists in just five games this season – Bucknell, Furman, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall and Kentucky. During the 2001-02 season, only twice did Notre Dame have more turnovers than assists. The Irish own a 1.27 assist-to-turnover ratio and 0.61 assist-to-basket ratio this season and are averaging 16.5 assists and 12.9 turnovers.
JONES PROVIDES THE SPARK – Torrian Jones has been a spark for Notre Dame off the bench all season long, but the junior swingman’s play of late earned him his first two starts of the season (the 10th and 11th of his career) against Georgetown and St. John’s. Against the Hoyas on February 1, he notched the game-winning free throw with four seconds remaining in double overtime to lift Notre Dame to the one-point win. Jones’ performance against Virginia Tech on February 24 marked his best overall all-around effort in an Irish uniform as he played a career-high 31 minutes and finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. He has scored in double figures in four games this season and is averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in playing a personal best 18.9 minutes.
TWENTY SOMETHING – Chris Thomas has scored 20-plus points in 14 games this season, including nine of the last 18 contests. His most recent 20-plus point outing was against Wisconsin-Milwaukee as he finished with 27 points. He netted 21 points and dished off 13 assists against Virginia Tech in recording his fifth double double of the season and 12th of his career. Thomas scored 29 points in the win at Georgetown. He had 24 points against both Pittsburgh and Georgetown and 28 points versus Boston College (25 in the second half). He matched his personal best with 32 points against Marquette on December 2. Thomas had three straight 20-point outings for the first time in his career against Bucknell, Furman and Creighton, scoring 20 points against the Bison and Paladins and then tossing in 22 in the loss to the Blue Jays in the championship game of the Guardians Classic. Last season, he began his career by registering 24 and 22 points in the first two games of the season versus New Hampshire and Cornell. He also had back-to-back 20-plus point outings against Rutgers (32) and Georgetown (22) and then against West Virginia (26) and Miami (32). Thomas has scored 20-plus points 22 times during his career (64 games). His 32 points against the Golden Eagles this season marked the third time in his career career that he has scored 30-plus points. He has failed to score in double figures just 12 times during his career.
IRONMAN – Matt Carroll played in his 100th career game in Notre Dame’s win over Belmont and has seen action in 130 career games in an Irish uniform. He has started all but eight of those games and has missed just one contest throughout his career (Miami-Fla. on the road last season because of an ankle injury) in 133 contests overall.
FORTY-MINUTE MAN – Chris Thomas has played the entire game in six contests this season – Rutgers (both games), Pittsburgh, Georgetown (second meeting between the two teams). Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois. He played 42 minutes in the January 25th overtime win at Boston College and 45 versus Georgetown in the double overtime victory before fouling out of the game for the first time in his career. As a freshman last season, he played the entire game in 11 of 18 BIG EAST games (regular season and two tournament contests) and averaged 40.2 minutes in league contests and 38.0 minutes overall. Thomas also played all 60 minutes in Notre Dame’s epic four-overtime win (116-111) at Georgetown last February. In addition, he played the entire game on 17 occasions.
MAKING THE “QUINN”-ESSENTIAL POINT – Freshman Chris Quinn has played in all 33 games for the Irish and is averaging 15.5 minutes per game and 3.9 points per game. Quinn had his best outing of the season against Marquette, scoring a personal best 12 points (hit 5-8 shots from the field) while playing 26 minutes. He played a career-high 29 minutes against Georgetown and finished with eight points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. In the Boston College game, Quinn scored 10 points in the first half in 12 minutes off the bench. He played the final 3:55 of double overtime against the Hoyas when Chris Thomas fouled out of the game and has played 20-plus minutes in eight games. He also had eight points and five rebounds against Illinois.
TOM TERRIFIC – A lower back problem forced Tom Timmermans to miss three games, but the Irish center has started 10 games this season, including Notre Dame’s two NCAA tournament contests this year versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois. Overall, he is averaging 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds. He tied a personal best with nine points in 14 minutes off the bench against West Virginia and also finished with a career-high eight rebounds. Timmermans has played 20-plus minutes in six games. He earned his first career start in the win over Marquette on Dec. 2.
HAPPY HOMECOMING – In his homecoming back to the New England area in mid-January, Torin Francis guided the Irish to two wins against Providence and Boston College. In the two games, he averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds. He scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds versus the Friars and netted 15 points and eight boards in 35 minutes versus Boston College.
BLOCK PARTY – Notre Dame’s 185 blocks are a new single-season team record. The former mark of 178 was set during the 2000-01 season in which the Irish averaged 5.93 blocks per game. This year, Notre Dame is averaging 5.61 blocks per game. Last season, the Irish finished with 163 blocks for an average of 4.94 per game. Jordan Cornette and Torin Francis lead the way with 73 and 58, respectively.
146 AND COUNTING – Heading into the contest against Arizona, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 144 straight games, which dates back to the 1998-99 campaign. The last time the Irish did not make 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 from three-point range. The Pittsburgh game on Jan. 26, 2002, marked the 100th consecutive game in which the Irish hit a three-pointer. Notre Dame has made 10 or more three-pointers in nine contests this season, including a season-high 13 in the Albany, Texas and Illinois ontests.
NCAA SIBLING RIVARLY – Three members of the Irish team – Matt Carroll, Jere Macura and Jordan Cornette – all had brothers playing in this year’s NCAA tournament. Matt’s brother, Pat, is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s (Pa.). He and the Hawks earned the seventh seed in the East region and will face Auburn in Tampa, Fla. Petar Macura and IUPUI won the Mid-Continent Conference tournament to earn the school’s first-ever NCAA appearance in the Jaguars’ fifth season at the Division I level. IUPUI, seeded 16th, will face the Midwest region’s top seed, Kentucky, in the first round in Nashville, Tenn. Butler and Joel Cornette are the 12th seed in the East region and are set to face Mississippi State in Birmingham, Ala.
RECORDS FALL AGAINST BELMONT – Notre Dame’s win over Belmont in the season opener, produced several new Irish records. * The 19 blocked shots the Irish had as a team set the school and Joyce Center mark, eclipsing the old mark of 12. The team total ties for third all-time on the NCAA blocked shots list with Seton Hall (November of 2000). * Jordan Cornette’s 11 blocked shots broke the school record of eight set by LaPhonso Ellis in 1992 in an NIT game versus Kansas State. He also established a new Joyce Center record, breaking the record of 10 set by UCLA’s Bill Walton on January 27, 1973.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS – By beating Maryland and Texas to win the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., Notre Dame won a regular-season tournament title for the second straight year. The Irish advanced to the championship game of the Guardians Classic earlier this season, but fell to Creighton in the championship game. Last season, Notre Dame won the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic in November which marked the first regular-season tournament championship for an Irish team since the 1992-93 season when that squad claimed the title at the Sugar Bowl Tournament. vs. Maryland (first round): Notre Dame beat the defending national champion Terrapins 79-67as four of the five starters netted double figures. Notre Dame closed the first half with a 16-5 run as the Irish grabbed a 35-25 halftime advantage. Maryland scored the first five points of the second half to close the lead to 35-30, but the Irish then outscored the Terrapins 18-7 over a seven-minute stretch as they built a 16-point lead (53-37). Maryland was never able to get closer than eight points as the Irish maintained a double-digit lead for the final 8:13 of the contest. Notre Dame led by as many 18 points in the second half. Torin Francis led the Irish with 20 points and eight rebounds as he made all eight of his shots from the field, while Matt Carroll finished with 19 points. Dan Miller had 17 points and seven rebounds against his former teammates. Chris Thomas chipped in 10 points and dished off a game-high nine assists, just one fewer than the whole Maryland team. Notre Dame held Maryland to 37.1 percent shooting in the game, but was outrebounded 47-37. The Irish turned the ball over just 10 times in the contest and had 20 assists on the 28 baskets they made. With the win over the Terrapins, Notre Dame snapped an 11-game losing streak to the ACC and it was head coach Mike Brey’s first win in seven tries against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Before that win, the last time an Irish team defeated an ACC foe was on January 11, 1992 at Madison Square Garden as Notre Dame upended North Carolina 88-76. vs. Texas (championship game): Torin Francis scored a career-high 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked eight shots in helping Notre Dame to the 98-92 victory over the second-ranked Longhorns. Dan Miller finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, while counterpart Matt Carroll also scored 20 points and grabbed six boards. Chris Thomas chipped in 19 points and dished off eight assists. The Irish scored a season-high 51 points in the first half in grabbing a seven-point (51-44) halftime advantage. Notre Dame led by as many as nine in the first half on several occasions. Following the intermission, the Irish built a 13-point lead (59-46) with 17:40 left in the game, but the Longhorns used a 30-11 run over an 11-minute stretch to go up by six (76-70) with 8:47 to play. Jordan Cornette cut the lead to one (77-76) with a layup with 6:37 remaining, but the Longhorns extended the lead to five with 4:02 to play. Torrian Jones’ layup with 2:11 to play cut the deficit to 83-82 before a three-pointer by Thomas gave the Irish the lead for good with 2:06 remaining. Francis hit five of six foul shots in the final 1:44 of the game. Notre Dame shot 45.8 percent from the field (33-72) and turned the ball over just nine times in the game, while Irish players combined for 19 assists.
BB&T CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS – Dan Miller and Torin Francis were named to the BB&T Classic All-Tournament Team after leading the Irish to the tournament title. Miller averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two games in the 38.5 minutes he played. Francis averaging 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots in 32.0 minutes per game. He shot 75.5 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the free throw line.
GUARDIANS CLASSIC RECAP (Kansas City, Mo.) – vs. Furman (semifinal): Chris Thomas and Dan Miller scored 20 points each to lead the Irish into the championship game with a 75-50 victory over Furman in the semifinals. Notre Dame held its fourth straight opponent to 50 points and under as the Paladins shot 40.0 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from three-point range. The Irish connected on 26-60 from the field (43.3 percent) and shot 66.7 percent (8-12) from three-point range. Matt Carroll, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds, was three-of-six from beyond the arc. Torin Francis grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Notre Dame held an 18-14 advantage with 9:44 remaining in the first half, but used a 21-9 run to close out the half for a 39-23 halftime advantage. Furman outscored the Irish 8-0 to begin the second half to close the lead to eight (39-31) with 17:20 remaining, but Notre Dame countered with a 12-2 run of its own to break open the game. The final 25-point outcome was the largest point differential of the contest. vs. Creighton (championship): The Irish fell to the Blue Jays 80-75 in the championship game. Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll, both named to the Guardians Classic All-Tournament Team, scored 22 points and 20 points, respectively, as the only two Irish players in double figures. Creighton shot a blistering 62.0 percent from the field (31-50) and 58.8 percent (10-17) from three-point range. Its the best that any team has ever shot against a Mike Brey-coached Irish team. In addition, the Blue Jays owned a 36-29 advantage on the boards. Creighton led for most of the first half before the Irish used a 21-10 run to grab a seven-point lead (35-28) with 3:02 remaining before halftime. The Blue Jays, however, outscored the Irish 10-0 to close out the first half and grab a three-point halftime advantage (38-35). The Blue Jays led by as many as 10 in the second half (54-44) with 14:01 remaining. Notre Dame grabbed its first lead of the second half (75-74) with 1:35 remaining on Thomas’ three-pointer, but the Irish were held scoreless in the final minute of the game. Creighton tied the game at 75-75 with 24 seconds remaining and then nailed a three-pointer and a free throw which sealed the victory.
GUARDIANS CLASSIC RECAP (NOTRE DAME REGIONAL) – vs. Belmont: Dan Miller recorded the first double double of his career in his debut in an Irish uniform as he scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Jordan Cornette blocked a school and Joyce Center record 11 blocked shots. In addition, he grabbed a career-best 13 rebounds. Cornette broke the school record of eight blocked (set by LaPhonso Ellis in 1992) and Joyce Center mark of 10 (set by Bill Walton of UCLA in 1973). Several of his blocked shots came in a decisive 30-5 run. Notre Dame was leading 26-21 with 2:57 remaining before halftime and closed out the first half with a 14-0 run that gave the Irish a 40-21 halftime lead. Notre Dame held Belmont to just eight points in the first 12:30 of the contest in building a 37-point advantage (66-29). The Irish held the Bruins to just 28.1 shooting accuracy from the field and forced 17 turnovers. Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas each finished with 15 points each. Thomas also had eight assists in the game. Notre Dame’s 19 blocked shots also established new school and Joyce Center records.
vs. IUPUI: Matt Carroll scored 26 points as he hit four-of-eight three-point attempts, while Dan Miller registered his second straight double double as he netted 17- points and grabbed 11 rebounds in leading the Irish to an 89-45 victory over IUPUI. Torin Francis registered his first career double double as he tossed in 16 points and grabbed 10 boards. Chris Thomas finished with 11 assists and eight points. Notre Dame used a late first-half run to finish off the Jaguars. The Irish ended the first half with an 18-5 run and then opened the second half with a 20-6 run to the put the game out of reach. The Jaguars shot 24.3 percent for the game and made just seven baskets (on 36 attempts), while shooting 19.4 percent in the second half. Notre Dame forced 17 turnovers and blocked 13 shots in the game. Notre Dame finished the game by shooting 54.6 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three-point range.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED RANKS NOTRE DAME 15TH – In the October 7, 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated, Notre Dame was ranked the 15th best Sports College among Division I schools for the 2001-02 school year. Texas and Stanford finished first and second, respectively. SI combined a variety of factors in arriving at its 2002 rankings, which included performance during the school year in five sports (baseball, football, hockey and men’s and women’s basketball); position in the ’01-’02 Sears Cup NCAA all-sports standings; number of varsity, club and intramural sports; range of recreational facilities; and whether or not spirit-boosting events like Midnight Madness were held.
USA TODAY/NCAA ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Notre Dame received a 2002 USA Today/NCAA Academic Achievement Award for graduating 90 percent of its freshmen student-athletes who enrolled in 1995. Now in its second year, the awards were presented in late September of 2002 to 10 institutions with the highest overall graduation rates for scholarship student-athletes who began college in the 1995-96 academic year. Rice University finished with a rate of 91 percent, one percentage point higher than Notre Dame, Stanford and Duke.
IRISH INK TWO IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD – Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey signed two players to national letters of intent during the early signing period – Colin Falls, a 6-4, 200-pound shooting guard out of Park Ridge, Ill., and Omari Isreal, a 6-8, 210-pound forward from Rockville, Md. Falls averaged 24.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists during his junior season at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. In addition, he captured first-team all-Chicago Catholic League honors for the second consecutive year, while also earning second-team all-state accolades. Isreal averaged 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots in his junior season at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Wheaton, Md. An all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) second-team selection each of the last two years, he earned first team all-county honors from both the Montgomery County Journal and Montgomery County Gazette.
TOUGH TICKET AT THE JOYCE CENTER – Notre Dame concluded the regular season with 10 sellouts at the Joyce Center, including three contests – Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Syracuse – which produced the largest crowds ever to witness a Notre Dame basketball game (11,450). The 10 sellouts marked the most since the 1985-86 campaign when when 14 of the team’s 17 home games drew a record capacity crowd at the Joyce Center. At the start of the season, all 3,160 student ticket packages available this year sold out in 36 hours.
DRAFT ANALYSIS – Former Irish standout Ryan Humphrey was chosen as the 19th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, marking the second straight year Notre Dame has had a player chosen in the first round. In 2001, former two-time consensus All-American Troy Murphy was tabbed as the 14th pick overall. Humphrey became the 12th Irish player in the program’s history to be chosen in the first round. Notre Dame is one of just four schools (the others include Duke, Indiana and Stanford) to have had at least one player chosen in the first round of each of the last two NBA drafts.