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Thomas recalls career with fondness at dinner

Matt Lozar | Thursday, April 14, 2005

It took awhile, but Chris Thomas finally closed the book on his Notre Dame career.

At Wednesday night’s men’s basketball banquet held at the Joyce Center, Thomas was the final senior to reach the podium and said just about everything that was on his mind.

From impersonating the walk of assistant coach Lewis Preston and saying Preston has a “high booty,” to revealing Harold Swanagan would be his girlfriend if anyone asked because of the kisses Swanagan gives him, to mentioning his five credit hours allowed him to go out and could be why his “shooting percentage was down,” Thomas leaned on the podium in front of the three framed gold jerseys of the seniors and just kept going.

The senior from Indianapolis did have some serious moments.

He mentioned how he came to Notre Dame to take this program to a new height and felt he’s accomplished that.

Thomas said he was glad the crowd at the banquet was smaller than last year’s because he believed that was the true Notre Dame community.

When it came down to the emotions for Thomas, they weren’t there.

“I’m really not emotional tonight,” Thomas said. “I’m kind of happy. You appreciate the time and can part on good terms.”

And when Thomas got to the end of his speech, he passed on the torch of the program.

“You can close the chapter and open a new one,” Thomas said.

“I’m not saying goodbye because I’m ready to leave. I’m ready to let somebody else take over.”

The emotional senior on the night was Jordan Cornette, who had to compose himself a number of times at the end of his speech when talking about his memories and teammates and thanking his parents for everything they’ve given him.

“It’s been, without a doubt, an incredible ride, and for that I’m grateful,” Cornette said.

But Cornette did get a good joke in at the end of his speech.

“I’m going to really miss this Joyce Center, no matter how crappy it is,” he said.

Walk-on senior Greg Bosl also gave a speech, speaking prior to Thomas and Cornette.

After a season that ended with a disappointing first-round loss in the NIT to Holy Cross, Mike Brey said goodbye to the graduating seniors and started setting his sights on the future at the end of the banquet.

With three returning starters and a loaded incoming freshman class, the optimism will return prior to the tip-off of the 2005-06 season.

“We certainly didn’t finish the way we wanted, but this group had its moments,” Brey said.

“This was something to build on. The returning group learned a lot from this year.”

Notes:

A decision on Dennis Latimore’s returning for next season will be announced early next week, possibly Monday.

Latimore was the recipient of the Rockne Student Athlete Award at the banquet Wednesday night. The senior, who transferred from Arizona prior to the 2003-04 season, is a double major in English and African-American studies.