Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Las on the Hunt; Tripucka to be Honored

January 29, 2020

Notre Dame scored the game’s opening points Wednesday night against Wake Forest on a pair of Juwan Durham free throws a mere 30 seconds after the opening tip.

The Fighting Irish would not lead again until nearly four minutes in the second half. But they led when it most mattered --- at game’s end of an 90-80, comeback-win against the visiting Demon Deacons.

With senior guard T.J. Gibbs electric and sophomore wing Nate Laszewski perhaps as assertive as any point in his young career, Notre Dame halted a two-game losing skid and notched its first Atlantic Coast Conference home win in 353 days --- a Feb. 10, 2019, 69-59 win against Georgia Tech.

Laszewski surpassed his season-best of 16 points set in non-conference play and finished just five short of the career-best 23 he poured in last March at Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey again touted the sophomore’s role --- both now and moving forward in the program’s future.

“I’m going to show him some of it (Thursday),’ Brey said. “There’s no question he needs to see some of that. Especially how he hunted his shot. I thought he rolled and rose up in spots and (said) ‘I’m a big-time shooter. I’m taking this.’ …

“I want him to score; like hunt it and score for us. As we get more scorers, now we’re getting in the mid-80s. If you can get that thing in the 80s, I think you can win a lot of them.”


Former Notre Dame legend and long-time professional basketball player Kelly Tripucka will be inducted Saturday into the Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor Saturday when the Fighting Irish host Georgia Tech (12 p.m.).

A three-time All-American and the program’s No. 12 all-time leading scorer, Tripucka spent a decade in the NBA with three teams.

Brey said he told the former Irish legend of his upcoming induction into the prestigious Ring at Notre Dame’s Feb. 6, 2019, trip to Miami, when Tripucka was helping on the game’s TV broadcast.

“Kelly, he’s one of the all-time greats,” Brey said of Tripucka, whose father, Frank, was a Notre Dame quarterback. “Right? Powerful name. One I remember so much watching Notre Dame basketball. Most of his teammates will be here, a lot of them are coming back. So I think it’s going to be a neat reunion for those guys. Well-deserved.

“He didn’t know, we were at Miami. He has the game. I told him, ‘This is obvious, right? He goes up next year.’ He teared up. It was awesome, it was really awesome. And what a Notre Dame family.”


Now that Notre Dame has carved out its first ACC home win, the Fighting Irish are seeking to bolster their league standing with two more home games in the next seven days.

Notre Dame already dispatched Georgia Tech 78-74 in Atlanta on January 15. It hosts the Yellow Jackets Saturday and then gets Pittsburgh at home next Wednesday.

The Fighting Irish have not won three-straight games against ACC/Power-5 competition since Dec. 30, 2017 through Jan. 6, 2018, when they knocked off Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Syracuse to begin ACC play 3-0.

“It’s always good to get a win,” said senior guard TJ. Gibbs. “I mean, we needed this (win against Wake Forest), but just coming off a couple of heart-breakers (last week to Syracuse and Florida State), this is a game we need to propel ourselves into the season.

“Coach keeps saying, ‘One-game win streak.’ That’s one that we just got, and we need to be once again locked in the same way that we were preparing for this game Saturday and get ready for high noon.”

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