Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME 95 Years Ago: March 5, 1927 Notre Dame concluded its basketball season under fourth-year head coach George Keogan with a 32-16 victory at Creighton, extending its winning streak to 12 for a final record of 19-1. With a 5-0 record against members of the Big Ten (not including 2-0 versus Michigan State, not a member at the time), quality victories versus Marquette, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Creighton, and avenging its sole defeat (Franklin College), Notre Dame was later awarded the 1927 national title by the Helms Athletic Foundation. The Foundation was started in 1936 and used a panel of basketball experts to retroactively select national collegiate basketball champions. Its first picks were published in 1943 and dated back to 1919-20. Eventually the panel went back and declared champions from 1901-02 forward. The National In- vitation Tournament (NIT) began in 1938, and the NCAA Tournament started in 1939, but the Helms Athletic Foundation continued to select champs into the early 1980s anyway. Interestingly, it did not always pick the NIT or NCAA tournament champions. Pacing the scoring for the 1927 national champs was senior All-America center John Nyikos, whose 8.6 points per game almost doubled second-lead- ing scorer Louis Conroy's 4.4. In an era when a center jump followed each basket, Notre Dame's tenacious defense — it allowed 19.6 points per game while averaging 31.6 itself — led the program's breakthrough and helped enshrine Keogan into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Keogan also guided the Irish to the 1936 Helms Foundation national title, with both having individual banners in Notre Dame's Purcell Pavilion. 45 Years Ago: March 5, 1977 In an unprecedented move by NBC-TV and athletics in general, Notre Dame's student body was awarded "Game MVP" when head coach Digger Phelps' unranked and 19-6 Irish defeated 29-0 and No. 1 San Francisco — led by center Bill Cartwright — 93-82. A day earlier, Phelps implored his "sixth man" at a pep rally to be in the stands a half-hour before the game and begin a rhythmic chant pertaining to the Dons' record: "29 (clap, clap) and 1 (clap, clap)! 29 (clap, clap) — and 1 (clap, clap)!" Amidst a deafening atmosphere from the time the Fighting Irish entered the arena, Notre Dame took the lead for good at 59-58. Junior guard Don "Duck" Williams scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the final 11 minutes when Phelps called for the "Four To Score" offense, a derivative of the Four Corners invented by North Carolina's Dean Smith. The tactic is not to stall, but to spread four players into corners, while Williams has room to drive to either score, get fouled or dish to an open man when defenders collapsed on him. The balanced attack included 19 points and 14 rebounds from senior center Toby Knight in his final home game, while senior forward Bill Paterno added 16. Freshman guard Rich Branning and junior forward Dave Batton chipped in 14 and 13, respectively. The victory helped Notre Dame clinch an at-large berth in the then 32-team NCAA Tournament field. "What people talk so much about and see at Duke with the Cameron Cra- zies — that was us in the 1970s," Phelps later said. 25 Years Ago: March 4-24, 1997 On March 4, the 14-12 Notre Dame's men's basketball team was honored in New York City when junior forward Pat Garrity was named Big East Player of the Year, while John MacLeod is awarded Big East Coach of the Year. Later from March 15-24, the Notre Dame women's team — despite fielding only seven healthy scholarship players and with only one NCAA Tournament victory ever in four appearances — advanced to the Final Four as a No. 6 seed by defeating Memphis (93-62), stunning No. 3 seed Texas (86-83) in Austin on St. Patrick's Day, upsetting No. 2 seed Alabama (87-71) and finishing off George Washington (62-52) before losing to national champ Tennessee (80-66). The run was led by seniors Beth Morgan and Katryna Gaither, who com- pleted their careers as the lone 2,000-point duo in career scoring from the same class in Division I history. Five Years Ago: March 16, 2017 Junior forward Bonzie Colson scored a team-high 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead fifth-seeded Notre Dame to a 60-58 victory over 12th-seeded Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. It marked the Fighting Irish's third consecutive win in a first-round NCAA Tournament contest and their seventh in their last nine games in the Big Dance after back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in 2015 and 2016. How- ever, it also happens to be the last time they picked up a win during March Madness. The Irish (26-9) built an 11-point lead over the Ivy League champion Tigers (23-7) six minutes into the second half but had to hold off a late rally. Princ- eton got to within one point twice in the final five minutes, including 59-58 with 16 second remaining. After Notre Dame missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity at the charity stripe, the Tigers had one last shot but their three-point attempt was off the mark, and guard Steve Vasturia secured the rebound and the victory. Junior guard Matt Farrell contributed in 16 points, four assists, four re- bounds and two steals, while Vasturia added 10 points to support Colson's strong effort. Two days later, the Irish suffered an 83-71 setback against fourth-seeded West Virginia and haven't been back to the NCAA Tournament since. Anniversaries In Notre Dame Athletics: March UNDER THE DOME Head coach George Keogan (left) guided the Fighting Irish men's basket- ball team to a 19-1 record and the Helms Athletic Foundation national championship in 1927. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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