Jan. 29, 2002
IRISH ITEMS FOR PITTSBURGH – Notre Dame (12-6, 3-3) concludes its four-game homestand this evening as it faces its fifth ranked opponent this season when they play host to Pittburgh (18-3, 6-2), ranked 21st in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN rankings this week. This will be the second regular-season matchup between the two teams this season. In the first meeting on January 12 in Pittsburgh, Pa., the Irish earned a 56-51 victory. Notre Dame is coming off of a 60-51 victory on Saturday afternoon against Seton Hall as the Irish snapped a three-game losing streak. The win also ended Notre Dame’s three-game skid at home, its longest since the 1992-93 campaign. Pittsburgh heads into the contest having won three straight, with its most recent win coming Saturday against Georgetown (67-56) at home. Notre Dame ended the Panthers 10-game win streak 18 days ago with its win over the Panthers. Following that game, Pittsburgh then lost a 76-69 overtime decision at Miami. Since that loss, the Panthers have earned a road win at Georgetown and home wins against Syracuse (72-57) and the Hoyas. Prior to the win over the Pirates, the Irish had not won a home game since a 92-61 victory over Colgate on December 30. Notre Dame’s six losses this season total 28 points for an average margin of defeat of 4.67 points per game. The Irish’s 83-73 setback at home against Georgetown nine days ago was its largest loss of the season. Prior to the loss to the Hoyas, Notre Dame’s five other defeats had been by a combined total of 18 points. Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents by an average of 13.5 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 76.9 points per contest, while limiting their opponents to just 63.5 points per game. Notre Dame has enjoyed a strong defensive presence at the Joyce Center this season as the Irish have allowed an average of 61.4 points per game. Coach Mike Brey’s squad has held its eight opponents to 53 points and under on four occasions. The 83 points scored by Georgetown were the second-most given up by the Irish this season. Notre Dame gave up 84 to Tennessee-Chattanooga in the fourth game of the season in a 97-84 victory in the second round of the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic. The Irish continue to struggle shooting the ball from the field as they hit just 41.2 percent of their shots (21-51) against the Pirates. Notre Dame’s field goal percentage has dipped to 45.9 percent, while its opponents are shooting 39.3 percent from the field. The Irish held Seton Hall to 29.0 percent, the lowest shooting percent registered by an opponent this season. Notre Dame’s three-point field goal shooting percent has dropped to 37.0 percent from the field after hitting just three of their 14 shots from beyond the arc (21.4 percent) against Seton Hall. In addition, Notre Dame’s free throw woes also have continued as the Irish connected on just 53.6 percent from the charity stripe in its most recent outing and has fallen to just 68.8 percent. In its last seven games, Notre Dame has shot just 38.9 percent from the field (163-418), 29.1 percent from three-point range (44-151) and 56.1 percent from the free throw line (74-132). Notre Dame is averaging 14.3 made free throws per game, while opponents have made an average of 9.7 free throws. The Irish average 20.7 free throw attempts per contest, just over six more attempts than their opponents average of 14.6. Four Notre Dame players are averaging double figures with senior Ryan Humphrey leading the team in both scoring and rebounding as he is averaging 19.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. Humphrey is coming off his fourth consecutive double double and fifth in the last seven games as he scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds versus Seton Hall. Humphrey has scored in double figures in all 17 games he has played and has 10 double doubles in those contests. He has netted 20-plus points in seven games this season and heads into this evening’s contest with a streak of 19 consecutive games in double figures. Freshman point guard Chris Thomas has started all 19 games for the Irish and has played 686 minutes of a possible 720 (95.3 percent). He is second in scoring column for Notre Dame as he is averaging 15.2 points and leads the team in assists (6.74) and steals (2.37). Thomas has dished off six or more assists in 12 games this season. David Graves is averaging a career-high 14.1 points per game, in addition to 4.8 rebounds per contest, both of which rank third best on the team. In addition, he stands second in both the assists (45) and steals (37) columns. Matt Carroll is the fourth Irish player averaging in double figures with an 11.9 scoring average, in addition to 4.7 rebounds per game. Harold Swanagan is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last two contests against Georgetown and Seton Hall. He has been hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the second half against Alabama on December 27 in New Orleans, La. He has not played in three games this season and missed the first-ever game of his career against Colgate on December 30. Freshman Jordan Cornette has started the last two games in place of Swanagan and has earned five starts overall in the 17 games he has played. Cornette has averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game in Notre Dame’s last two outings. He scored a career-high 11 points against Georgetown and grabbed a personal best 10 rebounds versus Seton Hall. Cornette is averaging 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. Torrian Jones earned his first career start against Seton Hall and finished with four points and three rebounds. He is averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds.
NOTRE DAME-PITTSBURGH GAME 1 – Notre Dame recorded its first win over a ranked opponent this season as the Irish snapped Pittsburgh’s 10-game win streak with a 56-53 victory over the Panthers. The 53 points were the second fewest allowed by the Irish in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame had a 21-14 halftime advantage in holding Pittsburgh to just 20.7 percent shooting from the field (6-29). The Panthers, however, outscored the Irish 10-1 to begin the second half. Pittsburgh led for most of the second half and held a five-point advantage (53-48) with 2:50 remaining the contest. The Irish, however, scored the final eight points of the contest on two three-pointers by David Graves and two Matt Carroll foul shots. Graves nailed his second three-pointer of the night with 55 seconds remaining to give the Irish a 56-53. Notre Dame only turned the ball over seven times in the game, matching its season-low.
RECAP OF SETON HALL GAME – Notre Dame snapped its three-game losing streak and won for the first time at home in four games as the Irish registered a 60-51 victory over Seton Hall in the first of two regular-season matchups between the two teams. The 51 points given up were the fewest allowed by an Irish team in BIG EAST play since becoming a league member in 1995-96. Notre Dame held the Pirates to just 29.0 percent shooting from the field (a season-low by an opponent) and 16.7 percent (also a season-low by an Irish opponent) from three-point range. Ryan Humphrey led thre Irish players in double figures as he scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Chris Thomas finished with 11 points, six rebounds (tying his career-high), five assists and four steals. David Graves also tallied 11 points. Jordan Cornette grabbed a career-high 10 boards in the contest. Notre Dame trailed 23-22 at the half, but outscored the Pirates 38-28 in the second half. The Irish broke the game open with a 19-10 run to start the second half. Head coach Mike Brey’s squad was outrebounded in the game for the fourth time in five games as Seton Hall held a 44-42 advantage on the boards.
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 132-68 (.660) as a head coach and is 33-16 (.673) at Notre Dame. He coached in his 200th career game against Seton Hall on Saturday. 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. 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. PITTSBURGH – This will be the 44th meeting between the two teams with the Irish holding a 23-20 advantage. Notre Dame has won six of the last nine meetings and is 6-2 against the Panthers at the Joyce Center (12-7 overall in home contests). Notre Dame has won the last three regular-season matchups between the two teams, including a two-game sweep last season. Pittsburgh, however, earned a 66-54 victory when the two teams faced each other in the quarterfinals of the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament. The Irish are 7-5 against the Panthers in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame has won three straight over the Pittsburgh at the Joyce Center. The Panthers’ last win at the Joyce Center was on January 6, 1998 when they claimed a 72-61 victory.
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 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 eight games at the Joyce Center this season. Tonight’s matchup with Pittsburgh ends a four-game homestand for the Irish, its longest of the season at the Joyce Center. 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.
LOST TOUCH – Of late, Notre Dame seems to have lost its shooting touch from both the field and free throw line. In six of their first 10 games this season, the Irish shot better than 50.0 percent from the field. However, in its last nine games, the Irish have not shot better than 50.0 percent from the field. In fact, Notre Dame has shot less than 40.0 percent in five of the last seven contests. Notre Dame is shooting just 141-361 (39.1 percent) from the field in the last six games, 35-124 (28.2 percent) and 55-102 (53.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
LOSING ITS REBOUNDING EDGE – Notre Dame owns a 39.2 to 37.5 rebounding advantage over its opponents, but the Irish have been outrebounded by six of its last nine opponents, including four of their last five. Georgtown owned the largest advantage on the boards when it outrebounded the Irish 54-41. The Irish had a season-low 22 rebounds against Indiana. In its last five games, Notre Dame opponents have outrebounded the Irish 218-196.
GETTING DEFENSIVE IN THE BIG EAST – Notre Dame has turned in solid defensive performances despite the fact that its has been outscored 63.5 to 63.2 in its six BIG EAST games. The Irish have held three of their opponents to 56 points and under. In its 60-51 win over Seton Hall on Saturday, the 51 points scored by the Pirates were the fewest allowed by the Irish in a BIG EAST game. The 53 points scored by Pittsburgh in the 56-53 Irish victory on January 12 were the third fewest allowed in a league contest. Prior to the Seton Hall 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. The 84 points by the Hoyas were second most points allowed by the Irish and the most allowed under Irish head coach Mike Brey in BIG EAST play.
WINNING BIG – Notre Dame’s margin of victory through the first 18 games of the season has been by an average of 13.5 points per game. Only six wins (UT-Chattanooga, Miami-Ohio, Canisius, West Virginia , Pittsburgh and Seton Hall) 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 13 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.
NOTRE DAME MISFIRES – Notre Dame’s field goal percentage dropped to under 46.0 percent as the Irish are shooting 45.9 percent from the field. In its last seven games, the Irish have struggled of late. In its last six games, Notre Dame has shot less than 40.0 percent from the field in five of those contests, while connecting on just 38.7 percent of their shot attempts (142-367). Only once in the last nine games has Notre Dame shot 50.0 percent from the field (vs. Canisius – 22-44). Below is a breakdown of Notre Dame’s last six 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)* KENTUCKY 26-60 (.433) 9-25 (.360) 4-11 (.364) GEORGETOWN 28-75 (.373) 4-21 (.190) 13-21 (.619) SETON HALL 21-51 (.412) 3-14 (.214) 15-28 (.536) Totals 163-418 (.389) 44-151 (.291) 74-132 (.561) *season low
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF THE JOYCE CENTER – Notre Dame is 5-3 at the Joyce Center this season with an average margin of victory of 16.3 points per game. Irish teams own an all-time record of 402-121 (.769) at the Joyce Center in 33-plus seasons. Notre Dame is 33-11 (.750) in its last 44 home contests.
DEJA VU – Notre Dame recorded a three-point win (67-64) at West Virginia as the Irish 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.
CARROLL CLOSING IN ON 1,000 POINTS – Junior Matt Carroll is just 38 points from becoming the 42nd player in Notre Dame basketball history to score 1,000 points. In 86 career games, he has scored 962 points for a career scoring average of 11.2. He has started 79 of those contests and heads into this evening’s game with Seton Hall having made 57 consecutive starting appearances, the most of any player on the Irish team.
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 19.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.94 blocked shots per game. Against Syracuse, 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.
COUNTING ON CHRIS – Chris Thomas has been most productive for the Irish in the second half of six of their last nine games. In those last nine contests, he has scored 67.2 percent of his points in the final 20 minutes. Thomas has tallied 116 points in games against Georgetown, Kentucky, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Villanova, Colgate and Alabama, but in those games, only 38 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 SETON HALL 4 7 11 GEORGETOWN 8 5 13 KENTUCKY 5 8 13 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 42 85 127 (4.7) (9.4) (14.1)
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL – Notre Dame is averaging 17.47 assists and 11.95 turnovers for a 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio. Conversely, Irish opponents are averaging 12.89 assists per game and 15.16 turnovers for a 0.85 assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame had fewer than 10 turnovers in six games this season and committed just 11 turnovers or fewer in nine of 19 contests. Notre Dame had a season-low six turnovers (two in the second half) against Georgetown nine days ago and committed just seven turnovers in games at Miami-Ohio and Pittsburgh. Against the RedHawks, the Irish had just one turnover in the final 20 minutes against Miami-Ohio, which included just one in the final 20 minutes of the contest. The seven turnovers in that contest 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 10 games, the Irish are averaging 15.2 assists per game and just 11.9 turnovers for a 1.28 assist-to-turnover ratio. There have been only two games this season where the Irish had more turnovers than assists – vs. Villanova (15-16) and vs. Seton Hall (13-17).
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.
99 AND COUNTING – Heading into this evening’s contest against Georgetown, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 99 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 featured 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 have played teams from two of those conferences twice – the Patriot League (Army and Colgate) and SEC (Alabama and Kentucky). Notre Dame finished 10-3 in non-conference play this season.
SECOND HALF DOMINANCE – In the first half of its last 12 games, Notre Dame has struggled offensively and has trailed at halftime in 10 of those contests. In the second half, however, the Irish have outscored their opponents 489-398. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s performance in the second half of its last 11 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 KENTUCKY Trailed 35-41 30-31 .433/.426 GEORGETOWN Trailed 33-44 40-39 .325/.429 SETON HALL Trailed 22-23 38-28 .320/50.0
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 assists in the Hawaii Pacific game.
FROM DOWNTOWN – The Irish are 137-of-370 (.370) from three-point range this season for an average of 7.21 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 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio, can be attributed to the play of freshman point guard Chris Thomas who has already dished off 128 assists (6.74 per game) and has committed just 44 turnovers for a 2.91 assist-to-turnover mark. He is averaging a turnover every 15.59 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 25.9 minutes (a career best) – 7.6 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 four of Notre Dame’s six BIG EAST games and in six games overall. He went the distance in his first BIG EAST game versus Villanova and also played the entire 40 minutes against Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Georgetown. Thomas also played 40 minutes in back-to-back games against Indiana and Miami-Ohio. He leads the team in minutes played (686) for an average of 36.1 minutes per game. He has played 30-plus minutes in 18 of 19 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 (32.2) 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 11 of 18 contests.
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE – Ryan Humphrey registered his 10th double double of the season and the 30th of his career against Seton Hall on Saturday as he finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Humphrey has registered a double double in each of his last four games and in seven of his last 10 contests. 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.), at Syracuse (29 pts., 11 rebs.), vs. KENTUCKY (14 pts./12 rebs.), vs. GEORGETOWN (19 pts./11 rebs.) and vs. Seton Hall (16 pts./12 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. He earned his first career start against Seton Hall on Saturday and responded with four points and three rebounds. 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 10 of their last 12 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 10 at the break after falling behind by as many as 14 in the first half. The Irish never led in the contest, but were 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 Irish career, 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 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds and has played in 14 games.
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 JUMPS 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 earned his fifth start of the season in place of Harold Swanagan against Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon as he played a career best 32 minutes, while tallying six points and grabbing a personal best 10 rebounds. Against Georgetown nine days ago, he had a career-high 11 points (on five-for-eight shooting from the field) and played 31 minutes. He 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 16 contests (did not see action in the Indiana and Syracuse contests) and is averaging 14.8 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 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. Timmermans, however, played a key role in the win against Seton Hall, scoring a five points and tying a personal best with four rebounds.
TRIFECTA – The perimeter shooting combination of David Graves, Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas have combined for 92.7 percent of Notre Dame’s three-pointers this season. The Irish trio has made 127 of the team’s 137 shots from beyond the arc and has taken 89.7 percent (332 of 370) of its three-point attempts. Graves leads the team with 48 three-pointer, followed by Thomas (42) and Carroll (37).
IRONMEN – David Graves has played in all 116 games of his Irish career, while Harold Swanagan has missed just three games (all this season against Colgate, Georgetown and Seton Hall). 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 99 starting appearances during his three seasons, while Swanagan has made 65 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 50 blocks for an average of 2.94 blocks per game this season. As a team, Notre Dame has blocked 102 shots (5.37 per game).
THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS – Notre Dame’s field goal percentage defense has been impressive this season as the Irish have held nine of their 19 opponents to under 37 percent shooting from the field. Notre Dame has held five opponents to under 32 percent – New Hampshire (31.5), Monmouth (31.7), Army (29.5), DePaul (29.6) and Seton Hall (29.0). Alabama shot 50.8 percent from the field, marking the first time in 36 contests (dating back to last season) that an Irish opponent had 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 63.5 points per game with only seven opponents – Tennessee-Chattanooga, Indiana, Miami-Ohio, Canisius, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgetown – scoring more than 61 points. The Irish are outscoring their opponents by 13.5 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.
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.
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. There have been four sellouts in eight home games this season – New Hampshire, Colgate, Kentucky and Seton Hall.
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.