Notre Dame Football: Tour the Shamrock Series from a National Perspective

By Teagan Dillon • April 12th, 2017

The Shamrock Series — Notre Dame’s home-away-from-home series — started in 2009 at the Alamo Dome and became a unique way for Notre Dame to reach its fans across the country.

With interesting venues and special uniforms, the Shamrock Series has been deemed by many as a success since the beginning.

In 2007, the Irish are taking a break from the Shamrock Series to add an extra home game following the completion of the Campus Crossroads project. This video is a tour of the previous eight Shamrock Series locations:

Data: Indiana Ranks Low in High School Sports Gender Equity

By Grace Watkins and Cassidy McDonald • April 6th, 2017

The overall picture of gender equity in high school sports is bleak, according to an analysis of Department of Education data.

The 2012 data suggest that 28 percent of all public high schools have large gender gaps in their sports programs. A “large” gender gap is defined as having significantly more boys receive spots on sports teams than girls (relative to the overall distribution of gender in the school).

The 10 worst states for gender equity are all in the South. Only six states have fewer than 10 percent of public high schools with large gender gaps.

Indiana has the 35th worst ranking. 28 percent of its public high schools have large gender gaps. The good news is that Indiana improved four percent from the 2010-11 school year to the 2011-12 school year. –– Grace Watkins

Title IX and Girls High School Sports

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

That’s the frequently cited tagline from the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” which tells the story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, a wartime effort to fill the gap in men’s baseball with women’s teams.

But the film includes a lesser-known line that’s perhaps even more poignant today. Coach Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) says to Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) when she considers quitting: “Sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up. You can’t deny that.”

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the statute that prohibited discrimination in college and high school athletics and allowed millions of women to participate in sports. (And as Dugan would say, helped them learn what “lights them up.”)

Take a look at what has changed, and check out the state of high school women’s athletics in Indiana today. — Cassidy McDonald

Sports Data: NHL’s Evolution, Luck’s Stats, WNBA Attendance Drops

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Hockey, like any sport, is a game of innovation, and few advancements have provided such a lasting impact as the curved stick blade and the butterfly style of goaltending.

In the 1960s, two popular stars on the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, supposedly discovered they could shoot a hockey puck harder and with more control using a stick with a curved blade.

According to the Toronto Star, Mikita made the discovery after his flat stick partially broke during practice. He showed Hull how easy it was to get the puck off the ice, and, although the two were probably not the first NHL players to use the curved stick, they popularized the design.

When Mikita and Hull began using curved sticks, the average NHL game saw around three goals scored during it. Less than two decades later, however, the league averaged almost four goals per game, an increase of one goal.

Many of the offensive statistical leaders in NHL history, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario LeMieux and Mark Messier, played during this era.

The curved stick did more than just enable players to score, though. Seemingly simple facets of today’s game, like saucer passes, snap shots and clearing the defensive zone by chipping it high off the glass, would not have been possible without the controlled ability to lift the puck provided by the curved stick.

As physics has told us, however, for every action there is an opposite reaction, and for hockey this arrived in the shape of a feisty French-Canadian goaltender by the name of Patrick Roy during the 1985-1986 season.

Instead of simply kicking at pucks, Roy dropped to his knees and used his flexibility and quickness to kick his legs out and cover the bottom part of the net more effectively than any goalie before or, arguably, since.

While it may seem contradictory to cover the lower part of the net in the age of the curved stick blade, when Roy broke into the NHL he said he looked at the stats and saw something like three-quarters of all goals scored at the time were low, off rebounds or loose pucks in front of the net, according to the New York Times.

The butterfly style allowed Roy to first control rebounds off of shots better, but also position himself in such a way that reduced angles and made it harder for second-chance shots to beat him, no matter how quickly the shooter could lift the puck.

Although Roy was not the first goalie to drop to his knees in such a style, his popularity in Quebec and successful career in the NHL (during which he won two Stanley Cups each with the Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche, as well as two Conn Smythe trophies as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs) soon prompted scores of young goalies to adopt the butterfly style.

This countered the increasing goal totals produced by the curved stick blade, and by the end of Roy’s career in 2003, the average goals scored in the NHL was below pre-curved stick levels.

Few, if any, goaltenders in today’s game reach higher levels without adopting at least a hybrid butterfly style.

Roy also happened to be one of the most — colorful — characters in NHL history, as this video from TSN reminds us.

And yes, that was Gretzky, the Great One himself, that Roy faked out at the blue line at Madison Square Garden in moment No. 10. — Zach Klonskinski

By the Numbers: Andrew Luck

Quarterback Andrew Luck has been with the Indianapolis Colts for five seasons, bringing his team to the playoffs three times. Luck signed a six-year contract with the Colts that locks him in through 2021. This chart displays his rushing and passing yards during his time with the team. — Connor DeMill

WNBA Attendance Drops

The WNBA marks its 20th anniversary this year, but the league’s attendance numbers don’t beg for celebration.

Since its inception, average attendance has dwindled, but that’s only one numerical marker of the typically subordinate position of women’s basketball in the United States: The highest-paid WNBA player currently earns around one-fifth of the salary of the lowest-paid NBA player, and the NBA draws millions in viewerships that hardly compare to the WNBA’s six-digit television audiences. — Cassidy McDonald

Patrick Kane’s Surge in Stats

The Chicago Blackhawks have clinched the NHL Central Division and home ice in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup playoff. Over the past 10 years, they have been Stanley Cup champions three times.

One big reason: Patrick Kane has consistently been one of the best players on the Blackhawks. Yet over these 10 years, his number of goals has yet to succeed his number of assists. — Claire Radler

Where Were Indiana’s Current MLB Players Born?

April 2 marked Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season. Of the 750 players on active rosters, 25 come from Indiana while three more were recently cut. Where are they from? This map has the details. — Joe DiSipio

How Archie Miller’s Winning Percentage Compared to Tom Crean’s

With Indiana firing head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean after nine seasons with the Hoosiers, it is clear that a new voice is needed to guide the team in a new direction. His 166-135 record at Indiana is not necessarily a bad tally, but a historic program accustomed to winning expects more than four NCAA Tournament appearances in that span.

As Archie Miller arrives from Dayton to take the reins, will he be able to lead Indiana back to its winning ways? His history at Dayton says he can, and fans in Bloomington will look forward to next season when a new face is leading the Hoosiers onto the court at Assembly Hall next winter. — Juan Jose Rodriguez

Crean’s Run Ends in Bloomington

As the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament began on March 16, Indiana University announced that it had fired head basketball coach Tom Crean.

Indiana hired Crean in 2008, and he compiled a 301–166 record in nine seasons. In the 2016-17 season, Indiana went 18-16 and missed the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round of the NIT Tournament to Georgia Tech.

This chart breaks down Crean’s rise and fall as Indiana’s basketball coach. — Kevin Culligan

Notre Dame by the Numbers: Breakdown of Fighting Irish Sports Statistics

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Notre Dame hockey’s regular-season average attendance hit its lowest point since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena in October 2011.

Despite the low turnout, the program is having one of its most successful seasons in years. The fourth-seeded Irish topped both Minnesota and second-seeded UMass Lowell to head to the Frozen Four this weekend for the first time since 2011 and the third time in program history.

The following chart tracks the average attendance since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena six seasons ago. — Teagan Dillon

Disparities in Irish Men’s Basketball Scoring

On a 13-member team, four Notre Dame men’s basketball players scored 2,140 of the season’s 2,783 points:

  • Bonzie Colson (639)
  • V.J. Beachem (522)
  • Matt Farrell (506)
  • Steve Vasturi (473)

Four players scored nearly 78 percent of the team’s points, so the key to next year’s success could be a fifth starter who can score in the 400-point range. Temple Gibbs, this year’s fifth starter, scored 168. — Erin McAuliffe

NBA Stats: Breaking Down the Russell Westbrook and Paul George Factors

By Lucas Masin-Moyer and Daniel O'Boyle • April 6th, 2017

With only six games left to play in the NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has all but assured he will average a triple double — with double-digit totals in points, assists and rebounds. As of April 7, Westbrook was averaging 31.9 points per game, 10.4 assists per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Barring any unforeseen drop in form, Westbrook will be the first to accomplish this remarkable stat line since Oscar Robertson did it for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1961-62 season.

What is equally remarkable is how quickly Westbrook was able to increase his output. Westbrook began his career averaging only 15.3 points per game, yet with the departure of teammates James Harden (2012) and Kevin Durant (2016) allowed Westbrook to shoulder more of the scoring burden, increasing his points per game to 31.9.

Westbrook’s increasing playmaking ability to increase his assist output over the course of his career — he finally broke the double-digit barrier during the 2015-16 season.

Perhaps the area of Westbrook’s game which saw the most growth was rebounding. The improvement of this final aspect of his game finally put Westbrook over the top in 2016-17.

Westbrook’s 2016-17 season has been nothing short of remarkable. As the sole superstar on the team following Durant’s departure, he has upped his game to levels unseen in 50 years, the result of years of improvement. — Lucas Masin-Moyer

Data: George Holds Key to Pacers’ Postseason Success

It’s an oft-repeated fact that to succeed in the NBA you need stars who will perform in the postseason.

But which NBA star has been the most important to his team when it counts?

According to on/off stats, it’s not LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. Nor is it Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard or James Harden.

It’s Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George. And by quite some distance.

George is certainly a a top NBA player who is known for his ability to step up his game in the postseason. But the extent to which the Pacers have relied on the former Fresno State star in the playoffs may surprise you.

Among players with 2,000 playoff minutes played, George leads all players in net on/off rating, with a rating of 19.0. That means that the Pacers are better off by 19 points per 100 possessions when George is on the court compared to when he sits on the bench.

That stat is driven mostly by his astonishing defensive on/off rating of 15.4 — the Pacers’ opponents score 15.4 less points per game when they have to face George compared to facing lineups without him. Yet with an offensive on/off rating of 3.6, George helps his team score too, as shown by his career total of 18.4 playoff points per game.

Ranked second is Warriors power forward Draymond Green, who has proven invaluable to the most successful team of recent years. But with a net rating of 14.6, he still sits far behind George. In third is point guard George Hill, formerly of the Pacers, which perhaps shows that a lack of depth in Indiana is behind George’s on/off stats.

With the playoffs approaching and the Pacers tied for 7th in the Eastern Conference, history suggests George will again be the key to how the team performs. If the Pacers can find a way to perform with George off the court, they may become a dark horse candidate to make a deep playoff run. — Daniel O’Boyle

George Leads Pacers in Base Salary

Small forward Paul George has the highest base salary for the Pacers in the 2016-2017 season. George has played with the Pacers since 2010, and is in a five-year contract.

By the 2018-2019 season, George will have a base salary of $20.7 million compared to this year’s $18.3 million. The next highest base salaries of the Pacers are held by Thaddeus Young, Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson. — Lauren Fox

Olympic Swimming: 2008 Set the Gold Standard for Records

By Caelin Miltko • April 6th, 2017

Swimming features some of the most well-known athletes in the Olympics. Michael Phelps, Jenny Thompson and Mark Spitz were some of the superstars from their given Olympic years.

The record for most Olympic gold medals earned in a single Olympics has been held by two swimmers. Spitz earned it in 1972 and Phelps earned it in 2008.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics was an especially fast year for swimming. It was the year of the LZR Racer suit, which has since been banned from competition. The suit increased buoyancy and compressed the body. Some competitors wore more than one to increase the effect.

The 2008 Olympics were called the ‘fastest ever’ in swimming because of these suits and a look at the numbers seem to prove it. More swimming records were broken at that Olympics than any since 2000.

The United States generally dominates Olympic swimming, as illustrated in the map below.  A chart showing the full data set can be found at the bottom of this post.

Individually, Americans also dominate. The two most decorated Olympic swimmers, Michael Phelps and Jenny Thompson, are both American.

Map: South Bend Makes List of Top 50 Cities for Swimming

By Janet Stengle • February 21st, 2017

San Jose-Santa Clara, California, edged out Ann Arbor, Michigan, to claim the title of top swim city for the first time in Speedo and USA Swimming’s annual study.

The study compared each city’s swim qualities in relation to population, including factors like new member growth, number of USA Swimming members, club excellence, and number of high-level competitors.

South Bend-Mishawaka came in at 28th. Did your city make the list?

Rebranding, Four Winds Field Changes Boost South Bend Cubs’ Attendance

By Erin McAuliffe • February 19th, 2017

View the chart in a full browser

The South Bend Cubs were known as the South Bend Silver Hawks until 2014, and the rebranding efforts to align the team with the Chicago Cubs, its major league affiliate, have apparently paid off, according to an analysis of the team’s attendance data.

Beyond the parent club’s World Series victory, South Bend owner Andrew Berlin, who bought the team in 2011,  has spent $8 million since 2011 to renovate Four Winds Field. He upgraded seating and added a new team store, along with family-friendly stadium additions like a playground, waterpark and Kid’s Fun Zone.

The efforts have paid off — stadium attendance has more than tripled since 2011. The ticket sales in 2015, seen in the chart, set franchise records for the best single-season attendance. Also, a record amount of Indiana state sales tax was collected via the concessions and merchandise sold in the stadium in 2015, money that was retained to benefit the City of South Bend. The team was even named Ballpark Digest’s Team of the Year in 2015.

Team President Joe Hart, who joined the Cubs in 2012, spoke about the award with the Ballpark Digest: “South Bend is a great baseball community and the last four years have been very rewarding as we have worked hard to rebuild the franchise. We have a great owner that has a passion for baseball and deep commitment to [the] City of South Bend and the region. This would not be possible without an experienced front office staff that believes in customer service and providing a first-class experience for our fans each and every night.”

360 Video: South Bend Cubs Who Make the Majors Will Have New Digs

By Mike Reilley • January 1st, 2017

Wrigley Field 360 NW corner Addison and Clark – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

360-degree video outside Wrigley Field in early January. (To view on mobile, download the Ricoh Theta S app)

CHICAGO — South Bend Cubs who make it to the majors will see a whole new look to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

A five-year overhaul of the iconic ballpark is entering its fourth year and has reached its busiest period, just two months after the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.

The Cubs’ home opener against the Dodgers is April 10, just more than three months away. But today there’s no grass on the field inside the park, only heavy construction equipment, dirt and building materials.

360 photo outside of Wrigley Field. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Ballpark changes

Seats behind home plate have been removed as crews work on the 1914 Club, a 600-seat bar being built underneath home plate that’s slated to open in early 2018. The bullpens down the left- and right-field lines are being moved under the bleachers, and seating will be added where the old bullpen locations were.

The green chain-link fence along the south side of Wrigley is being replaced with the ornate metal barriers already added to the west side of the ballpark. The visitor’s dugout and clubhouse — considered the worst in Major League Baseball — are being expanded and updated. The Cubs’ clubhouse was updated before last season.

In late 2017 and 2018, work will start on renovations to the suites and press box at Wrigley.

360 photo of residential and retail complex construction. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Retail and residential complex

To the south of the ballpark, across Addison Street, ground is being cleared for a new 30,000 square-foot retail and residential development.

Due to open in 2018 or early 2019, the $140-million complex has attracted several new tenants, including Cinemark Theaters, Shake Shack and Lucky Strike bowling alley. The new complex stretches from the former site of Goose Island brewery on Clark to the former site of the 7/Eleven on the southwest corner of Addison and Sheffield.

Outdoor plaza

The Park at Wrigley Field, a 50,000-square-foot plaza on the west side of the ballpark, along Clark Street, is scheduled to be completed by spring. The plaza will be an office building, where the club will move its business operations in early 2017, as well as a parking garage for staff, coaches and players. Retail and restaurants such as Big Star tacos will anchor the first floor.  

The Park also will have a large outdoor TV screen and grassy plaza to hold events. In the winter, the area will be converted into a temporary ice rink, something the Cubs have done in the past when the space was a parking lot.

Hotel Zachary under construction across from Wrigley Field. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Hotel Zachary

Across the street from The Park at Wrigley Field, construction crews have begun building the foundation of Hotel Zachary on the west side of Clark Street. The seven-story, 175-room hotel will cover 238,000 square-feet at 3630 N. Clark St., where McDonald’s was previously located.

Hickory Street Capital — the Ricketts family-owned development company behind the project — announced in September that the site will house several new restaurants, including McDonalds, as well as a Wintrust Bank branch.

Wrigley Field before and now

Drag the slider to see what the Wrigley Field location looks like today. Photos courtesy Curtis Waltz, | @wrigleyaeriels