In the initial year of The Basketball Tournament, the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni won the inaugural championship, and now this year, the Fighting Alumni believe they can pull it off once more. This Thursday, the Alumni will begin their title defense against the Midwest Dream Squad at 7:40 p.m., their first test on the road towards a potential repeat.
Despite the growing popularity of this newfound tournament, headlined by the Fighting Alumni, tickets for this game cost only $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12. After the Alumni had won the first-ever TBT championship, thoughts of back-to-back titles were already being discussed amongst the team.
To fuel that belief, Kieran Piller, the GM/Coach of the Alumni added former Big East Players of the Year in Ben Hansbrough and Luke Harangody in addition to Tim Abromaitis, Carleton Scott and Eric Atkins.
“We wanted to get everyone involved,” said Alumni forward, Ryan Ayers, according to TBT.com. “We’re gonna tell those guys – and they know – that we have a certain way that we’re going to play. It’s nothing new.”
Although the Alumni will present familiar faces from their championship team, Chris Thomas, who led the 2014 group, has decided to hang it up, leaving a void at the lead guard position. Eric Atkins and Tory Jackson, who both competed last year for the team, will be called upon to pick up the slack and carry the load that Thomas has left.
This Alumni team is a group that portrays a brotherhood and it all stems from their time at South Bend playing for Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, who will be entering his 16th season as the Irish’s head coach.
Brey, who has made the trip to watch his former pupils play for the grand prize, shares the same feelings of the players, noting that watching the events unfold reminds him of when guys like Tyrone Nash and Torin Francis were still sporting the navy blue and gold.
“This is a special group for me,” Brey said before last year’s championship game. “A lot of them played together, some of them from different eras, but it’s been neat. Even some of my guys who didn’t play have come to support them, so I couldn’t miss it.”
A lot of these players have cherished the idea of reuniting via the sport that brought them together in the first place and for that fact alone, despite their graduation years, the Alumni team, even with their new additions, have a great chance of repeating, and Brey’s family-oriented ways at ND is one of the major reasons why.