The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish men's basketball team is making its first visit to the NCAA Tournament Regional Semi-Final in twelve years. With success comes plenty of #narrative, and the Irish are a team with no shortage of fantastic story-lines. We here at OFD try to bring you the best Irish hoops coverage on the planet, but we'll admit there's good stuff out there worthy of your time and attention. Here's a rundown of a few of the great ND story lines...
Jerian Grant - Superstar
Rolling Stone asked if Jerian could turn Notre Dame in to a basketball school. The Wall Street Journal named Jerian as the fourth most exciting player to watch in the tournament. Earlier in the season Grantland asked if Jerian could lead Notre Dame to the promised land without his Dad and Uncle's trademark goggles. The New York Post looks at Jerian's family and concludes he was Born to Ball.
Pat Connaughton - Did you know he pitches too?
Like a great buddy film, Jerian and Pat are leading this Notre Dame team, and UND.com ran an outstanding piece on their friendship. Of course, we all know Pat's just moonlighting, and the Chicago Tribune compares his situation to a previous two-sport athlete at Notre Dame. Forbes published Jerry Barca's tremendous article on Pat's contribution to the cultural transformation around the Notre Dame basketball team.
Thankfully, Pat was around to rescue the Irish on Saturday, according to this SI headline. Grantland's Charles Pierce cast Pat in the hero role of a possible George V. Higgins novel. Of course, Pat's not the only one in the family getting some media attention...
The maturation of Notre Dame's sophomore guard has been a thing to behold, and we're not the only ones noticing. Before the tournament began, SI's Brian Hamilton detailed DJ's amazing personal journey. On the court, DJ's insane spin move and behind the back dribble on the way to a fantastic assist to Zach Auguste on the break caught a lot of national attention, including the folks at Deadspin and USA Today.
I'll still never know how Seth Davis left Vasturia off his all-glue team, but there are plenty of mysteries that surround the coverage of this team. It is great to see the guy I love to call Stevie Onions get some love not only from the local ND guys, but also his hometown Philly press and the Chicago Tribune. The dude just makes plays, and if he keeps this up, his teammates are going to have plenty of opportunities to needle him over his TV interview style.
The continued maturation of Zach Auguste remains a key component of the engine that drives this Irish team. Zach also got a little love from his hometown beat. The Sporting News covers how Auguste was able to recover from his late game turnover on Saturday.
Auguste might be a #DunksDuLac mainstay, but check out the big man's range at the midpoint of this FIDM video:
I'm guessing you didn't expect to see the junior forward's name in this list, and that's OK. However, go read Tom Noie's piece on Burgett's leadership and contribution to this team over the summer. Any of you who have played at the HS or higher levels know the importance of summer workouts to improve your game and build your team. Personally, I know the pain of being passed on the depth chart by a younger guy as I saw my own minutes evaporate as a HS senior. I have a soft spot for a young man who, by all accounts, has kept a great attitude and spirit. He helped lay the summer foundation this season's success has been built upon.
UA has been a visible participant in this year's tournament. Bloomberg declared them the Cinderella Story of this year's dance (beware the auto-play video on that one if you're at work). The New York Times took particular note of the specific color way in the Curry One several ND players are sporting. It looks like Auguste has been wearing the "MI30" color way of the Curry One in the last game or two. Here's to hoping the team at Under Armour had an ND-ish color way in reserve for this week. I'd love to see that thing in our green with a gold heel cup similar to what they did for our Clutchfit Drive's earlier in the year.
Conference Bragging Rights
Maybe the ACC wasn't such a disappointment after all. Alstein's point that the conference was incredibly top-heavy remains valid, but after going 11-1 in the tournament so far, CBS Sports asks if the ACC is the best conference in the land. With five Sweet Sixteen participants, NBC Sports runs down the remaining conference affiliations, as does Fox Sports here.
We plan on spilling a lot of digital ink with our own OFD staff impressions of the Irish Head Coach in the days and weeks ahead. CW caught a great article on tWWL regarding the lunacy of judging a team's season or a coach's competence based solely on a single tournament result. Of course, that might mean more if they didn't also perpetuate some of that #narrative, but I think it puts an interesting lens on previous criticisms of Mike Brey.
Of course, the most remarkable event of the weekend was the 24 hour whirlwind Brey faced. I felt like Gregg Doyle of the Indianapolis Star wrote the definitive piece on Brey's challenges and triumphs preceding his 56th birthday. We here at OFD continue to offer our prayers for the Brey family at the loss of their matriarch. Betty Brey lived a remarkable life; may she rest in God's peace.
some wonderful photos of Mike Brey & his mom Betty, who died Saturday at the age of 84. Betty was an Olympic swimmer. pic.twitter.com/iTLSrHAY6v— Angelo Di Carlo (@angdicarlowndu) March 23, 2015
The fact that Brey was dealing with his personal grief while delivering the performance captured in this ICON video from FIDM gives me even more respect for the Irish head man.
On from the Pittsburgh tournament to the Cleveland tournament in search of more #ShirtsAndHats. Go Irish.