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Bookstore Basketball tournament encourages competition

| Friday, April 28, 2017

Over 500 teams signed up to participate in the Bookstore Basketball tournament this year. On Sunday, that number will be narrowed down to one champion after the four remaining teams compete in the Final Four Round on Friday and Sunday’s championship game.

Junior Reed Hunnicutt, captain of “The Practice Squad” — the number two seed team in the open bracket — said his team has had to adjust to new opponents, but they have been able to successfully adapt.

Senior Erich Jegier goes up for a shot during a tournament game.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Senior Erich Jegier goes up for a shot during a tournament game.

“A lot of us practice with the women’s team — that’s why we’re called ‘The Practice Squad,’” he said. “So we play together a little bit throughout the year, but getting used to playing outside and playing against somebody we hadn’t played against before is probably the toughest part. But overall, I think we’ve done a good job of adjusting.”

Building chemistry has also been an important part of his team’s success, Hunnicutt said.

“They’re like brothers, pretty much,” he said. “We hang out together all the time. This has been a goal of ours — [to] win bookstore — for a while, so to be able to still be in it and compete for it is great.”

Senior Conor Colpoys, captain of “Finnigan’s” — the number one seed team and two-time champion of the open bracket — said his team has had to adjust to being smaller, but overall, has been able to overcome this challenge.

“We’re a little smaller than we were in the past, so rebounding has been a little tougher than it usually is, but we’re still doing a pretty good job, I think,” he said. “I think we’re doing a good job coming together at the right time so everyone is learning to play well together.”

Colpoys said his team prepares for each game — even in the beginning stages of the tournament — in order to avoid upsets.

“We try to turn the intensity up early on,” he said. “We make sure we don’t get upset because we’ve seen some upsets out here.”

Senior Luke Dziedzic, president of the Bookstore Basketball executive board, said one of the most challenging parts of organizing the tournament was making the brackets.

“It’s hard to make a 500-team bracket, and it’s just pretty tedious going through each court, each time slot,” he said.

Creating the women’s bracket was particularly challenging due to the unusual number of teams in the tournament, Dziedzic said.

“The women’s bracket this year had 84 teams, which, as you can imagine, is not a good number for making a bracket,” he said. “I had to Google an 84-team bracket, and then I ended up messing up and I left two teams off, so I had to add them afterwards.”

The tournament helps to raise money for Jumpball, a basketball camp for kids in Jamaica, which was founded by several members of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Jamaica.

Senior Casey Baker, vice president of the Bookstore Basketball executive board, traveled with Dziedzic to volunteer at a Jumpball clinic during the summer following their freshman year at Notre Dame. Baker said visiting the camp was one of her favorite experiences during her time as a Bookstore Basketball volunteer.

“I think my favorite part was actually going to Jamaica and seeing what our money goes towards, because that’s one of the things we try to improve knowledge of — where the money’s going,” she said. “It’s not just this basketball tournament that you pay for and have no clue of the impact.”

Even after graduation, alumni continue to participate in Bookstore Basketball by organizing their own tournaments, junior and Bookstore Basketball executive board member Sarah Barcomb said.

“Alumni groups elsewhere in the country still have their own mini versions of Bookstore Basketball sometimes, too,” she said. “And alumni donated to it and stuff. It’s something that people remember for many years.”

Barcomb said she has even received messages from alumni who were planning their own Bookstore Basketball tournaments.

“These people have Facebook messaged us asking questions about the tournament, because they want to do it right when they do it themselves,” she said.

Overall, Dziedzic said he has enjoyed his time organizing and volunteering at the tournament.

“I just really enjoy watching basketball, and being out here and helping run the tournament,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I think I speak for all of the execs when I say we really enjoy being here day in and day out, just making sure the stuff runs smoothly.”

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