Aaron Craft’s NBA career projection: Ben Hansbrough

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If you want to forecast how the professional basketball career of over-publicized, former Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, then look at the pro career of once over-publicized, former Notre Dame guard Ben Hanbrough.

If SIU is “Floor burn U,” then Ben Hansbrough was “Captain Floor Burn.” During his college basketball career, he was even grindier than his brother Tyler Hansbrough. Ben didn’t make any preseason Big East all-conference teams, but yet he was the 2010-11 BE POY. Ben Hansbrough and Aaron Craft aren’t that similar of players, but they do have some similarities; most importantly the bottom line of what their NBA future holds.

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Notre Dame Basketball #4: Not bad for a Football School

Notre Dame basketball

This year’s Notre Dame team is a lot like another potential #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament; another team currently ranked in the college basketball top four- the Ohio State Buckeyes. In both South Bend and Columbus, college football comes first, foremost, and probably second, third and fourth too.

It sounds ridiculous to say, but both OSU and ND are “flying under the radar,” so to speak. Neither team gets the proper attention it deserves from it’s fanbase, because the gridiron is unquestionably king on both campuses. But hoops hotbedness is improving at the Joyce Center.

“I had four people come up to me and say, it’s a tough ticket tonight,” ND Coach Mike Brey said the night of the final home game in Purcell Pavilion.

“That’s music to my ears. I like that the place is 9,200. We want it to be a bit of a tough ticket and people scrambling in town.”

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame’s Strong Case to be a #1 Seed in NCAA Tournament

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The losses among the major college basketball national powers piled up last week- BYU, Purdue, Duke. Opening the door for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to grab that final #1 seed. To quote ’80s one-hit wonder Spandau Ballet, “we know this. much is true.” Ohio State is the overall top seed; Kansas and Pittsburgh will join them on the top line.

The final #1 however, is up for grabs, and ND, with a RPI of #9 can take it if they reach the Big East Tournament Final game, something the Irish and Mike Brey have never done. They don’t have to win it- just get there. Having a double-bye in the conference tournament will help.

The current No. 4 ranking is Notre Dame’s highest since being fourth in December 1980. The last time they were a #1 seed was 1979, when they lost to Magic Johnson’s national champion Michigan State Spartans. And this year, they once again have a top line resume.

By Paul M. Banks

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All-Big East Teams Selected, ND’s Hansbrough Only Unanimous Pick

Ben Hansbrough

The strongest college basketball conference in America named it’s best today. Six players were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. The BIG EAST Player of the Year will come from that group. The conference will announce Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, March 8.

ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Austin Freeman, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-3.5, 227, Mitchellville, Md.
*Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame, G, Sr., 6-3, 206, Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, G, Jr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Marshon Brooks, Providence, G-F, Sr., 6-5, 200, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Dwight Hardy, St. John’s, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Bronx, N.Y.

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Notre Dame’s Three Point Barrage a Special Shooting Night

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Tim Abromaitis hit a career-high nine 3-pointers and he and Hansbrough scored 30 points each as the eighth-ranked Irish routed No. 19 Villanova 93-72 on Monday night. The victory ensured a double bye in the Big East tournament for Notre Dame and wrapped up a 17-0 season at home, the only Big East team to go unbeaten on its home court this season. Abromaitis’ nine 3-pointers were one shy of the school record set by Kyle McAlarney against North Carolina in 2008.

Notre Dame (24-5, 13-4) finished 20 for 32 on 3-pointers. The Irish, shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range this season, were 11 for 19 in the first half, including 4 of 6 from Hansbrough, to build a 47-27 lead.

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Notre Dame, Hansbrough Celebrate Exciting Senior Night (Video)

Ben Hansbrough

Ben Hansbrough took the microphone after the game, stood at midcourt and started complimenting all those around him. Almost like the Academy Awards. He acknowledged coach Mike Brey, the wild fans at the Purcell Pavilion and his family sitting in the stands. He was most appreciative of his teammates following his final home men’s basketball game for Notre Dame. That’s because he and the Irish made the night a memorable one with their shooting.

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Notre Dame Blows Out Villanova on Senior Night 93-72

#9 Notre Dame came out of the gates shooting red hot from behind the arc, and the initial surge set the evening’s tone. #14 Villanova was never able to catch their breath and catch up, as they spent pretty much the entire first twenty minutes with half as many points on the scoreboard as the Irish.

ND was especially fired up for their Senior night as they happen to start all seniors (Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott, Scott Martin). Hansbrough got the biggest ovation of all, as the Purcell Pavilion crowd was extremely fired up all night. Interestingly, Scott, Martin and Abro all return a fifth and final year of eligibility next season.

And the Irish gave the Joyce Center crowd plenty of reason to ignite, as they hit their first five treys and shot 58% (11-19) from three in the first half. Nova, by contrast was just 2-10 from behind the arc, and therefore found themselves trailing 47-27 at halftime.

By Paul M. Banks

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Marshon Brooks Breaks Big East Scoring Record, But Notre Dame Still Beats Providence

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Notre Dame was extremely lucky to escape the Dunkin Donuts Center with a win over Providence. And it took Ben Hansbrough’s career-high 32 points and Tim Abromaitis’ season-high 28 to get it done. That’s because 6-5 senior swingman Marshon Brooks scored a Providence and Big East-record 52 points.

Besides leading the conference and his team in scoring and rebounding, Brooks is also first on the team in 3-pointers made. He was named to the 30-player national midseason watchlist for the 2011 John R. Wooden Award.

It was his second 40-point game of the season and one of the best individual performances in college basketball this season. He had 43 in an 83-81 loss at Georgetown on February 5. Still No. 9 Notre Dame hung on for a 94-93 win over struggling Providence on Wednesday night  The Irish (22-5, 11-4 Big East) are off to their best start ever in 11 seasons under coach Mike Brey.

By Paul M. Banks

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Hansbrough Big East Player of the Year? Abromaitis in NBA Mock Drafts?

Ben Hansbrough

It seems like the #7 Fighting Irish might be the least hyped top ten team of all time. Of course, when you pay attention to some Mike Brey quotes and NBA Draftniks’ work, perhaps that’s changing.

Ben Hansbrough for Big East player of the year? His name certainly has to be in the discussion, but obviously the favorite UConn’s Kemba Walker, and you’d have to place Pittburgh’s Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker well ahead of Hansbrough.

What about national college basketball player of the year, an award his brother won two seasons ago? (Yeah, we don’t think so either, but) Notre Dame coach Mike Brey started the drums beating for his team’s emotional leader after Hansbrough scored 25 points despite a tough start to lead No. 9 Notre Dame to a 76-69 win over Rutgers on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.

“When you step back a bit, look at this, and get away from the preseason hype machine, certainly he is a Big East player of the year candidate as well as national player of the year,” Brey said.

“Flat out. I mean, we are in the Top Ten and he has driven us into that position and we are in the hunt for the league title. It is starting to be really evaluated. Some people say ‘Let’s see what he does next game.’ Well, he did it again.”

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Is Notre Dame the Least Hyped top 10 Team Ever?

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If there’s only school that doesn’t fly under the radar it is Notre Dame. Plenty of pub for the Fighting Irish. Very few schools have seen their university as the star of a big budget Hollywood film; this school has had three.

But that’s college football, not college basketball. Is the overwhelming obsession with the gridiron, at the expense of interest in the hardwood the main reason this Fighting Irish team isn’t being talked about all that much? The Irish certainly take care of business on the court, 17-4, 6-3 in the Big East, the best conference in America. They’re #9 in one poll, #8 in the other and Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports.com ranks them #5.

But yet they’ve all done this very “quietly” because South Bend is like Ohio State and Penn State- the fans just don’t get into hoops on a level remotely close to how much they care about football. Despite the fact that football team never graced the polls for a single week in 2010.

Let’s try to figure out why

By Paul M. Banks

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