Senior Night

Posted: Tuesday, March 05, 2013 by Travis Cody in

It's Senior Night at Duke, at Indiana, and at Notre Dame.

So I'd like to take a moment and honor the seniors from the programs I have followed closely this season.  Duke, Indiana, and Gonzaga are locks for the NCAA Tournament later this month, playing now for possible #1 seeds.  Notre Dame is going to get in too.  Butler is probably in the Dance, but a deep run in the A-10 tournament would cement an invitation.

Duke was well on its way to a very special season, right up to the moment when Ryan Kelly went down with a foot injury on 8 January.  The Blue Devils have been a very good team without Kelly, with designs on a deep run in March.  The senior returned to the line up on Saturday, and now those designs could very well include a trip to the Final Four.  He had 36 points on Saturday after missing two months, leading Duke to a win over Miami.  Duke is #3 in the AP poll and #1 in RPI.

Best wishes to seniors Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins (who took a red shirt year this season and who may return in 2013-14), Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, and Todd Zefirovski.

Indiana was the pre-season #1 team in the AP poll and has lived up to those expectations with an outstanding season, leading the Big 10 conference and bouncing in and out of that #1 ranking.  The Hoosiers have two Wooden Award candidates for outstanding player of the year in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.  They play lock down team defense.  They can play fast or they can grind it out in the half court.  They are exciting to watch and a clear favorite to win a national championship.  IU is #2 in the AP poll and #7 in RPI.

Best wishes to the seniors who built the foundation with coach Tom Crean from a 10-21 record in 2009-10 to 25-4 so far this season and 13-3 to lead the Big 10, with 2 games to play (including tonight) plus the Big 10 tournament - Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, and Derek Elston.

Gonzaga celebrated their seniors with a win on Saturday that secured them their first AP #1 ranking in school history.  This is one of the best Bulldog teams I've seen in more than 10 years of following the program.  This group has all the elements to make a deep run in March, either from the 1 or 2 line, and it looks pretty good for Gonzaga to get a 1 seed.  They have solid guard play, outstanding senior leadership, excellent balance, a legitimate player of the year candidate in Kelly Olynyk, a smothering defense, and depth.  You heard that right...GU is #1 in the AP poll and #9 in RPI.

Best wishes to seniors Elias Harris, Guy Landry Edi, and Mike Hart.  I hope Olynyk, a red shirt junior, comes back for his senior season.  But if not, I also wish him the best.

Notre Dame sort of plodded along this season in typically unspectacular but consistent fashion, until a remarkable stretch of games.  The Irish won 3 out of 4 games in the first 2 weeks of February, with the 3 wins all coming in overtime.  That stretch included a season-defining 5 OT win against Louisville, which was ranked #11 at the time.  Those wins got them into the top 5 in the Big East and should secure them a decent seed in the Tournament.  ND is #24 in the AP poll and #47 in RPI.

Best wishes to seniors Garrick Sherman, Tom Knight, Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, and Jack Cooley.  Special tip of the hat to graduate student Scott Martin, who has persevered through an injury plagued career.

Butler celebrates their seniors on 9 March.  The Bulldogs captured my heart several years ago with their philosophy.  The Butler Way is about commitment, unselfishness, and acceptance of reality.  The Butler Way requires striving to improve and putting the good of the team above the good of the individual.  It's not a new philosophy at Butler, but I only became aware of it in the last 5 years or so.  I like the focus on humility, passion, unity, leading by giving, and learning from every circumstance.  They play hard all the time.  Butler is #26 in the AP poll and #27 in RPI.

Best wishes to seniors Rotnei Clark, Emerson Kampen, Andrew Smith, and Chase Stigall.

There is actually one more program with seniors I'd like to recognize.  St Mary's of the WCC has worked hard to bring its program up to the standard that Gonzaga has set in the conference.  This senior class has been a large part of the emergence of the Gaels as a perennial NCAA tournament invitee, helping to keep the WCC in the national discussion as one of the best of the so-called Mid-Majors.  St Mary's is not ranked in the AP poll, however they are #23 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and #37 in RPI.

St Mary's celebrated its seniors on Saturday.  Despite the recent conclusion of an NCAA investigation that resulted in probation for the program, best wishes to Paul McCoy, Mitchell Young, Matthew Dellavedova, Kyle Rowley, and Tim Williams.

To seniors around the country, enjoy your final moments and memories playing at home for your schools.  Some of you will make athletics your profession.  But as the NCAA says, most of you are going pro in something other than sports.


  1. Jean(ie) says:

    I can't wait for the brackets to come out! Then I can play.

  1. Basketball comes at a very busy time of the semesters for me so I don't often get a chance to watch the games. I keep intending to follow it one year but so far have not lived up to that intention.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dang! I missed Senior Night. I'm sure at least one of those games would have been on TV. GN had trimester finals to study for, so no TV! GGG

  1. I'm smiling. Can you tell? :D