CHESTNUT HILL – It was a strange scene in a narrow corridor of a nearly deserted area of the Conte Forum on the campus of Boston College Sunday night.
While former St. John’s Prep star Pat Connaughton was holding court with hundreds of well wishers upstairs following a triumphant homecoming game, Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey was the last person out of the locker room.
If you didn’t know any better, Brey could’ve been mistaken for a custodian who’d just finished cleaning out the place. The reality, though, is that Brey is the custodian of the Fighting Irish and he’d just seen Connaughton clean up against BC with a team-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 40 minutes as ND (14-12) picked up its first road win, 73-69.
“Yeah, I just told Pat that Miami is his other home town, by the way,” said Brey, who has helped turn Connaughton into an indispensable asset for Notre Dame over the last three seasons. “That’s where we’re playing (Wednesday night) and I’d like to see him play just the way he did against BC. I said to him, make believe Miami is your other home town.
“But seriously, to see him deliver the way he did tonight? With all those people in the stands, a lot of players would’ve been distracted,” added Brey. “I’m proud of the way he handled it, but I’m not surprised. He set the tone for us early in the game. He was just fabulous.”
Connaughton, a junior guard/small forward and a first-time captain this season, drained his first five shots and had 11 points by halftime. He had a dry spell with five consecutive misses in the second half before coming up with two clutch baskets and a pair of free throws to help seal it for the Irish.