Falls and Carter become the first pair of Irish players to land on the first-team. The Big East in unique. Because of 16 teams in the league, the conference selects 11 players onto the first and second teams as well as the All-Rookie squad. The Big East coaches do the voting and they are not allowed to have one of their own players on the ballot. These four players have led Notre Dame to a bye in the league tournament in New York City and a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish play Thursday against the winner of the Syracuse-Connecticut contest.
Falls has been a catalyst down the stretch for the Irish, who are on a five-game winning game heading to the Big Apple. The senior guard has scored 14 points or more in 12 straights contests and has picked up the offensive slack when Carter struggles shooting from the field. In conference play, Falls is nailing 45 percent of his shots from the field and averaged 15.9 PPG. This year, he broke the Big East and school record for most career made three-pointers.
Carter leads the team in scoring at 16.9 PPG. He has shown the ability to take over games sometimes on the offensive end. He scored in double figures in the first 18 contests of the season. His career-high was set in a loss at St. John's where he poured in 32 points. Carter has scored 20-plus points nine times on the year. He can hurt teams from the perimeter and driving to the hoop with first-rate athleticism.
Jackson has improved more than anyone on the team from the first game of the season to now. The freshman point guard was thrown into the mix after starter Kyle McAlarney was dismissed from the university for a drug possession charge. All Jackson has done is take control of the team and finish first in the conference in assists at six per game. His highlight performance was in the win over Marquette. Jackson scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.
Harangody is the main physical presence down in the paint area. The 6-8, 250-pound forward is fourth on the team in scoring at 11 PPG and pulls down six rebounds a contest. Harangody has six double-doubles on the year and two performances stand out. In a win at Syracuse with starting forward Rob Kurz out because of an ankle injury, he scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. Against Marquette, Harangody poured in a career-high 22 points to propel Notre Dame to the huge conference victory. Harangody and Jackson become the fifth and sixth players in Irish Big East history to be named to the All-Rookie team. Connecticut's Jerome Dyson, Seton Hall's Eugene Harvey and Villanova's Scottie Reynolds were unanimous picks for the freshman squad.
There were five unanimous selections on the first-team. Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, the Orange's Demetris Nichols, Providence's Herbert Hill and Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray were named on every coaches' ballot. It's a safe bet when the Player of the Year award is announced, it'll be one of these five players. Another note: eight of the 11 individuals on the first-team were seniors.
***Eight Notre Dame players are on the ballot for National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1A) that was released this week. The only other school with more than three nominees was Southern California with five.
It's an illustrious list of Irish players. Tim Brown was the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time All-American. Dave Casper was a member of the 1973 national title team and also a consensus All-American the same season. Linebacker Bob Crable was a two-time consensus All-American in 1980-81 and holds the record for most tackles in school history with 521. Linebacker Bob Golic was a unanimous All-American pick in 1978 and once recorded 26 tackles in a game against Michigan. Quarterback Terry Hanratty was a consensus All-American in 1968 and finished third in the Heisman Trophy race. Tackle George Kunz was a member of the 1966 national title team and a consensus All-American in 1968. End Jim Seymour was a two-time first-team All-American in 1967-68 and led Notre Dame in receiving yards from 1966-68. Last but not least, defensive tackle Chris Zorich was a two-time first-team All-American in 1989-90 and won the Lombardi Award in 1990.
Notre Dame has 41 players and five former coaches in the Hall of Fame, more than any school in college football. There are more than 12,000 voters selecting this year's class. The group will be announced later this spring.