By Irish Jack Ireland
Don’t look now, but the college basketball team the print, television, radio and internet media are not giving, or dont’s want to give any attention to, is creating quite a winning storm.
That would be the Fighting Iirish men’s team, with just one senior, guard Scott Martin, rolling right along on a five game win streak and five wins over nationally-ranked teams so far this season.
Last time I checked Syracuse had just one loss and was ranked No.2 That one loss came to Notre Dame when the Orange were ranked No. 1. By the way, in its history, Notre Dame has wins over 10 top ranked teams. Not bad for a team that never gets much attention.
Everyone knows Pittsburgh got off to a poor start in the Big East, but were ranked in the top 25 when Notre Dame beat the Panthers in early January.
Other victories over ranked teams have come at Louisville and Connecticut, home against Syracuse and No. 15 Marquette. The Irish also ended Seton Hall’s 12 game home win streak with a 55-42 win over the Pirates last month.
By the way, except for a loss to UConn this year, Notre Dame is 31-1 in its last 32 home games, dating back to last season.
Notre Dame (16-8, 8-3 in the Big East) go for a sixth straight win today at noon against DePaul (8-11, 2-9) in the Purcell Pavillion at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame started poorly, including a 29 point loss to Missouri. Just when those Irish haters though they had something to gloat about Notre Dame has gone 9-3 with one big-time win after another.
ND has also been able to turn things around without senior forward and top shooter Tim Abromaitis from last year’s 26-6 team, who was lost for the season after two games with an injury.
The Irish youngin’s are doing it with defense and a controlled, balanced scoring attack. Brey has the Irish working for good shots, but they have several players who can rip a game open from behind the 3-point arc.
Junior 6-8 forward Jack Cooley turned in his seventh double-double of the year with 21 points,12 rebounds in 55-51 win at West Virginia on Wednesday. West Virginia is not an easy play to win, period.
Sophomore guard Eric Atkins leads that balanced scoring with a 12.9 point average. He’s dangerous from 3-point land, shooting over 40 per cent (35-87)
Cooley averages 11 points, a team best 8.6 rebounds and 34 blocks.
Sophomore Jerian Grant is averaging 12.7 points, 5.4 assists (fifth best in the Big East) and shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range. Grant, who missed all of last season, has a team best in points to date (304), assists (116), steals (32) and minutes played (844). He leads the club in 3-point shots made with 38. Grant is currently sixth nationally and first in the Big East in with a 3.14 assist to turnover ratio.
Brey has more depth as freshman Pat Connaughton gave a national television audience a look at what he can do last weekend in the 17 point win over Marquette. He had his first double-double with 23 poiunts and 11 rebounds. Sophomore 6-7 guard Alex Dragicevich is averaging 7.3 points a game.
Speaking of martin, he is a leader on and off the court. After a slow start, Martin is playing very well, averagiung 9.2 points and 5.9 boards.
Notre Dame also plays smart and knows how to stay cool late in close games. The Irish are 9-1 in games decided by five points the last two years, inclouding 3-1 this season. ND is averaging jut over 10 turnovers a game.