Celebrating Notre Dame Senior Jack CooleyPosted by WCarey on March 6th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.
When Notre Dame celebrated its Senior Night on Tuesday, the Irish honored four players. However, of those four seniors, only one was active due to a redshirt (forward Joey Brooks) and a pair of knee injuries (to forwards Mike Broghammer and Scott Martin). That one active senior was forward Jack Cooley. Cooley, a native of Glenview, Illinois, committed to Mike Brey and the Irish in February of his junior year after also considering offers from Illinois, Southern Illinois, and Wisconsin. When he arrived in South Bend, he had to wait his turn before becoming a major contributor for the Irish. During his freshman and sophomore seasons, he fought for minutes behind former Irish standouts Luke Harangody, Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash, and Carleton Scott. While he only averaged 10.3 minutes per game during his sophomore season, that was the year when it became clear that Cooley had the skills to provide the Irish with a solid interior force. He also became widely known throughout college basketball that season for his uncanny physical resemblance to his former teammate, Harangody.
It became Cooley’s time during his junior season after Harangody, Nash, and Scott had graduated and Abromaitis was lost early in the season to a serious knee injury. He responded admirably to his increased role, averaging 12.5 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, and recording 13 double-doubles. As a team, Notre Dame had a successful 2011-12 season, finishing at 22-12 with an impressive 13-5 mark in the Big East. At the conclusion of the conference season, Cooley was the recipient of two conference accolades, as he was named the Big East Most Improved Player and was voted Second-Team All-Big East.
Prior to the start of his senior campaign, Cooley was named a team captain along with Martin and junior point guard Eric Atkins. When announcing team captains, Mike Brey acknowledged how far Cooley had come in his career by stating, “He’s become a big voice in our locker room. It’s something that I would not have expected a couple of years ago, but like our players, I have a great deal of respect for Jack and how he has really taken ownership of this team.” As a captain, Cooley has had a very productive senior season. He is currently averaging 13.9 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game (which leads the Big East), and he has already recorded 19 double-doubles this season. Ever since Martin was lost to an injury in late January, Cooley has emerged as the team’s vocal leader and has willed the Irish to an 8-3 mark in his absence. Cooley’s vocal leadership was never more apparent than when he fouled out against Louisville on February 9 with over six minutes remaining in regulation. After being relegated to the bench, he took on a coaching role for reserve big men Zach Auguste and Garrick Sherman for the rest of regulation and the subsequent five overtimes in a huge Notre Dame victory.
Considering the success Cooley has had this season, it would be logical to assume he will be named All-Big East when the teams are released next week. Along with Cooley’s personal success, the Irish have turned in another successful campaign, as they sit at 23-7 overall with an 11-6 mark in Big East play. Notre Dame has had its fair share of postseason missteps in the Mike Brey era, but with a senior performer like Cooley, the Irish certainly have a chance to reverse their March fortunes.