Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Men's Hoops And Illinois All-Stars Meet At Joyce Center

Nov. 13, 2003

Complete Release in PDF Format
dot.gifspacer.gifDownload Free Acrobat Reader

Illinois All-Stars at
(21/T19) NOTRE DAME Fighting Irish (0-0)

Date: Friday, November 14, 2003

Place: Joyce Center (11,418)

Time: 9:00 p.m. (EST)

Radio: Notre Dame Sports Properties (Jack Lorri, Jack Nolan) originates the Notre Dame Radio Network (includes WNDV 92.9 FM and 1490 AM in South Bend, Ind./Michiana Region, Elkhart, Michigan City, Gary and Hammond), ESPN 1000 AM) in Chicagoland Area), ESPN 950 AM (Indianapolis), WGL 1250 in Fort Wayne), WEFM 95.9 in Michigan City and Gary and WLUV AM 1520 (Rockford, DeKalb, Beloit, Janesville). All radio broadcasts can also be heard through the World Wide Web at

Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for all home games, via the Notre Dame athletic website (

Irish Items:

  • The 2003-04 campaign marks the 99th season of basketball at Notre Dame.
  • Tonight’s contest is the second and final exhibition game for the Irish before the season opener on November 24 against Northern Illinois at the Joyce Center at 7:30 p.m.
  • Notre Dame is tied for 19th in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches Preseason Poll and is 21st in the Associated Press preseason ranking.
  • The 2003-04 campaign marks the 23rd time an Irish team has been ranked in either the first poll of the year or the preseason poll. The last time a Notre Dame team started the season ranked was the 2000-01 squad (Mike Brey’s first season). That team, which was ranked 15th in the Associated Press poll went on to win the BIG EAST West Division title and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
  • With its preseason ranking, Notre Dame now has a been ranked in 16 consecutive polls dating back to last season.

Scouting the Irish:
Notre Dame returns three starters from last year’s team that finished with a a 24-10 and earned its third straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Irish advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1987. The 24 victories were the most since the 1986-87 campaign when that Notre Dame team finished witha 24-8 mark.

Mike Brey is entering his fourth year at Notre Dame and has guided the Irish to a 66-31 record for a .680 winning percentage. He is the only coach in the program’s history to lead his team to three straight 20-win campaigns and consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in each of his first three seasons.

Notre Dame will have a balanced attack both from the perimeter and inside. The Irish’s top-flight backcourt play will start with junior point guard Chris Thomas, an honorable mention All-America selection in ’03. He ranks as one of the nation’s premier point guards and is considered one of the top players in regards to scoring and ball distribution. Thomas was Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer last season at 18.7 ppg. and for the second straight year led the team in assists with a 6.9 average. He was the Irish’s leading scorer in its three NCAA tournament contests as he averaged 21.3 points. A starter in all 67 games in his career, Thomas scored in double figures in all but three games and dished off 10 or more assists in five contests.

Sophomore Torin Francis, a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team, averaged 11.1 points and a team-leading 8.4 rebounds as a 34-game starter. He will lead Notre Dame’s frontline attack. Francis averaged a double double in the Irish’s three NCAA tournament games, netting 17.7 points and grabbing 12.7 rebounds. Francis netted double figures in 19 contests and hauled in 10-plus rebounds on 12 occasions. In addition, he registered 10 double doubles during the season.

Senior Torrian Jones will look to make his mark in ’03-’04 from the wing. He will have a big presence for the Irish both offensively and defensively. Best known for his defensive play, Jones will be involved more offensively this season after averaging 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Senior Tom Timmermans will be a force for the Irish underneath the basket as he expected to log more playing time this season. He enjoyed his best season in a Notre Dame uniform a year ago as he averaged 3.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while earning 11 starts in the 31 games he played.

Junior Jordan Cornette offers versatility on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Although he averaged just 3.0 points per game a year ago, Cornette can handle the ball in the post as well as around the perimeter. He will look to become more of a three-point threat this season. Cornette led the team in blocked shots and ranked third in steals with 34.

Notre Dame’s backcourt will feature another point guard in sophomore Chris Quinn. Quinn played in all 34 contests last season and logged 15.3 minutes per game. He and Thomas will prove to be a formidable backcourt to defend. Quinn dished off 51 assists a year ago and committed just 15 turnovers. Rick Cornett is expected to see increased playing time this season after seeing action in 12 games a year ago. He has worked on improving all areas of his game during the off-season and is ready to contribute this season. Notre Dame will look to take advantage of his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities.

Freshman shooting guard Colin Falls is cut from the same mold as Matt Carroll, the school’s all-time career three-point leader. Not only is he a great shooter, but he is a good ballhandler with great versatility at both ends of the floor.

Another rookie added to the Irish backcourt is Russell Carter and extremely athletic player with a strong defensive game that compliments his offensive skills.

Omari Isreal is somewhat of a question mark heading into his rookie season after a torn ACL forced him to miss the second-half of his scholastic campaign. He has the versatility to play in and around the basket, but also the skill to move inside.

Exhibition Recap:
Chris Thomas and Torrian Jones combined for 45 points to lead the Notre Dame men’s basketball team to an 88-76 win over Coaches vs. Cancer Team Dasani in the first of its two exhibition contests.

Torin Francis recorded the contest’s only double double as he finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Chris Quinn added 12 points to round out the double-figure scoring. Thomas also dished off nine assists and grabbed five rebounds, while only turning the ball over once.

Notre Dame shot 47.0 percent from the field, hitting 31 of its 66 attempts, while the visitors connected on 50 percent of their field goal attempts. The Irish shot 54.5 percent from three-point range (12-22), with Thomas nailing five of his seven attempts and Quinn hitting on four of his nine attempts. Freshman Russell Carter hit back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute of the first half to help the Irish gain a 55-45 halftime advantage.

CVC Team Dasani jumped out to an early five-point lead (11-6) 5:03 into the first half, but a 14-4 run over a five-minute stretch gave the Irish a 20-15 advantage. The visitors were able to cut the lead to 24-23 with 8:43 remaining, but Notre Dame finished the half by outscoring CVC Team Dasani 21-12.

The Irish led by as many as 16 on three occasions in the second half. Notre Dame grabbed a 60-44 advantage with 14:38 to play, but the visitors slowly chipped away at the lead and trimmed the margin to six points (73-67) with just over five minutes to play in the contest. Notre Dame, however, outscored the visitors 15-6 to finish the game for the final 12-point margin of victory.

The Irish owned a 40-32 advantage on the boards. In addition to Francis’ 12 boards, Timmermans grabbed 10, while Jones hauled in eight.

Notre Dame plays its final exhibition game on Friday, November 14 against the Illinois All-Stars. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. The season opener for the Irish will be on Monday, November 24 versus Northern Illinois.

LaPhonso Ellis Returns To The Joyce Center:
Notre Dame fans will notice a familiar face on the Illinois All-Stars roster — LaPhonso Ellis. Ellis, who was back on campus just two weeks ago for the second annual Men’s Basketball Reunion, played for the Irish from 1988-1992. He was the fifth pick overall in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Ellis played in the NBA for 11 seasons before his retirement following the 2002-03 campaign. In addition to the Nuggets, he also enjoyed stints with the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat.

The Captains:
For the first time in the 99-year history of the Notre Dame men’s basketball program, four players will be serving as team captains. Seniors Torrian Jones and Tom Timmermans and juniors Jordan Cornette and Chris Thomas will serve as the Irish captains for the upcoming 2003-04 campaign.

Game Time Changes:
Since the schedule was released, there have been a couple of game time changes. Notre Dame’s contest at Marquette on December 1 has moved to a 8:00 p.m. (CST) start (9:00 p.m. in South Bend). The Irish’s home game against Central Michigan on December 6 will tip-off at 9:00 p.m. instead of the original 8:00 p.m. start time.

Tough Ticket:
Notre Dame played host to 10 sellouts at the Joyce Center during the 2002-03 season — the most since the 1985-86 campaign when 14 of the team’s 17 games drew a record capacity crowd. Three games last season — Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Syracuse — produced the largest crowds to ever witness a Notre Dame basketball game — 11,480. Already this season, seven games are already sold out — Indiana, Kentucky, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Seton Hall and Georgetown. Student tickets (2,800 to students, 400 to band and Notre Dame student-athletes) were sold out in 5-1/2 hours. Last season, student ticket packages were sold out in 36 hours.

New BIG EAST Look:
The BIG EAST Conference will play under a new league format in which every team will play each other at least once and three other schools twice during the regular season. Notre Dame is slated to play Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse twice as part of its 16-game conference slate

The past three seasons have seen the 14-team league play under a two seven-team divisional format. Under the former system, the teams were broken down into the East and West divisions. Each school played 12 divisional contests on a home-and-home basis and crossover opponents against teams from the other divsion (two at home and two on the road), but did not face three schools from the opposite division.

In addition to its home-and-home series with the Huskies, Panthers and Orangemen, Notre Dame’s conference home slate this season also includes matchups against Georgetown, Miami, Providence, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The Irish are scheduled for road games at Boston College, Rutgers. St. John’s, Villanova and Virginia Tech.

Twelve teams will once again advance to the ’04 BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden, March 10-13, with the top four finishers during the regular season receiving a first-round bye.

Francis, Thomas On Wooden Watch List; Thomas Listed Among Naismith Candidates:
Chris Thomas and Torin Francis are one of 50 candidates named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team. The 50 candidates were announced in early August and selected by the Wooden Award Preseason All-America Committee.

The Irish tandem is among 11 BIG EAST players named to the team, the most of any conference. Only three other teams — Connecticut (Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor) and Syracuse (Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick) –also placed two players on the list.

Thomas, an honorable mention Associated Press All-America selection, and second-team all-BIGEAST honoree as a sophomore, was among the top-30 candidates last year for the Wooden Award and also was a finalist for the Naismith and USBWA/Oscar Robertson player-of-the-year awards. Francis was a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team.

The other BIG EAST players selected as candidates were: Andre Barrett (Seton Hall), Ryan Gomes (Providence), Julius Page (Pittsburgh), Darius Rice (Miami) and Craig Smith (Boston College).

The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 and one member from that squad will be awarded the Wooden Award Trophy, symbolic of the nation’s “Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of Year.” That announcement will be made on Saturday, April 10 and CBS Sports will televise the event live from The Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Thomas also is listed among the top 30 candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year honor.

Looking To Make It Four-In-A-Row:
The Irish will be bidding for their fourth straight NCAA tournament bid in 2004. That would be a first since Notre Dame made six consecutive appearances from 1985-90. The most consecutive NCAA tournament appearances made by Notre Dame teams was eight — from 1975-81.

The 20-Win Mark:
Notre Dame’s 24 wins a year ago marked the 30th time in the program’s 98-year history that an Irish team reached the 20-win mark. It marked the fourth consecutive 20-win campaign and first time since 1985-89 that Irish teams posted four consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins.

Home Sweet Home:
Since the inaugural season (1968-69) playing in the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 420-124 record all-time for a .722 winning percentage. The Irish are 35-10 all-time at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s three seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, own an 85-29 mark for a .746 winning percentage.

Notre Dame All-Time In The BIG EAST:
In eight seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame owns a 66-70 record all-time in conference regular-season play for a .485 winning percentage. In their first five years, Irish teams were 35-53 (.398), but since Mike Brey took over the program, Notre Dame has compiled a 31-17 (.646) mark in regular-season play.

Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to win 10-plus conference games during each of the last three regular seasons. The Irish finished 11-5 in 2000-01 and produced 10-6 marks in both 2001-02 and 2002-03. Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to make the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons.

Block Party:
Notre Dame’s 189 blocked shots in 2002-03 set a new single-season team record with a per game average of 5.59. The former mark of 178 was set during the 2000-01 season in which Notre Dame averaged 5.93 blocks. The Irish finished the 2001-02 campaign with 163 blocks for an average of 4.94 per game. Notre Dame’s block totals each of the last three seasons rank as the top three all-time.

147 And Counting:
Heading into the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 147 straight games, a mark that dates back to the 1998-99 campaign. The last time and Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut in the Hartford Civic Center (January 12, 1999) as Notre Dame finished 0-7 in the contest.

Irish Ink Rob Kurz In Early Signing Period:
Rob Kurz, a 6-8, 225-pound forward from Gwynedd, Pa., has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2004 it was announced today by Irish head basketball coach Mike Brey.

Kurz has starred the last two years for William Penn Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pa. As a junior in 2002-03, he averaged 18.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in leading his prep team to a 26-4 record overall and garnering first-team all-league honors. He earned first-team all-city honors after helping William Penn Charter capture the Philadelphia Inter-Academic League crown with a perfect 10-0 league mark that also included two victories in the postseason.

As a sophomore, he netted 19.0 points per game and guided his team to a 16-9 overall record. However, he was unable to compete in league play that season after transferring to William Penn Charter at the beginning of the 2001-02 school year.

Kurz attended the Nike All-America camp each of the past two summers (’02 and ’03) and will serve as one of the team’s co-captains during the 2003-04 campaign.

Kurz’ sister, Laura, also a high school senior, will attend Duke University and play basketball for the Blue Devils.

Name Dame All Over The Big Screen In ’03-’04:
Notre Dame will make more national television appearances –13 — than any other BIG EAST team this season. The Irish will be appear on CBS four times, ESPN five times and ESPN2 on four occasions. It will mark the most single-season national television appearances ever by a Notre Dame basketball team. Connecticut will appear on 11 national broadcasts (excluding the Preseason NIT) during the regular season.

Irish in Barbados:
Notre Dame spent its fall break (Oct. 18-25) in Barbados and played three games. The Irish finished with a 2-1 record on its foreign tour. Notre Dame became the first-ever college team to play a game in Barbados. Coach Mike Brey and his team got a head start on the season with the first of its 10 practices (allowed by the NCAA before a tour) on September 4. ESPN Magazine followed the Irish on their seven-day trip and it will be featured in the upcoming college basketball preview edition expected on the newsstands this week. The Irish played the Milton Keynes Lions, a member of the British Basketball League, twice, and face off against the Barbados National Team in its other contest.

Game 1 (Notre Dame 93, Milton Keynes Lions 67): Chris Thomas scored 20 points and Chris Quinn added 18 to lead the Irish to a 26-point victory in its first contest in the opening round of the BWIA Hoops Challenge at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. The Notre Dame backcourt duo led five players in double figures. Jordan Cornette and Colin Falls each added 12 points, while Torrian Jones tossed in 10 points. Jones and Tom Timmermans led the Irish with seven rebounds each, while Torin Francis and Cornette grabbed six and five boards, respectively. Timmermans also ofinisehd with eight points, while Rick Cornett netted six points and Russell Carter added five.

Game 2 (Notre Dame 112, Barbados National Team 65): Chris Thomas and Torrian Jones scored 20 points each to lead six Notre Dame players in double figures as the Irish recorded a 47-point win. Jordan Cornette added 18 points, while Rick Cornett came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 11 rebounds. Torin Francis also finished with a double double as he netted 11 points and hauled in 11 rebounds. Chris Quinn ended the game with 11 points to round out the double-figure scoring for the Irish.

Game 3 (Milton Keynes Lions 77, Notre Dame 74): Just three days after recording a 26-point victory over Milton Keynes, the Irish saw its second-half rally fall short with a three-point loss. Notre Dame battled back from an eight-point deficit, but had to fight the affects of playing on consecutive nights and the heat and humidity of the gym. Chris Thomas led the Irish with 23 points and six assists, while Torin Francis finished with 17 points and four rebounds. Jordan Cornette was the only other Irish player in doble figures as he finished with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds.