Jan. 18, 2002
IRISH ITEMS FOR KENTUCKY – Notre Dame (12-4) returns home after a three-game BIG EAST road stretch as the Irish play host to 12th-ranked Kentucky (11-4). The Wildcats visit the Joyce Center for the first time since February 12, 1995 when they defeated Notre Dame 97-58.
This afternoon’s contest is the final non-conference matchup for Irish head coach Mike Brey’s squad. Notre Dame owns a 10-2 mark against non-league foes this season. Kentucky is the second Southeastern Conference foe on the Irish slate in 2001-02. The Irish dropped a 79-76 decistion to then 21st-ranked Alabama at the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans, La.
Today’s contest marks the third consecutive matchup (and fourth of the season) for the Irish against a ranked opponent. The last time a Notre Dame team played three straight games against ranked opponents was during the 1982-83 campaign when that Irish squad played #3 Kentucky, #6 UCLA and #6 Indiana.
Kentucky leads the all-time series between the two teams 38-17 and has won seven heading into this afternoon’s matchup. Notre Dame’s last win against the Wildcats at the Joyce Center on March 5, 1990 when the Irish handed the Wildcats an 80-67 setback. Notre Dame is 7-4 in home games against Kentucky and owns a 3-1 advantage at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame returns home to the Joyce Center after following three consecutive road games in which the Irish finished with a 2-1 road mark. The Irish picked up come-from-behind victories against West Virginia (67-64) and #23/25 Pittsburgh (56-53) before suffering a 56-51 setback against #8/7 Syracuse.
Head Coach Mike Brey has Notre Dame off to its best start since the 1985-86 campaign when that Irish team posted a 13-3 record in its first 16 contests before finishing the season with a 23-6 mark. The Irish’s four losses are by a combined 11 points (2.8 points per game).
Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents by an average of 16.5 points per game and have recorded four wins this season of 37 or more points and seven wins of 27-plus points. The Irish are averaging 79.0 points per contest, while limiting their opponents to just 62.5 points per game. In Notre Dame’s last three games, Brey’s squad has surrendered just 57.7 points per contest.
The Irish are shooting 46.9 percent from the field, while holding its opponents to 39.4 percent field goal accuracy. The Irish are shooting 39.0 percent from three-point range, while their opponents have connected on just 32.2 percent of its shots from beyond the arc.
Notre Dame has struggled shooting from the field in their last four games as the Irish are just 88-232 (37.9) and have been under 40.0 percent in each of those games.
Notre Dame has been impressive from the charity stripe this season as the Irish have made 71.6 percent of their free throw attempts. However, Brey’s squad has not been as efficient from the line in its last four games as the Irish are just 42-72 (58.3). The Irish only went to the line seven times against Syracuse on Monday night and made just two of their free throws.
Four of Notre Dame’s five starters are averaging double figures with senior Ryan Humphrey leading the team in both scoring and rebounding as he is averaging 20.4 points and 9.1 rebounds. Humphrey is coming off his best performance in a BIG EAST game as he recorded his seventh double double of the season against Syracuse, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. In addition, he leads the team with 3.29 blocked shots. Humphrey has scored in double figures in all 14 games he has played and netted 20-plus points in seven of those contests. Heading into today’s game, Humphrey has a streak of 16 consecutive games in doubles figures.
Freshman point guard Chris Thomas stands second in the Irish scoring column at 15.8 points per game and leads the team in assists (6.69 per game) and steals (39).
David Graves is averaging a career-high 14.9 points per game, in addition to 4.9 rebounds per contest, both of which rank third best on the team. In addition, he stands second in both the assists (42) and steals (35) columns.
Matt Carroll is the fourth Irish player averaging in double figures with an 11.5 scoring average, in addition to 4.8 rebounds per game.
Harold Swanagan is averaging 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, both career bests.
Kentucky enters the game having won two straight and five of its last seven contests. The Wildcats are coming off of a 87-64 victory at home against Mississippi on Tuesday night.
RECAP OF SYRACUSE GAME – Notre Dame shot just a season-low 34.9 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from three-point range in dropping their fifth straight at the Carrier Dome to the Orangmen, 56-51. Ryan Humphrey was the only Irish player in double figures as he recorded his seventh double double of the season with game highs of 28 points and 11 rebounds. Syracuse was led by Kueth Duany’s 19 points, while Preston Shumpert finished with 15 points and DeShaun Williams with 10. Irish point guard Chris Thomas scored eight points and finished with nine assists, marking the sixth time this season he has had eight or more assists in a game. Notre Dame trailed by nine with 3:52 remaining in the first half, but was able to cut the deficit to four by intermission as the Orangemen led 29-25 at the break. The Irish pulled to within one (39-38) with 12:02 remaining in the contest, but Syracuse used a 13-3 run over a six-minute span to gain a 13-point advantage with 7:10 to play. Notre Dame was able to pull to within three with 36 seconds remaining in the game with an impressive stand that held the Orangemen to just one basket and two free throws in the final seven minutes of the contest.
HEAD COACH MIKE BREY – Mike Brey is in his second year as the Notre Dame head coach and seventh 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. In his first season with the Irish, he guided Notre Dame to a 20-10 record and 11-5 BIG EAST mark in claiming the league’s West divisional championship, the first conference title in school history. In addition, he helped Notre Dame earn an NCAA tournament berth for the first time in 11 seasons as the Irish advanced to the second round for the first time since 1989. Notre Dame’s 19 wins during the regular season under Brey a year ago represented the most wins by an Irish coach in his first season. He also became just the second coach in school history to take his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first year as a head coach and the only first-year coach to lead his team to a first-round victory. John Dee also made the tournament in his first season in 1964-65, but lost in the first round to finish 15-12. Brey has an overall record of 131-66 (.665) as a head coach and is 32-14 (.696) at Notre Dame. The 9-1 start by the Irish to begin the season marked the second time one of Brey’s teams has begun a campaign by winning nine of its first 10 games. A win today over the Wildcats would match Mike Brey’s best start as a head coach when he led his 1998-99 and 1999-2000 Blue Hen squads to 13-4 starts in their first 17 games of the season. He earned his first victory as Irish head coach coach on November 18 with a 104-58 triumph over Sacred Heart, which also marked the 100th of his coaching career and came in the 152nd game as a head coach. While at Delaware, Brey guided the Blue Hens to berths in three postseason tournaments. Under Brey, Delaware appeared in two NCAA tournaments (’98 and ’99) and played in the National Invitation Tournament in his final season (2000). Prior to his arrival in Newark, Del., he spent eight seasons (1987-95) on the Duke sidelines alongside Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and before that stint was an assistant coach at DeMatha High School under legendary coach Morgan Wootten from 1982-87.
SERIES RECORD VS. KENTUCKY – Notre Dame and Kentucky are playing for the second consecutive year and today’s game will be the 56th matchup between the two schools. The Wildcats lead the series 38-17 and have won each of the last seven meetings. The Irish own a 7-4 advantage in the series in games played at Notre Dame and are 3-1 against Kentucky at the Joyce Center. The last Irish win in the series was on March 5, 1990 at Notre Dame, 80-67.
OFF TO A QUICK START – Notre Dame’s 7-0 start was its first since the 1979-80 campaign when the Irish were undefeated in their first seven games to achieve a No. 3 ranking before losing 86-80 on the road against second-ranked Kentucky and then dropping a 67-59 decision to San Francisco. That ’79-’80 squad finished the season with a 22-6 mark. Notre Dame’s was 9-1 for the first time since the 1985-86 campaign.
7-0 START IS THIRD BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY – Notre Dame’s 7-0 start equaled the third best in school history. The Irish also were 7-0 in 1976-77 and 1979-80. The two best starts by Notre Dame teams were in 1945-46 (13-0) and 1973-74 (12-0). Those Irish squads finished 17-4 and 26-3, respectively.
A PERFECT NOVEMBER – With its win against Army on November 28, Notre Dame finished the first month of the season with a perfect 6-0 slate. It’s the most wins ever by an Irish team in the month of November and the second time in the program’s history that Notre Dame has played six games during that month. The Irish 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.
STRANGERS AT THE JOYCE – It seems hard to believe, but Notre Dame has played just five games at the Joyce Center this season. Today’s matchup with Kentucky begins a four-game homestand for the Irish which will mark their longest at the Joyce. In addition, five of the Irish’s next eight games will be played at home. Notre Dame began the season by playing three of its first six games at home, but went more than a month without a home contest as the Irish only enjoyed one home date throughout the entire month of December (Dec. 30 vs. Colgate) after playing five consecutive road outings beginning on December 1.
GETTING DEFENSIVE IN THE BIG EAST – Notre Dame’s defense has been outstanding of late as the Irish have held their last three opponents to just 57.7 points per contest. Notre Dame has yielded just 54.5 points in its last two games against Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The 53 points scored by the Panthers in Notre Dame’s 56-53 victory at Fitzgerald Field House were the second fewest allowed by the Irish in a BIG EAST game. The fewest points allowed by the Irish in league play was 52 in a 69-52 victory over Syracuse on January 2, 1997 at the Joyce Center.
WINNING BIG – Notre Dame’s margin of victory through the first 16 games of the season has been by an average of 16.5 points per game. Only five wins (UT-Chattanooga, Miami-Ohio, Canisius, West Virginia and Pittsburgh) have been decided by less than 27 points. Notre Dame’s victories have included a 42-point victory over New Hampshire, a 40-point win over Hawaii Pacific and 37-point margins against Monmouth and Army. Notre Dame has beaten seven teams by 27-plus points and nine of its 10 victories have been by 10-plus points. Its closest margin of victory was a one-point win (70-69) over Miami-Ohio in Oxford, Ohio on Dec. 8.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF THE JOYCE CENTER – Notre Dame is 4-1 at the Joyce Center this season with an average margin of victory of 35.0 points per game. Irish teams own an all-time record of 401-119 (.771) at the Joyce Center in 33-plus seasons. Notre Dame is 32-9 (.780) in its last 41 home contests.
DEJA VU – Notre Dame recorded a three-point win (67-64) at West Virginia as the Irish against fought back from a double-digit first-half deficit for the second consecutive year. Against the Mountaineers in Morgantown on February 11, 2001, Coach Mike Brey’s squad trailed 39-31 at the half, but outscored West Virginia 38-27 in the second half to earn a 69-66 victory. Notre Dame trailed by 18 at the half on January 9 against the Mountaineers, but nearly doubled its point total in the second half by outscoring the home team 46-28 and holding West Virginia to just 22.7 percent shooting in the second half.
IRISH RECORD BIGGEST COMEBACK IN BIG EAST PLAY – Notre Dame’s win over West Virginia marked a first for the Irish in BIG EAST play as they recorded their biggest comeback in seven-plus seasons as a league member. Coach Mike Brey’s squad erased a 15-point halftime deficit and outscored the Moutaineers 46-28 in the second half. Notre Dame’s largest halftime deficit ever in a BIG EAST game was against Miami at the Joyce Center on Feb. 29, 1996 as the Irish trailed 41-17 (24 points) at the break in an eventual 71-59 loss. Prior to the West Virginia game, the biggest second-half turnaround by an Irish team in a BIG EAST contest was against Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 1999 at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame trailed 36-34 at the break in that contest, but outscored the Panthers 53-28 in the second half in the eventual 87-64 victory.
NOTRE DAME MISFIRES – Notre Dame has connected on 46.9 percent of its shots from the field this season, but the Irish have struggled of late. In its last four games, Notre Dame has shot less than 40.0 percent from the field as the Irish have connected on just 37.9 percent of their attempts (88-232). Only once in the last seven games has Notre Dame shot 50.0 percent from the field (vs. Canisius – 22-44). Below is a breakdown of Notre Dame’s last four games, including three-point attempts and free throws. Opponent Total Field Goal Pct. Three-Point FG Pct. Free Throw Pct. VILLANOVA 22-57 (.386) 9-27 (.333) 19-30 (.633) at West Virginia 23-58 (.397) 10-30 (.333) 11-22 (.500) at Pittsburgh 21-54 (.389) 4-10 (.400) 10-13 (.769) at Syracuse 22-63 (.349)* 5-24 (.208) 2-7 (.286)* Totals 88-232 (.379) 28-91 (.307) 42-72 (.583) *season low
THOMAS COPS THIRD BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONOR – Chris Thomas was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week for the third time this season after leading the Irish to two road wins last week. Thomas shared the honor with Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor. He is the only BIG EAST first-year player to earn rookie-of-the-week accolades three times in 2001-02. In leading Notre Dame to road wins at West Virginia and PIttsburgh, Thomas averaged 11.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds. He is just the second Irish player to earn rookie-of-the-week honors. Former Irish All-American Troy Murphy was an eight-time honoree during his first season in 1998-99.
HUMPHREY STATES HIS CASE – Ryan Humphrey is clearly enjoying his best season on the basketball court as the Irish tri-captain is averaging team and personal bests of 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.29 blocked shots. Against Syracuse on Monday night, Humphrey scored 54.9 percent of Notre Dame’s 51 points as he finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds. The 28 points marked the first 20-plus point performance for Humphrey in a BIG EAST game and his sixth double double in league play.
COUNTING ON CHRIS – Chris Thomas has been most productive for the Irish in the second half of four of its last six games. In those last six contests, he has scored 72.0 percent of his points in the final 20 minutes. Thomas has tallied 90 points in games against Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Villanova, Colgate and Alabama, but in those games, only 25 have come in the first half. Here’s the breakdown of Thomas in the last six contests. Opponent First Half Second Half Final Point Total at Syracuse 5 3 8 at Pittsburgh 4 3 7 at West Virginia 0 15 15 VILLANOVA 6 12 18 COLGATE 10 18 28 vs. Alabama 0 14 14 25 65 90 (4.2) (10.8) (15.0)
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL – Notre Dame is averaging 17.94 assists and 11.94 turnovers for a 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio. Conversely, Irish opponents are averaging 12.81 assists per game and 15.44 turnovers for a 0.83 assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame had fewer than 10 turnovers in 10 games this season and committed just 11 turnovers or fewer in eight of 16 contests. Notre Dame had seven turnovers against Pittsburgh last Saturday evening, matching its season low. The Irish committed just seven turnovers against Miami-Ohio, which included just one in the final 20 minutes of the contest. The seven turnovers were the fewest by an Irish team since a January 29, 1995 contest at the Joyce Center against Boston College when that Notre Dame team had just seven in a 74-68 victory. Including that game and the Miami-Ohio contest, it covered 199 contests. Against Canisius on December 22, Notre Dame had 10 first-half turnovers, but only committed four in the second half to finish the game with 14. In the Alabama game, the Irish turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and only three times in the final 20 minutes of the contest. In its last eight games, the Irish are averaging 15.3 assists per game and just 11.3 turnovers for a 1.33 assist-to-turnover ratio.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS – Notre Dame’s Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic title marked the fourth time the Irish have captured the championship of an in-season tournament and the first in 10 years. Previously Notre Dame won the title of the Sugar Bowl Tournament in 1954, 1955 and 1992.
96 AND COUNTING – Heading into this afternoon’s game against Pittburgh, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 96 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 as Notre Dame finished 0-7 in the contest from three-point range.
CONFERENCE CALL – Notre Dame’s 13-game non-conference schedule features teams from 11 different conferences – America East, Big Ten, Conference USA, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Mid-American, Northeast, Pacific West, Patriot League, Southeastern and Southern. The Irish will play teams from two of those conferences twice – the Patriot League (Army and Colgate) and SEC (Alabama and Kentucky). Notre Dame is 10-2 in non-conference play this season.
STEPPING UP TO THE LINE – As a team, Notre Dame hit 68.8 percent of its free throw attempts during the 2000-01 campaign. This year, the Irish have connected on 71.6 percent from the charity stripe (239-334). Against Miami-Ohio, Notre Dame was 12-of-13 from the line for a season-best 92.3 accuracy. The Irish were just 2-9 (22.2) from the charity stripe in the first half against Alabama and then hit 16-of-17 (.941) of its free throw attempts in the second half. Notre Dame has struggled from the free throw line in its two games against Villanova and West Virginia. The Irish hit just 19 of their 30 attempts (.633) against the Wildcats and connected on only 11-22 (.500) from the charity stripe against West Virginia. Notre Dame, however, hit 76.9 percent of their free throws (10-13) against Pittsburgh. In their last nine games, the Irish are 173-238 for a 72.9 percent accuracy.
HOT STUFFERS – Ryan Humphrey and Harold Swanagan have been nearly unstoppable from the field as each is shooting better than 54.0 percent from the field. Humphrey has made 54.9 percent of his shots (112-204) from the field, while Swanagan has connected on 49 of his 84 shot attempts (58.3 percent). Humphrey has shot 80.0 percent from the field in three of the 12 games he has played – he was 12-of-15 from the field against Army and Hawaii-Pacific and eight-of-10 from the field versus Monmouth. Against Tennessee-Chattanooga, he hit eight-of-13 from the field for 61.5 percent.
SECOND HALF DOMINANCE – In the first half of its last eight games, Notre Dame has struggled somewhat offensively and has trailed at halftime in seven of those contests. In the second half, however, the Irish have outscored their opponents 381-300. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s performance in the second half of its last five games. Opponent Halftime Score Second Half Point Totals ND Shooting Pct (1st Half/2ndHalf) at Indiana Trailed 30-40 45-36 .357/.593 at Miami-OH Trailed 35-41 35-28 .542/.444 at Canisius Trailed 33-35 51-38 .476/.522 vs. Alabama Trailed 23-41 53-38 .281/.533 COLGATE Led 37-31 55-30 .344/.655 VILLANOVA Trailed 40-36 36-34 .367/.407 at West Virginia Trailed 36-21 46-28 .281/53.8 at Pittsburgh Led 21-14 35-39 .310/.480 at Syracuse Trailed 25-29 26-27 .333/.367
BOMBS AWAY – Matt Carroll was six-of-six from three-point range against Tennessee-Chattanooga, matching the school record for three-point field goal percentage. Previously David Rivers and Martin Ingelsby each went five-for-five from three-point range. Carroll is the first Irish player to hit all six of his attempts in a game from downtown.
PICKING UP THE HAWAIIAN HARDWARE – Ryan Humphrey was named the Most Valuable Player of the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic. He averaged 24.0 points and 6.3 rebounds, while shooting 73.7 percent from the field in helping the Irish to three wins and the tournament title. Humphrey registered a career-high 31 points against Hawaii Pacific in his first game of the season. Also earning all-tournament honors for the Irish were David Graves, Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas. Graves averaged 15.0 points per game, including nine three-point goals, and registered his fourth career double double against Tennessee-Chattanooga (13 points, 10 rebounds). Carroll averaged 16.7 points and hit 12 three-pointers, including a six-for-six performance against the Mocs. Carroll set a career-high and became the first Irish player in school history to hit six three-point goals in a game without a miss. Thomas averaged 10.3 points and 8.0 assists, including a career-high 13 in the Hawaii Pacific game.
FROM DOWNTOWN – The Irish are 121-of-310 (.390) from three-point range this season for an average of 7.56 three-point goals per game. The school record for three-pointers in a season is 287, set in 1999-2000, an average of 7.8 per game.
THOMAS IN CONTROL – Notre Dame’s 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio, can be attributed to the play of freshman point guard Chris Thomas who has already dished off 107 assists (6.69 per game) and has committed just 34 turnovers for a 3.15 assist-to-turnover mark. He is averaging a turnover every 16.71 minutes played. Thomas went two consecutive games (Cornell and Hawaii Pacific) without turning the ball over, while finishing with a total of 19 assists. He dished off a personal best 13 assists against the Sea Warriors, the second 10-plus assist performance of his career after dishing off 11 in his collegiate debut against New Hampshire.
MINUTEMAN – Heading into this season, Harold Swanagan had averaged just 18.3 minutes per game in the 97 career contests he had played in during his first three seasons. This season, Swanagan is playing an average of 26.1 minutes (a career best) – 7.8 more minutes than the average of his first three campaigns. Against Indiana, he tied his career-high by playing 38 minutes of the contest.
GOING THE DISTANCE – Chris Thomas played all 40 minutes in three of Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST games and in five games overall. He went the distance in his first BIG EAST versus Villanova and also played the entire 40 minutes against Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Thomas also played 40 minutes in back-to-back games against Indiana and Miami-Ohio. He leads the team in minutes played (568) for an average of 35.5 minutes per game. He has played 30-plus minutes in 15 of 16 games this season. Thomas played a season-low 26 minutes against Monmouth on Nov. 25.
GOING THE DISTANCE II – David Graves ranks third on the team in minutes played (32.8) and played the entire 40 minutes in back-to-back games against Colgate and Alabama. He scored 20-plus points in each of those contests, netting 20 versus the Golden Griffins and 21 against the Crimson Tide. He has played 30-plus minutes in 10 of 16 contests.
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE – Ryan Humphrey registered his seventh double double of the season and the 27th of his career against Syracuse as he finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Humphrey has posted a double double in four of its last seven games and six of the last 10. Here is is breakdown of double doubles this season: vs. Hawaii-Pacific (31 pts./10 rebs.), vs. DePaul (18 pts./16 rebs.), at Indiana (23 pts./12 rebs.), at Canisius (14 pts./11 rebs.), vs. COLGATE (21 pts./10 rebs.), vs. VILLANOVA (18 pts./10 rebs.) and at Syracuse (29 pts., 11 rebs.)
TERRIFIC TORRIAN – Sophomore Torrian Jones certainly ranks as Notre Dame’s most improved player of the year and has proven to be a real spark for the Irish in the lineup. The second-year player currently is averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds. In outings against Monmouth and Army, he grabbed 16 rebounds in 36 minutes for an average of 2.3 rebounds per minute. In the Monmouth game, Jones tied his career-high (established against Hawaii-Pacific) with seven points and a career-best 10 rebounds. He played 22 minutes versus Miami and had six points and two rebounds in addition to an assist, steal and a block. Jones had the game-winning block on a three-point shot attempt by Miami-Ohio with four seconds to play in the game. In the loss to Villanova, he was a defensive spark off the bench and had six points and three steals in 14 minutes of action. In the win at West Virginia, he played six minutes and had a key basket late in the game.
DOUBLE DOUBLE DOUBLE – Harold Swanagan registered his second double double of the season and fifth of his career when he had 16 points and 11 rebounds against DePaul. Swanagan’s first double-double of the of the season was against UT-Chattanooga as he had 19 points and 10 boards. David Graves also has a double double to his credit as he had 13 points and 10 rebounds versus UT-Chattanooga.
MOUNTING THE COMEBACK – The Irish have trailed at the half in seven of their last nine games. In Notre Dame’s first seven games of the season, the combined time the Irish had trailed in those contests was under seven minutes. Heading into its eighth game of the season at Indiana, Coach Mike Brey’s squad had never trailed at the half. Here’s a look at the recent Irish comebacks:
at Indiana – Notre Dame found itself trailing by at 10 at the break after falling behind by as many as 14 in the first half. The Irish never led in the contest, but was able to pull within one with 21 seconds to play before the final one-point outcome.
at Miami-Ohio – Notre Dame briefly held a one-point lead against Miami-Ohio early in the contest, but did fall behind by as many as 13 in the first half. The Irish trailed by six at the intermission and gained the lead, which it never relinquished, with 6:19 left in the contest.
at Canisius – Notre Dame trailed by two at the half against Canisius, but outscored the Golden Griffins 51-38 in the second half.
vs. Alabama – Notre Dame fell behind by 20 in the first half against Alabama and trailed by 18 before beginning the second half with a 22-7 run. The Irish led by one twice in the second half (with 6:23 remaining and with 3:28 left in the contest), but fell short in its comeback attempt.
Villanova – Notre Dame trailed by four at the half against Villanova and then fell behind by as 14 with 8:18 to play. The Irish then used a 22-8 run to take a one-point lead with 45 seconds remaining, before falling two points short in the game.
at West Virginia – Notre Dame mounted one of its biggest comebacks in recent memory against West Virginia as the Irish trailed by as many as 18 in the first half and 15 at the break. The Irish outscored the Mountaineers 46-28 in the second half and held West Virginia to just three field goals in the final 11 minutes of the contest.
MAKING THE EARLY COMPARISONS – While it is early in his rookie season, Chris Thomas already has a couple of noteworthy accomplishments to his credit. With his 24-point effort against New Hampshire and 22-point performance in the Cornell game, he became the first Irish freshman to score 20-plus points in each of his first two games. He is also just the second Notre Dame player to record two consecutive 20-point outings in the first two games of his career. Only Austin Carr, who finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,560 career points, recorded back-to-back 20-point games in the first two games of his career. As a sophomore in his first season (1968-69), Carr opened up his career with point totals of 20 vs. Kings College, 26 vs. UCLA, 22 vs. Wisconsin and 30 vs. St. Louis in his first four games.
TRIPLE THE PLEASURE – It only took one game for freshman point guard Chris Thomas to do what no other Irish player had done previously in the program’s 96-plus year history – a triple double. Thomas scored 24 points, dished off 11 assists and made a school and Joyce Center record 11 steals against New Hampshire. The Irish rookie shot nine-of-18 from the field and five-of-nine from three-point range in 34 minutes of action.
GRAVES IN THE GROOVE – With classmates Ryan Humphrey and Harold Swanagan not in the game against New Hampshire, tri-captain David Graves had one of the top performances of his career as he tossed in a game-high 26 points (third highest point total of his career), grabbed five rebounds and made a career-high seven steals all in just 27 minutes of action on the court. He hit 10-of-16 shots from the field and was three-of-six from three-point range.
MACURA FINDS HIS MATCH – Irish head coach Mike Brey made the decision at the start of the preseason to have forward Jere Macura become more of an inside player, which has seemed to benefit the junior’s play as he registered back-to-back career-high outings in his first two games. Macura made the most of his two starts in the first two games of the season. Against New Hampshire, he had a then career-high 14 points, while also grabbing six rebounds in 26 minutes of action as he connected on six-of-nine shots from the field in the contest. Macura then followed that up with a career-high 16-point outing against Cornell. In addition, he also grabbed eight rebounds in the contest. Last season, Macura had just one double-figure game (10 points at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J.) after scoring in double figures five times as a freshman. Currently, he is averaging 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
STEALING THE SHOW – Notre Dame had a school record and Joyce Center record 26 steals against New Hampshire, bettering the old mark of 22 set against Vermont on Dec. 21, 1976. Chris Thomas led the Irish with 11 (a school record), while David Graves had a career-high seven steals which would have tied the old mark set by Ray Martin in 1974. Notre Dame already has 60 more steals than their opponents (148-88).
JORDAN GETS INTO THE ACT – While freshman Chris Thomas certainly made his mark in his first even games, Notre Dame’s other rookie, Jordan Cornette, also has played well. The 6-9 forward logged 29 minutes against New Hampshire in the season opener and had eight points, six rebounds and three assists. His playing time increased when Harold Swanagan went out of the game with a knee injury, which left the Irish with just two frontline players – Macura and Cornette. Against Cornell, he started in place of Swanagan and played 29 minutes while scoring three points and grabbing six rebounds. Cornette has played in 14 contests (did not see action in the Indiana and Syracuse contests) and is averaging 13.9 minutes per game. He scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in the loss to Alabama as he played 17 minutes, logging 12 in the second half. He started in place of Swanagan in contests against Colgate and Villanova. In his first BIG EAST contest, he played 25 minutes.
TIMMERMANS STANDS TALL – After missing the first nine games of the season with a sprained right knee, sophomore Tom Timmermans got some important playing time last Sunday against Colgate when he logged a personal best 18 minutes and finished with career-highs of six points and four rebounds. His playing time prior to that game was one minute in Notre Dame’s 79-76 loss to Alabama in New Orleans at the Nokia Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic.
WING-ING IT – The perimeter play of outside shooters David Graves and Matt Carroll give the Irish a deadly three-point shooting arsenal. The duo made 127 (57.9 percent) of Notre Dame’s 219 three-point field goals in 2000-01 and attempted 323 of team’s 570 shots from beyond the arc. Carroll shot 40.9 percent from three-point range, while Graves made 37.8 percent of his attempts. Graves has made 39 of his 86 attempts this season (45.3 percent), while Carroll is 27-of-74 (36.5 percent). Add freshman Chris Thomas to the mix because the Irish rookie is shooting 45.1 percent from behind the arc (37-82). Of the 112 three-pointers the Irish have made this season, the three have combined for 103 of those from beyond the arc (92.0 percent).
IRONMEN – David Graves has played in all 113 games of his Irish career, while Harold Swanagan has missed just one game. Prior to the Colgate contest, Swanagan had played in 108 consecutive contests. Graves and Swanagan played in all 30 games during their freshman and junior seasons and saw action in all 37 in their sophomore season. Graves has earned 94 starting appearances during his three seasons, while Swanagan has made 64 starts.
BLOCK PARTY – Notre Dame set the single-season team record for blocked shots last season with 178 in 30 games for an average of 5.93 blocks per game. The previous mark of 145 was set by the 1991-92 Irish team. Notre Dame had 110 blocks during the 1999-2000 campaign. Ryan Humphrey led the Irish with 79 blocks, the second-highest individual single-season mark in school history and ranked 18th in the nationally with 2.7 blocks per game. Humphrey has 42 blocks for an average of 3.3 blocks per game this season. As a team, Notre Dame has blocked 88 shots (5.50 per game).
THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS – Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally in field goal percentage defense last season as Irish opponents shot just 39.3 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range. Only one opponent, Indiana, shot above 50.0 percent from the field against the Irish. Notre Dame’s field goal percentage defense has been impressive again this season as the Irish have held eight of their 16 opponents to under 37 percent shooting from the field. Notre Dame has held four opponents to under 32 percent – New Hampshire (31.5), Monmouth (31.7), Army (29.5) and DePaul (29.6). Alabama shot 50.8 percent from the field, marking the first time in 36 contests that an Irish opponent has shot better than 50.0 percent from the field. Villanova became the second team in 38 games above 50.0 percent from the field as the Wildcats connected on 56.0 percent.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE – Notre Dame’s defense has limited its opponents to just 62.5 points per game with only five opponents – Tennessee-Chattanooga, Indiana, Miami-Ohio, Canisius and Alabama – scoring more than 61 points. The Irish are outscoring their opponents by 16.5 points per game. The Irish played their first two games of the 2001-02 campaign at home and came away with convincing victories over New Hampshire (95-53) and Cornell (78-48). The 103-point opponent total in the two games is the lowest by an Irish team to start the season since the 1985-96 campaign when Notre Dame allowed 105 points in wins over St. Joseph’s of Indiana (79-49) and Butler (87-56).
BROTHERLY LOVE – Junior Matt Carroll and freshman Jordan Cornette both have brothers who are playing their collegiate ball at Division I schools. Matt’s brother Pat is a freshman at St. Joseph’s, while Jordan’s brother Joel is a junior member on the Butler team.
IRISH INK THREE IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD – Notre Dame signed three players to national letters of intent on Nov. 14 – 6-3, 230-pound forward Rick Cornett (Country Club Hills, Ill./Homewood Academy), 6-10, 220-pound forward Torin Francis (Roslindale, Mass./Tabor Academy) and 6-1, 175-pound guard Chris Quinn (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman). Cornett averaged 17.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game in 2000-01 while leading his prep team to the Illinois Christian School state title for the second consecutive year. In addition, he was a member of the Illinois Warriors AAU team which captured the 17-and-under national crown in 2001. A two-year starter at Tabor Academy, Francis averaged 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots last season as his squad captured its second straight New England Prep school championship. A member of the BABC AAU squad, he helped that team to a runner-up finish at the Nike Showcase in Orlando, Fla. Quinn averaged 18.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds during his junior year. He set the single-season school assist record with 155 in 26 games while committing just 29 turnovers and was named the Ohio Capital Conference Central Division Player of the Year. All three have participated in the Nike All-America camps.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION – Notre Dame once again will receive tremendous exposure with seven nationally-televised games on CBS, ABC and ESPN. Four of those appearances will be at home at the Joyce Center. Last season, Notre Dame was featured nine times on national telecasts during the regular season, the most since the 1988-89 campaign.
Notre Dame will play twice on CBS (both at home against Kentucky and Providence), once on ABC (vs. Syracuse) and four times on ESPN (at Indiana, at Syracuse, home versus Georgetown and at Rutgers).
KEVIN WHITE RADIO SHOW – A weekly half-hour talk show featuring first-year athletics director Kevin White debuted Aug. 27 on Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000. “The Kevin White Show” is scheduled to air from 11:00-11:30 p.m. for 30 consecutive Sundays on ESPN radio (1000 AM in Chicago, www.espnradio1000.com). The show also can be heard in 35 states. White will welcome to the show a series of guests and prominent figures associated with college athletics, including administrators, coaches and media members.
MEN’S BASKETBALL LUNCHEON DATES SET – Three luncheons featuring Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey and his Irish players have been scheduled during the 2000-2001 season: Monday, Dec, 3, 2000 (the day before the Notre Dame-Indiana game), Friday, Jan. 18, 2002 (the day before the Notre Dame-Kentucky game) and Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2002 (the day before the Notre Dame-West Virginia game).
All three luncheons, which begin at noon, will feature Brey, members of his squad, video presentations and other special guests. The Dec. 3 luncheon also will feature Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw.
Tickets are $16 each. Tickets are available by mail by writing Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Checks should be made payable to University of Notre Dame. No telephone reservations will be accepted. For more information, call 219-631-5031.
SOLD-OUT – Notre Dame played its first home game to a sold-out Joyce Center (11,418) as the Irish played on a football weekend. The basketball contest was played following the pep rally. Last Sunday’s fourth home game of the season, which marked Notre Dame’s first return to the Joyce Center in more than a month, produced the second sellout.
FIRST SEMESTER SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM – Notre Dame enjoyed tremendous success in the classroom this semester as the Irish combined for a 3.002 grade point avearge during the 2001 fall semester. Seven of the 13 players earned a 3.00 or higher. Harold Swanagan registered the highest grade index of any player on the team. In addition to Swanagan, the other six players above a 3.00 were: Matt Carroll, Jordan Cornette, Torrian Jones, Dan Miller, Charles Thomas and Chris Thomas.