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Bookstore Basketball: How sweet it is

By Greg Hadley | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The cold and dreary weather that has plagued South Bend all spring hasn’t stopped Bookstore Basketball, which has reached the final stages and continues today with the Sweet 16.

A total of 650 teams entered the open tournament, which started March 22, and 44 teams entered the women’s tournament, which started April 17. While it’s not the largest field in tournament history, Bookstore Basketball president Matt Lynch said he is still very satisfied with how things turned out.

“Last year we had over 700 teams, but there’s a natural flux to the number of entries,” Lynch said. “Overall, it’s been a very successful tournament, with no major issues besides the weather a bit. We had a few games played in the snow recently.”

The round of 32 moved up to Monday due to thunderstorms, forcing teams to potentially play four games in a row and five in six days if they make it to the championship. This will test not only each team’s skill, but also their mental toughness, Lynch said.

“It’s a lot in a short time, which makes it very exciting,” he said. “Adding extra games in the final week adds to the intensity and makes it survival of the fittest out there.”

While Lynch feels that all the remaining teams have the talent to make a deep run and possibly win, one team stands out from the rest: defending champions and No. 1 seed Sophomores at Holy Cross, known last year as Hoops I Did It Again. The squad returns all five members of last’s year title squad, which is highly unusual in Bookstore Basketball.

“It’s not normal to have the entire team come back the next year,” Lynch said. “Most of the time only one or two guys return. They are an extremely talented and intriguing team.”

The rest of the top five teams each bring their own strengths to the table, ranging from big men to solid defense to impressive guard play.
The remaining 16 teams have been re-ranked based on their performance this year and will benefit from warmer weather tonight, although there is a strong likelihood of rain.

“The rain increases parity among the teams,” Lynch said. “It makes the mental aspect that much more important.”

Of course, the tournament is not just about basketball. Most of the proceeds will go to Jumpball, a charity founded in 1995 by Notre Dame alumni who wanted to keep kids in Jamaica off the streets and provide them with an outlet to release their energy through basketball camps. Bookstore Basketball has partnered with Jumpball since 2002 and has become its biggest donor. Two members of the Bookstore Basketball executive board travel to Jamaica each year to see the camps firsthand.

“I was lucky enough to go last year, and it was an unbelievable experience,” Lynch said. “It’s such a great camp and it’s about more than basketball. They teach the kids about teamwork and other life skills.”

The Sweet 16 begins tonight at 5 p.m. on the Bookstore Courts.
Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu