NEW YORK, N.Y. – Notre Dame had a major presence at Tuesday evening's (March 8) BIG EAST Conference annual awards ceremony at Madison Square Garden as the Irish claimed three of the league's top four awards.
For the third time in five years, Irish head coach Mike Brey was named the Oppenheimer Funds BIG EAST Coach of the Year, seniorguard Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) became the fourth Notre Dame player in program history to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, and graduate student Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) was named the BIG EAST Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Brey was selected for the honor by his other 15 coaching peers in the league, while the head coaches also voted on Hansbrough's selection as the conference's top player. The Conference's Academic Affairs Committee made Abromaitis' selection as the Scholar Athlete of the Year.
This will mark the third time since Notre Dame became a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 that it has won both coach and player-of-the year accolades in the same season. In 1997, John MacLeod and Pat Garrity were named recipients of the awards, while Brey and Luke Harangody took home the trophies in 2008.
Brey, in his 11th season at Notre Dame, has engineered one of the greatest coaching efforts in program history. Currently, 25-5 overall, the Irish earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Championship by finishing with a 14-4 record that matched the best mark in program history set by the 2007-08 Notre Dame team. The 25 regular-season victories are the most ever by an Irish team in the modern era and equals the most wins ever by a Notre Dame unit under Brey in BIG EAST play. His squad heads into this week's BIG EAST Tournament ranked fourth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today rankings and has won 11 of its last 12 games.
Notre Dame, which won the 2010 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., in November, has defeated a school-record seven ranked opponents during the regular season and are 7-2 versus the nine teams it has played which also includes a program-best six-game win streak against ranked teams.
One of eight coaches in BIG EAST history with 100-plus victories (including regular-season and tournament games), Brey has guided his Irish teams to 10 or more wins in seven of 11 seasons. He has an overall record of 335-170 (.663) during his coaching career and a 236-118 (.667) at Notre Dame. His Irish teams are 112-72 in BIG EAST regular-season play since he took over as head coach in 2000-01.
Since his first campaign, Brey has guided Notre Dame to seven 20-win seasons and six NCAA tournament appearances.
Under his tutelage, nine players have earned first-team all-BIG EAST honorees on 11 occasions. He has had three different players earn BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades — Troy Murphy in 2001, Haranogdy in 2008 and Hansbrough in 2011.
Brey also earned the league's coach-of-the-year honor in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008 to become just the third coach in BIG EAST history to win the award in consecutive seasons. Brey is the fifth BIG EAST coach to win the award on three or more occasions.
Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun have earned the honor on four occasions. Boeheim was the recipient in 2010, 2000, 1991 and 1984, while Calhoun has been selected in 1998, 1996, 1994 and 1990. St. John's Lou Carnesecca (1983, 1985 and 1986) and Georgetown's John Thompson (1980, 1987 and 1992) were three-time coach-of-the-year honorees during their careers.
Hansbrough becomes the fourth Notre Dame player to earn player-of-the-year honors joining Garrity (1997), two-time recipient Troy Murphy (2000 and 2001) and Harangody (2008).
Hansbrough, who transferred to Notre Dame in June 2008 after playing two seasons at Mississippi State, was not on a preseason all-BIG EAST team to start the campaign, but the Irish senior has certainly been a catalyst to the team's success in 2010-11. The only unanimous selection to the all-BIG EAST team, he has scored 975 points and has started all 65 outings in an Irish uniform while averaging 15.0 points over the course of the past two seasons.
Hansbrough currently leads Notre Dame in scoring with a career-best 18.5 points per game, in addition to averaging 3.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists. In BIG EAST play, he finished as the Conference's third-leading scorer at 20.7 points per game and also grabbed 4.1 rebounds and dished off 4.3 assists in 18 league outings.
He has scored in double figures in all but two contests this season, topping the 30-point mark on two occasions and netting 20-plus points 14 times. He enters the BIG EAST Championship having scored 20 or more points in four consecutive outings.
Abromaitis becomes the third player in BIG EAST history to win the men's basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years. Connecticut's Emeka Okafor was a two-time recipient in both 2003 and 2004, while Seton Hall's Arturas Karnishovas was the honoree in both 1993 and 1994.
Abromaitis was recently named a first-team selection to the Capital One Academic All-America men's basketball for the second consecutive year and became the first Notre Dame men's basketball player to earn first-team Academic All-America honors in back-to-back seasons since Pat Garrity in 1997 and 1998.
Currently, Abromaitis is enrolled in a one-year intensified MBA program within the Mendoza College of Business and has a 3.615 grade point average. He will graduate in May with his MBA. Abromaitis graduated one full year ahead of his class in May of 2010 from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in finance. A three-time member of the Dean's List, he earned a 3.72 grade index over his eight semesters.
He also was the recipient of the 2010 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award for men's basketball team. Abromaitis becomes the third player in BIG EAST history to win the men's basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years. Connecticut's Emeka Okafor was a two-time recipient in both 2003 and 2004, while Seton Hall's Arturas Karnishovas was the honoree in both 1993 and 1994.
Abromaitis recently was named a first-team selection to the Capital One Academic All-America men's basketball team for the second consecutive year and became the first Notre Dame men's basketball player to earn first-team Academic All-America honors in back-to-back seasons since Garrity in '97 and '98.
He also was the recipient of the 2010 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award for men's basketball.
A member of the all-BIG EAST third team in 2011 and an honorable mention selection in 2010, he stands second in scoring behind Hansbrough with a 15.2 scoring average, in addition to registering a career-best 6.2 rebounds per game. In BIG EAST play, he has netted 14.7 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds.
Abromaitis recently became the 51st player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 career points and owns a career scoring average of 13.5 points per game.
He has scored in double figures in all but four contests and tallied 20-plus points on 11 occasions. In his 30-point effort on Feb. 28 against Villanova, he tied a Purcell Pavilion record with nine three-pointers.
Notre Dame earned a double-bye into Thursday night's(March 10) quarterfinal matchup against either N0. 7 Cincinnati, No. 10 Villanova or No. 15 USF. The contest will be aired at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN.