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Bandwagon fan’s guide to Irish basketball

Bob Kessler | Thursday, February 28, 2008

While most think of February as the shortest month of the year, in the world of sports, it can sometimes seem like the longest. The endless chasm between the Super Bowl and Selection Sunday can be difficult to get through in most years. Despite this, February has been a great month for this university, and I’m not talking about the proliferation of waffle fries in the SDH.

February has been lit up under the dome at the Joyce Center with the Irish basketball team continuing a home win streak that has lasted since 2005. It’s pretty amazing looking back: two years ago (when we last lost at the JACC, to Marquette) nobody would have expected that we would witness our football team lose more games than our basketball team over the next two years. Even for people who have been to every game (home and away) of both teams since Chris Quinn went pro, Brey’s team only has one more loss than Weis’s.

Our miserable year on the gridiron can almost be forgotten because of our surprising success on the hardwood. Noise levels in the JACC during recent games have approached levels that Notre Dame Stadium hasn’t heard since Oct. 15th, 2005, and with much more favorable results. As the streak continues, students are arriving to games earlier and earlier and the bandwagon is growing bigger and bigger. For the benefit of all those new to Irish basketball, or who don’t see the games from a student’s perspective within what Pat Forde deemed the second-best student section in the country, the following is a brief guide to Notre Dame basketball.

Our team this year is built on senior leadership and youthful excitement. I could never say enough about Rob Kurz. He’s gone through thick and thin in years gone by and now he’s getting the payoff. Since most of the students won’t be here for Senior Day next week, I’d like to thank him for his outstanding play over the last four years.

Then we have the superstar. Luke Harangody might be the best player in the Big East, but his enthusiasm and excitement during games are what get the crowd going and keep them going. Some tried to call him Bam-Bam last year (because of his resemblance to “The Flintstones” character) while Digger calls him “Gody,” but the fans in the JACC just prefer to call him “LUUUUUUUUUUKE.”

Next, there are the point guards, or as some like to call them: The Three-Headed Monster. “The Three-Headed Monster” is a rarely seen creature which comes out of hiding when Coach Brey puts Kyle McAlarney, Tory Jackson, and Jonathan Peoples in the game at the same time. This is probably our most exciting lineup because a three point guard lineup has the potential to do amazing things. While The Three-Headed Monster only makes brief appearances, each of these three players is awesome in his own right. Tory Jackson gets rebounds like it’s his job, K-Mac drains threes from ridiculous range, and Peoples has the biggest calves this side of Robert Hughes.

Before I get into the coaches and fans, let’s not forget about Ryan Ayers, Zach Hillesland and Luke Zeller. While each of these guys has his own unique skill-set, they all share the ability to throw down at any given moment in a game. Their recent dunks have brought the JACC up several decibels and kept the local fans on their feet.

The fans at the JACC just seem to keep the team going. While the Legion is referred to as the 6th Man for the Irish, everybody knows the real 6th man is Janice McAlarney (J-Mac, mother of K-Mac). J-Mac is really big on the team this year and is seen on TV in nearly every game behind the bench sporting her trendy black jersey. She’s the teams No. 1 fan and should be an honorary member of the Legion.

No matter how bad the shirts look, we can’t forget the Legion. Students sit behind the basket wearing black this year, a nice color choice, with designs that remind us of something out of Hello Kitty. Really, there couldn’t possibly be a less intimidating font choice for the shirts this year. At least they aren’t as bad as “The Shirt,” which is made to fit Charlie Weis and Scott Malpass; even those ones that are sized small.

Finally there is our coach, Mike Brey. His tieless wardrobe and trademark fist pumps keep the team excited and keep the fans on their feet. He built this team with high character guys, he has kept this team together when times were tough, and his communication with the students is unrivaled. Few games go by where Brey doesn’t send an e-mail to the students to pump them up, and he will never refuse to say a few words to students and fans. Coach Brey loves the students and fans almost as much as Bruce Pearl loves Erin Andrews. We really appreciate it, Coach.

Hopefully this was helpful to new fans on the bandwagon as we get set for the stretch run and the madness to begin.

Go Irish, Beat Cardinals.

Bob Kessler is a junior majoring in political science and economics. He’ll be in Europe next week, but you can always read more of his work at saltystix.com. Complain about this column at rkessler@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.