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Feb 12, 2011


Coach Brey celebrates a victory with his impersonators
in the Leprechaun Legion student section

College basketball is a game of emotion, where momentum swings can change the outcome of a game or entire season.  For that reason, home court advantage plays a huge role in any successful regular season.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Big East, college basketball’s most dominant conference in 2011.   What comes to mind when you think of the top venues in the conference?   The unmatchable atmosphere of MSG is immediately obvious, both as the site of the Big East Tournament and the source of superhuman strength for the St. John’s Red Storm (just ask the #3 Dukies).  Then, there’s Cuse’s dome sweet dome that brings hordes of orange men and women together behind their beloved citrus-flavored squad.  Mention also has to be made of Pitt’s animalistic “Zoo” and Nova’s Pavillion, which has been sold out for years uncountable.  Actually, speaking of sell-outs brings me to the subject of this post: Notre Dame’s Leprechaun Legion.

Historically, the JACC has provided the Fighting Irish with a remarkable advantage over all regular season opponents, no matter the rankings involved.  This trend has continued into the modern era, and during my first two years as a student Notre Dame didn’t lose a single game at home.  They’re back at it again this year, with an unblemished record and only two more home games against Seton Hall and Nova. 

What has been the source of this home court “luck of the Irish?”  None other than the notoriously raucous Leprechaun Legion.   In years past, the loyal Legion has spent many a cold day (and sometimes nights) camping out in sub-zero temperatures in order to gain access to the coveted first few rows that set the tone for every home game.  The Legion has always been extremely vocal and passionate, forcing the College Game Day crew to admit they had never come across a more lively or spirited student section (not even the Cameron Crazies?!) when they visited in 2009.

The Leprechan Legion in action
2011 tells a different story, though.  It’s true that the front few rows continue to impress with pithy remarks spelled across rows in body paint, the fan-favorite “Irish Men” in body suits, and the recent contingent of suit coat and mock turtle neck clad Brey imposters (see above picture) bringing the JACC to life.  While these impressively obsessive members of the Legion have maintained much of the intensity this year, something is sadly lacking during the remarkable run of a team that no one credited at the outset of the season.  If you take a step back, you will notice that our arena is usually embarrassingly empty for a team that is ranked #7 nationally.  With the departure of Harangody, many students found it too hard to keep the faith, thus refusing to buy season tickets.  What they failed to recognize was the late season surge the Fighting Irish had put on without Luke last season, and the dangerous combination of experienced leaders that Brey had developed into a championship caliber squad.  It’s truly a shame that so many won’t get a chance to see these guys play in person.

Alas, not all is lost.  There is something we can do about it.  Actually, there are five things we can do about it:

1.  We must make sure every student ticket already bought is being used for every game.  Many who bought the entire booklet opt to sit out some of the games, and their tickets go to waste.  Unlike football stubs, individual basketball tickets are completely transferrable to other students.  It’s a simple solution:  If you don’t feel like going to a game, give your ticket to someone who does.  If you want to go but don’t have a ticket, ask around campus and odds are you will find one floating around somewhere.

2.  Those of us who do have tickets and continue to attend every game must make up for our comrades’ absence.  This includes not only the student section, but the entire crowd inside the JACC.  For every empty seat you see, you need to be that much louder and livelier.  In case you haven’t noticed, every time the entire crowd gets on its feet and into the game our team can’t help but go on a scoring run or buckle down for a great defensive stand.  The team feeds off our energy, and as a member of the crowd there’s nothing better than watching the direct impact your collective energy can have on a game.  Try it, its fun.

3.  For our final home game, a critical in-conference contest against Villa-no-fun, the powers that be need to find their inner generosity and open up the doors for all students to attend free of charge.  As the world’s preeminent Catholic university, we should be able to find it within ourselves to forgive their lack of loyalty by welcoming back our prodigal sons and daughters to return for one last send off worthy of a team ranked in the top 10.  Not only could doing so seal the deal on an undefeated season at home, but it could represent a tremendous showing of unity that gives the team something to remember as they head off to battle in the Big East Tournament and beyond. 

4.  All you Subway Domers in NYC need to rally around the flag come tournament time in MSG.  Having spent an entire week in the Big Apple during the tournament run last season, I saw first hand just how scattered our supporters were compared to almost every other team in contention.  In fact, most other teams seem to have a designated bar (not that I frequented them…) for their supporters to congregate in, get amped for upcoming games, and most importantly buy/sell/trade tickets with their fellow fans.  With all the Irish Pubs surrounding MSG (so I’ve been told), it baffles me why the Fighting Irish have not been able to come up with such an arrangement.  I’m talking to you, big time NYC alums who have more connections than Tetris:  Set something up to harness the collective energy of the Notre Dame / New York connection (after witnessing ND v. Army in Yankee Stadium, we all know its there…).

5.  Finally, we need to mobilize our masses for the NCAA tournament.  Everyone knows that Notre Dame travels exceedingly well for football.  Why can’t this be so for basketball?!  If, God granting, we land a good position in the Chicago region, we should all see it as a golden opportunity handed to us on a silver platter (see what I did there?).  The South Shore Line exists for a reason, the Alumni network in Chicago is ridiculously strong, and need I remind you that the greatest of all holidays (the one that turns the river green) just so happens to coincide with the first rounds of the tournament?  Oh yeah, and Notre Dame students will be on spring break… sounds like the perfect storm for Fighting Irish glory to me…

IRISH CREED writers FightingIrish1313 (far left) and TheNDleprechaun (second from left) watch a Notre Dame victory with the Leprechaun Legion

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(