Jan. 31, 2003
Notre Dame, Ind. –
SCOUTING THE IRISH – The Notre Dame men’s basketball team (17-3, 5-1) heads into Saturday’s matchup with Georgetown (10-6, 2-4) in sole possesion of second place in the BIG EAST West Division standings. The Irish, winners of 13 of their last 15 games, are off to their best start in conference play since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
Coach Mike Brey’s squad has won five straight in league play since dropping a 72-55 decision to Pittsburgh on the road on January 6 in its conference opener. Notre Dame’s only other loss during the month of January was an 88-73 non-conference setback at Kentucky on January 18. Since the loss to the Wildcats, the Irish have won three straight.
Notre Dame is coming off of an 88-69 victory at home against West Virginia on Wednesday night to remain undefeated at home this season (11-0). The win also was the 13th straight dating back to the final two home games of the 2001-02 campaign.
The Irish are ranked 11th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Notre Dame moved up five spots in the AP ranking from the previous week’s poll and two positions in the latter poll.
The current 17-3 record marks the best start for a Notre Dame team since the 1978-79 season. That Irish team posted a 22-3 record before suffering its fourth loss in the 26th game of the season en route to a final 24-6 mark. In terms of calendar date, this is the earliest an Irish team has ever produced 17 wins in 97-plus years of basketball at the University.
Today’s contest against Georgetown marks the second straight home game for the Irish. Following this afternoon’s outing, Notre Dame will play three of its next four games on the road. The lone home contest in that four-game stretch will be against Pittsburgh on Sunday, February 9.
Coach Mike Brey’s squad owns a perfect 11-0 mark at home and has won 13 straight at the Joyce Center dating back to the final two games of the 2001-02 campaign. The last time an Irish team won its first 11 games at home was during the 1985-86 season as Notre Dame finished up with a perfect 15-0 mark at home. The current 13-game home win streak is the longest since that campaign.
The Irish have faced five opponents ranked in the top 25 this season and own a 3-2 mark in those games. This week’s AP poll features eight opponents on the Irish schedule, while seven Notre Dame foes appear in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Georgetown enters today having lost four of its last five games. The Hoyas have lost back-to-back league games to Pittsburgh (65-64) on the road and to Seton Hall (93-82) in overtime at home.
The Irish and Hoyas are meeting for the 15th time this afternoon with Georgetown holding an 8-6 advantage in the series. The last matchup between the two teams produced an epic four-overtime battle at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. – the longest game in BIG EAST history on February 9, 2002. In that game, Notre Dame emerged a 116-111 winner in the contest. Since joining the BIG EAST, the two schools have played 11 times and the Hoyas have won seven of those matchups. Georgetown teams are 4-2 at the Joyce Center. The home court has not been kind to the home team in this series – the Hoyas have won three straight at the Joyce Center, while the Irish have won their last three at the MCI Center. Notre Dame’s last win against the Georgetown at the Joyce Center was a 79-69 decision on February 25, 1998.
Notre Dame has played four top 10 opponents and owns three wins over those teams – No. 10 Marquette (92-71), No. 8 Maryland (79-67) and No. 2 Texas (98-91). The Irish earned those victories in consecutive outings over a six-day stretch (Dec. 2-8). It marked the first time that an Irish team had beaten three straight top 10 opponents in the program’s history. Prior to the victory over the Golden Eagles on December 2, Notre Dame had not beaten a top 10 team since Brey’s first season when that Irish squad defeated Boston College (10th in AP and 9th in ESPN/USA Today polls). The win over the Longhorns was Notre Dame’s first win over a top five opponent since January 5, 2000 versus No. 2 Connecticut (75-70) at the Hartford Civic Center.
The victory over Texas marked the fourth time in history that a Notre Dame team had beaten at least three top 10 opponents in a single season. The most top 10 wins by an Irish team in the same season is four – that was accomplished by the 1977-78 squad which advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
The 98 points scored by the Irish against Texas were the most scored by an Irish team over a ranked opponent since a 101-98 victory over Syracuse (ranked 10th at the time) on Feb. 15, 1992 at the Carrier Dome. The 21-point margin of victory against Marquette was the largest over a ranked opponent since a 98-67 win over then third-ranked Missouri on March 3, 1990.
Notre Dame is averaging 80.2 points and has scored 90-plus points in six games this season and has topped the century mark twice. Brey’s team has averaged 94.5 points in its last two outings. The Irish are yielding 60.0 points per contest and have held their opponents to 65 points and under on 10 occasions.
Notre Dame been very dominant at home, averaging 83.7 points and yielding just 60.0 points per game. The Irish’s average margin of victory in games at the Joyce Center is 23.6 points per game. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was 35 points in its 90-55 against Albany, while the closest margin was a 10-point decision (64-54) versus Seton Hall.
Matt Carroll (Horsham, Pa.) continues to lead the Irish in scoring with a 20.4 scoring average overall and 22.0 average in six conference games. He has scored 20-plus points in four of the last seven games, including a BIG EAST career-high 31-point performance in the loss at Pittsburgh on January 6. Carroll has been the only Irish player who has scored in double figures in all 20 games and has topped the 20-point mark in seven of the last 12 games and in nine contests overall. He heads into tonight’s game with West Virginia having scored in double figures in 26 consecutive games.
Carroll is approaching two Irish records. He currently stands second all-time in career three-pointers made (255) and needs just five to break the mark of 259 held by former teammate David Graves (1998-2002). He also stands third all-time in career games started with 111, needing just six to break David Rivers’ (1984-88) mark of 116.
Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) has averaged 23.0 points in Notre Dame’s last two games and has a 17.8 scoring average overall and 19.2 average in BIG EAST play. He leads the team in assists (7.1) and steals (1.9). He has registered three double doubles this season and has dished off 10-plus assists in four games. He had a season-high 13 assists against Canisius, which also matched his career best. Thomas topped the 20-point mark for the eighth time in last Saturday’s outing against Boston College as he finished with a team-high 28 points.
Dan Miller (Mt. Holly, N.J.) is third on the Irish scoring list with a 14.2 average and is the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.0 rebounds per game. He has scored in double figures in all but five games (Creighton, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Providence) and has scored 20 or more points on five occasions. He is coming off of a BIG EAST career-best 16-point outing against Boston College one week ago and a 15-point and nine-rebound effort in Tuesday night’s victory over West Virginia.
Torin Francis (Roslindale, Mass.) is averaging 10.5 points and a team-leading 8.8 rebounds, in addition to leading the team with seven double doubles. He posted his most recent double double of the season against Valparaiso on January 4 as he finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Francis has started all 20 games and has reached double figures in 12 contests and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in seven games. He averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his homecoming to the New England area in wins at Providence and Boston College.
Jordan Cornette (Cincinnati, Ohio), who started the first six games of the season, has been in the Notre Dame starting lineup for each of the last six games. He played a career-high 33 minutes in the win over Rutgers (January 14), scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking eight shots. Cornette has had a real impact for the Irish on the defensive end of the floor. He is averaging 3.0 points and 4.6 rebounds, in addition to 2.6 blocked shots. In the Belmont game, Cornette registered his first career double double with an unlikely combination of 13 rebounds and a Notre Dame and Joyce Center record 11 blocked shots. His 52 blocked shots this season are 35 more than he blocked all of last season. Cornette grabbed 11 rebounds against Boston College last, his second double figure rebounding effort of the season.
No Notre Dame player has been as important off the bench than junior swingman Torrian Jones (Fairless Hills, Pa.). He scored a season-high 13 points on six-for-eight shooting from the field against Bucknell and is averaging 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds. Jones had one of his best all-around efforts in an Irish uniform against Vanderbilt on December 30 as he scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished off two assists and had a block and a steal in playing a career-high 29 minutes. Jones, who is averaging a career-best 19.1 minutes off the bench, has scored in double figures in three games. He has played 20-plus minutes in five consecutive games and in 10 contests overall.
Chris Quinn (Dublin, Ohio) is averaging significant minutes off the bench at 16.4 minutes per game and has played 20-plus minutes in eight contests. He scored a career-high 12 points versus Marquette and is averaging 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds. Quinn, along with Francis, is the only rookie who has played in all 20 games. He has connected on 30 field goals with 21 coming from three-point range. He was a key in the first half against Boston College on January 25 as he scored 10 points in 12 minutes of action.
Tom Timmermans (Driehuis, Netherlands) had started eight straight games before the Seton Hall game on January 12. He made his first career start in the victory over Marquette on December 1 and is averaging 12.6 minutes of playing time. Timmermans equalled his personal best of nine points against West Virginia on Wednesday night, in addition to grabbing a career-high eight boards. He is averaging 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds.
HEAD COACH MIKE BREY – Mike Brey is in his third year as the Notre Dame head coach and eighth 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. Brey owns a 59-24 mark (.711) with the Irish and earned his 50th victory at Notre Dame with the win over Texas in the championship game of the BB&T Classic. He is the first coach in Notre Dame history to lead his teams to consecutive 20-win campaigns and NCAA tournament appearances in his first two seasons. Last year, he led his team to a 22-11 record and 10-6 mark in BIG EAST play after guiding the 2000-01 Irish to the 2000-01 BIG EAST West Division crown with an 11-5 record and finishing with a 20-10 overall record. Five of his eight teams have advanced to postseason competition (four NCAA and one NIT appearances). Since his arrival, he has led Notre Dame to a 26-12 mark in BIG EAST play during the regular season for a .684 winning percentage. In the two-year period from 2000-02, the Irish’s BIG EAST wins are matched only by Boston College and Connecticut. His 21 wins after two seasons ranked as the third-best total in conference history. Only four other BIG EAST coaches, including St. John’s mentor Mike Jarvis, have ever posted a better winning percentage in their first two seasons in the league. Among active BIG EAST coaches, Brey’s 27-14 record (including regular season and championship contests) for a .659 winning percentage ranks him fourth behind Jarvis, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun, and sixth all-time. Brey has an overall record of 158-76 (.675) as a head coach. His 150th career win came on December 14, 2002 with Notre Dame’s 102-71 victory over DePaul (the 224th game of his coaching career).
BREY VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS – As a head coach at both Notre Dame and Delaware, Mike Brey has coached in 27 games against ranked opponents. The Irish were 3-6 and 4-3 during the 2001-02 and 2000-01 campaigns, respectively. This year, Brey is 3-2 versus ranked foes. Overall, in his seven-plus seasons as a head coach, he owns an 10-17 record all-time against ranked opponents.
BREY HAS THE FORMULA FOR BIG EAST SUCCESS AT NOTRE DAME – Since his arrival to Notre Dame, Mike Brey has led Notre Dame to a 26-12 record in BIG EAST regular-season games for a 68.4 winning percentage and 1-2 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 27-14 (.659) against league foes. The Irish won the BIG EAST West Division title in 2001 by fashioning an 11-5 record (the most conference wins in its six-year tenure in the league). Under Brey, Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST school to win 10-plus league games each of the past two seasons and the only school who has earned a first round bye in the BIG EAST tournament. Prior to Brey’s arrival at Notre Dame, Irish teams had a 35-53 (39.8 percent) regular-season record in its conference games since 1995-96.
IRISH IN BIG EAST OPENERS – Notre Dame’s BIG EAST opener on the road at Pittsburgh on January 6 marked the seventh time in eight seasons (since joining the league in 1995-96) that the Irish opened up league play on the road. Notre Dame owns a 3-5 mark in conference openers. The only time an Irish team opened up BIG EAST play at the Joyce Center was last season as they dropped a 74-72 decision to Villanova. Irish teams have posted a 3-4 mark in its seven league openers on the road.
BREY AND THE IRISH IN OVERTIME GAMES – Notre Dame is 2-0 in overtime games (both on the road) under head coach Mike Brey during his tenure. The Irish did not play an overtime game in Brey’s first season. The first overtime game played by Notre Dame under Brey was last season’s four-overtime epic matchup against Georgetown in which the Irish defeated the Hoyas 116-111 at the MCI Center. The Irish’s other extra session win was Saturday’s 101-96 victory at Boston College.
OVER THE CENTURY MARK – Notre Dame’s 101-96 overtime victory against Boston College last Saturday marked the second this season the Irish went over the century mark. The Irish also reached the century mark in their 102-71 victory over DePaul on January 14. Notre Dame has scored 100 points or more points five times during Mike Brey’s tenure with the Irish.
THOMAS TABBED AS BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Chris Thomas was named the BIG EAST Co-Player of the Week along with Darius Rice of Miami this past week. The sophomore point guard earns the honor for the first time in his career after being named the league’s rookie-of-the week six times during the 2001-02 campaign. Thomas averaged 25.5 points, 6.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds in Notre Dame’s two wins last week over Providence and Boston College. He is the fourth Irish player to earn one of the league’s two top weekly honors this season; the other honorees have been Matt Carroll, Torin Francis and Dan Miller.
SERIES RECORD VS. GEORGETOWN – Georgetown holds an 8-6 advantage in the series and is 4-2 against the Irish at the Joyce Center. There has been no home court advantage in this series of late as each team has been victorious on the others home floor each of the last six games. The teams have split the regular-season series matchups in each of the last two seasons – Georgetown won the first meeting last year at the Joyce Center (83-73), while Notre Dame returned the favor with its 116-111 four-overtime victory in the longest game in BIG EAST Conference history.
REMEMBER NOVEMBER – For the second straight year, Notre Dame played six games during the month of November and finished up the first month of the season with a 5-1 record. Last year, the Irish completed the first month of the season with a perfect 6-0 slate. It marked the most wins ever by a Notre Dame team in the month of November and the third time in the program’s history that the Irish played six games during that month. Notre Dame also 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. Under Irish head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame owns a 14-1 mark in November.
A PERFECT DECEMBER – With its win over Vanderbilt on December 30, Notre Dame finished the month of December with an unblemished 6-0 mark. The last time an Irish team went undefeated during December was during the 1980-81 campaign as that Notre Dame squad also posted a perfect 6-0 mark.
A JANUARY JUMP – Notre Dame finished the month of January with a 6-2 record in the eight games it played during the past month. Two years ago, Notre Dame compiled a 5-3 record in eight games during the first month of the New Year. Last season, Notre Dame was 4-4 in its eight January contests. Overall, the Irish are 15-9 (.625) under Brey during the month of January.
ON A ROLL – Notre Dame has won 13 of its last 15 games. The Irish had their eight-game win streak snapped when they lost to Pittsburgh (72-55) on January 6. That marked the longest win streak for a Notre Dame team since 2000-01 campaign (Brey’s first season), when that Irish squad put together eight consecutive victories midway through the season.
HOME SWEET HOME – Since the inaugural season (1968-69) playing in the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 417-122 record all-time for a .774 winning percentage. The Irish are 32-8 (.800) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s two-plus seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own a 82-27 mark for a .752 winning percentage.
THE IRISH ALL-TIME – The 2002-03 campaign marks the 98th season of men’s basketball at Notre Dame. Irish teams have posted 1522-831 record all-time for a .647 winning percentage.
NOTRE DAME ALL-TIME IN THE BIG EAST – In seven-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame owns a 61-65 record all-time in conference regular-season play for a 48.4 winning percentage. In its first five years, Irish teams were 35-53 (.398), but since Mike Brey took over the program, the Irish have compiled a 26-12 (.684) mark in regular-season play.
THE HOME ADVANTAGE – Notre Dame has an unblemished 11-0 record at home this season and has won 132 straight at the Joyce Center dating back to last season when the Irish won the their final two home games of the regular season. The last loss at the Joyce Center for Notre Dame was against Syracuse (68-65) on February 17, 2002. The current 13-game win streak is the longest since 1985-86 season when that Irish squad finished with a perfect 15-0 mark at home.
IRISH FIND SUCCESS AT THE MCI CENTER – Notre Dame is 5-1 all-time in games played at the MCI Center following wins against Maryland and Texas in early December. Since dropping a 76-56 decision the first time a Notre Dame squad took the floor of the MCI Center against Georgetown on February 7, 1998, Irish teams have won five straight with three wins coming against the Hoyas. Certainly one of the most memorable was the epic four-overtime contest as the Irish prevailed 60 minutes later with a 116-111 victory.
HISTORY MADE – Wins over No. 10 Marquette, No. 8 Maryland and No. 2 Texas in consecutive outings proved historic as the 2002-03 Irish squad became the first team in school history to beat three consecutive top 10 foes. The victory against the Longhorns marked just the third time a Notre Dame team has beaten three top 10 teams in the same season. It also marked the fourth time in the history of the program that an Irish team has faced three consecutive top 10 opponents. The most top 10 wins in a single season is four set in 1977-78 when Notre Dame defeated No. 5 UCLA (69-66) on December 10, 1977, No. 3 UCLA (75-73) on January 22, 1978, No. 1 Marquette (65-59) on February 26, 1978 and No. 3 DePaul (84-64) on March 19, 1978.
A HISTORIC LEAP – Notre Dame’s rise from being unranked to No. 10 in the Associated Press Poll on December 9th marked the third highest jump since the ranking began including 25 teams. Kansas went from unranked to 4th on November 27 1989, while Arizona made its debut at No. 8 on November 20, 2001.
HOT SHOTS – Notre Dame connected on a combined 58.2 percent of its shots from the field in back-to-back wins against DePaul and Canisius. The Irish shot 60.0 percent from the field against the Blue Demons as they made 30-50 shots. It marked the best shooting performance by an Irish team since November 22, 2000 when Notre Dame converted 36-56 field goals (64.3 percent) against Loyola (Chicago). It also was the second time a Brey-coached team shot 60 percent or better in a game. The Irish were 34-60 (.567) from the field against Canisius. Overall, Notre Dame is shooting 45.2 percent from the field this season and has shot 50.0 percent or better on five occasions.
‘CARROLL’-ING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS – Senior guard Matt Carroll is within reach of three Irish milestones. He needs just five three-point field goals to become the school’s career leader in that category. Currently, he ranks second on the career list with 255. Carroll is looking to eclipse the mark of 259 established by former teammate David Graves (1998-2002) last season. In 119 career games played, Carroll has averaged 2.18 three-pointers per game. With 111 career starts to his credit, he is six games away from breaking the mark for career games started (116) held by former Irish point guard David Rivers (1984-88). Carroll also is on pact to break Graves’ career mark of 130 games played.
WHERE CHARITY BEGINS – Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 355-215 from the free throw line this season and has attempted 140 more free throws (464-324). The Irish have made 76.5 percent of their free throw attempts, while their opponents are converting on just 66.4 percent. In 17 games, Notre Dame has made more free throws than its opponents and hit on better than 75.0 percent on 13 occasions. In the last six games, the Irish are a combined 143-174 (.822) from the line compared to 71-98 (.724) for their opponents.
HOME STRIPE – Notre Dame has been particularly successful from the charity stripe in home games as the Irish are 203-261 (.778) compared to 109-162 (.673) for their opponents. In the last home games, Notre Dame is 160-190 (.842) from the line as the Irish have made an average of 22.9 free throws on 27.1 attempts and have averaged just 4.3 misses per game. Coach Mike Brey’s squad shot a season best 95.7 percent from the line aganst Rutgers as the Irish were converted 22 of its 23 attempts.
SECOND HALF BLUES – In seven of the last nine games, Notre Dame has somewhat struggled offensively during the second half, averaging 35.9 points and shooting just 34.4 percent (88-259) from the field. Here’s a breakdown of the Irish’s last nine games in both the first and second halves.
1st Half Second Half (including overtime)
Vanderbilt 17-30 (.567) – 45 pts. 8-29 (.276) – 31 pts.
Valparaiso 14-25 (.560) – 36 pts. 6-21 (.286) – 19 pts.
Pittsburgh 13-32 (.406) – 30 pts. 7-31 (.226) – 25 pts.
Seton Hall 14-26 (.538) – 46 pts. 9-29 (.310) – 28 pts.
Rutgers 11-23 (.478) – 35 pts. 8-20 (.400) – 33 pts.
Kentucky 11-33 (.333) – 30 pts. 11-31 (.355) – 43 pts.
Providence 12-31 (.387) – 33 pts. 11-23 (.478) – 38 pts.
Boston College 15-29 (.517) – 47 pts. 15-43 (.349) – 54 pts.
West Virginia 15-40 (.375) – 36 pts. 13-29 (.448) – 52 pts.
Totals 122-269 (.453) – 338 pts. (37.6 pts.) 88-256 (.344) – 323 pts. (35.9 pts.)
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS – Heading into Wednesday night’s game against West Virginia, the Irish had been outrebounded in six straight games, and in 12 games overall. Notre Dame reversed that fortune versus the Mountaineers as the Irish owned a decisive 51-27 advantage on the boards – the most rebounds in a game this season as well as the largest rebounding margin. The 51 rebounds were the most by the Irish since last year’s Georgetown game at the MCI Center when they totalled 64. It also was the largest rebounding margin ever by Notre Dame in Mike Brey’s two-plus seasons.
RECORDS FALL AGAINST BELMONT – Notre Dame’s win over Belmont in the season opener, produced several new Irish records.
* The 19 blocked shots the Irish had as a team set the school and Joyce Center mark, eclipsing the old mark of 12. The team total ties for third all-time on the NCAA blocked shots list with Seton Hall (November of 2000).
* Jordan Cornette’s 11 blocked shots broke the school record of eight set by LaPhonso Ellis in 1992 in an NIT game versus Kansas State. He also established a new Joyce Center record, breaking the record of 10 set by UCLA’s Bill Walton on January 27, 1973.
IRISH SPELL SUCCESS – D-E-F-E-N-S-E – Notre Dame’s strong defensive showing in its 20 games has resulted in 17 wins as the Irish have held opponents to 66.2 points per game and a combined shooting percentage of 38.2. Notre Dame’s defense has held six of its opponents to 55 points and under.
DEFENDING THE SHOT – Irish opponents are shooting 38.7 percent from the field overall and 32.2 percent from three-point range. On 13 occasions this season, Notre Dame has limited teams to 40 percent and under. In seven of the the last 11 games, the Irish have held their opponents to 40 percent and under and limited them to just 41.0 percent shooting from the field (292-713). Only three teams have shot better than 50.0 percent against the Irish this season – Kentucky (52.3), Pittsburgh (52.7) and Creighton (62.0).
KEEPING IT CLOSE – Notre Dame’s 17-point loss (72-55) to Pittsburgh on January 6 marked the worst loss for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey (spanning 83 games total). Prior to the contest, Notre Dame’s worst loss was a 16-point setback to Connecticut during Brey’s first season, the 2000-01 campaign. The Irish’s 11 losses last season were by a combined total of 49 points for an average margin of defeat of 4.45 points. Only one loss (versus Georgetown – 83-73) was by double figures, while eight of those setbacks were by five points or less. In the 24 losses the Irish have suffered under Brey over the course of the last two-plus seasons, only six have been by a double-digit margin. In his first season (2001-01), Brey’s squad lost 10 games by a combined 85 points with its biggest loss coming against Connecticut.
IRISH HAVE FACED DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 31 TIMES – The Irish’s matchup against Maryland on December 7 marked the 31st time an Irish team had played a team that had won the national title the previous year. With its win over the Terrapins, Notre Dame now owns an 8-23 mark, but has been victorious three of the last four times it has gone up against a team which had won the national championship the previous season. Notre Dame’s 1999-00 squad beat Connecticut twice – 75-70 at the Harford Civic Center and 68-66 at the Joyce Center – the season after the Huskies claimed the ’99 NCAA title.
THOMAS NAMED TO WOODEN AND NAISMITH LISTS – Sophomore point guard Chris Thomas is one of 50 preseason candidates for the 2003 John R. Wooden Award, which is annually presented to the nation’s top men’s basketball player. He also was named as a preseason candidate (one of 30) for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award, which is presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Thomas is among five sophomores chosen to the Wooden Award list and is one of five BIG EAST players selected to the Naismith List.
HE’S IRISH NOW – Notre Dame forward Dan Miller played his first three seasons at Maryland before tranferring in June of 2001. He faced his former team in the first round of the BB&T Classic on December 7 and had 17 points and seven rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Prior to that contest, the last time the Irish and Terrapins played each other in the consolation of the Preseason NIT, Miller was wearing a Terrapin uniform. Miller started the game and played 32 minutes, while finishing with 12 points and four rebounds. Current Irish players Matt Carroll and Jere Macura played in the game. Maryland won the game 72-67 to claim third-place in the tournament.
THERE’S NO SLOWING HIM DOWN – Matt Carroll ended the 2001-02 campaign by scoring 20 points in Notre Dame’s two BIG EAST and two NCAA tournament games. Carroll has continued that streak by scoring 20-plus points in nine of the 20 contests of the season. He has netted 20-plus points in four of the last seven games. Carroll had a BIG EAST career best 31-point outing against Pittsburgh, his second 30-point performance of the season and third of his career. Carroll scored a career-high 33 points against DePaul on December 14. His other 20-plus point outings include: IUPUI (26 pts.), Creighton (20 pts.), Texas (20 pts.), Canisius (25 pts.), Rutgers (25 pts.), Kentucky (29 pts.) and Providence (21 pts.). Carroll has recorded 13 20-point efforts in his last 24 games in an Irish uniform and owns 19 20-plus point games during his career. He is the only Notre Dame player who has scored in double figures in all 20 games this season and has netted double figures in 26 straight contests.
MILLER TIME – After sitting out the 2001-02 campaign following his transfer to Notre Dame in the summer of 2001, Dan Miller is averaging 14.2 points (third best scoring total on the team) and 6.0 rebounds. He recorded double doubles in the first two games of the season against Belmont and IUPUI and has scored in double figures in all but five contests (Creighton, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Providence). Miller also has registered 20-point outings in five games – 20 points versus Furman, Marquette and Texas; 22 points versus Albany; and a career-high 23 points in the win over Canisius in which he made a personal best six three-pointers. Against Belmont, he had 19 points and 10 rebounds and came back against IUPUI the following night to score 17 points and grab 11 rebounds. In his three seasons with the Terrapins (104 career games), he did not record a double double and never grabbed more than seven rebounds in a game; he also had scored in double figures just 19 times and had only finished with 20 or more points on one occasion.
REGAINING HIS FORM – After scoring in double figures in eight consecutive games prior to the start the beginning of BIG EAST play, Dan Miller struggled somewhat in his first four league games, scoring just 29 points (7.3) and grabbing 17 rebounds (4.3). He shot a combined 11-33 (.333) from the field and 3-15 (.200) from three-point range. However, against Boston College on last Saturday and in the win versus West Virginia, Miller appears to have regained his early-season form. Against Boston College, he netted 16 points and grabbed five rebounds as he shot 5-10 from the field and 3-3 from the charity stripe. In Wednesday night’s game, he finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. In the last nine games overall, he has shot 34-94 (.362) overall and 8-34 (.235) from three-point range.
FANTASTIC FRANCIS – Rookie Torin Francis is averaging 10.5 points and a team-leading 8.8 rebounds through Notre Dame’s first 20 games, in addition to registering a team-high seven double doubles – versus IUPUI, Bucknell, Albany, Marquette, Texas, Vanderbilt and Valparaiso. He has had two 20-point outings this season which came in back-to-back outings against Maryland (20 points) and Texas (career-high 21 points) at the BB&T Classic. Francis has been in double figures in 12 of 20 games (and in 10 of the last 15 contests) and has posted a double double in five of those games. In addition to his 21 points against the Longhorns, he grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked a career best eight shots. In the win over Maryland, he scored 20 points as he connected on all eight of his shot attempts. Against Marquette, he scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, which was preceeded by a 15-point and 15-rebound outing against Albany. He registered his first career double double against IUPUI and had 11 points and 20 rebounds against the Bison. Francis produced back-to-back double doubles in Notre Dame’s win wins over Vanderbilt (11 points and 11 rebounds) and Valparaiso (12 points and 10 rebounds). The 20 rebounds he had against Bucknell were the most ever by an Irish freshman and the most since former Irish All-American Troy Murphy grabbed 20 rebounds against Seton Hall on January 8, 2001.
BREY SHOWS IRISH THE WAY ON THE ROAD – Notre Dame played just 13 homes games during the 2001-02 campaign, but found life on the road to be rather friendly. The Irish were 8-4 in contests played on the opponent’s home floor and were 5-3 in neutral site contests for an overall record of 13-7 away from the Joyce Center. In Brey’s first year, Notre Dame was 6-4 on the road and 2-2 in neutral site games for an overall record of 8-6. In two-plus seasons under Brey, Notre Dame has a 16-10 (.615) road mark and 11-6 (.647) mark in neutral site contests. Over the past two-plus seasons, Irish teams have compiled a 27-16 (.628) record playing away from home.
IRONMAN – Matt Carroll played in his 100th career game in Notre Dame’s win over Belmont and has seen action in 119 career games in an Irish uniform. He has started all but eight of those games and has missed just one contest throughout his career (Miami-Fla. on the road last season because of an ankle injury) in 120 contests overall.
133 AND COUNTING – Heading into today’s contest against Geogetown, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 133 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 (Jan. 12, 1999) as Notre Dame finished 0-7 in the contest from three-point range. The Pittsburgh game on Jan. 26, 2002, marked the 100th consecutive game in which the Irish hit a three-pointer. Notre Dame has made 10 or more three-pointers in five contests this season, including a season-high 13 in both the Albany and Texas contests.
ONE OF JUST 12 – Getting back into the NCAA tournament last season put Notre Dame in rather elite company as the Irish were one of just 12 schools to win at least one NCAA game in both 2001 and 2002. The list also includes: Arizona, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kent State, Kentucky, Maryand, Missouri, Stanford and UCLA.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION – Head coach Mike Brey and the Irish once again will receive tremendous exposure with 10 nationally-televised games on CBS, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. Notre Dame was featured on national television 16 times in the regular season during the past two seasons.
THE NATIONAL LINEUP
Mon., Dec. 2 vs. Marquette (7:00 p.m.) – ESPN2
Mon., Jan. 6 at Pittsburgh (7:00 p.m.) – ESPN
Sat., Jan. 18 at Kentucky (2:00 p.m.) – CBS
Sat., Jan. 25 at Boston College (2:00 p.m.) – ESPN
Sun., Feb. 9 vs. Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m.) – ABC
Sat., Feb. 15 at Syracuse (1:00 p.m.) – ESPN
Mon., Feb. 24 vs. Connecticut (7:00 p.m.) – ESPN
Sat., Mar. 1 at Rutgers (4:00 p.m.) – ESPN2
Tue., Mar. 4 vs. Syracuse (7:00 p.m.) – ESPN2
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL – During the 2000-01 and 2001-02 campaigns (63 games), Notre Dame averaged 18.3 assists and just 13.7 turnovers for a 1.34 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish ranked third last season with a 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio and ninth in ’01-’02 with a 1.23 ratio. Notre Dame’s 629 assists last season were second-most in school history – the 1999-2000 team had 643 assists in 37 games for a 17.4 assist per game average. Notre Dame has had more turnovers than assists in just five games this season – Bucknell, Furman, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall and Kentucky. During the 2001-02 season, only twice did Notre Dame have more turnovers than assists. The Irish own a 1.31 assist-to-turnover ratio and 0.61 assist-to-basket ratio this season.
JONES PROVIDES THE SPARK – Torrian Jones has been a spark for Notre Dame off the bench this season, and it’s been his play at both the offensive and defensive end of the floor that has ignited the Irish. Jones had one of his best all-around performances in an Irish uniform against Vanderbilt on December 30 as he scored 12 points and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds. In the Bucknell game, it was his offensive play that helped produce the win as he scored 13 points (on 6-8 shooting from the field) while playing a season-high 21 minutes. He had his third double figure outing of the season in the loss at Kentucky as finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Against Furman, he also played 21 minutes and scored nine points, while making a career-high four steals. He averaged 6.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the BB&T Classic as he finished with four points and a season-high six rebounds versus Maryland and eight points and two boards against Texas. Jones is averaging 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds.
IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING – Chris Thomas’ unselfish play continues to be one of the reasons why the Irish have been so successful the past two seasons in compiling a 39-14 (.736) mark over the last 53 games. As a freshman, he ranked fifth nationally with a 7.64 assist average. This season, Thomas is averaging 7.1 assists, good for seventh nationally. He has dished off 10-plus assists in four games – IUPUI (11), Marquette (10), DePaul (10) and Canisius (13). His 13 assists in the Canisius game matched his career best. Thomas has dished off 10 or more assists 14 times during his career.
TWENTY SOMETHING – Chris Thomas has scored 20-plus points in eight of Notre Dame’s games this season. His most recent 20-point outing was against Boston College last Saturday as he finished with a team-high 28 points. That performance followed his game-high 23 points at Providence four days earlier. Thomas has scored 20-plus points in three of the last six games and in eight games overall this season. Against Seton Hall, he scored 22 points in Notre Dame’s win over the Pirates, which was the start of his current success over the past six contests. He matched his personal best with 32 points against Marquette on December 2 and recorded his third double double, and 10th of his career, against Canisius as he finished with 17 points and 13 assists in just 23 minutes. Thomas had three straight 20-point outings for the first time in his career against Bucknell, Furman and Creighton, scoring 20 points against the Bison and Paladins and then tossing in 22 in the loss to the Blue Jays in the championship game of the Guardians Classic. Last season, he began his career by registering 24 and 22 points in the first two games of the season versus New Hampshire and Cornell. He also had back-to-back 20-plus point outings against Rutgers (32) and Georgetown (22) and then against West Virginia (26) and Miami (32). Thomas has scored 20-plus points 17 times during his career (53 games). His 32 points against the Golden Eagles this season marked the third time in his career career that he has scored 30-plus points. He has failed to score in double figures just 12 times during his career.
FORTY-MINUTE MAN – For the first time this season in the win over Rutgers on January 14, Chris Thomas played all 40 minutes of the contest. He played 42 minutes in Saturday’s overtime win at Boston College. As a freshman last season, he played the entire game in 11 of 18 BIG EAST games (regular season and two tournament contests) and averaged 40.2 minutes in league contests and 38.0 minutes overall. Thomas also played all 60 minutes in Notre Dame’s epic four-overtime win (116-111) at Georgetown last February. In addition, he played the entire game on 14 occasions.
MAKING THE “QUINN”-ESSENTIAL POINT – Freshman Chris Quinn has played in all 20 games for the Irish and is averaging 16.4 minutes per game and 4.5 points per game. Quinn had his best outing of the season against Marquette, scoring a personal best 12 points (hit 5-8 shots from the field) while playing 26 minutes. He played a career-best 28 minutes in Notre Dame’s win over Maryland and had a career-high six rebounds versus Valparaiso. In the Boston College game, he scored 10 points in the first half in 12 minutes off the bench. Quinn has played 20-plus minutes in eight games.
TOM TERRIFIC – A lower back problem forced Tom Timmermans to miss three games, but the Irish center started eight straight games prior to Notre Dame’s last five outings. Timmermans tied a personal best with nine points in 14 minutes off the bench against West Virginia and also finished with a career-high eight reboudns. He played a career best 25 minutes against Vanderbilt and finished with four points, three rebounds and a career-high three assists. Timmermans had a career-high nine points against DePaul as he connected on all three of his field goals and free throw attempts and grabbed a personal best seven rebounds versus Canisius. He earned his first career start in the win over Marquette on Dec. 2. After missing the first two contests against Belmont and IUPUI, Timmermans played nine minutes against Bucknell and finished with two rebounds. He did not see action against Furman, but played 21 minutes in the loss to Creighton and had six points and six rebounds.
BLOCK PARTY – Notre Dame set the single-season team record for blocked shots in 2000-01 campaign with 178 in 30 games for an average of 5.93 blocks per game. Last season, the Irish finished with 163 blocks for an average of 4.94 per game. Notre Dame is on pace to break that single-season mark as the Irish are averaging 6.35 per game this season (127 blocks). Jordan Cornette and Torin Francis lead the way with 52 and 38, respectively.
DECISIVE FIRST-HALF RUNS – In eight of Notre Dame’s 20 games this season, it’s been runs in the final eight minutes of the first half that have been decisive for the rest of the game in leading the Irish to victory.
* Against Belmont, Notre Dame led 26-21 with 2:57 remaining and closed out the half with a 14-5 run for a 40-21 halftime advantage.
* In the IUPUI game, Notre Dame trailed 23-22 with 6:34 left before the game, but used a 18-5 run to gain a 40-28 halftime lead.
* Leading by seven (23-16) with 4:41 remaining in the first half, Notre Dame outscored Bucknell 17-5 for a 40-21 halftime lead.
* Notre Dame leads Furman 23-17 with 7:49 remaining in the half before a 16-6 run breaks it open as the Irish grab a 16-point (39-23) halftime advantage.
* Leading by five (24-19) with 5:54 to play, Notre Dame finished the half by outscoring Marquette 18-11 for a 42-30 halftime lead.
* Trailing 20-19 with 7:18 remaining in the first half of the Maryland game, Notre Dame ended the half with a 16-5 run to take a 35-25 lead into the locker room.
* Led 35-34 with 3:20 left to play in the first half and outscored DePaul 13-2 to take a 12-point lead (48-36) into the locker room.
* Trailed 29-28 with 7:25 remaining in the first half against Seton Hall before using an 18-7 run to take a 46-36 lead at the intermission.
BROTHERLY LOVE – Three members of the Notre Dame squad have brothers playing at other Division I schools. Matt Carroll’s brother Pat is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s (Pa.); Jordan Cornette’s brother Joel is a senior at Butler; and Jere Macura has a brother Petar who is a freshman at IUPUI. Jere and Petar both saw action on the floor at the same time in Monday night’s matchup.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS – By beating Maryland and Texas to win the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., Notre Dame won a regular-season tournament title for the second straight year. The Irish advanced to the championship game of the Guardians Classic earlier this season, but fell to Creighton in the championship game. Last season, Notre Dame won the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic in November which marked the first regular-season tournament championship for an Irish team since the 1992-93 season when that squad claimed the title at the Sugar Bowl Tournament.
vs. Maryland (first round): Notre Dame beat the defending national champion Terrapins 79-67as four of the five starters netted double figures. Notre Dame closed the first half with a 16-5 run as the Irish grabbed a 35-25 halftime advantage.
Maryland scored the first five points of the second half to close the lead to 35-30, but the Irish then outscored the Terrapins 18-7 over a seven-minute stretch as they built a 16-point lead (53-37). Maryland was never able to get closer than eight points as the Irish maintained a double-digit lead for the final 8:13 of the contest. Notre Dame led by as many 18 points in the second half.
Torin Francis led the Irish with 20 points and eight rebounds as he made all eight of his shots from the field, while Matt Carroll finished with 19 points. Dan Miller had 17 points and seven rebounds against his former teammates. Chris Thomas chipped in 10 points and dished off a game-high nine assists, just one fewer than the whole Maryland team.
Notre Dame held Maryland to 37.1 percent shooting in the game, but was outrebounded 47-37. The Irish turned the ball over just 10 times in the contest and had 20 assists on the 28 baskets they made.
With the win over the Terrapins, Notre Dame snapped an 11-game losing streak to the ACC and it was head coach Mike Brey’s first win in seven tries against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Before that win, the last time an Irish team defeated an ACC foe was on January 11, 1992 at Madison Square Garden as Notre Dame upended North Carolina 88-76.
vs. Texas (championship game): Torin Francis scored a career-high 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked eight shots in helping Notre Dame to the 98-92 victory over the second-ranked Longhorns. Dan Miller finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, while counterpart Matt Carroll also scored 20 points and grabbed six boards. Chris Thomas chipped in 19 points and dished off eight assists.
The Irish scored a season-high 51 points in the first half in grabbing a second-point (51-44) halftime advantage. Notre Dame led by as many as nine in the first half on several occasions.
Following the intermission, the Irish built a 13-point lead (59-46) with 17:40 left in the game, but the Longhorns used a 30-11 run over an 11-minute stretch to go up by six (76-70) with 8:47 to play. Jordan Cornette cut the lead to one (77-76) with a layup with 6:37 remaining, but the Longhorns extended the lead to five with 4:02 to play.
Torrian Jones’ layup with 2:11 to play cut the deficit to 83-82 before a three-pointer by Thomas gave the Irish the lead for good with 2:06 remaining. Francis hit five of six foul shots in the final 1:44 of the game.
Notre Dame shot 45.8 percent from the field (33-72) and turned the ball over just nine times in the game, while Irish players combined for 19 assists.
BB&T CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS – Dan Miller and Torin Francis were named to the BB&T Classic All-Tournament Team after leading the Irish to the tournament title. Miller averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two games in the 38.5 minutes he played. Francis averaging 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots in 32.0 minutes per game. He shot 75.5 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the free throw line.
GUARDIANS CLASSIC RECAP (Kansas City, Mo.) – vs. Furman (semifinal): Chris Thomas and Dan Miller scored 20 points each to lead the Irish into the championship game with a 75-50 victory over Furman in the semifinals. Notre Dame held its fourth straight opponent to 50 points and under as the Paladins shot 40.0 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from three-point range.
The Irish connected on 26-60 from the field (43.3 percent) and shot 66.7 percent (8-12) from three-point range. Matt Carroll, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds, was three-of-six from beyond the arc. Torin Francis grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Notre Dame held an 18-14 advantage with 9:44 remaining in the first half, but used a 21-9 run to close out the half for a 39-23 halftime advantage.
Furman outscored the Irish 8-0 to begin the second half to close the lead to eight (39-31) with 17:20 remaining, but Notre Dame countered with a 12-2 run of its own to break open the game. The final 25-point outcome was the largest point differential of the contest.
vs. Creighton (championship): The Irish fell to the Blue Jays 80-75 in the championship game. Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll, both named to the Guardians Classic All-Tournament Team, scored 22 points and 20 points, respectively, as the only two Irish players in double figures.
Creighton shot a blistering 62.0 percent from the field (31-50) and 58.8 percent (10-17) from three-point range. Its the best that any team has ever shot against a Mike Brey-coached Irish team. In addition, the Blue Jays owned a 36-29 advantage on the boards.
Creighton led for most of the first half before the Irish used a 21-10 run to grab a seven-point lead (35-28) with 3:02 remaining before halftime. The Blue Jays, however, outscored the Irish 10-0 to close out the first half and grab a three-point halftime advantage (38-35).
The Blue Jays led by as many as 10 in the second half (54-44) with 14:01 remaining. Notre Dame grabbed its first lead of the second half (75-74) with 1:35 remaining on Thomas’ three-pointer, but the Irish were held scoreless in the final minute of the game. Creighton tied the game at 75-75 with 24 seconds remaining and then nailed a three-pointer and a free throw which sealed the victory.
GUARDIANS CLASSIC RECAP (NOTRE DAME REGIONAL) – vs. Belmont: Dan Miller recorded the first double double of his career in his debut in an Irish uniform as he scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Jordan Cornette blocked a school and Joyce Center record 11 blocked shots. In addition, he grabbed a career-best 13 rebounds.
Cornette broke the school record of eight blocked (set by LaPhonso Ellis in 1992) and Joyce Center mark of 10 (set by Bill Walton of UCLA in 1973). Several of his blocked shots came in a decisive 30-5 run. Notre Dame was leading 26-21 with 2:57 remaining before halftime and closed out the first half with a 14-0 run that gave the Irish a 40-21 halftime lead.
Notre Dame held Belmont to just eight points in the first 12:30 of the contest in building a 37-point advantage (66-29). The Irish held the Bruins to just 28.1 shooting accuracy from the field and forced 17 turnovers.
Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas each finished with 15 points each. Thomas also had eight assists in the game.
Notre Dame’s 19 blocked shots also established new school and Joyce Center records.
vs. IUPUI: Matt Carroll scored 26 points as he hit four-of-eight three-point attempts, while Dan Miller registered his second straight double double as he netted 17- points and grabbed 11 rebounds in leading the Irish to an 89-45 victory over IUPUI. Torin Francis registered his first career double double as he tossed in 16 points and grabbed 10 boards. Chris Thomas finished with 11 assists and eight points.
Notre Dame used a late first-half run to finish off the Jaguars. The Irish ended the first half with an 18-5 run and then opened the second half with a 20-6 run to the put the game out of reach.
The Jaguars shot 24.3 percent for the game and made just seven baskets (on 36 attempts), while shooting 19.4 percent in the second half. Notre Dame forced 17 turnovers and blocked 13 shots in the game.
Notre Dame finished the game by shooting 54.6 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three-point range.
LUSTIG ADDED TO IRISH ROSTER – Senior Dan Lustig has joined the Irish as a walk-on for the 2002-03 campaign. The 6-5, 195-pound guard hails from Alexandria, Ind., and attended Alexandria Monroe High School. He led his high school prep team to the 1998 Indiana Class II-A state championship and an appearance in the semifinals in 1999. A member of the Irish Guard, he is the sixth family member of nine children to attend Notre Dame. He will wear No. 24 this season.
MARKWOOD TRANSFERS TO MAINE – Junior guard Chris Markwood has left the team and will transfer to the University of Maine. The 6-4, 202-pound guard played in 24 games for the Irish during his career. He missed the entire 2000-01 campaign after undergoing arthrscopic knee surgery in September of 2000.
KEVIN WHITE RADIO SHOW – A weekly half-hour talk show featuring Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White airs on Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000 (1000 AM in Chicago, www.espnradio1000.com). In its third season, “The Kevin White Show” can be heard in 35 states Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. Central time. White welcomes to the show a series of guests and prominent figures associated with college athletics, including administrators, coaches and media members.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED RANKS NOTRE DAME 15TH – In the October 7, 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated, Notre Dame was ranked the 15th best Sports College among Division I schools for the 2001-02 school year. Texas and Stanford finished first and second, respectively. SI combined a variety of factors in arriving at its 2002 rankings, which included performance during the school year in five sports (baseball, football, hockey and men’s and women’s basketball); position in the ’01-’02 Sears Cup NCAA all-sports standings; number of varsity, club and intramural sports; range of recreational facilities; and whether or not spirit-boosting events like Midnight Madness were held.
USA TODAY/NCAA ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Notre Dame received a 2002 USA Today/NCAA Academic Achievement Award for graduating 90 percent of its freshmen student-athletes who enrolled in 1995. Now in its second year, the awards were presented in late September of 2002 to 10 institutions with the highest overall graduation rates for scholarship student-athletes who began college in the 1995-96 academic year. Rice University finished with a rate of 91 percent, one percentage point higher than Notre Dame, Stanford and Duke.
IRISH INK TWO IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD – Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey signed two players to national letters of intent during the early signing period – Colin Falls, a 6-4, 200-pound shooting guard out of Park Ridge, Ill., and Omari Isreal, a 6-8, 210-pound forward from Rockville, Md. Falls averaged 24.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists during his junior season at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. In addition, he captured first-team all-Chicago Catholic League honors for the second consecutive year, while also earning second-team all-state accolades. Isreal averaged 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots in his junior season at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Wheaton, Md. An all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) second-team selection each of the last two years, he earned first team all-county honors from both the Montgomery County Journal and Montgomery County Gazette.
TOUGH TICKET AT THE JOYCE CENTER – Five of Notre Dame’s 11 games at the Joyce Center this season have been sell outs – Bucknell, Marquette, DePaul, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. The remaining five games on the Irish home slate are already sold out to date. Before the start of the season, six games were sell outs, which equalled the total number at the Joyce Center during the entire 2001-02 campaign. All 3,160 student ticket packages available this year sold out in 36 hours. With the five sell outs already and the expected five left for the remainder of the home season, that would give the Irish a total of 10 – the most since the 1985-86 season when 14 of the team’s 17 games drew a capacity crowd at the Joyce Center.
DRAFT ANALYSIS – Former Irish standout Ryan Humphrey was chosen as the 19th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, marking the second straight year Notre Dame has had a player chosen in the first round. In 2001, former two-time consensus All-American Troy Murphy was tabbed as the 14th pick overall. Humphrey became the 12th Irish player in the program’s history to be chosen in the first round. Notre Dame is one of just four schools (the others include Duke, Indiana and Stanford) to have had at least one player chosen in the first round of each of the last two NBA drafts.