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 2010-11 Season Review, Look Ahead to 2011-12

mike brey

Less than 24 hours after his team met a shockingly early exit from the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame college basketball coach Mike Brey was named this year’s Henry Iba Coach of the Year, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). The duality of emotion was quite indicative of how the 2010-11 Irish season went.

Brey, who was recognized as the Big East Coach of the Year honors for the third time in five seasons just two weeks ago, led the Irish to a 27-7 record (14-4 in conference) as Notre Dame finished second in regular-season conference standings and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the second consecutive year and fourth time under the 11-year mentor.

But a lot of it seems inconsequential as the Irish suffered a monumental upset at the hands of Florida State Sunday night. Any time a #2 seed, the school’s highest since 1981, fails to survive even the first weekend- that’s what you call a choke.

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame’s Mike Brey Developing into One of Nation’s Elite Coaches

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If you want to know what makes Mike Brey’s mind work, what makes him such a fantastic coach, his background in education is right there at the top of the list. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish leader has experience motivating kids, and shaping their potential.

“There’s certainly three sets of groups that have impacted me as a teacher. My parents. I’m the product of two educators, so I grew up around the dinner-table talk that way. Morgan Wootten, I was going to his camp when I was 9 years old and heard him give lectures and then was fortunate enough to go play for him, and then I went back and coached with him. So still a voice of reason and a mentor today,” Brey said at the NCAA Tournament Regional in Chicago’s United Center.

“And then obviously eight years with Mike Krzyzewski. I’ve had really great training. But Morgan is an educator and a teacher and a communicator, and that’s probably, between my parents and him, that’s probably the biggest things I took certainly from Coach Wootten. And he watches every one of our games, and I can’t believe he can text because he texts me after games, he is firing off texts left and right. He’s the best.”

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Mike Brey, Former Coach K. Asst Comments on Fab 5 Controversy

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With both St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness upon us, it’s a big day for the #2 seeded in the Chicago Regional Notre Dame Fighting Irish. ND being a popular pick to reach the Final Four, and today being the day everyone wears green, a lot of people want to be “Irish.”

ND college basketball coach Mike Brey mentioned St. Patrick’s Day as he took the United Center media podium today dressed in green. The final question he was asked, prompted one of the most interesting back-and-forths of the press conference.

By Paul M. Banks

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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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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 Winning with 3 Cs: Confidence, Cohesion, Chemistry

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Given what was expected of Notre Dame this year, versus what they’ve produced, it’s time to talk about Fighting Irish leader Mike Brey as possible conference coach of the year. He has two Big East coaching awards already (’07, ’08), but this could be the best coaching job he’s ever done.

A so-called rebuilding year has turned into a 21-4, top ten nationally ranked season. ND has won its last seven Big East games, matching the second-longest Big East regular-season win streak in program history.

Their overtime win over #15 Louisville this past week conveyed all that has been going right for ND this year.

“The whole team brought a lot of confidence,” said star guard Ben Hansbrough.

“Especially when I had that rebound and I dropped it. It was great to see my guys will their way back into it and continue to fight.”

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame Routs USF: Notes and Numbers

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Notre Dame is off to its best start in 30 years in men’s college basketball and gaining confidence with every victory. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish too their seventh straight Saturday, routing runt of the Big East litter South Florida 78-55 with a balanced scoring attack led by Jack Cooley’s career-high 18 points.

The strong start is the program’s best since the 1980-81 season. The Irish can match their best-ever record through 14 conference games (11-3 in 2000-01) by winning at No. 25 West Virginia next Saturday.

For those of you unaware, Cooley is nicknamed “Baby Gody” because of the fact that he has the same haircut and looks a lot like the just departed Luke Harangody.

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Scott Martin a Key Addition to Notre Dame Resurgence

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In the offseason, the talk around the college basketball program in South Bend was all about personnel losses -most notably Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody- not new additions.

But today Notre Dame’s 21-4 record signifies the best 25-game start under head coach Mike Brey. It’s the first time the Irish have won at least 21 of their first 25 games since the 1980-81 campaign. Notre Dame’s 10-3 Big East record matches the best 13-game start in Big East play in program history. The Irish have secured their second straight 10-win Big East campaign and it’s the seventh time (in 11 seasons) under Brey that Notre Dame has notched at least 10 league victories.

A big reason is Scott Martin, a Purdue transfer who missed the last two seasons, one from NCAA mandated transfer protocol, and a second year from a knee injury. Martin is a 6-8 senior who sees most of his 27 minutes a game at guard.

By Paul M. Banks

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Louisville’s Rick Pitino gets Coaching “Pantsed” at Notre Dame

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There’s only one way to describe what happened to the Louisville Cardinals, and their coach Rick Pitino- a college basketball coaching version of getting “pantsed.” You’ve heard of the term “half-time adjustments,” well what about overtime adjustments.

Pitino and Notre Dame’s Mike Brey traded blows for 40 minutes last night, tied at 74 heading to regulation. Then UL just got absolutely owned at Notre Dame, as the Irish started the extra session on a 14-0 run and folded the cards 89-79.

One of the biggest factors contributing to the outcome was ND switching from man to zone at an opportune time.

“We’re big; that group can play zone. We did not talk about it in the timeout. We kind of changed on the fly, and we did a great job. That is veteran guys making it work. That helped us. It changed their rhythm a little bit,” Brey said postgame.

By Paul M. Banks

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