Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big East Honors Greet Irish in New York City

Upon arrival in New York City today in preparation for the Big East tournament the Irish Men's Basketball Team claimed three of the top four awards at the annual Big East Conference awards ceremony in Madison Square Garden.

Senior guard Ben Hansbrough (2010-2011) became the fourth Notre Dame player in program history to win the Big East Player of the Year award, joining the likes of Pat Garrity (1996-1997), Troy Murphy (1999-2000 and 2000-2001) and Luke Harangody (2007-2008). 

Joining Hansbrough with the hardware collection were head coach Mike Brey, who earned the Big East Coach of the Year award for the third time in his career, and graduate student Tim Abromaitis, who was named Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Abromaitis has an opportunity to win an unprecedented third consecutive Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year award next season when he returns for another year of graduate level courses at Notre Dame.

In the meantime, the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish have business to take care of in New York this week. Head coach Mike Brey encouraged his team all season long not to look in its rearview mirror but rather focus on chasing Pittsburgh. Barely unable to do so in the regular season, the Irish look to advance to and win the Big East Tournament Championship. Simply advancing to the title game would be a program first, but Brey has his troops set on higher sights.

Over Thanksgiving weekend Notre Dame won the 2010 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, FL while beating the likes of California, Georgia, and Wisconsin. 

After two wins last week against Villanova and at Connecticut to end their regular season, the Irish finished second overall in the conference behind Pittsburgh. With the strong showing over the last week by the Irish and poor showings by other top teams, Notre Dame vaulted to No. 4 in both polls - its highest ranking since 1980.

With a strong showing in the Big East Tournament the Irish could garner a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Doing so would be the first time since 1979, when the Irish reveled in the glory days legendary former head coach Digger Phelps

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