SCOUTING THE IRISH – The No. 6 Notre Dame men’s basketball team (12-1), winners of eight straight, opens BIG EAST play Monday night against No. 2 Pittsburgh (10-1). The Irish are off to their best start since the 1978-79 squad started the season with a 12-1 mark.
Notre Dame is coming off a two-point win, 55-53, on Saturday afternoon against Valparaiso at the United Center. The Irish’s eight straight wins are the most by a Notre Dame team since the 2000-01 campaign (Brey’s first season) when that squad registered an eight-game win streak midway through the campaign.
Notre Dame was ranked sixth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today rankings last week. The Irish have spent four consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the AP poll and two weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today ranking. No Notre Dame basketball team has been ranked this high since the 1980-81 campaign when that Irish team spent a majority of the season ranked in the top 10 and climbed to as high as fourth in the country. It’s Notre Dame’s highest ranking since March 3, 1981.
Notre Dame was the first Division I men’s basketball team to reach 10 wins this season when the Irish defeated Canisius 93-75 on December 22.
Tonight’s contest is the first for the Irish on an opponent’s home floor. Notre Dame has played eight games at home and is 4-1 in neutral site contests.
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are meeting for the 45th time with the Irish holding a 24-20 edge in the series. Notre Dame has swept the Panthers during the regular-season each of the last two seasons and has won four of the five meetings between the two schools. Pittsburgh’s last win in the series was a 66-54 victory in the quarterfinals of the 2001 BIG EAST Championship. Irish teams have posted a 10-12 record against the Panthers in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is coming off of an 85-49 victory at home against Robert Morris on Saturday as the Panthers bounced back from its first loss of the season (79-67) to Georgia on December 31.
Notre Dame owns three victories over top 10 opponents this season – 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.
Despite its lowest season output of the season against Valparaiso (55 points), Notre Dame’s offense has been in high gear as the Irish are averaging 82.5 points and have scored 90-plus points in five of its last eight games. Prior to its 76-63 victory over Vanderbilt on December 30, Notre Dame had scored 90-plus points in three straight outings for the second time during Brey’s tenure with the Irish. Notre Dame has scored 90 points or more on five occasions this season.
The Irish topped the 100-point plateau for the first time in 2002-03 when they defeated DePaul (102-71) on December 14 and for the fourth time during Brey’s tenure.
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’s margin of victory this season has been 20.0 points per game. Since losing to Creighton, the average margin of victory in the last seven contests has been 17.3 points.
Three of Notre Dame’s five starters are averaging better than 16 points per game. Matt Carroll (Horsham, Pa) leads the team with a 18.9 average. He has been the only Irish player to score in double figures in all 13 games and has topped the 20-point mark in three of the last five contests and in five games overall. His 20-plus point performances have come against IUPUI (26 points), Creighton (20 points), Texas (20 points), DePaul (33 points) and Canisius (25 points).
Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) is the team’s second-leading scorer at 17.4 points per game and has posted a double double in two of the last four games. He scored just eight points against Valparaiso on Saturday, marking just the second time this season he failed to score in double figures. His most recent double double was against Canisius as he scored 17 points and tied his career best with 13 assists. Thomas leads the team with 7.7 assists per game and 1.8 steals.
Dan Miller (Mt. Holly, N.J.) is third on the Irish scoring list with a 16.4 average and is the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.6 rebounds per game. He has topped the 20-point mark in four of the last eight games.
Torin Francis (Roslindale, Mass.) is averaging 11.2 points and a team-leading 9.7 rebounds, in addition to leading the team with seven double doubles. He posted his most recent double double of the season Saturday afternoon versus the Crusaders as he finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Francis has registered a double double in five of the last eight games.
Chris Quinn (Dublin, Ohio) has gotten significant playing minutes in Notre Dame’s last nine contests as he has averaged 20.7 minutes. He scored a career-high 23 points in the win over Marquette. Quinn has made 23 field goals this season with 15 coming from three-point range. He is averaging 5.2 points and 2.0 assists.
Tom Timmermans (Driehuis, Netherlands) made his first career start in the victory over Marquette and has started the last seven games, averaging 16.2 minutes in the last five outings. He played a career-high 25 minutes against Vanderbilt, had a personal best nine points in the DePaul game and a career-best seven rebounds versus Canisius. Timmermans is averaging 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds.
Jordan Cornette (Cincinnati, Ohio) started the first six games of the season. He has had a real impact for the Irish on the defensive end of the floor. Cornette is averaging 2.5 points and 3.6 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. Against IUPUI the following night, he continued his blocked-shot assault with eight. His 34 blocked shots this season already surpasses the 17 he had all of last year.
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 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. Jones is coming off one of the best all-around efforts in an Irish uniform against Vanderbilt one week ago 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. He netted eight points against Texas and grabbed a season-high six rebounds in the Maryland game.
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 54-22 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 21-11 mark in BIG EAST play during the regular season for a .656 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 only two seasons rank 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 22-13 record (including regular season and championship contests) for a .629 winning percentage ranks him fourth behind Jarvis, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun and sixth all-time. Brey has an overall record of 153-74 (.674) 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 25 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 3-0 versus ranked foes. Overall, in his seven-plus seasons as a head coach, he owns an 10-15 record all-time against ranked opponents.
IRISH IN BIG EAST OPENERS – Tonight’s BIG EAST opener marks the seventh time in eight seasons (since joining the league in 1995-96) that the Irish have opened up league play on the road. Notre Dame owns 3-4 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 3-3 mark in its six league openers on the road.
SERIES RECORD VS. PITTSBURGH – Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh will be the 45th meeting between the two schools. Notre Dame has won each of the last four regular-season matchups and four of the last five games (the only loss was a 66-54 setback in the quarterfinals of the 2001 BIG EAST championship). Irish teams have posted an overall 8-5 record against the Panthers in BIG EAST play (8-4 in regular-season matchups). Brey is 4-1 against Pittsburgh.
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 Monday night, 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.
ON A ROLL – Notre Dame’s eight-game win streak is its longest since the 20001-01 campaign (Brey’s first season), when that Irish team put together eight consecutive victories midway through the season. The last time a Notre Dame team won nine straight games was during the 1986-87 campaign.
HOME SWEET HOME – Since the inaugural season (1968-69) playing in the Joyce Center, Notre Dame owns a 414-122 record all-time for a .772 winning percentage. The Irish are 29-8 (.784) at the Joyce Center during Mike Brey’s two-plus seasons, and since the 1996-97 campaign, they own a 79-27 mark for a 75.4 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 1517-829 record all-time for a .647 winning percentage.
THE HOME ADVANTAGE – Notre Dame has an unblemished 8-0 record at home this season and has won 10 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 10-game win streak is the longest since an 11-game win streak dating back to the last game of the 1993-94 season and the first 10 games of the 1994-95 campaign.
IRISH FIND SUCCESS AT THE MCI CENTER – Notre Dame is 5-1 all-time in games played at the MCI Center following last weekend’s wins against Maryland and Texas. 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 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 from the field. 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 48.3 percent from the field this season and has shot 50.0 percent or better on five occasions. Against Vanderbilt, the Irish shot a season-low 42.4 percent from the field and connected on just 43.5 percent in the win over Valparaiso.
GETTING POINTS FROM THE LINE – As a team, Notre Dame is shooting 74.2 percent from the free throw line. The Irish have shot better than 78 percent from the line on six occasions this season. Notre Dame has made 81.7 percent of its free throws in the last six games as the Irish have connected on 116 of their 142 attempts. Against DePaul, the Irish were 39-43 from the charity stripe for a season-high 90.7 percent. Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents 204-133 from the line this season.
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 first 13 games has resulted in 12 wins as the Irish have held opponents to just 62.5 points per game. In the first four games of the season, the Irish held Belmont, IUPUI, Bucknell and Furman to 50 points and under, while Albany scored just 55. Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 35.6 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range. Notre Dame held its first three opponents – Belmont, IUPUI and Bucknell – to just 45.0 points per game and a 24.6 field goal percentage accuracy after they connected on a combined 48 of 195 field goal attempts. The Irish also held those three opponents to a three-game point total of 135 – that’s the fewest points allowed by an Irish team to start the season since the 1946-47 campaign when Notre Dame’s first three opponents (Franklin, Ball State and Indiana) were held to a combined 129 points. The last time an Irish team held three opponents in consecutive outings to under 50 points was during the 1983-84 season when Notre Dame lost to Northwestern (40-36) and then defeated Lehigh (68-46) and Cornell (55-48). Also, the last time a Notre Dame team began the season by holding three straight opponents to under 50 points was the the 1944-45 campaign. The Irish have held six of their opponents to under 55 points this season.
KEEPING IT CLOSE – Under Irish head coach Mike Brey (spanning 76 games), Notre Dame teams have never suffered a loss greater than 16 points. 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 22 losses the Irish have suffered under Brey over the course of the last two-plus seasons, only four 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 (16 points) in a 75-59 setback. Notre Dame’s only loss this season was a five-point (80-75) setback to Creighton.
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 five of the first 13 contests of the season. He had a 26-point outing against IUPUI, scored 20 points in the Irish’s loss to Creighton and victory over Texas in the championship game of the BB&T Classic, and tallied a career-high 33-point performance in the win over DePaul. In the team’s won over Canisius on December 22, he finished with 25 points. Carroll has recorded nine 20-point efforts in his last 17 games in an Irish uniform and owns 15 20-plus point games during his career. He is the only Notre Dame player who has scored in double figures in all 13 games this season and has netted double figures in 19 straight contests.
MILLER TIME – After sitting out the 2001-02 campaign following his transfer to Notre Dame in the summer of 2001, Dan Miller has made the most of first 13 games in an Irish uniform. He has recorded double doubles in the Belmont and IUPUI contests and has scored in double figures in all but one contest (Creighton). Miller also has registered 20-point outings in five of the last nine 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 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.
CARROLL CLOSING IN ON IRISH THREE-POINT RECORD – Former Notre Dame standout David Graves (1998-2002) set the Irish three-point mark last season with 259, but it is likely that Matt Carroll will break that record at some point during the 2002-03 campaign. Carroll is third on the all-time list with 233, needing just 27 to break the record. Ryan Hoover (1992-96) currently is second with 248. In 112 career games played, Carroll has averaged 2.08 three-pointers per game.
FANTASTIC FRANCIS – Rookie Torin Francis is averaging 11.2 points and a team-leading 9.7 rebounds through Notre Dame’s first 13 games and has registered a team-high seven doubles – versus IUPUI, Bucknell, Albany, Marquette, Texas, Vanderbilt and Valparaiso. His two 20-point outings of the season came in back-to-back outings against Maryland (20 points) Texas (career-high 21 points) at the BB&T Classic. Francis has scored has been in double figures in nine of 13 games (and in seven of the last eight 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 has produced back-to-back double doubles in Notre Dame’s last two games (11 points and 11 rebounds versus Vanderbilt and 12 points and 10 rebounds against Valparaiso). 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 14-8 (.636) road mark and 11-6 (.647) mark in neutral site contests. Over the past two-plus seasons, Irish teams have compiled a 25-14 (.641) 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 112 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 113 contests overall. It is likely that he will break David Graves’ (1998-02) games played career mark of 130.
126 AND COUNTING – Heading into tonight’s game against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame has hit at least one three-pointer in 126 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 the last two seasons has 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 two games this season – Bucknell and Furman. During the 2001-02 season, only twice did Notre Dame have more turnovers than assists. The Irish own a 1.60 assist-to-turnover ratio and 0.63 assist-to-basket ratio. In the DePaul game, Notre Dame players dished off 22 assists on 30 field goals and committed just eight turnovers (just one in the second half). Against Valparaiso, the Irish had 16 assists on the 20 field goals made.
JONES PROVIDES THE SPARK – Torrian Jones has been a spark for Notre Dame off the bench this season, and its been his play at both the offensive and defensive end of the floor that has ignited the Irish. Jones is coming off one of his best all-around performances in an Irish uniform against Vanderbilt 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. 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 5.5 points and 2.8 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 34-12 (.739) mark over the last 46 games. As a freshman, he ranked fifth nationally with a 7.64 assist average. Already this season, Thomas is averaging 7.7 assists in the first 13 Irish games, good for fourth 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 13 times during his career.
TWENTY SOMETHING – Chris Thomas has scored 20-plus points in five of Notre Dame’s last 11 games. 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 West Virginia (26) and Miami (32). Thomas has scored 20-plus points in 14 of his 46 career 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 in just 11 games.
MAKING THE “QUINN”-ESSENTIAL POINT – Freshman Chris Quinn has played in all 13 games for the Irish. In the last nine games, he has averaged 20.7 minutes off the bench and has averaged 5.9 points and 2.3 assists. 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. He is averaging 5.2 points and 1.8 assists and has played 20-plus minutes in seven games.
TOM TERRIFIC – A lower back problem forced Tom Timmermans to miss three games, but the Irish center has started seven games. 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 goal 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.
DECISIVE FIRST-HALF RUNS – In seven of Notre Dame’s 13 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.
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 Saturday’s 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 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.
BASKETBALL LUNCHEON SET FOR JANUARY 28, 2003 – The second of two Notre Dame basketball luncheons will be held on Tues., January 28 at noon. Mike Brey and several Irish players will be featured at the event. Tickets are $16.00 each and can be ordered by writing to the Notre Dame Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Ind., 46556. Checks may be made payable to the University of Notre Dame. Reservation forms are also available at the Joyce Center ticket windows. Telephone reservations are not accepted. For information call 574-631-5031.
TOUGH TICKET AT THE JOYCE CENTER – Notre Dame’s first official sellout of the season was against Bucknell. Before the start of the 2002-03 campaign, it was announced that six of Irish’s 16 home games had already sold out. The Marquette, DePaul and Vanderbilt contests also have been sell outs. The six sellouts announced before the start of the season had already equalled the total number at the Joyce Center during the entire 2001-02 campaign. All 3,160 student ticket packages available were sold in 36 hours. The last time Notre Dame has seven or more sellouts in a season was during the 1994-95 season when nine games drew a capacity crowd of 11,418 at the Joyce Center. The remaining games which are already already sold out are: Georgetown (Feb. 1), Pittsburgh (Feb. 9), Virginia Tech (Feb. 22) and Connecticut (Feb. 24). There are a limited number of bleacher seats remaining for the Syracuse contest on March 4.
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.