Notes: Notre Dame PF Bonzie Colson considers himself a "four-year guy"
Through a recent avalanche of accolades and a bunch of big games, the college basketball career arc of Notre Dame power forward Bonzie Colson has never changed course.
And it may never.
Not even after a bust-out junior season that earned him first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors after becoming the lone player in the nation’s toughest league to average a double-double for points (17.0) and rebounds (10.4).
Colson continues to carry the same lunch-bucket mindset – work hard every day and when that’s done, work a little harder – that’s expected to springboard him into his senior year.
Everybody knows his name, but it hasn’t changed the way Colson feels about his game. And his future in it.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming here; it’s been such a blessing,” Colson told the Tribune. “I came here to be a four-year guy.”
Colson has told Mike Brey as much. So have his parents. Back in January, just before his power forward’s star streaked across the ACC sky, Brey talked with Colson’s father about the weeks ahead. There might come a point where Colson would have to consider the route taken by former Irish point guard Demetrius Jackson and choose the NBA over his senior year of college.
“Dad was like, '(He) doesn’t need that,'” Brey said Monday. “He has been very focused and the family has said, he’s a four-year guy and he needs four years.”
Coming off what Colson has done this season, he would be expected at the least to take the same NBA route that teammate V.J. Beachem traveled last season — declare for the draft, not hire an agent and explore his professional future before returning for his senior season.
“I don’t even know if he’ll do that,” Brey said.
Brey had to convince Beachem to take a long look at the league and declare, and said may have to do the same with Colson. For Colson, those are debates and discussions that are weeks and likely months down the road. All he wants to do is what he’s done the minute he arrived on campus: Keep working, keep competing, keep growing his game. For now. For next week. For next year.
As good as he’s been, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s near the end of the college road.
“You have to accept the praise, but be humble about it.” Colson said. “You stay motivated, continue to be hungry and that’s what I do.”
Power forward Martinas Geben has delivered a pair of solid efforts – six points, four rebounds in 10 minutes against Boston College and four points, four rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes against Louisville – after not playing at all the previous two games.
Following Saturday’s game, Brey believes that Geben is playing better now than when he started. Must have been something the head coach said to the one-time starter, right?
“I haven’t talked to him for two weeks,” Brey said. “I’m just cold-shouldering his backside. I haven’t even looked at him.”
Brey talked to him briefly after the Louisville game, praised him on his play and that was it.
“Now I’m not going to talk to him until we play,” Brey said. “Sometimes tough love helps.”
Brey has had big-man coach Ryan Humphrey work with Geben, mainly in the morning. He’s also reiterated that Geben stay ready, that he’s going to be needed.
He has. And will.
Notre Dame was the only ACC school with four players recognized in some way, shape or form for all-league honors.
Colson was a first team selection while fellow starters Beachem, Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia earned honorable mention honors.
“Any of those guys could have been on a second or third team,” Brey said. “Are we now Bonzie and the Honorable Mentions? Is that our group now? I don’t know.”
Colson’s first-team selection gives the Irish at least one ACC first-teamer in two of the last three years. Notre Dame closed its run in the Big East with first-team selections in seven of its last eight seasons.
Despite being the final team to play in the ACC tournament – something that won’t happen until around 9:30 Thursday night when only five remain — the Notre Dame traveling party departed Monday night for New York.
The Irish typically leave the Monday of conference tournament week, regardless of when they play. Spring break starts Friday.
“This is the best time of the year for us and the most intense time,” said sophomore guard Rex Pflueger. “We need to focus on that.”
Just as it did for last year’s opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament and the November Legends Classic, both held at Barclays Center, Notre Dame is headquartered in midtown Manhattan. The Irish practice Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at John Jay College, just as they did during their stays at the Big East Tournament, which will be held at Madison Square Garden this week at the same time as the ACC tournament in Brooklyn.
Notre Dame has won four in a row at Barclays Center, a building the Irish will not set foot in until their shoot-around Thursday morning.
“We like Brooklyn; we know Brooklyn,” Brey said. “We’ve done the Brooklyn dance before.”
The Irish are 5-1 all-time at Barclays, including five-straight wins dating back to their first appearance during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in 2012.
WHO: No. 3 seed Notre Dame (23-8 overall; 12-6 ACC) vs. No. 6 Virginia (23-9; 11-7) or No. 11 Georgia Tech (17-14; 8-10) or No. 14 Pittsburgh (15-16; 4-14).
WHERE: Barclays Center (18,103), New York.
WHEN: Thursday at 9:30 p.m. (approximately).
RADIO: WSBT (960 AM, 96.1 FM).
ONLINE: Follow every Notre Dame game with live updates from Tribune beat writer Tom Noie at twitter.com@tnoieNDI.
NOTING: Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh open tournament play Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to Wednesday’s second round to face Virginia at 9:30 p.m.