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Bookstore Basketball: Saturdays in America takes Bookstore title

Sam Gans and Matthew DeFranks | Monday, May 2, 2011

The seventh day of the week may have been the inspiration for No. 1 seed Saturdays in America, but it was Sunday that resulted in the team’s true one shining moment.

Saturdays in America concluded an impressive run to the Bookstore Basketball championship by defeating No. 3 seed Alexander’s Grill 21-13 Sunday when law student Chuck Flynn grabbed the rebound off a blocked shot and dished a pass under the basket to fellow law student Brendan Bush for the game-clinching layup.

Saturdays in America got off to a fast start in the contest, scoring the game’s first four baskets and pushing the margin to 6-1 early. Setting the tone early was critical, according to Bush.

“I felt like if we’d come out and play physical and get up a few buckets, they might roll over and I don’t think they did,” Bush said. “They played tough the whole game and it was a really hard-fought battle. But I just thought if we played physical and pushed it up the floor, the odds were pretty solid [in our favor].”

Utilizing a wide variety of playing styles, Saturdays in America used both up-tempo fast breaks and a strong half-court offense successfully. Graduate student Alex Klupchak led the way with six points, while Bush and Flynn each contributed five. Senior Aaron Nichols added four and law student John Rompf also scored a bucket.

Alexander’s Grill, on the other hand, did not have as much offensive variance, relying primarily on senior guards Tyrell Atkins and Sean Reed, who combined for nine of the 13 total points. While senior forward Buchi Offodile and former football offensive lineman senior Matt Romine were extremely productive on the defensive end — Offodile finished with five blocks and Romine racked up 11 rebounds — neither contributed much offensively. Romine finished with just two points and Offodile did not tally a bucket.

“It’s definitely a disappointing end to the whole thing, but this year was fun,” said Alexander’s Grill senior captain Dan Crisman who, along with Reed, won the tournament last year. “We had a brand new team that we got together basically at the last minute and we had a fun ride throughout the tournament. It’s a great tournament and it’s just a really great experience.”

Both teams advanced to the championship game with wins Saturday. Alexander’s Grill defeated No. 7 Team Nice 21-16, with Reed and Atkins again leading the way offensively, finishing with eight points each. Alexander’s Grill was only up 11-10 at halftime, before going on a 5-1 run midway through the second half to go up 18-13.

“It feels great [to be going to the finals],” Crisman said after Saturday’s game. “We’ve played a lot of good teams this year. I know tomorrow’s not going to be easy.”

Saturdays in America did not have as difficult a time against No. 4 Siegfried Pizzeria — The Delivery Boys, going up 11-4 at the half and winning 21-10. But they were not content with just making the championship game.

“I made it [to the finals] my sophomore year and we came up short,” Nichols said after the semifinal victory. “But we’re going to turn our luck around this year and come out on top.”

Ultimately, Nichols’ prediction was correct. Bush had an even more special bookstore experience than most, because of the adversity he faced in reaching the finals. Bush, whose father attended Notre Dame, was not accepted to Notre Dame for undergraduate studies or law school originally and had to transfer in before he could get a chance to compete in the famed Bookstore Basketball tournament.

“First thing basically when I told my dad I got accepted to transfer here, [he said], ‘You better get a good Bookstore team.’ So [winning the tournament is] a really good feeling and I don’t know if I can describe it,” he said.