Emotional banner night awaits Notre Dame men's basketball

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

One final bit of business remains before a bow can be placed atop the greatest season of Notre Dame men’s basketball modern history and everyone moves on.

That will occur just before 7:30 p.m. Friday as the No. 19 Irish open the regular season against Saint Francis (Pa.).

Right after the Red Flash starters are introduced, the arena house lights will fade and the focus from the fans in the Purcell Pavilion stands turn to the center video board, where a short highlight video/retrospective of last season will roll.

When that ends, the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship banner will be unveiled.

Friday marks the second time that the school’s first-ever league tournament championship banner will go public. Back in April, coach Mike Brey closed the team’s year-end awards program by having the banner unfurl inside Heritage Hall. It was a fitting end to a season that saw the Irish go 32-6, 14-4 in the ACC.

This time, it will take its permanent place in the arena rafters.

“After we raise that banner, it’s over and done with,” said junior guard Demetrius Jackson. “Finally, it’s a new season for us to chase it again.”

Notre Dame is picked to finish fourth in the ACC.

Celebrating any sort of championship season while staying focused in starting another always is a tricky test of emotions. The Irish are obliged to take one final walk down Memory Lane, but don’t want to get caught looking back too long in the rear-view mirror.

“It’s up to us to remain focused on our goal,” said Jackson.

Nobody on the Notre Dame team has any experience raising any sort of championship banner on the same night they have to play a game at this level, though Jackson hopes to take a cue from the pros. On the same night the Golden State Warriors raised their NBA championship banner last month, they beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-95 as last year’s league most valuable player, Stephen Curry, hit for 40 points.

“I watched the Warriors raise their banner and then they went out and did some great things,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we can have a night like that.”

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Notre Dame guards Demetrius Jackson (11) and Jerian Grant (22) have turned up their games and given the Irish some serious swagger.AP File Photo/BERNARD THOMAS