Jan. 16, 2007
#20/20 Notre Dame (15-2, 3-1 BIG EAST) vs. Villanova (11-5, 1-4 BIG EAST)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 * 7:00 p.m. (EST) The Pavilion (6,500) * Villanova, Pa.
Television: ESPNU: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play analyst) and Ron Perry (color analyst)
Radio: Jack Nolan (play-by-play analyst)
LaPhonso Ellis (color analyst)
Notre Dame Sports Properties originates the Notre Dame Radio Network which includes: WLS 890 AM in Chicago, Ill. (Chicago land area and Midwest); WZOW 97.7 FM and 102.3 FM in South Bend, Ind.; ESPN 950 AM in Indianapolis, Ind.; WLYV 1450 AM in Fort Wayne, Ind. and Northeast, Ind.;WLUV 96.7 AM in Rockford and DeKalb, Ill. and Beloit and Janesville, Wis.; WEFM 95.9 FM in Michigan City and Gary, Ind.; ESPN (WRSW) 1480 AM in Warsaw, Ind.; WAMW 107.9 FM and 1580 AM in Washington, Ind., Sirius Satellite Radio 159 and 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).
Notre Dame vs. Villanova:
Notre Dame, winners of 14 of its last 15 games, plays its second BIG EAST road game of the season in Wednesday’s matchup against Villanova. The Wildcats are one of the Irish’s three league repeat opponents this season. Wednesday’s matchup will be the first in 10 days for the two schools with the second contest between the two schools slated for Sat., Jan. 27 at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has played three of its four BIG EAST games at the Joyce Center. With Sunday’s 88-76 victory over Seton Hall, Notre Dame improved to 13-0 at home and ran its current home win streak to 15 games dating back to the 2005-06 campaign. Notre Dame 13 homes wins this season are the most for an Irish team since the 1999-00 season when that Irish squad finished with a 16-4 record. Notre Dame’s 15-2 start is the best under head coach Mike Brey. The best start prior for the Irish under Brey was in 2002-03 when that squad started 14-2 before suffering its third loss of the season in the 17th game of that campaign. The last time a Notre Dame team began a season 15-2 after 17 games was during the 1978-79 season when that squad began the year with a 17-2 record. Notre Dame is 3-0 versus ranked opponents in 2006-07 – two more victories than a year ago when that squad posted a 1-7 record versus ranked foes. The Irish are ranked 20th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today rankings. Notre Dame is averaging 84.1 points per game (10th in the nation) and have topped the 90-point mark eight times and scored 80-plus points 12 times. Notre Dame and Villanova will be meeting for the 28th time since the inaugural meeting in 1970. The Wildcats own a 15-12 advantage in the series and have won nine of the last 11 meetings. This is just the second time that an Irish team has played at The Pavilion. The only other time was on Jan. 2, 1996 – a 76-57 Notre Dame loss.
A Fast BIG EAST Start:
Notre Dame’s 3-1 start in BIG EAST play marks the second time in the past three seasons that the Irish have begun conference play under head coach Mike Brey with three wins in their first four games. Notre Dame was 4-1 in BIG EAST play following five games in 2004-05. The best start ever in conference play for an Irish team since joining the league in 1995-96 was in 2002-03 (Brey’s third season) when that team was 6-1.
Tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for several members of the Irish team who are from the nearby Philadelphia area – associate head coach Sean Kearney (Darby, Pa.), coordinator of basketball operations Martin Ingelsby (Berwyn, Pa.), Ryan Ayers (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Rob Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.). Russell Carter can also make a claim to the Philly area as he is a native of Paulsboro, N.J.
Brey, Wright Know Each Other Well:
Mike Brey and Villanova coach Jay Wright are certainly no strangers matching coaching wits against each other. Both were former coaches in the America East Conference (Brey at Delaware and Wright at Hofstra) the two faced each other 13 times from 1995-2000 with Brey owning a 9-4 edge in their coaching series. Tonight’s game will be the 19th time the two have faced each on the hardcourt (Brey leads 11-7).
Not An Ordinary Irish Day:
The 48 points Notre Dame scored in its 66-48 loss to Georgetown on Jan. 6 were the fewest by an Irish team in BIG EAST play (in11-plus seasons as a conference member). The point total also matched the lowest by a Notre Dame squad under Mike Brey (the Irish also scored 48 points in 61-48 loss to North Carolina State on Nov. 26, 2005). Saturday’s game also marked just the second time under Brey that the Irish scored under 50 points in a contest. Russell Carter was the only Notre Dame player in double figures as he scored 12 points which was the first time this season that the Irish did not have multiple players in double figures.
Irish Are In Season 12 As BIG EAST Member:
Notre Dame began its 12th season as member of the BIG EAST Conference on Jan. 3 against Louisville. With its win, the Irish improved to 6-6 in BIG EAST openers and 3-4 under Irish head coach Mike Brey.
Notre Dame’s win against Seton Hall was Notre Dame’s 15th of the season and the earliest in terms of date that an Irish team has reached the 15-win plateau in the 102-year history of the program.
Young At Heart:
With freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson in the starting lineup against Seton Hall on Sunday, it marked the first time since the 2001-02 campaign that the Irish started two rookies. During that campaign, Chris Thomas started all 33 contests, while Jordan Cornette made six starts. Notre Dame was 4-2 when those two were in the starting lineup.
Irish Have Shown They Can Score:
Notre Dame has put up some impressive offensive numbers to date as the Irish are averaging 84.1 points per contest. Five players are avearging in double figures – Russell Carter (18.0), Rob Kurz (14.4), Colin Falls (12.2), Luke Harangody (12.0) and Kyle McAlarney (10.3). Notre Dame’s 50-point margin of victory (101-51) against Rider on Dec. 28 marked the largest margin of victory under Brey. Prior to its 78-62 victory over Louisville on Jan. 3, the Irish had scored 80-plus points in nine consecutive games. The last time that occurred was during the 1976-77 campaign and also in 1975-76.
Colin Falls’ return to the court last against Army on Dec. 21 marked the 100th career game that he had played in an Irish uniform. Falls has played in 106 career games and has been in the starting lineup on 75 occasions.
Before its 66-48 loss to Georgetown eight days ago on Jan. 6, Notre Dame had won 12 straight which marked the longest win streak for an Irish team since the 1973-74 campagin when that squad produced two 12-game win streaks during the seson.
Points A Plenty:
After 17 contests, Notre Dame is averaging 84.1 points per game (good for 10th nationally in scoring offense). The Irish rank fourth in margin of victory at 20.6 points per game. During its recent 12-game win streak, Notre Dame’s average margin of victory was 26.0 points per game (312 points).
Back In The Polls
Notre Dame entered the polls for the first time this season at No. 21 in the Associated Press rankings on Dec. 11, marking the first time since the first week of December of 2004 that it had earned a top-25 ranking. The Irish were never ranked after that point in 2004-05 and were not ranked at all during the 2005-06 campaign. This year’s appearance in the polls marks the fifth time in seven seasons under head coach Mike Brey that his team has been ranked at some point during a season.
Three Times Is Nice For Harangody:
For the second time in three weeks and third time this season, Luke Harangody was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week after averaging 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in Notre Dame’s two victories last week over West Virginia and Seton Hall. Harangody, along with the Eugene Harvey of Seton Hall, are the only two freshmen to have earned rookie-of-the-week honors on three occasions. Russell Carter was tabbed for Honor Roll recognition also for the third time after averaging 21.5 ponts and 6.5 rebounds. He also has earned BIG EAST player-of-the-week honors on one occasion.
Brey Receives Honorary Monogram:
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey received an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club at the Athletic Department’s Christmas Party on Dec. 14. Honorary monograms are occasionally awarded to people who have provided exceptional service to the University, whereby extending invitations to them to be members of the Notre Dame Monogram Club. Recipients – whose identities are traditionally kept a secret until the actual ceremonies – are presented with a scroll and blue blazer adorned with the Monogram Club logo. The select group of honorary monogram winners includes such notables as the late Pope John Paul II and United States President Ronald Reagan; former University president Rev. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.; television personality Regis Philbin; and national-championship football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.
A Different Story:
Notre Dame’s 81-74 win against No. 23/19 Maryland on Dec. 3 snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Irish against ranked opponents. Four nights later, on Dec. 7, Notre Dame crafted a 99-85 victory against No. 4/5 Alabama at the Joyce Center for its first win over a top-10 team since the 2004-05 campaign. The Irish knocked off their third ranked opponent of the season with their victory over No. 21/21 West Virginia on Jan 9. Notre Dame faced eight ranked foes a year ago and was just 1-7 versus those opponents.
@ Alabama (22/21) – W, 78-71
@ Pittsburgh (22/20) – L, 97-100 (2OT)
vs. Syracuse (-/24) – L, 82-88
vs. Georgetown (21/-) – L, 82-85 (2OT)
vs. Villanova (6/6) – L, 70-72
@ West Virginia (11/11) – L, 70-71
@ Connecticut (3/4) – L, 74-75 (OT)
vs. Georgetown (23/20) – L, 63-67 (BIG EAST Tournament)
Irish Enjoy Back-To-Back Wins Versus Ranked Foes:
The last time Notre Dame faced back-to-back ranked opponents was last season during the 2005-06 campaign when the Irish played three consecutive ranked foes – Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia. Their two consecutive wins over ranked foes Maryland and Alabama are the first back-to-back wins over ranked opponents since the 2002-03 campaign when that Irish squad put together a three-game win streak in the span of six days:
vs. Marquette (13/10) 92-71 (12/2/02)
vs. Maryland (9/8)79-67 (12/7/02) – BB&T Classic First Round
vs. Texas (2/2)98-92 (12/8/02) – BB&T Classic Championship Game
Irish Love The BB&T Classic:
With its win over Maryland (81-74) at the BB&T Classic on Dec. 3, Notre Dame improved to 3-0 overall in the event. The Irish won the title in December of 2002 by knocking off the defending national champion Maryland (ranked ninth and eighth in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls) 79-67 in the first round and then dispatching second-ranked Texas (who advanced to the Final Four that spring) 98-92 in the championship game.
Friendly Confines For Irish At Verizon Center:
Despite its loss to Georgetown at the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center) on Jan. 6, Notre Dame still owns an 8-3 record all-time in games played at that facility. Earlier in the season, the Irish posted an 81-74 victory against Maryland at the Verizon Center on Dec. 3. That contest marked the first time Notre Dame had made an appearance at the Verizon Center since suffering a 55-54 setback to Georgetown on Jan. 23, 2005. Prior to the loss, Notre Dame had won six straight at the Verizon Center. During the 2002-03 campaign, the Irish were 3-0 in the MCI Center with victories over 2001 national champion Maryland (79-67) and Texas (98-92) to win the 2002 BB&T Classic in early December and then ended the regular season with an 86-80 win over Georgetown. Notre Dame’s first-ever appearance at the Verizon Center was on Feb. 7, 1998 and the Irish dropped a 76-56 decision to the Hoyas. It’s first win in the building was a 77-54 victory on March 4, 2000. Four of Notre Dame’s six wins in the Verizon Center have come against the Hoyas. Notre Dame’s head coach Mike Brey is 6-2 all-time in the MCI Center (3-2 versus the Hoyas). Certainly one of the most memorable was an epic four-overtime contest as the Irish prevailed 60 minutes later with a 116-111 victory. Former Irish standout Chris Thomas played the entire game in what ranks as the longest game in Notre Dame and BIG EAST Conference history.
Eight of Notre Dame’s 15 victories have been by 24 or more points as the Irish are outscoring their opponents by a +20.6 margin (84.1 to 63.5). Coach Mike Brey’s squad has posted wins of 30-plus points in six games – IPFW (+43 points), Lafayette (+32 points), The Citadel (+24 points), Winston-Salem (+45 points), Elon (+31 points), Army (+41 points) Rider (+50) and Stony Brook (+29 points). The 50-point win over Rider on Dec. 28 was the largest margin of victory since a 126-73 win (53 points) over Miami on Feb. 22, 1986. The 99 points scored by Notre Dame in its victory over Alabama were the most by an Irish team over a top-10 opponent since Feb. 15, 1992 in a 101-98 victory at No. 10 Syracuse.
Notre Dame’s 14-point margin of victory in its win over Alabama was the fifth-largest by an Irish team over a top-five opponent (ranked in the Associated Press poll).
21 pts.3/5/5585-64 @ No. 4 Marquette (ND unranked)
20 pts.3/19/7884-64 vs. No. 3 DePaul – NCAA Third Round (ND was No. 6)
31 pts.3/3/9098-67 vs. No. 3 Missouri (ND unranked)
16 pts.2/5/9479-63 vs. No. 4 UCLA (ND unranked)
14 pts.12/7/9699-85 vs. No. 4 Alabama (ND unranked)
Irish 1-1 At NIT:
Notre Dame finished with a 1-1 record in the two games of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Midwest Region held at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
vs. Butler: The Irish dropped a tough two-point decision (71-69) against Butler. In that contest, Colin Falls and Luke Harangody led Notre Dame with 17 points each, while Russell Carter added 15. Harangody also registered the first double-double of his young career as he grabbed 10 boards. The Irish shot 48.1 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from three-point range, while Butler connected on 49.1 percent overall from the floor.
vs. Lafayette: Notre Dame shot a blistering 72.0 percent (18-25) from the floor en route to the 32-point victory (92-60) and was 35-60 overall from the field (58.3%). Russell Carter notched his second 20-point outing of the season as he finished with 20 points to lead four Irish players in double figures. Luke Harangody tossed in a career-high 18 points, while Rob Kurz added 16 points and eight rebounds. Rookie Tory Jackson scored 10 points. Kyle McAlarney dished off a career-high 12 asissts in the game as part of Notre Dame’s 28 assists overall in the contest.
What’s Not To Like About These Numbers:
Here are some of the impressive numbers from Notre Dame’s season-opening win over IPFW…
- Notre Dame shot 61.5 percent in the first half.
- Notre Dame’s 55 first-half points were the second-most ever scored by the Irish in the first half under Mike Brey.
- The +26 differential in rebounding (54-28) is the largest ever by an Irish team under Mike Brey in six-plus seasons and the third-most rebounds in a regulation game.
- The 92 points were the most scored in season opener since the 2001-02 season (99-53 vs. New Hampshire on Nov. 16, 2001).
Seniors Colin Falls and Russell Carter and junior Rob Kurz were selected captains by a vote of their teammates. Kurz’ selection marks the third time in four years that the Irish have had a junior serving as a team captain. Falls and Kurz started the year as Notre Dame’s two captains, while Carter was recently voted as a captain by his teammates.
After missing the Elon (Dec. 16) and Portland (Dec. 19) games with plantar faciitis, Colin Falls was back in the lineup against Army on Dec. 21. Falls missed the two contests after undergoing shock wave therapy on Dec. 8. The procedure was done to treat the plantar faciitis in his left foot. Against the Black Knights he tallied a season-high 24 points in just 18 minutes of action. Falls was 9-11 from the field (after hitting his first seven shots) and was 6-8 from three-point range. Prior to the Elon game on Dec. 16, Falls had played in all 99 games of his career and made 60 consecutive starts.
Notre Dame’s season opener against IPFW marked the earliest start date ever in the 102-year history of the program. The earliest start date prior to this had been in 1998 when that Irish squad opened up the 1998-99 campaign with a 76-65 loss to Miami of Ohio on Nov. 13.
Irish in Season Openers:
Notre Dame owns an all-time record of 84-18 (.824) in season openers and have won all seven of its openers under head coach Mike Brey. Since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69, Irish teams are 33-6 (.846) in home openers. The last time Notre Dame lost a season opener at home was to Miami of Ohio on November 13, 1998.
Irish Roll Under Brey In November:
Notre Dame completed the month of November with a 5-1 record. Under head coach Mike Brey, the Irish are 26-3 (.897) all-time in games played during the month of November. The three November losses have been to Creighton 80-75 in the championship game of the Guardians Classic on Nov. 26, 2002; to North Carolina State (61-48) at the John R. Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 26; and to Butler (71-69) on Nov. 13 in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Irish Perfect In December:
Notre Dame’s win against Stony Brook on Dec. 30 allowed the Irish to finish the month of December with a 7-0 record. Only once under Mike Brey have the Irish completed action in the month of December without a loss – Brey’s 2002-03 squad finished 6-0.
The Irish All-Time:
The 2006-07 men’s basketball campaign marks the 102nd season of basketball and 12th as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. In 101-plus seasons, Irish teams have posted a 1595-879 record for a .645 winning percentage. In BIG EAST play, Notre Dame owns an 93-95 (.495) record all-time in conference regular-season play.
Series Record vs. Villanova:
Villanvoa leads the all-time series 15-12. The two schools have played each other on 12 occasions as BIG EAST foes with the Wildcats winning 10 of those contests. Villanova had won eight straight over the Irish before Notre Dame notched its first victory (an 82-78 decision) on Jan. 10, 2004. This will be just the second time that an Irish team has played at The Pavilion.
Always In It:
Since the 2005-06 campaign, Notre Dame’s 16 losses have been by a combined 79 points for an average of 4.9 points per game. The 14 setbacks a year ago were by a total of 59 points (4.2 points). The only double-digit loss was to North Carolina State (61-47). The Irish suffered 10 BIG EAST losses during the regular season and those were by a combined 35 points (3.5).
Notre Dame used key second-half runs and exploded for 52 and 50 points respectively in the second 20-minute stanza of each game in wins over Maryland and Alabama.
vs. Maryland: The Irish scored 52 second-half points, outscoring the Terrapins 52-42. Trailing 44-37, Notre Dame used a 25-7 run in a span of five minutes and turned the seven-point deficit into an 11-point advantage in just over five minutes.
vs. Alabama: Notre Dame outscored the Crimson Tide 50-36 in the second half after the two teams were knotted 49-49 at the break. The Irish trailed by nine points with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half. Trailing 66-62 with 14:28 to play, Notre Dame took the lead for good at the 13:23 mark and used an 18-9 run to open up a 10-point advantage with five minutes remaining in the contest. Alabama cut the deficit to three (85-82) with 3:02 to play, but closed out the game with a 14-3 run and led by as many as 17 (99-82) with 19 second left in the contest.
Second Half Spurt:
Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 723-579 (42.5 to 34.1) in the second half of games this season. On four occasions this season, the Irish have topped the 50-point mark in the second half.
|Halftime Score||Second Half||Final Outcome|
|vs. Maryland||trailed 29-32||52-42||81-74|
|vs. Alabama||tied 49-49||50-36||99-85|
|vs. Portland||led 35-29||51-40||86-69|
|vs. Stony Brook||led 43-28||52-38||95-66|
Junior Rob Kurz sustained a broken nose in practice on Nov. 5 after being elbowed accidently by teammate Luke Harangody. He underwent surgery on the morning of Nov. 6 at 10:30 a.m. and was in street clothes that evening sitting on the bench in the exhibition game against Bellarmine. He returned to practice on Nov. 8.
Keeping It Close:
In the 72 losses suffered by Irish teams in Mike Brey’s six-plus seasons, only 17 have been by 10 or more points and have been by a combined 478 for a average of 6.6 points per game. Notre Dame’s 18-point loss (66-48) to Georgetown was the largest under Brey.
Over The Century Mark:
Notre Dame’s 101-51 victory over Rider on Dec. 28 marked the seventh time in the Mike Brey era that an Irish team has topped the 100-point plateau. The last time Notre Dame scoerd 100-plus points was on Feb. 18, 2006 in a 102-91 victory at Seton Hall.
Notre Dame played five overtime games last season, matching the school record set during the 1955-56 campaign when that Irish team finished 1-4 in overtime contests. Three of those contests a year ago were decided in double overtime. The Irish were 0-5 in overtime games a year ago.
Seven Straight Postseason Appearances:
Since 2000, Notre Dame has appeared in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments each of the last seven years. The Irish played in the 2000 NIT and then earned consecutive NCAA tournament berths – 2001, ’02, ’03, followed by NIT appearances in ’04, ’05 and ’06. This is the longest stretch of postseason appearances for Irish teams since making eight straight from 1983-90 (NIT in 1983 and ’84 and NCAA from 1985-90).
Big Luke=Big Numbers:
After 17 games, freshman Luke Harangody is fourth on the team in scoring (12.0) and second in rebounding (5.6). He has scored in double figures in 13 games and was the first Notre Dame freshman since Troy Murphy in 1998-99 to begin his rookie season scoring in double figures in five straight games. Murphy began his career by scoring in double figures in 12 consecutive outings. Harangody recorded the first double-double of his career, and the first by an Irish freshman since Torin Francis in November of 2002, when he scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds the loss to Butler. In back-to-back games against Lafayette and The Citadel, he produced consecutive 18-point outings. Harangody registered his second double-double of the season against Elon as he finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds and versus Army (10 points and career-high 12 rebounds) and Rider (18 points, 10 rebounds), he posted back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his career. Harangody is shooting 52.1 percent from the field (76-146) and 83.9 percent (52-62) from the free-throw line and has earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors three times this season.
Outscoring The Opponent:
In the 74-50 win over The Citadel on Nov. 19, Notre Dame held a 40-12 advantage at the break as the Irish limited the Bulldogs to just 21.7 percent shooting in the half (5-23). The 12 points were the fewest allowed by a Notre Dame team under Mike Brey in six-plus seasons. Luke Harangody came off the bench and scored 16 first-half points (7-9 from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line) in 11 minutes, not only averaging 1.5 points per minute, but also outscoring the entire Citadel squad in the first 20 minutes of the contest.
Notre Dame is shooting 49.2 percent from the field (480-976) and 40.1 percent from three-point range (153-382) . The Irish have shot better than 50.0 percent from the field in 10 games this season – (54.0 percent (34-63) vs. IPFW, 58.3 percent (35-60) against Lafayette, 54.5 percent (31-55) vs. Lehigh, 57.1 percent (32-56) against Winston-Salem St., 51.6 percent (32-62) vs. Alabama, 52.5 (31-59) vs. Army, vs. Rider, 51.5 percent (34-66) vs. Stony Brook, 50.9 (27-53) against West Virginia, 53.5 percent (23-43) and vs. Seton Hall, 53.4 percent (31-58). In the Lafayette game, Notre Dame shot a blistering 72.0 percent (18-25) in the second half, the highest field-goal percentage ever by an Irish team in a half under head coach Mike Brey. Prior to its game against The Citadel, Notre Dame had not shot below 48.0 percent in a game as the Irish also connected on 48.1 percent (25-52) in their loss to Butler. Notre Dame shot a season-low 30.8 percent against Georgetown in its 66-48 loss.
Not known in recent years to be a dominant rebounding team, Notre Dame has been exceptional on the boards this season and is currently outrebounding its opponent 38.9 to 30.1 for a +8.8 advantage (8th nationally). The Irish outrebounded each of its first seven opponents – IPFW (54-28), Butler (29-24), Lafayette (35-23), The Citadel (40-34), Lehigh (32-24), Winston-Salem St. (46-25) and Maryland (40-37) before being outrebounded 45-32 against Alabama. Notre Dame has outrebounded 14 of its 17 opponents.
BIG EAST Breakdown:
Notre Dame will play DePaul, USF and Villanova twice as part of its 16-game BIG EAST schedule. As was the case in 2005-06, each team will face 10 opponents once and three opponents twice (both home and away), but will not play two teams. The Irish will play home games against Louisville, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and West Virginia and will face Cincinnati, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John’s and Syracuse on the road. The two schools Notre Dame will not play during the upcoming campaign are Connecticut and Pittsburgh.
Russell Carter is the only Irish player who has scored in double figures in all 17 games this season and leads the team in scoring with an 18.0 scoring average. In addition, he has scored 20-plus points in seven contests. His most recent 20-plus point outing was against Seton Hall on Sunday as he finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and second of his career. He had a career-high 28-point effort against Portland on Dec. 19. His 12-point effort against Army on Dec. 21 snapped a three-game streak in which he had registered 20-plus points (the second time in his career that he has done that). In the three games (Alabama, Elon and Portland) in which he posted 20-plus point efforts, he averaged 25.3 points – the highest three-game scoring average and most points (76) in his career.
Lafayette Brings Out Best in Kurz:
Two of junior forward Rob Kurz’ best games have come against Lafayette, ironically, the alma mater of both of his parents. In the 2005 season opener, Kurz scored a career-high 18 points on 8-10 shooting from the field (1-1 from three-point range and 1-1 from the line) and grabbed eight rebounds in 25 minutes of action. In Notre Dame’s win on Nov. 14 versus the Leopards, he scored 16 points and again hauled in eight boards as he shot 7-10 from the field and 2-2 from three-point range. In the two games, he shot 75.0 percent (15-20) from the field and was perfect from three-point range (3-3). Double The Pleasure:
Rob Kurz’ 15 points and 10 rebounds against Stony Brook was sixth double-double of the season. He posted three consectuive double-doubles for the first time in his career against Alabama, Elon and Portland and has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in seven contests. Luke Harangody is second on the team with four doubles, including one in each of the games against Army and Rider.
BIG EAST Formula For Success Under Brey:
Since his arrival at Notre Dame, Mike Brey has led Notre Dame to a 58-42 (.580) record in BIG EAST regular-season games and a 2-6 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 60-48 (.556) 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 title with an 11-5 mark. Prior to Brey’s arrival at Notre Dame, Irish teams had a 35-53 (.398) regular-season record since joining the league in 1995-96.
253 And Counting:
Heading into tonight’s game against Villanova, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 253 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 a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999 as Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in the game. The 2005-06 Irish squad set the single-season record with 288 three-pointers.
Spreading the Wealth:
Notre Dame is averaging 18.9 assists per game (eighth nationally) and had a season-high 28 against Lafayette with 35 baskets coming off of 28 assists. Twelve of those assists in the game were dished out by Kyle McAlarney, which marked a career-best for the Irish sophomore. This year, Notre Dame owns a 0.67 assist-to-basket ratio (322 assists on 480 baskets). Seven players have 20-plus assists.
Who’s It Going To Be This Time:
Five players are averaging double figures for the Irish this season. Russell Carter leads the team with a 18.0 scoring average, followed by Rob Kurz (14.4), Colin Falls (12.2), Luke Harangody (12.0) and Kyle McAlarney (10.3). Through the first 17 games, five different players have led the Irish in scoring this season. Carter has led the Irish in the scoring column on nine occasions and Kurz three times. Both Harangody and Falls have been the top scorers twice, while McAlarney has led the Irish on one occasion. Carter has led the Irish in scoring in each of the last five games.
Tory Jackson has responded well to his role as Notre Dame’s starting point guard. Jackson earned his first career start against Stony Brook on Dec. 30 and finished with three points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals. Against Louisville, he scored a career-high 14 points (5-8 from the field), in addition to matching his career-high with five rebounds and five assists and making two steals while playing a career-high 37 minutes. And while he did not score in the West Virginia game, Jackson did dish off a career-high six assists and made three steals – including one with 1:32 to play after the Mountaineers had cut the deficit to 55-53.
Home Sweet Home:
Since the inaugural season in 1968-69 at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 469-141 record all-time for a .769 winning percentage. The Irish are 84-27 (.757) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s six-plus seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own a 132-42 mark for a .759 winning percentage. Notre Dame’s 13 wins at home this season marks the ninth time in 10 years that the Irish won 10 or more home games. The Irish played their 600th game at the Joyce Center on Nov. 27, 2006 versus Lehigh.
Rob Kurz leads the team in free-throw percentage as he is shooting 83.7 percent from the charity stripe (97-116). He missed two free throws in the Elon game which ended a string of 30 consecutive made. Prior to that, he had not missed an attempt since his last attempt of the first half against Lehigh. In the win over the Leopards, he was 10-10 from the line in the second half and followed that up by going 8-8 versus Winston-Salem St. and was 4-4 from the line in both games against Maryland and Alabama. He is one of Notre Dame’s best free-throw shooter in the last five minutes of the game having converted 17 of his 20 attempts.
Welcome To The Club:
Senior Colin Falls became the 46th player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 points with his 13-point outing against Winston-Salem St. on Nov. 29. Falls has 1,110 career points for a 10.5 career scoring average. He has played in 106 career outings and started 75.
In 106 career outings, 271 of Colin Falls’ 330 career field goals have come from three-point range which translates into an 82.1 percentage. Last season, he set the school record for three-point field goals made with 102 and is the only player in Notre Dame history with 90-plus three-pointers in two seasons (he also had 93 as a sophomore in 2004-05). During his career, he has connected on 271-of-684 three-point field goal attempts for a 39.6 percent accuracy from the field. Falls needs 32 three-point field goals this season to eclipse Chris Thomas’ career mark of 302 he set from 2001-05.
Another Way To Get His Three Points:
While connecting from beyond the arc has been the conventional way of scoring three points for Colin Falls, the senior guard has had a penchant the last there seasons for getting fouled shooting a three-pointer and going to the free-throw line for three attempts. As a sophomore, he was fouled a total of 16 times while shooting from beyond the arc and converted on 43-48 (.896) of his free-throw attempts. A year ago, Falls was fouled eight times and converted 19-25 (.760), including a first-ever four-point play versus Georgetown in the regular-season meeting between the two schools that sent the game into overtime. This year, he has been fouled seven times (once verus Butler, West Virginia and Seton Hall and twice against Lehigh and Alabama) and has connected on 14-17 attempts. In his career he is 76-89 (.854) from the line after getting fouled while shooting a three-pointer. In the Seton Hall game Falls was fouled after making a three-pointer and converted the free throw for the four-point play.
In Mike Brey’s six-plus seasons, his Irish teams have compiled a road record of 49-45 (.521) that includes a 32-32 mark (.500) in true road games and a 17-13 (.552) record in neutral site contests.
The Phonz Returns:
Former Irish great LaPhonso Ellis (1988-92) returns to be the color analyst for Notre Dame basketball games on the radio, teaming with play-by-play analyst Jack Nolan in 2005-06. Nolan was the color analyst for a number of year on the network, but assumes the play-by-play duties this year. Ellis, who ranks 13th all-time in career scoring and third in rebounding (1,075), will do a select number of games this season.
Notre Dame’s backcourt has long been a staple of Mike Brey’s offense, but this year, the Irish frontcourt is putting up impressive numbers of its own. Between its four frontline players, Notre Dame is shooting 55.3 percent from the field (214-387). Zach Hillesland has missed just 16 shots for a 69.0 shooting percentage as he has connected on 34-50; Luke Zeller is shooting 55.5 percent as he has made 36-65 from the field; Rob Kurz has made 68 of his 126 shot attempts for a 54.0 percent accuracy and Luke Harangody has connected on 76-146 from the field, good for 52.1 percent.
There are two Indiana natives on this year’s Irish roster, and coincidentally, both are named Luke – sophomore forward Luke Zeller and freshman forward Luke Harangody. Zeller hails from the southern part of the state in Washington, while Harangody’s hometown of Schererville is the western end. The last time a Notre Dame roster had more than one scholarship player from the state of Indiana was in 1993-94 – Joe and Jon Ross (Wabash) and Jason Williams (Indianapolis).
There’s a New Guy In Town:
There’s a new face along the Irish sidelines this season. Gene Cross, a 1994 graduate of Illinois, joins the Notre Dame basketball staff after spending the 2005-06 campaign at Virginia. A 10-year veteran of the collegiate ranks, he spent three years (2002-05) on Dave Leitao’s staff at DePaul before moving to Virginia when Leitao became the Cavaliers’ head coach. He also spent six years on the staff at University of Illinois-Chicago (1996-02).
Philly Family Connection:
Junior Rob Kurz’ sister Laura is a junior on the Villanova women’s basketball team (she is sitting out this season after transferring from Duke). Sophomore Ryan Ayers’ father Randy is currently an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic. He formerly was the head coach at Ohio State and with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Men In Black:
Against Seton Hall on Feb. 18, 2006, Notre Dame wore black uniforms with kelly green and white trim, marking the first time in school history that any Irish athletic team had worn black uniforms. Since that time the Irish have worn the black uniforms on seven occasions and a 4-3 all-time. Notre Dame wore black for the first time this season in the Dec. 3 win over Maryland.
Like Father, Like Son:
The last name of freshman walk-on Tim Andree should be familiar to the Irish basketball faithful. His father Tim was a four-year monogram winner and played basketball for the Irish from 1979-83. It marks the first father-son basketball duo at Notre Dame since Kevin Hawkins (1978-81) was a walk-on member, following in his father Tom’s (1956-59) footsteps.
Irish Sign Four:
Irish head coach Mike Brey signed four high school prep players to national letters of intent during the November early signing period. Set to enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2007 are forward Tim Abromaitis (Farmington, Conn.), guard Tyrone Nash (Queens, N.Y.), guard Ty Proffitt (London, Ky.) and forward Carleton Scott (San Antonio, Texas).