Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 55

50 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED hitched their wagons to freshman phe- noms to finally get back to the Big Dance last March. Led by rookie Blake Wesley — who paced the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game — the Irish men fin- ished 24-11 overall and 15-5 in the ACC on their way to earning a No. 11 seed. Notre Dame beat Rutgers 89-87 in double-overtime in a First Four game at Dayton, Ohio, then beat No. 6 Alabama 78-64 before being knocked out by No. 3 Texas Tech 59-53 in the round of 32. The women finished 24-9 overall and 13-5 in the ACC, with freshman guard Olivia Miles leading the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game. Slotted as a No. 5 seed, Notre Dame beat No. 12 UMass 89-78 in the first round at Norman, Okla. The Irish then blew out the host school and No. 4 seed Oklahoma 108-64 to advance to the Sweet 16, before losing a late lead against top-seeded North Carolina State in a tough 66-63 loss. GONE TOO SOON Speculation met reality June 24, three days after Notre Dame's baseball season ended in the round of eight at the 2022 College World Series, when Irish head coach Link Jarrett confirmed he was leaving to take the top job at Florida State. The lure of returning home was too strong for Jarrett to pass up, even after he remarkably turned a flat-lined Irish pro- gram into a back-to-back NCAA Tour- nament qualifier and a CWS participant for the first time in 20 years last sea- son. Jarrett, a two-time All-American at shortstop for the Seminoles in the early 1990s, and his wife hail from Tallahas- see, Fla., where their parents still reside. Jarrett went 86-32 during his three seasons at Notre Dame, logging the sec- ond-best winning percentage (.729) in the country during those three seasons. WEAPONRY MATTERS The 2021-22 season for the Notre Dame fencers was business as expect- edly usual after the team rolled to a second straight NCAA title in March, a moment made much sweeter with their home campus serving as the host site for the championships. This was the fourth title in last five attempts since 2017 for Notre Dame and its head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia. Individually, each of the 12 compet- ing Irish fencers earned All-America honors. Sophomore Kaylin Hsieh high- lighted the dominating dozen with an individual title in women's epee. CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL When No. 7 Cincinnati arrived at Notre Dame Stadium in October of last season and won 24-13, the Bearcats broke an impressive 26-game winning streak at home for the Irish. The loss ended the second-longest home winning streak in the country and the longest string for Notre Dame since 1942-50. But as one streak fell in 2021, two more still stand heading into 2022. The Irish enter this season winners of 42 straight games against unranked op- ponents, the longest mark in the coun- try, and with five straight seasons of at least 10 wins. DISAPPOINTING DEBUT Making his Notre Dame head coach- ing debut under short notice and tough circumstances, Freeman faced a media storm leading up to his 2022 New Year's 2021-22 Male Athletes of the Year 1. Blake Wesley (basketball) — The talented freshman guard led the Irish in scoring at 14.4 points per game on his way to becoming a second-team All-ACC honoree and an All-ACC Rookie Team pick. Wesley entered the NBA Draft after the season and was selected in the first round (25th overall) by the San Antonio Spurs, making him the first "one-and-done" Irish player in program history. Wesley's selection marked the first time a Notre Dame player was drafted to the NBA since Demetrius Jackson went in the second round in 2016 to the Boston Celtics. He was also the first Irish first-round pick since Jerian Grant was selected No. 19 overall by the Washington Wizards in 2015. 2. John Michael Bertrand (baseball) — The talented left-handed pitcher led the ACC with a 2.81 ERA and 109 innings pitched, with the latter representing the most for an Irish hurler since 2013. He was also second in the conference in wins (10) and third in strikeouts (111), which were the third-most whiffs in a season in Notre Dame history. Bertrand became a unanimous All-American after earning honors from all five pub- lications. In addition to his on-field successes, the graduate student also became the first Irish player since 2008 to gather CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. 3. Michael Mayer (football) — Building his case for being the best tight end in Notre Dame history, Mayer broke several single-season tight end receiving records in 2021 and will now set his sights on many career marks in 2022. A sophomore last year, Mayer set school single-season standards in recep- tions (71), receiving yards (840), and touchdowns (7). He was a John Mackey Award semifinalist and an Associated Press third-team All-American. Mayer is rated almost unanimously this preseason as the best returning tight end in the country. 4. Palmer Jackson (golf) — This All-ACC performer finished tied for third in the conference championship last April during a fifth- place team finish for Notre Dame. One of the most consistent players in the country, the Irish junior was a fixture at or near the top of leaderboards all season, finishing outside of the top 10 only twice in 11 tournaments and outside of the top five just five times. Jackson's 70.15 adjusted stroke average was 16th best in the country, which helped him earn a place on the Hogan Award and Haskins Award watch lists as one of the nation's best players. Jackson also became the first Irish golfer to earn one of 12 coveted invites for U.S. college players to the Arnold Palmer Cup. This amateur event pits the U.S. against an international team in a similar format to that of the Ryder Cup. 5. Pat Kavanagh (lacrosse) — This gifted Irish junior finished third in the ACC last sea- son with 5.3 points per game and broke his own Irish single-season record for assists with 39. He led the ACC and ranked second in the country with 3.25 assists per game, and paced the Irish with 64 points (25 goals and 39 assists). Kavanagh, a standout attacker, was tabbed as an All-ACC honoree and a second- team All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine. He also received third-team All- America accolades from Inside Lacrosse and the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. — Todd D. Burlage Freshman Blake Wesley led the Irish in scoring (14.4 points per game) and helped them snap a five-year NCAA Tournament drought. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - August 2022