CHN writer Jon Teitel recently spent some time talking with one of the most improved players in the Big East, Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis. Abromaitis and the rest of the Fighting Irish will take on Old Dominion on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jon Teitel: Your older brother Jason played at Yale. What did he teach you about the sport, and who is the better player?
Tim Abromaitis: Since he is older, he was always beating me in 1-on-1. He taught me how to be competitive and have a good work ethic.
JT: Your father James played at Connecticut and then played pro ball for the New Jersey Nets. What was it like to grow up as the son of a pro athlete, and what is it like at home when Notre Dame plays against Connecticut?
TA: It was a real advantage. The games against Connecticut are fun for me because so many people back home are rooting for Connecticut, but some of them have started cheering for Notre Dame.
JT: You sat out all of last season to work on your game at Coach Mike Brey's suggestion, but came back this year to be named Honorable Mention All-Big East. How did you feel about redshirting, and how have you been able to make such a great comeback this season?
TA: It was a lot of hard work to be out: I tried to work every day to get better, and also took advantage of the free time.
JT: You have a 3.72 GPA, were named conference scholar-athlete of the year, and are also an Academic All-American. How important are academics in your life, and how does your intelligence help you on the court?
TA: I have always tried to put school first, as my parents taught me early on. I try to transition that into my game and be a smart player.
JT: You lead your team in both three-point and free throw shooting this year. Which do you think is more important in the tourney, and what is your secret for being a good shooter?
TA: There is no particular secret; I just try to be consistent, and have worked on it a lot.
JT: Luke Harangody recently became Notre Dame's first three-time First-Team All-Big East honoree. What is it like to play with Luke, and how was your team able to play so well after he got injured earlier this season?
TA: Luke is a great player, and we really missed him when he was gone, but we were able to build on our momentum and come together as a team.
JT: Ben Hansbrough scored 19 PTS in his last NCAA Tournament game (a 2008 loss to Memphis), and his brother Tyler won a title last year with UNC. What has the addition of Ben meant to your team, and has he shared any advice from his brother about what it takes to win it all?
TA: Ben doesn't really talk about Tyler a lot. He has been a great addition to our team, as he is a hard worker who brings it every day.
JT: Your team got a six-seed and has a first round game on Thursday against Old Dominion. How do you like your chances, and are you taking them even more seriously than you normally would knowing that they beat Georgetown back in December?
TA: We have a lot of respect for them. We have not finished scouting them yet, but we will take them very seriously.
JT: Your team won fourteen of its first seventeen games, then lost seven of its next ten, then won six in a row before losing to West Virginia by two in the Big East semifinals. Has the season been as much of a roller coaster as the results indicate, and how do you feel about your team's momentum going into the tourney?
TA: There were definitely some ups and downs, but we got rolling by the end of the season, and it has been a lot of fun over the past few weeks.
JT: Coach Brey's birthday is on March 22nd; is team going to get him anything special for his birthday?
TA: I think we will just get him a $5 foot-long sub or something.