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Bookstore Basketball approaches

Gene Noone | Wednesday, March 7, 2007

With March Madness just around the corner, NCAA athletes are not the only ones gearing up for competition. Registration recently began for the world’s largest five-on-five basketball tournament.

Bookstore Basketball, now in its 36th year at Notre Dame, will accept teams until Friday. The first round of the tournament will begin April 2.

So far nearly 60 teams comprised of students, faculty and staff members from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross are scheduled to participate, head commissioner Jim Rogers said.

Rogers said the tournament’s goal is to have 700 teams participate. Last year’s tournament saw 580 teams compete for the championship title, which went to “U Got a Bad Draw,” a squad that featured Notre Dame football stars Brady Quinn and Chinedum Ndukwe.

“Last year’s competition was really fierce,” junior Kevin Gleason said. His team, “Never Nudes,” was eliminated in the seventh round with 128 teams remaining.

While some teams compete for a love of the game, others like Gleason’s take it more seriously, with hopes of playing in the finals.

“Our goal this year is the championship,” Gleason said. “We’ve been practicing some screens and doing some penetration drills to get ready for this year’s tournament.”

The month-long event consists of two tournaments, the open and the women’s. The open tournament ranks the top 32 teams and puts the other teams into the bracket randomly. Teams play games up to 21 baskets with all baskets counting as one point. All teams vie for a chance to play in the championship game held on April 29.

The tournament is open to all students, including varsity athletes. There are rules, however, on team composition. Only one Division I basketball player can be on a team and only one Division II or Division III participant can be on the team in addition to the Division I player. Also, only three football players can be on the same team, and only one varsity basketball player and varsity football player can be on the same team.

The entry fee is $25 per team. All proceeds go to the Jumpball Program, which began in 1995 when members of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Jamaica saw the need for more youth development programs in the country’s capital, Kingston.

Because basketball is a flourishing sport in Jamaica and is available to players of all socio-economic levels, Bookstore coordinators thought it was a good way to teach Jamaica’s youth important values.

“We donate all proceeds to Jumpball and hope to send several Bookstore Basketball staff members to Jamaica to help run the basketball clinic there this summer,” Rogers said.

The four-day clinic is the highlight of the Jumpball program. It brings U.S. collegiate coaches together with nearly 200 boys and girls to teach not only basketball fundamentals but also self-esteem, dedication and teamwork.

“The Bookstore Basketball Tournament is one of the best traditions here at Notre Dame,” Rogers said. “With so many participants, it truly demonstrates the sense of community we all enjoy on this campus. Whether you are part of a competitive team or not, it is a great experience and also raises money for a great cause.”

For more information on the tournament, including updated brackets, rules and registration information, visit http://nd.edu/~bkstr.