Her Loyal Sons http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog A Notre Dame Football Blog Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:00:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Morning Roundup: March 31, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/31/morning-roundup-march-31-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/31/morning-roundup-march-31-2015/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28753 Good morning! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s transpired regarding Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines, for this final day of March: FROM OUR SITE Wedding and wake: A tale of Notre Dame vs. Kentucky PODCAST Irish Sports Daily (F): 3-30-2015 Power Hour (1:07:07) RECRUITING – […]

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Good morning! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s transpired regarding Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines, for this final day of March:

FROM OUR SITE

PODCAST

RECRUITING – COMMITTED

RECRUITING – OFFERED

RECRUITING – ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

IRISH IN THE NFL

SCHEDULE

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Wedding and Wake: A Tale of Notre Dame vs. Kentucky http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/31/wedding-and-wake-a-tale-of-notre-dame-vs-kentucky/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/31/wedding-and-wake-a-tale-of-notre-dame-vs-kentucky/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28732 The bride and groom had long since finished their first dance, toasts delivered, and the cake cut. The DJ did his level-best to fire up the dance floor, but the only dance at Table 11 was the setup of iPads and a WiFi hotspot. Such is life at a Domer wedding when one of the major […]

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Half of the setup at Table 11. The other iPad is hidden and propped behind the centerpiece.

Half of the setup at Table 11. The other iPad is hidden and propped behind the centerpiece.

The bride and groom had long since finished their first dance, toasts delivered, and the cake cut. The DJ did his level-best to fire up the dance floor, but the only dance at Table 11 was the setup of iPads and a WiFi hotspot.

Such is life at a Domer wedding when one of the major sports just happens to take center stage on your big day. But honestly, who could have seen this interruption coming, especially if you make the conscious decision to avoid scheduling the dreaded fall wedding?

Plus, if you want to plan a Texas wedding, as a native Texan (which the bride was), you certainly know that the summer is borderline crazy and the late spring is seriously pushing your luck with the Texas sun. March and April are the ideal months and late March should be a time of no conflicts with sporting events.

St. Patrick’s Day is well in the rear view and Notre Dame hasn’t been to the Sweet Sixteen since 2003 and the Elite Eight since 1979. Neither of those years are even in your mind when looking at potential March wedding dates, especially after last season.

But now, just off to the side of the dance floor Table 11 continues their dance. Chairs slide into position. Bodies in the front row hunch over to gain optimal viewing angles while additional interested alumni and parents find themselves slowly drawn to the glowing screens.

We are so sorry. We all love you, but we also know you understand.

2-0 Kentucky, 1st Half, 19:51 Remaining

As Trey Lyles throws down a dunk for the opening points of the game, my mind immediately begins to think of two things going on right now:

1) How excited and terrified that everyone is for this game and how cool it is that we get to experience this ride together and not through text, Twitter, or Facebook.

2) Thank God there is an open bar because we’re gonna need it.

Speaking of said open bar, we made the conscious decision to ban all Kentucky spirits for the evening. There was Maker’s Mark available. This was no small sacrifice.

4-3 Notre Dame, 1st Half, 15:53 Remaining

ND has managed to score on two layups and my mind is just not sure how to accept a world in which the Irish have scored all their points in the paint against Kentucky. At first glance, the size difference in the two teams makes it seem like a NBA team decided to pick on a college team for shits and giggles. Hilariously/sadly enough, this isn’t too far from the truth.

Still the Irish ball movement allowed for two easy layups and a lead by the first media timeout. My brain starts to go to places of joy that I do not want it to go for fear of the ultimate disappointment later.

But still, if the Irish can keep this up…just maybe…

11-10 Notre Dame, 1st Half, 12:54 Remaining

Pat Connaughton drills the first three of the game and creates the first huge cheer from Table 11 and Friends.

It is at this point that we realize the joy of on-demand streaming technology: the delay. My side of the table is now spoiling the game for the other side of the table.

Through various freezes and buffering oddities, this switches throughout the night, but never stops being hilarious.

19-19 Notre Dame, 1st Half, 6:33 Remaining

Zach Auguste picks up his second foul after just having gone full #DunksDulac at the other end. The entire table is loudly cursing the level of officiating by this point.

Sure, the game is still tied, but everyone in attendance knows that Kentucky living at the free throw line will kill any upset hopes. And those hopes are still certainly there at this point. The conversation around the table buzzes during the commercial break of just how well the Irish are playing right now.

No one has really moved from the table either, but the wedding reception is still living on without us. And really so, is the rest of life.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at breakfast the next day, I had a rather hilarious story relayed to me. At some point during the gamewatch, one of my friends looked over at me and stated “holy shit, Ritter’s going to be a dad in a couple months.”

I can only imagine it happened during of these TV timeouts in which I’m furiously drinking whiskey and coke like it’s water and cursing officiating incompetence. Life certainly does move on regardless of sports and somehow I’m going to be entrusted with another human life.

21-19 Kentucky, 1st Half, 6:33 Remaining

But right now, I’m screaming “THAT MOTHERFUCKIN’ BALL IS LYING” in between gulps of booze at the top of my lungs after Karl-Anthony Towns drains his two free throws.

Future father of the year. Book it.

31-31, Halftime

As soon as the halftime buzzer sounds, by what has to be instinctive habit for us, our entire table gets up and takes either a much-needed trip to the bathroom or to the bar. The only difference between this and a game at the stadium or even a gamewatch at the bar is that we also find our way to the dance floor.

Any halftime “analysis” of the game is limited to conversations while waiting for alcohol or the walk to/from the bathroom. But once feet hit the dance floor, all of that fades into the background with our iPads in the distance.

We can compartmentalize. The game is great and we are all loving what Notre Dame is doing to this point, but we all wouldn’t be in the same place if it weren’t for the bride and groom to begin with.

You bet your ass we are going to dance with them just as they continue to stop by our table to watch the game with us.

38-33 Kentucky, 2nd Half, 17:38 Remaining

Jerian Grant is about to shoot a pair of free throws, but the DJ rolls out a slow dance, something my wife was hoping would happen during halftime.

Before she even looked at me, I was out of the chair and taking her to the dance floor. I don’t pretend to be an expert at this marriage thing, but I know better than to disappoint the pregnant wife, especially a pregnant wife that offered to keep my iPad in her purse just so I didn’t have to carry it so I could watch the game.

I make sure I don’t dart my eyes behind her to the iPads at Table 11 either. The road from awesome husband to asshole is short and filled with too much regret to quantify. I’m definitely steering clear of that detour tonight.

As we dance, cheers from Table 11 continue to erupt in the background. I ensure my gaze goes nowhere besides my wife even though she too is taunting me and asking if it’s hard to not look over. I stay strong, with the hope that I will see some replays and that Notre Dame will have the lead when I sit back down.

46-42 Notre Dame, 2nd Half, 14:24 Remaining

I arrive back at Table 11 in the middle of a timeout. Half the table is excitedly telling me about Auguste and Connaughton dunking with a Steve Vasturia three in between.

The other half is telling me to go back to the dance floor because we went on a run while I was out there.

I love my friends.

48-44 Notre Dame, 2nd Half, 11:15 Remaining

The anatomy of a major upset is an interesting beast. For most of the game, the reality of a win is nothing more than a fleeting thought and fantasy. At some point though, you start to realize that it could happen. Eventually you start to buy in.

TBS shows a graphic that Notre Dame is beating Kentucky soundly in points in the paint, turnovers, and assists. I’m starting to believe an Irish victory is a very, very real possibility.

However, you don’t vocalize this. You aren’t all-in quite yet. There is still some doubt because you know the other shoe can drop. Because there is another point in the potential upset in which you actually go all-in. We aren’t quite there yet.

59-53 Notre Dame, 2nd Half, 6:16 Remaining

Vasturia hits a three. Kentucky calls timeout. They look shell-shocked, exhausted, and you can see that they see a potential future in which their undefeated season could end tonight.

There’s a great scene from Rounders that describes where I am mentally right now:

I could be completely satisfied how everything has played out and take that to the bank. It’s clear Kentucky is getting pushed to the limit, a result a certainly would be more than happy with before the game started.

Mike (Matt Damon) eventually can’t shake the thought of not just shutting up a taunting KGB (John Malcovich), but being the guy that takes him down. Mike wants to avenge his past loss, and prove to both KGB and himself that he’s good enough to win and dance with the big boys at the table.

Much like Mike, I know I can’t win much if I don’t put it all in the middle.

I’m all-in.

64-63 Kentucky, 2nd Half, 3:18 Remaining

Want to know what one of the worst feelings in poker is? Going all-in with pocket kings only to watch your opponent call with pocket aces. Sure, you have a couple of outs to survive, but all you want to do is grab you bet back immediately.

Aaron Harrison hits a three to give Kentucky the lead back and I’m diving across the table to get my emotional investment back, but it’s too late.

66-64 Notre Dame, 2nd Half, 2:36 Remaining

Jerian Grant gives me one of the few outs left in the deck with a three of his own and I can breathe again. I need another drink, but I’m not moving and neither is anyone else save for the bride who had to leave the table to toss her bouquet.

66-64 Notre Dame, 2nd Half, 1:53 Remaining

The DJ decides to play “Living on a Prayer”. I have no idea if it was any kind of intentional, but the group of 30-40 people at our table are now screaming the song in hopes we somehow will the Irish to victory.

The moment is equal parts incredible and heart-attack inducing terror.

66-66, 2nd Half, 1:14 Remaining

We try to scream Bon Jovi’s lyrics even louder as Karl-Anthony Towns ties the game.

We have now entered #NDMensBBallIsDeterminedToKillMe territory.

66-66, 2nd Half, 0:36 Remaining

It’s ND Ball, with 1 second on shot clock after one of the worst possessions that we’ve had all game.

I’m pretty sure I’m almost dead.

66-66, 2nd Half, 0:34 Remaining

Notre Dame turns the ball over for the first time in nearly 30 minutes on a shot clock violation. Kentucky can now take the last shot.

My mind is screaming at itself with “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING” and “JUST STOP THEM!”

The DJ calls for the garter toss. The groom is at the table and isn’t moving. The DJ then sheepishly then asks for permission to do the garter toss and then follows up with “is now not a good time?”

NOT GREAT, BOB!

68-66 Kentucky, 2nd Half, 0:06 Remaining

So, uh, can we get “Livin’ on a Prayer” going again?

68-66 Kentucky, Final

Jerian Grant’s prayer of a corner three falls harmlessly to the ground. My all-in bet of emotions is quickly scooped up by Coach Calipari and an overjoyed Kentucky Wildcats team.

I’m proud of my team, but I’m crushed. There are no moral victories in sports. I firmly believe that ND and her fans should hold their heads up high, but, in the end, the scoreboard is a cruel reminder of the reality that the Irish were two points short. You can’t shake that cold, hard fact regardless of how well-fought the game was.

The dance to put away the iPads is a collection of long sighs, random four-letter outbursts, and a shaking of heads. With the technology put away, we head to the bar, reminisce on what could have been and hit the dance floor for the remainder of the evening.

Because, as one wise Texan sage said, “the road goes on forever and the party never ends.” Life continued on its course, uninterrupted by Irish defeat, but altered with the memories of a wedding and the rare opportunity for a group of friends to cheer for the Irish together just as they had done in college.

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Morning Roundup: March 30, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/30/morning-roundup-march-30-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/30/morning-roundup-march-30-2015/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28734 Good morning! I took my first morning off Sunday from compiling the roundup. I suppose I was still feeling the emotional effects of a oh-so-close effort from the Notre Dame men’s basketball team. So allow me to catch you up with all that’s transpired with the football team in the past 48 hours. FROM OUR […]

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Good morning! I took my first morning off Sunday from compiling the roundup. I suppose I was still feeling the emotional effects of a oh-so-close effort from the Notre Dame men’s basketball team. So allow me to catch you up with all that’s transpired with the football team in the past 48 hours.

FROM OUR SITE

RECRUITING – COMMITTED

RECRUITING – OFFERED

RECRUITING – ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

CURRENT TEAM

COACHING

  • Irish Illustrated: Video: Kelly talks pass rush (3:09)
  • Irish Sports Daily: Brian Kelly – March 28, 2015

 

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Sometimes The Bad Guys Win: Dealing with Defeat http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/30/sometimes-the-bad-guys-win-dealing-with-defeat/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/30/sometimes-the-bad-guys-win-dealing-with-defeat/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:00:30 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28730 “HAVE you news of my boy Pat? ” Not this tide. “When d’you think that he’ll come back?” Not with this wind blowing, and this tide. “Has any one else had word of him?” Not this tide. For what is sunk will hardly swim, Not with this wind blowing, and this tide. “Oh, dear, what […]

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“HAVE you news of my boy Pat? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

This poem, My Boy Jack by Rudyard Kipling, best captures how I feel in the wake of Notre Dame’s 66-68 loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight on Saturday. I swapped the word “Jack” for “Pat,” obviously, but otherwise left everything the same as from Kipling’s pen. He wrote the poem, evidently, as a sort of elegy for his son, Jack, who was lost in 1915 at the Battle of Loos. I can’t ignore the visual and auditory similarity between “Loos” and “loss” and “lost” and lost is how I feel, some thirty-odd hours on. I feel that with every passing moment, the magic that Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant and Coach Brey cast for and upon us this season is slipping inexorably away, growing more and more distant, quieter and quieter forever.

The Palm Sunday gospel reading  had me thinking about the Irish, too. It reminded me that, if only for forty-odd hours, the bad guys can win. You get the sense that Pontius Pilate really didn’t want to kill Jesus, much less crucify him, but he played his part and at three o’clock, the Lord breathed his last and, if only for forty-odd hours, the bad guys won.

I think it disingenuous to compare Kentucky basketball to the mob that, stirred up by the Sanhedrin, brayed for Barabbas to be set free. They’re just kids playing a game. And I’m certainly not comparing Coach Brey and his cagers to Jesus or suggesting that they played the part of sacrificial lambs. I am however suggesting that if you can take away larger stories from one basketball game, take away this: Coach John Calipari is a fair representation of what’s wrong with college basketball and Coach Mike Brey is a fair representation of what’s right.

Coach Calipari has left in his wake vacated seasons and academic and recruiting violations so outrageous that Caligula would have blushed. Coach Brey, on the other hand, took a squad led by two seniors, the aforementioned Grant and Connaughton, to the Elite Eight and an ACC Championship the season after the University for which he coaches suspended Grant in 2013 for academic issues. Coach Brey didn’t complain. He said that Grant would turn out to be “a great Notre Dame story.” When John Calipari was asked how he missed all his players at UMass walking around with diamond studs in their ears, a clear sign of NCAA violations, he simply shrugged and said, “I don’t walk around carrying these jewelers’ glasses.”

Calipari’s history makes it impossible to believe that the data Kentucky supplies to the NCAA is valid, but even with jiggered numbers, there’s something rotten in the state of Kentucky. The NCAA came up with a metric called “Graduation Success Rate” which, in its on mind, provides a more accurate picture of a program’s, well, graduation success rate. Its basic premise is that it doesn’t count transfers who are in good academic standing when they transfer against a program’s graduation success rate. According to the NCAA, Kentucky’s GSR is eighty-nine percent (89%). Notre Dame’s is one hundred percent (100%). When you look at the Federal Graduation Rate, which basically asks “did a particular freshman graduate in six years?” Notre Dame still hits eighty-nine percent (89%). Kentucky is an eye-catching forty percent (40%).

The NCAA has never caught Calipari in the same manner that Captain Rennault never caught a gambler in Casablanca. Calipari, much like gambling, is simply too good for business. Mike Brey may just be too good for words. But the business side is catching up. For example, Saturday’s game was the most viewed basketball game in the history of cable television. Whether that’s just basketball junkies who tuned in to see if Kentucky would remain undefeated I can’t say, but you can’t discount the power of the Notre Dame brand.

So until next season, all we can do is look for our boy Pat. And our boy Jerian. We can go down to the St. Joe and watch the tide and the leaves as they spin and float their way by. And neither Pat nor Jerian will be on this tide nor on the next. But we can be proud and sad of them and all that they did for us and for Our Lady’s University. And we will hold up our heads on this tide and every tide because they were loyal sons we gave to that hardwood floor and that tide.

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Morning Roundup: March 28, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/28/morning-roundup-march-28-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/28/morning-roundup-march-28-2015/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2015 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28702 Good morning! While we anxiously await the tip-off of the men’s basketball game vs. Kentucky, allow me to catch you up on all that’s gone on with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines: FROM OUR SITE Friday roundup: The “Elite” edition RECRUITING – OFFERED AL.com: 4-star receiver Tre Nixon […]

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Good morning! While we anxiously await the tip-off of the men’s basketball game vs. Kentucky, allow me to catch you up on all that’s gone on with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines:

FROM OUR SITE

RECRUITING – OFFERED

RECRUITING – ND INTERESTED, BUT NO OFFER

COACHING

CURRENT TEAM

  • Irish Sports Daily: Sheldon Day (1:49)
  • Irish Sports Daily: Durham Smythe (3:05)
  • WatchND: FB – Malik Zaire Q/A (2:43)

IRISH IN THE NFL

MISC.

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Step Four: Kentucky http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/28/step-four-kentucky/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/28/step-four-kentucky/#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 10:00:43 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28710 Finally, we had a game that didn’t end with a heart attack finish … and now we get Kentucky. So what is it going to take to beat Kentucky? Lets take a look! How does Kentucky manage to look superhuman against every team they face? Here are some stats that show just how incredible this team […]

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RushingTheCourt_MattCashore

Rushing the court after Notre Dame defeated number one Syracuse 67-58 on Jan. 21, 2012. (Photo credit: Matt Cashore.)

Finally, we had a game that didn’t end with a heart attack finish … and now we get Kentucky. So what is it going to take to beat Kentucky? Lets take a look!

How does Kentucky manage to look superhuman against every team they face? Here are some stats that show just how incredible this team (and Calipari) really is. (Stats from UKathletics.com)

  • Kentucky’s team record? 37-0
  • Kentucky is the first team in the history of college basketball to start a season 37-0. Not just Kentucky history, the history of college basketball. (Wow.)
  • Kentucky is 214-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 59 of the last 61 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
  • Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 103-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 62-4 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is now 189-37 (.836) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in Kentucky history.
  • Kentucky has reached the Elite Eight in every NCAA Tournament appearance under Coach John Calipari.
  • Following the win on Thursday against West Virginia, Kentucky now has 119 NCAA Tournament wins. Kentucky is 119-47 (.717) all-time in the Big Dance.
  • Since 1992, the Wildcats are 118-32 (.787) in postseason play (NCAA, NIT and SEC)
  • Kentucky is 21-3 in tournament games under Coach John Calipari.
  • Kentucky’s 39-point win is the third-largest winning margin in the NCAA Tournament in program history. The largest two scoring margins both came in the first round.

Now this is where the stats really get mind-blowing.

  • Kentucky held West Virginia to 18 points in the first half, the 17th half this season Kentucky has held its opponent to less than 20 points. The 18 points is tied for the lowest in a half of any team in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and is a season low for the Mountaineers.
  • Kentucky entered the game as the nation’s top-rated shooting-percentage defense, and the Wildcats held West Virginia to 24.1 percent from the field. It is the fifth time this season Kentucky has held its opponent to less than 25.0-percent shooting.
  • Kentucky is now holding opponents to a combined total shooting percentage of .348.
  • The Wildcats are 60-0 under Calipari when they limit the opponent to 55 or fewer points, including 22 times this season.
  • Kentucky has held its opponents to fewer than 40 points for the fourth time this season.
  • Three of the five lowest scoring outputs vs. the Wildcats this season were by ranked opponents (Providence, Kansas and West Virginia).
  • Kentucky held West Virginia to .582 points per possession, the second lowest by a Kentucky opponent this season.
  • Kentucky’s 1.164 points per possession was a team high in the NCAA Tourney and the third highest in Kentucky’s last seven games.
  • Kentucky shot 81.3 percent from the foul line, 26 of 32.
  • Kentucky opened the game on an 18-2 run. The Wildcat lead reached 20 at 30-9 with 7:53 left in the first half and peaked in the opening frame at 27 at 42-15 with 1:52 remaining.
  • Kentucky shot 4 of 15 from beyond the arc.

Okay, enough mind-blowing. How does Notre Dame stack up? (Stats from UND.com)

  • The Fighting Irish are making their first appearance in the Elite Eight since 1979 when they dropped an 80-68 decision to eventual national champion Michigan State in Indianapolis.
  • With its 81-70 win over No. 7 Wichita State on Thursday night, the Irish upped their win streak to eight games (six in the postseason – three at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and three in the NCAA tournament).
  • Notre Dame owns a 1-4 record in Elite Eight appearances.
  • The only win for Notre Dame in a regional final came in 1978 when the Irish defeated DePaul 84-64 in Lawrence, Kansas on March 19 en route to the program’s only Final Four appearance in its 110-year history.
  • The last time Notre Dame played in a regional final was against Michigan State in 1979 as a No. 1 seed in the Mideast Region on March 18, 1979. The Irish dropped an 80-68 decision to No. 2 Michigan State in Indianapolis, Indiana. MSU went on that season to win the national championship.
  • This season’s 32 wins are the second-most in Notre Dame history. The program record is 33 victories back in 1908-09 (33-7).
  • Notre Dame boasts an all-time record of 34-37 in the NCAA tournament (34 appearances).
  • This is Notre Dame’s fourth trip in the last five seasons and an impressive 10th appearance in 15 campaigns under head coach Mike Brey. Brey has an 9-9 NCAA Championship record during his Notre Dame tenure.
  • Notre Dame’s three wins in this year’s NCAA tournament matches the most in ND Men’s Basketball history. The Irish also had three wins in 1978 during its Final Four run.

How does Notre Dame stack up when facing number one?

  • Notre Dame’s matchup against Kentucky will mark the 35th time in program history the an Irish team has gone up against a No. 1 team.
  • Notre Dame’s last win over a top-ranked opponent was against Syracuse at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as the Irish earned a 67-58 victory on Jan. 21, 2012.
  • Notre Dame has faced Kentucky six times when the Wildcats have been ranked No. 1 and are 1-5 in those matchups. After five straight setbacks, the lone win for an Irish squad over a top-ranked Kentucky squad came on Dec. 27, 1980 — 67-61 in Louisville.
  • Notre Dame has faced a top-ranked Kentucky in the NCAA tournament on one other occasion. That game was played in 1970 (Mideast Region) as the Irish were beaten 109-99 by the Wildcats in Columbus, Ohio on March 12.
  • The last time Notre Dame faced on No.-1 ranked team was in 2002 when the Irish dropped an 84-77 decision to Duke in a South Region second-round matchup on March 16, 2002.
  • This will be the 62nd meeting between the two teams and the first game between ND and UK since Nov 2012 at Notre Dame as the Irish defeated the Wildcats 64-50 in a matchup between the two schools in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge.
  • Irish head coach Mike Brey is 2-5 all-time versus Kentucky. All seven of those games has been while he has been at Notre Dame.

What needs to keep happening in order for Notre Dame to keep winning and beat Kentucky? These key factors:

  •  Notre Dame is 15-3 this season in games played away from Purcell Pavilion (7-2 road, 8-1 neutral). The 15 road/neutral wins are the most for the Irish since the 1957-58 season when they won 14 away from home (14-3).
  • Notre Dame seniorJerian Grant is very hot right now.
    • Jerian Grant played all 125 minutes of Notre Dame’s first three NCAA Championship games (Northeastern, Butler and Wichita State) and averaged 14.0 points per contest. He was 15-of-32 from the field in those three games.
    • Grant has scored in double-figures in 10 of the last 11 games.
    • He ranks eighth nationally in assists per game (6.6) and 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.05).
  • Notre Dame senior PatConnaughton is also very hot right now.
    • Pat Connaughton leads the Notre Dame in rebounding (7.4 rpg.) and is tied for third in scoring (12.6 ppg.).
    • Connaughton has a team-high eight double-doubles this season and his 15 career double-doubles are the most for any current Irish player.
    • Nationally, Connaughton is 17th in three-point percentage (.426) and 37th in made three-pointers (92).
    • Connaughton ranks fifth in Fighting Irish basketball history in made three-pointers (267).
  • Notre Dame boasts the nation’s second-best field goal percentage (.511).
  • Notre Dame is fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.60) and fifth in fewest turnovers per game (9.4).
  • Notre Dame is 13th nationally in scoring (78.3 ppg.).
  • Notre Dame’s 78.3 points-per-game average this season is the highest since the Irish averaged 79.0 ppg. during the 2007-08 campaign.
  • All five Fighting Irish starters are impressively averaging at least 9.8 points per game this season – Jerian Grant(16.6), Zach Auguste (12.7), Pat Connaughton (12.6), Demetrius Jackson (12.6) and Steve Vasturia(9.9).
  • With his career-high 20-point effort on Saturday against Butler, Steve Vasturia became the fifth different Notre Dame player to tally 20 points in a game this season. Jerian Grant has done it a team-best 11 times, while Zach Auguste (4), Demetrius Jackson (4) and Pat Connaughton (3) also have netted 20-plus points on multiple occasions this season.
  • The Reign of Threes: Notre Dame is 18th nationally in made three-point field goals (298) and 22nd in three-point field goal percentage (.392).
  • Junior forward Zach Auguste has averaged 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in Notre Dame’s NCAA tourney wins over Northeastern, Butler and Wichita State. He was 18-of-27 (.667) from the field in those three games, including a perfect six-for-six from the field against the Shockers on Thursday night.
  • Sophomore Demetrius Jackson is shooting 58.8 percent (30-51) in Notre Dame’s six postseason games (ACC & NCAA tournaments). He is averaging 13.3 points, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals in those five contests.
  • Sophomore guard Steve Vasturia tallied a career-high 20 points in the win over Butler. He also pulled down six rebounds against the Bulldogs.

What can I say? Notre Dame is on fire right now. Not just one or two players, all of them are on a streak like we haven’t seen in years. This is the team. If any team can beat Kentucky in this tournament, it’s Notre Dame. If they can stay calm, focused, make their threes, not be intimidated by Kentucky’s size … who am I kidding? I’m terrified about this game, but I still think if anyone can beat Kentucky, we can. What say you?

Cheers & GO IRISH!

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Friday Roundup: The “Elite” Edition http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/27/friday-roundup-the-elite-edition/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/27/friday-roundup-the-elite-edition/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:07:11 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28698 I awoke this morning at around 3:30 AM paying for a celebration that is typically reserved for a football victory. I’m sure celebrating with some fellow Sorin Otters did aid the situation, but then again, I can’t ever remember a time in which we gathered together for a basketball game. Yet here we are, in […]

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Friday RoundupI awoke this morning at around 3:30 AM paying for a celebration that is typically reserved for a football victory. I’m sure celebrating with some fellow Sorin Otters did aid the situation, but then again, I can’t ever remember a time in which we gathered together for a basketball game.

Yet here we are, in a world in which Notre Dame easily dispatched Wichita State on the heels of a late 15-2 run, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 81-70 victory. And a world in which Mike Brey can give a cocky, well-earned “how do you like me now?” interview at the end of the game:

None of this feels real. In fact, my dyslexia actually kicked in at one point during the second half during Notre Dame’s run. I went to get a beer, came back, and my brain did its damnedest to tell me a double digit ND lead wasn’t actually happening.

But around the corner waits Kentucky who absolutely demolished West Virginia 78-39, pushing their record to 37-0. Today, people are convinced that Kentucky could beat a NBA team because dealing in fantasy is apparently fun (and getting all the clicks!).

That’s not to say that I’m now somehow convinced that the Irish will be the one to put the one in 37-1. I know that the safe bet is to expect Kentucky to destroy ND with their superior size and athleticism, especially since ND’s weakness is interior defense.

But Notre Dame is playing with house money right now. The “Elite” moniker will remain on this team forever, regardless of the result tomorrow night. Right now, the worst-case scenario is that the team favored to win this tournament and go 40-0 does what is expected and beats ND on their way to the title.

The best-case? I’m not even sure I can write that hypothetical down right now.

I won’t lie though, I wanted ND to earn this shot. I want to see just how well this team can hang with Kentucky and if the absolutely incredible happens, I will be more than happy to have a another painful early-morning wake-up call once again.

The Roundup

Tonight on the radio show. We’ll talk ND hoops and the NCAA tournament as a whole. Plus, we’ll catch up on some of the latest news from ND’s spring practice and other headlines around the nation. Tune in tonight at 6pm CT and if you’ve listed to the show before, please do me a solid and fill this survey out which will give you chance to win one of four $25 Amazon gift cards as a thanks.

Well, at least it wasn’t a tattoo. Ohio State QB, Braxton Miller, decided to jump on the AdvoCare bandwagon and Ohio State compliance is on the case. He probably won’t get in trouble as there is likely no real violation; however, I’m certainly hoping he got some blocks and unfollows on Instagram because that AdvoCare crap is annoying.

“They just wish they were Trojans.” Well, Mike Garrett’s infamous quote was certainly wrong, but it’s clear the NCAA wanted to stick it to Southern Cal and Pat Haden ain’t happy. Hilariously enough, one of the things that pushed the NCAA over the edge was the hiring of Lane Kiffin.

Well, I may just agree with Harbaugh. He stated that he wasn’t worth $5 million/year.

The UAB Football saga continues. Al.com uncovered documents that stated the football program was a dead man walking all season. Now, a state representative, Jack Williams, is calling for UAB President, Ray Watts, to step down and is trying to file legislation to get the program back.

And now your moment of Nix… Remember the Baylor O-lineman turned TE that’s gave us fat guy touchdown joy during the Cotton Bowl. Well, here he is CATCHING PASSES ONE HANDED:

Instagram Photo

The Booze

Now, I don’t just have some fellow Otters in town because of basketball. We are all getting back together to celebrate a wedding. However, when this happens, this always means that Fireball is in our future (and it was a player last night).

Yes, this is a horrible and evil suggestion for this weekend’s booze, but I guess I’m just trying to spread the pain.

Also, I want to thank the good Lord that Fireball wasn’t available in college because I would probably not have a functional liver right now. Why does it have to be so tasty? Bad decisions shouldn’t be so delicious.

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Morning Roundup: March 27, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/27/morning-roundup-march-27-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/27/morning-roundup-march-27-2015/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28691 Good morning and happy Friday! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s gone on with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines: PODCAST Irish Illustrated: Spring surprises (45:37) RECRUITING – COMMITTED Irish Sports Daily: Inside the Commitment: Sacrifice for success (Tony Jones Jr.) RECRUITING – OFFERED Bleacher Report: […]

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Good morning and happy Friday! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s gone on with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines:

PODCAST

RECRUITING – COMMITTED

RECRUITING – OFFERED

RECRUITINGNO OFFER, BUT ND INTERESTED

  • Irish247: One-on-one with four-star linebacker Noah Burks

CURRENT TEAM

COACHING

MISC.

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Step Three: Wichita State http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/26/step-three-wichita-state/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/26/step-three-wichita-state/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:10:26 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28657 Game one was challenging to say the least. Game two was a heart attack just waiting to happen but somehow the Irish fought back and got the win. How will game three play out? Lets take a peak at game three’s opponent: Wichita State. The Wichita State Shockers play in the Missouri Valley Conference, and […]

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NotDoneYet_NDmbb

Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Not done yet.

Game one was challenging to say the least. Game two was a heart attack just waiting to happen but somehow the Irish fought back and got the win. How will game three play out? Lets take a peak at game three’s opponent: Wichita State.

The Wichita State Shockers play in the Missouri Valley Conference, and they finished their regular season play with a record of 30-4, with a conference record of 17-1, and a non-conference record of 13-3. In the Missouri Valley Tournament, Wichita State lost to Illinois State in the semi-final round by a score of 65-62.

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament the Shockers powered past the Indiana Hoosiers 81-76. Point Guard Fred VanVleet scored a career-high tying 27 points as well as having four assists, two rebounds and two steals, while shooting 9-of-18 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. VanVleet wasn’t the only one on fire in this game. Junior Guard Ron Baker added 15 points, five rebounds and five steals, and freshman Zach Brown tallied a career-high 11 points to go with eight rebounds off the bench.

In their game against Indiana, Wichita State shot 41 percent (25-for-61) from the field, but only hit 2-for-13 from three-point range. The Shockers did however convert at the free throw line by shooting 29-for-34 (85 percent).

In the second round of the NCAA Tournament the Shockers stunned fellow sunflower state rival the Kansas Jayhawks, defeating KU by a score of 78-65. They say that teams who are hot do well in the tourney. The Shockers definitely seem to be hot right now. In their win over Kansas, five Shockers scored in double-figures. Tekele Cotton set the pace with a team-high 19 points, three assists and two rebounds. Fred VanVleet finished with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds. Ron Baker and Evan Wessel with 12 each and Darius Carter with eight of his 10 points in the second half.

The Shockers scored 49 of their 78 points in the second half on 59.3 percent shooting, while scoring a mere 29 points in the first half. After making only 3-of-12 3-point shots in their game against Indiana in the first round, the Shockers sunk 10-of-20 shots from three-point range in the game against Kansas, four of which were from Evan Wessel (and were all 12 of his points). KU made only 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

Wichita State isn’t the only team who is hot right now though. Here are some Notre Dame fun facts from UND.com.

• The Fighting Irish are making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003.
• The winner of the Notre Dame-Wichita State contest will face the Kentucky-West Virginia winner on Saturday in the Midwest Regional final.
• Notre Dame upped its win streak to seven games with victories over Northeastern (69-65) and Butler (67-64 in OT) in the second and third rounds of the NCAA Championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
• Notre Dame is making its 16th appearance in the regional semifinals and the first since 2003. That year, the Irish fell to Arizona, 88-71, in the Sweet 16.
• The Irish are 5-10 all-time in the regional semifinals. Notre Dame’s last Sweet 16 win was a 79-71 triumph of Toledo in 1979.
• Notre Dame is 7-1 this season against its fellow Sweet 16 teams (2-1 vs. Duke, 2-0 vs. North Carolina, 1-0 vs. Louisville, 1-0 vs. NC State, 1-0 vs. Michigan State). The seven wins are tied with Duke (7-3) for the most.
• This season’s 31 wins are the second-most in Notre Dame history. The program record is 33 victories in 1908-09 (33-7).

How hot are the Irish right now? Notre Dame is 5-0 in postseason play this season (3-0 ACC tournament, 2-0 NCAA tournament). Those five games have all been decided by 32 points (6.4 ppg.). All five of the Fighting Irish starters are averaging double-figures in points in those games – Jerian Grant 16.6, Zach Auguste 13.4, Steve Vasturia 12.4, Demetrius Jackson 12.0, Pat Connaughton 11.8. The Irish are shooting in impressive 50.6 percent from the field (38.2 percent from three-point range), and Notre Dame opponents have been held to a 43.5 percent mark from the floor (25.9 from three-point range).

How does Notre Dame stack up against the Shockers? Notre Dame and Wichita State have only met twice, with each team winning once on their home court. The Fighting Irish topped the Shockers, 88-78, on Jan. 24, 1990 in South Bend, while Wichita State produced a 60-50 home victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 10, 1991. Notre Dame and Wichita State had no common opponents this season. Thursday’s game against the Shockers will be Notre Dame’s first game versus a Missouri Valley Conference opponent since an 83-70 defeat at the hands of Indiana State last season (Nov. 17, 2013). The Irish are 54-14 all-time against teams currently in the MVC.

So it comes down to a battle between two teams who are on hot streaks. Which team has what it takes to move on to the Elite Eight? Tune in Thursday night and find out! Tipoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. (ET) inside Quicken Loans Arena, (Cleveland, Ohio).

Cheers & GO IRISH!

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Morning Roundup: March 26, 2015 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/26/morning-roundup-march-26-2015/ http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/2015/03/26/morning-roundup-march-26-2015/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.herloyalsons.com/blog/?p=28679 Good morning! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s occurred with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines: RECRUITING – OFFERED Big Red Report (F): The Huskers offer 4-star WR (4-star WR Javon McKinley) Blue & Gold Illustrated: Dwayne Haskins Jr. at Top Gun 7-on-7 Fightin’ Gators (F): […]

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Good morning! I’m here to catch you up on all that’s occurred with Notre Dame football in the past 24 hours. Here are your headlines:

RECRUITING – OFFERED

  • Big Red Report (F): The Huskers offer 4-star WR (4-star WR Javon McKinley)
  • Blue & Gold Illustrated: Dwayne Haskins Jr. at Top Gun 7-on-7

RECRUITING – INTERESTED, NO OFFER

  • Blue & Gold Illustrated: Darryl Turner talks Jr. Day (Maryland commit)

 

 

CURRENT TEAM

  • WatchND: FB – Spring practice – March 25, 2015 (1:38)

 MISC.

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