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Bookstore Basketball XXXV: Hoping for history

Jay Fitzpatrick | Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The coming of spring in South Bend has brought the return of a unique Notre Dame tradition – Bookstore Basketball.

The tournament this year features 568 teams, a drop from last year’s field of over 600 in the largest 5-on-5 tournament in the world.

Executive commissioner Luke Maher attributed this drop in part to team registration coinciding with spring break.

“It took a lot of momentum out of our marketing campaign,” Maher said. “We learned from that for sure.”

Since last year’s tournament concluded, Maher has been working with the logistical challenges of such a large event. With executive board members Dan Carey, Christine Hedge, Brandon MacLeod, Jim Rodgers, Patrick Schafer and Mary Sullivan, he has coordinated marketing, team registration, ranking the top 32 teams and placing each entry into a bracket.

In addition to the fun of the tournament, there is a loftier goal – raising money for the charity JumpBall.

“For the last few years in Bookstore Basketabll, all the proceeds, the profits from the tournament have gone towards the JumpBall tournament,” Maher said. “It’s a charity organization in Jamaica which holds camps for underprivileged youth in the Jamaica area, mainly Kingston … it gives kids an opportunity to build character, learn to play on a team, learn to be good solid leaders – dedication and commitment.”

This year’s tournament features a familiar top team – U Got a Bad Draw, captained by Eric Laumann and led by Irish quarterback Brady Quinn and safety Chinedum Ndukwe. The team feels confident about its chances this year, having never lost a game against competition, Quinn said.

“We feel as if we are by far the best team in the tournament,” Quinn said. “Last year the tournament was tainted, and this year we are going for blood.”

The team has talent in all aspects of the game, especially size and speed. It boasts three Irish football players, with offensive lineman David Fitzgerald joining Ndukwe and Quinn as the three non-basketball athletes on the team.

“Me and Chinedum go way back, and we knew we just wanted a big body in the post, and that ended up being David [Fitzgerald],” Quinn said explaining his decision to choose Fitzgerald.

Rounding out the squad are Chris Devitt and Eric Laumann, two non-varsity athletes who Quinn lauds as the best in the school.

Devitt and Laumann should not take their selection to U Got a Bad Draw lightly, as being the non-varsity athletes has spelled good things in the past. The most successful former Bookstore Basketball teammate of Quinn was Chris Murphy, now a walk-on player for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team.

“We definitely work on improving the caliber of our teammates,” Quinn said. “I take credit for Chris making the [varsity] team because of his time playing with us.”

Although much of the limelight has been on Quinn’s squad, one of the great qualities of Bookstore Basketball is that it gives countless teams a chance to win.

“I decided to play Bookstore because I wanted to experience that one shining moment,” freshman Nick Trapp, captain of “The Saints of Fort Washington” said.

But despite hope for his team’s success, Trapp remains realistic about the Saints’ chances this year facing such a huge field.

“We have a lot of athleticism, but once we get into the later rounds I think our lack of size will end up hurting us against the better teams,” he said.

Kate Gales also contributed to this report.