April 17, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Jack Cooley (Glenview, Ill.), a first-team all-BIG EAST selection and an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honoree, headlined the list of Notre Dame men’s basketball award recipients at the annual “An Evening With Notre Dame Basketball” program held on Wednesday evening (April 17) at Purcell Pavilion.
Cooley, the second-leading scorer (13.1 ppg.) and top rebounder (10.1 rpg) for the Irish during the 2012-13 campaign, was the recipient of the Notre Dame Monogram Club MVP Award. Junior walk-on Patrick Crowley (Los Gatos, Calif.) was honored with the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award, while senior Tom Knight (Dixfield, Maine) was presented with Most Improved Player, sophomore Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass.) was honored with the Defensive Player of the Year award, junior Jerian Grant (Bowie, Md.) was recognized with the Outstanding Playmaker award and junior Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md.) was the winner of the Captain’s Award.
This was an evening in which the Notre Dame basketball coaches, players and fans gathered for one final time in celebration of the ’12-’13 campaign. The second annual special one-of-a-kind evening began with a change in format from past postseason basketball events last year. Those in attendance were once again treated to an all-access tour of the Irish basketball facilities, including the men’s basketball locker room, team room, coaches’ offices, auditorium and “The Pit.” Coaches and players were stationed at various locales and fans had the opportunity to talk with each member of the team, pose for pictures and get autographs throughout the tour.
The ’12-’13 Notre Dame men’s basketball finished the season with a 25-10 record as it posted a record-setting seventh consecutive 20-win season. The Irish also earned a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Championship, a first in the Mike Brey era. Notre Dame recorded a program-best fourth consecutive 10-win season in BIG EAST play as the Irish tied for fifth in the final conference regular-season standing with an 11-7 mark. Notre Dame, which ended the year ranked 24th in the final AP poll, also advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the fourth consecutive year and was the only conference school to achieve such a distinction.
Notre Dame made its 33rd appearance in the NCAA tournament field and was one of just 17 schools to earn a bid each of the last four years. Under Brey, Notre Dame has been in the NCAA field in nine of his 13 season and six of the last seven years.
Cooley closed out his Notre Dame career as a member of the all-time winningest class in program history. From 2009-13, he was a member of Irish teams that compiled a 97-41 record for a .703 winning percentage, while the 48 BIG EAST victories Cooley’s squads compiled (48-24 for a .667 winning percentage) also ranked as the best in program history over a four-year span.
He became the 53rd player in program history to score 1,000 career points this season. Cooley played in 123 games in an Irish uniform and made 66 starts in four seasons and finished with 1,017 points (8.3 ppg.), 792 rebounds (6.4 rpg.) and 116 blocked shots. He scored just 145 points (20 as a freshman) in his first two seasons and 872 over the final two campaigns of his career.
He was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Most Improved Player in ’12 and this season was the only conference player to average a double-double during the league’s 18-game regular-season slate as he netted 12.4 points and grabbed 10.1 rebounds. The 6-9, 246-pound forward led the league with 10 double-doubles in BIG EAST play. He scored a season-high 26 points and grabbed a season-best 16 rebounds for the second time during the season in an overtime win (79-71) at DePaul on Feb. 2, 2013. Cooley also put together a string of six consecutive double-doubles during the BIG EAST regular season. He was three times named to the league’s weekly honor roll during the ’12-’13 campaign, while scoring in double figures in 15 of 18 contests and grabbing 10-plus boards in 11 league games.
Cooley was one of three players who started all 35 games for the Irish this past season. He led Notre Dame in double-figure scoring efforts (29), games with 10 or more rebounds (20) and in double-doubles (19). Cooley also topped the Irish with 41 blocked shots. Cooley also finished fourth nationally in double-doubles and was 13th in rebounding.
For his career, he was Notre Dame’s leading scorer on 24 occasions and topped the Irish in rebounding 51 times and in blocked shots 50 times. Cooley netted double figures in 52 contests and grabbed 10-plus rebounds 35 times. He scored 20 or more points on eight occasions and recorded 32 career double-doubles.
Cooley, who also served as one of the team’s tri-captains, also was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches District V first team and was a Basketball Times Mideast Region all-district selection. He also played in the Reese’s Division I Senior All-Star Game in Atlanta, Ga., and was three times selected to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.
Crowley, a second-year walk-on with the program, was the recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete award for the first time in his career. The 6-3, 195-pound junior guard has a 3.114 grade-point average in the Mendoza College of Business as a finance major. In his two seasons as a member of the team he has played in 29 career contests for the Irish. He scored a career-high five points last season against Sacred Heart on Dec. 19, 2011.
Grant, honored as the team’s Playmaker of the Year, garnered second-team all-BIG EAST honors and was a second team selection to the NABC District V team. Grant started 34 of the 35 games he played and led the Irish in scoring on 14 occasions.
The 6-5, 202-pound guard led the Irish in assists (194) and was second on the team in steals (44). Grant led Notre Dame in scoring during the BIG EAST regular season as he averaged 14.2 points per game. He ranked second on the team with 28 double-figure scoring outings and led the Irish with four outings of 20 or more points. Grant finished second in conference play with 5.94 assists per game. He posted two double-doubles this season that included a 12-point, 10-assist performance against Villanova. Grant dished off eight or more assists in 10 games, including eight BIG EAST contests.
Atkins, who served alongside Cooley and Scott Martin as one of the team’s tri-captains, led the team in minutes played as he averaged 38.3 per game. He netted 11.2 points per game as Notre Dame’s third-leading scorer and was second on the team with 5.5 assists. He scored in double figures 21 times during the season and dished off 10 or more assists five times. Atkins scored a season-high 21 points in a loss at St. John’s on Jan. 15, 2013 and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds versus George Washington. He dished off a career-high 13 assists against Kennesaw State, one of four games during the season in which he dished off 10 or more assists. Atkins also recorded the first four double-doubles of his career.
A two-time member of the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the 6-2, 182-pound point guard ranked first in the league in three-point goal percentage (.449) and in minutes played (39.9). Atkins played 60 minutes (out of a possible 65) in Notre Dame’s thrilling 104-101 victory at home against Louisville on Feb. 9, 2013 that marked the longest game in school history and the longest regular-season contest in the history of the BIG EAST Conference. He was one of three Irish players (along with Cooley and Connaughton) to play and start in all 35 contests. His 2.61 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked 17th nationally.
Knight, named the team’s Most Improved Player, started the final 16 games of the season and appeared in 28 contests during the year. Heading into the season, he had only started three career outings in the 34 games that he had played. Knight averaged career bests of 8.3 points and 3.8 rebounds playing 17.5 minutes per game. He also shot 48.9 percent from the field as he connected on 64 of his 131 field goal attempts. Knight scored in double figures on six occasions, including a career-high 18 points versus Rutgers during a second-round game of the BIG EAST Championship. In that contest, he also hauled in a personal-best nine rebounds. Knight finished second on the team with 26 blocked shots, including a career-high four versus St. John’s in the second meeting of the season between the two teams on March 5, 2013.
Along with Cooley and Atkins, Connaughton was a starter in all 35 games for the Irish. The 6-5, 212-pound swingman was the fourth-leading scorer at 8.9 points per game and also was the team’s third-leading rebounder with a 4.7 rebounds per game average. He scored in double figures on 13 occasions and scored a season-high 21 points in Notre Dame’s win over Rutgers on Jan. 19, 2013, his only two-plus point outing of the season. Connaughton grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in the Irish win over Louisville and also played 56 minutes in the contest.
Connaughton was named to the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team in leading Notre Dame to its semifinal appearance. He led the Irish in scoring during Notre Dame’s three-game run as he averaged 16.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. He averaged 36.0 minutes per game in the three games while shooting 61.5 percent (16-26) from the field and .625 (15-24) from three-point range.
In Notre Dame’s 69-61 victory over Rutgers in its opening game of the BIG EAST Championship, Connaughton netted a game-high 21 points as he connected on seven-of-10 shots from the field and was six-of-eight from three-point range. The six three-point field goals were a season best and one shy of his career high. The following night against Marquette in the 73-65 quarterfinal win, the 6-5, 212-pound forward once again led all scorers as he finished with 18 points on six-for-10 shooting from three-point range. In Notre Dame’s 69-57 semifinal loss to Louisville, Connaughton finished with nine points and eight rebounds as once again he scored all of his points from three-point range on three-of-six shooting from the field. His 15 three-pointers throughout the tournament were the fourth-most for a single BIG EAST tournament.