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BOOKSTORE BASKETBALL XXXIV: World’s largest outdoor tourney tips off today

Kate Gales | Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Fifteen minutes of fame or a lasting legacy? Bookstore Basketball offers chances for both.

Months of hard work selecting teammates, choosing a name and developing plays and defensive schemes are set to culminate tonight, when over 3,000 Notre Dame students and staff members will lace up their basketball shoes for Bookstore Basketball XXXIV.

Over 600 teams will participate in the nation’s largest 5-on-5 basketball tournament, an annual event at Notre Dame since 1972.

“I think it brings a great sense of excitement, a great sense of community,” said Luke Maher, a junior who is the Executive Commissioner for this year’s tournament. “It’s great to see so many people out there – not only playing in games but out there supporting their friends and roommates.”

Patrick Schafer, a sophomore and captain of team No. 274, echoed similar sentiments.

“The tournament is a good way to get involved on campus,” he said. “It’s nice to get a team of your friends together and go out and just have some fun playing basketball with tons of people watching.”

Among tomorrow’s games, March Badness will make its debut.

“I have not played before, I’m super excited though,” captain David Sena said. “We’ve never played before, but we’ve all played in high school a little bit.”

Faculty advisor Amy Geist said the number of the teams has increased slightly over recent years.

“We definitely have more teams signed up this year than we have in the past [few years],” she said. “I hope that that’s a good indication of people on campus being excited about [the tournament].”

The field features varsity basketball players like Jordan Cornette, four of the five players on last year’s championship team, teams with corporate sponsors and the usual array of participants who are more concerned with pre-gaming than the game’s final outcome.

However, all eyes will be on the top-seeded team, aptly named “U Got a Bad Draw.” Captained by Chinedum Ndukwe, the squad features Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Eric Laumann and Dan Stevenson from last year’s KPMG team, which won the title.

“I can’t remember having a returning champion with such a complete team,” Maher said.

The team is prepared to take on any and all of the competitors in order to maintain their claim to the top spot.

“The most important thing for us is defending our title,” Ndukewe said. “Obviously, last year was a battle – we came back from being down like 10 points or so the last three games of the tournament.”

Like many other teams in the tournament, U Got a Bad Draw did not practice formally outside of game time.

“We have a tradition we started last year that we don’t practice until the first game we play – so we don’t practice,” Ndukwe said. “That usually is what works for us best because we know each other on the team pretty well … we’re really an all natural team.”

Choosing a name is sometimes the most important part of a squad’s preparation for the tournament. Names often reflect pop culture – for example, the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” inspired at least eight team names this season. Unfortunately, some teams are simply numbered after their names fail to meet committee standards.

“I think it’s probably just we’ve gotten away from remembering that it’s a basketball tournament,” Geist said. “There’s been an increase in the interest in coming up with a team name … I would hope the focus is more on the basketball tournament and the charity it benefits.”

This year, tournament officials are working to publicize Jumpball, a program located in Jamaica that offers free basketball clinics to disadvantaged youths.

“The way we play our tournament provides support for the Jumpball organization,” Maher said. “We want everybody to know that this year the phrase is ‘We play so they can play.'”

A portion of registration fees will benefit the organization.