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Notre Dame Basketball

Pat Connaughton Hoping To Leave Impression On Young Irish

July 16, 2019

Notre Dame had a collection of its professional players in the gym at the new Rolfs Athletics Hall on Monday for some summer work. 

Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton led the charge and organized the week-long session with more than training in mind. 

“We had a great brotherhood when we were here,” Connaughton said. “The things we were able to accomplish in the 2014-15 season, Jerian (Grant) and I wanted to bring that stuff back. I wanted to make sure we got the new practice facility and some things that are trying to put Notre Dame basketball back on the map.”

Connaughton’s goal is to make sure the professional guys have a chance to work on their games, but also for the current members of the Fighting Irish to see what it takes to get to that level.

“We wanted to be with each other and work,” explained Connaughton. “Iron sharpens iron and we were able to do that when we were here. I thought it would also be great for the program. Coach (Mike) Brey has done so much for all of the guys who have played here in the past. 

“To bring everyone who is playing pro back for a week to workout and allow the current team to see how we work and ask questions will be great for the future of the program. It will help with playing and recruiting.” 

The stunning Rolfs Athletics Hall may set the bar in college basketball in the facility war, but the former player appreciated what the old Pit had to offer, however, none we upset the have an incredible facility to come back to now. 

“The Pit was great,” said Connaughton. “There are a lot of memories in The Pit. This was definitely needed. We’re in the ACC, the best conference in America. We might have been a little bit behind the curve, so it’s great to have now. 

“The alums pride ourselves on it because we kind of think we helped to get this to happen with how good we were and the legacy we were trying to leave. It’s something we’re going to try to do year in and year out.” 

Connaughton has played a role on NBA playoff teams over his career and he wants to make sure Notre Dame’s 2019-20 team understands what kind of culture it takes to win at a high level.

“It’s the same message Jerian and I gave to our team in the 2014 summer,” Connaughton explained. “Team success breeds individual success. It’s not vice versa. That’s something I saw in my time in Portland. Dame (Lillard) and CJ (McCollum) did a great job of caring about the team first. Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is one of the best at it. He got MVP, but a lot of it was based off the fact he led his team from a seven-seed to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

“We came up a little short, but the best part about it was the journey. We learned from it and will come back stronger. Those are the values and morals we want to make sure the current team here understands and guys who come into the program understand.” 

The Bucks might have lost in six games to Toronto, but Connaughton enjoyed his first year in Milwaukee and is excited about the future of the organization. 

“I loved it,” Connaughton said. “It was my best experience in the NBA yet. That’s not a slight on Portland, but how great the season was this year. Everyone had the same type of core culture and values they wanted to bring to the table. 

“I think that’s why we gelled so well and why we can continue to improve and accomplish more this year.” 

Connaughton was also joined by his former Notre Dame teammate, Bonzie Colson, in Milwaukee. Colson signed a two-way contract with Milwaukee in January and got some spot time at the end year, which Connaughton believes he can use a building block for the future. 

“It’s awesome,” said Connaughton of having Colson back with him. “Bonzie was a big part of what we did in my senior year. To have him back in the same locker room – I kind of helped lead him too. It’s a different animal in the NBA. He had to learn a couple of things. He picked it up fast and got to play a little bit at the end of the year. It’s about him not getting comfortable and improving during the summer.”  

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