Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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Page 48 of 55 OCT. 31, 2016 49 MEN'S BASKETBALL Phelps era, although he didn't re- ally come into the forefront in that role until late in his sophomore year when the Final Four-bound Irish top- pled No. 1 Marquette, with Hanz- lik's defensive work on All-American Butch Lee a top story from the game. In his freshman year at Notre Dame, Pflueger found his niche off the bench as the player designated to cover the opponent's best player, whether it was a smaller, quicker guard or a larger, stronger frontcourt figure. In his role, Pflueger appeared in 30 of the 36 games and averaged 13.3 minutes per contest, which was more than Hanzlik's 9.8 and 10.2 minutes his first two seasons. "I know I have an offensive game, but I knew my role as a freshman," Pflueger said. "I took pride in that, and I know I helped our team win some games just because of me play- ing defense and not really scoring buckets. This year I'm looking to ex- pand all aspects." It was in the Jan. 16 upset win at Duke that Pflueger first began to make an impact, playing 23 minutes and scoring seven points to go with his two blocked shots and two assists. He made his first career start versus Syracuse, recording six assists, and then in the regular-season finale vic- tory against NC State he displayed his prowess on both ends with three three-point field goals and four steals. While helping Notre Dame ad- vance to the Elite Eight a second straight year, Pflueger had his "one shining moment" when he had the game-winning putback with 1.5 sec- onds remaining in the second-round victory versus Stephen F. Austin. He finished the year taking only 55 shots in about 400 minutes of action, although he did show a fine shooting touch at the foul line, where he made 20 of his 21 attempts (95.2 percent). "I just didn't really have con- fidence in my offensive game last year," Pflueger said. "I knew I could score … it just wasn't there for me, especially when it came down to me being just a defensive player and go- ing against their best player. I knew it was my job to do that." The Orange County Registrar Player of the Year at California's powerful Mater Dei, Pflueger led the Monarchs to the MaxPreps national title as a junior when they were 35-0, while knocking off five eventual state champions and finishing 9-0 against teams that played for state titles. Pflueger was a two-time captain at Mater Dei, and Brey could see that happening at Notre Dame too. "He's become such a better basket- ball player," Brey said of Pflueger's progress this summer. "He played so fast a year ago last summer. By the end he became a guard, a basketball player. "He's a great energy guy for us and does so much … I like it that when you put him up there that he talks more. He's a guy that's going to be a leader for us. He's got a great voice." Add two more wings preparing to soar. ✦ Notre Dame Women Favored To Win Fourth Straight ACC Title On Oct. 12, Atlantic Coast Conference media and coaches made Notre Dame the favorite to win its fourth straight league title. Given that the Fighting Irish are 47‑1 in the ACC through the first three seasons (56‑1 when you include the league tournament), it is a prudent choice in the 15‑team conference. The Irish tallied 44 first‑place votes and 795 points from the media, ahead of second‑place Louisville (eight, 758) and third‑place Florida State (two, 674). The head coaches' poll mirrored the media's top three projected finishers in the league, with Notre Dame in first (13 first‑place votes, 221 points), Louisville in second (one, 209) and Florida State in third (one, 194). Senior point guard Lindsay Allen and junior forward Brianna Turner were named to the Preseason All‑ACC Team. Both Allen and Turner are three‑time Preseason All‑ACC selections. Freshman guard Jackie Young (the 2016 Naismith High Player of the Year) and freshman forward Erin Boley (the 2016 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year) rounded out the awards with selec‑ tions to both the media and the head coaches' newcomer watch lists. Notre Dame opens its regular season at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11, when it hosts Central Michigan. — Lou Somogyi "BOTH OF THOSE GUYS HELPED US WIN BIG GAMES. I REALLY LOOK AT THEM AS VERY EXPERIENCED, CONFIDENT GUYS IN BIG GAMES." HEAD COACH MIKE BREY ON RYAN AND PFLUEGER Pflueger was used primarily as a defensive specialist last season, but he plans to help more on offense this year. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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