Notes: Notre Dame and Iowa will meet in hoops....again

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

When Notre Dame and Iowa met in December 2013 as part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, it marked the first time in 23 years that the teams’ basketball paths crossed.

That December night also was the first time in 63 years that the Irish played in Iowa City, Iowa. The matchup was new and different and exciting. Fresh.

It’s now become somewhat old news following Tuesday’s official announcement of matchups for the 2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

For the second time in Notre Dame’s four-year affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference and third time in four years overall, Iowa appears on the Irish regular-season schedule. Iowa makes its first visit to South Bend since 1990 this season with the Nov. 29 visit.

Tip time and television details will be finalized later this summer.

The ACC leads the all-time Challenge series, which was established in 1999, 100-83. The ACC won each of the first 10 challenges; the Big Ten has won five of the last seven, including each of the last two, 8-6.

Notre Dame expected to receive a home game in the annual affair after playing — and winning — last season’s game at Illinois. Matchups, which have a heavy influence of ESPN, try to keep teams from either league from playing on the road or at home in consecutive seasons.

The Irish are 2-1 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenges. The loss was the game at Iowa, 98-93. Afterward, fog prevented Notre Dame from flying out of Eastern Iowa Airport. The Irish traveling party wound up bussing home.

Notre Dame beat Iowa last November in the second round of the AdvoCare Invitational on the grounds of Disney World. It was one of four wins in five games against Big Ten teams for Notre Dame.

“The one we (gave) away, we had,” coach Mike Brey said of losing a 16-point lead in the second half before losing to Indiana. “We could have been 5-0.”

Notre Dame also beat Michigan and Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament.

“I’d rather not play five of them, but you do what you’ve got to do,” said Brey, who prefers more conference balance to the schedule. “We’ve been pretty good against the Big Ten here.”

Iowa will be one of possibly three Big Ten opponents for Notre Dame in 2016-17. Notre Dame meets Purdue in Indianapolis in the annual Crossroads Classic on Dec. 17 in Indianapolis. Northwestern is a possible opponent in the Final Four of the Legends Classic (also Colorado and Texas) held Nov. 21-22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Iowa’s trip back to South Bend will be a homecoming for eighth-year Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery.

McCaffery spent nine seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame. This will be his first trip back to coach a game since Feb. 28, 1999, the last home game for former Irish coach John MacLeod.

McCaffery’s wife, Margaret, is a Notre Dame graduate who also played basketball for the Irish (1988-92).

Solomon to Georgetown

Notre Dame assistant coach Anthony Solomon is expected to be named to a similar position at Georgetown.

Two sources close to the situation confirmed to the Tribune that Solomon is leaving Notre Dame. It was first reported Tuesday evening by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

A message left Tuesday night for Solomon was not returned. Solomon had been at Notre Dame on his second tour as an assistant since 2008. He was part of Brey’s original staff hired in 2001 before leaving to become a head coach at Saint Bonaventure in 2003.

Solomon spent four seasons as a head coach before working as an assistant at Dayton during the 2007-08 season.

Georgetown coach John Thompson III had two vacancies on his coaching staff after two assistants left for Atlantic Coast Conference programs in the offseason. Tavaras Hardy left to join coach Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech while Kevin Sutton joined new Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings.

After working all of his Notre Dame coaching career with guards, Solomon switched this past season to work with the power forwards.

Two-sport stuff

Former Notre Dame swingman Pat Connaughton pumped the brakes on reports that surfaced Monday about his plans to join the Baltimore Orioles for extended spring training this week in Sarasota, Fla.

A fourth-round draft pick of the Orioles in 2014, Connaughton has not played professionally in nearly two years. Prior to his senior season at Notre Dame, Connaughton spent six weeks with the Orioles’ Class A team in Aberdeen (Md.). Projected this month by mlb.com as the No. 30 prospect in the Orioles’ organization, Connaughton recently wrapped his rookie season in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The right-handed Connaughton hopes to one day pursue pitching as a pro. But that day isn’t going to be today, tomorrow or next week. And any trip to Florida this time of year would be a quick one.

“It’d only be for a few days to talk to some of the pitching guys before heading back out for summer training,” Connaughton told the Tribune in a text message.

Connaughton is under contract with the Blazers for the 2016-17 NBA season with a third-year team option. He likely will be on the team’s summer-league roster in July. He’s also expected to roll back through South Bend next week to help good friend and former Irish teammate Jerian Grant conduct a basketball camp at Kroc Center.

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

Twitter: @tnoieNDI

Guard Steve Vasturia and Notre Dame drew a rematch with Iowa in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Nov. 29 game will be played at Purcell Pavilion.AP File Photo