How about some loving for ND men’s hoops?

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.


szczerba still hoping for NFL dream

By Irish Jack Ireland

Andrew Szczerba is hoping his football career didn’t end with Penn State’s bowl loss to Houston in early January.

Szczerba, the Nittany Lions tight end and Salesianum School graduate, was hampered with injuries through part of his collegiate career. This past season he bounced back from back surgery to start at tight end for the Lions. He caught 12 passes for 101 yards, but was even more highly-regarded for his blocking skills in the Penn State running attack.

In hopes of getting a look in the NFL draft or as a free agent in late April, Szczerba played tight end for the Amerrican team in a 20-14 loss to the National squad in the inaugural AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 21 in Carson, Calif.

Szczerba’s American team was coached by Tom Flores, the former Super Bowl winning coach and player of the Oakland Raiders. Dick Vermeil, who coached the Eagles and the St. Louis Rams during his career, handled the National’s. Vermeil won a Super Bowl with the Rams in 1999 and his Eagles team lost to the Flores coached raiders in 1980.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is an All-Star Game held specifically for graduating seniors and underclassmen who have declared for the 2012 NFL draft. The 2012 Draft starts on April 26 in New York City.

 Szczerba caught one pass in the game, but was also recognized for his excellent blocking skills from the tight end position. Szczerba was a two-time first team scholastic All-State end, helping Sallies win consecutive Division I football titles in 2005 and 2006. He excelled as a blocker and a receiver for the Sals at tight end.


Szczerba and his teammates, including All-American defensive tackle Devon Still of Howard, were rocked when their legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired late in the 2011 season. Paterno got caught up in the middle of possibly not taking stronger action years ago concerning former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky has been arrested and charged with sexually molesting numerous young boys over a period of years.

On top of that, Paterno died of cancer last month. Szczerba and Still were personally recruited by “JoePa” who made personal visits to Wilmington in 2006 while those two young men were seniors at Sallies and Howard respectively.

Szczerba actually earned his degree in criminal justice, business option last spring, but still had one year of eligibility remaining last fall. His twin sister Julianna,, who also graduated from Penn State last spring, earned her degree in Health Policy and Administration. She is currently working for Elite Physical Therapy.

Szczerba has remained in State College, Pa. to continue training with hopes of being drafted or getting a free agent NFL contract this spring.

Szczerba comes from quite a football family background. Ed Szczerba, his father, was a first team All-State tight end on Salesianum’s 1972 state championship team. His late uncle, Joe Szczerba, played football at Sallies and West Chester University. New Castle County Police Officer Joe Szczerba was killed in the line of duty last fall. Andrew also has another uncle who played Division I-AA college football.