Cooley spices up b-ball banquet

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Nothing much to see here. Your typical basketball banquet, or "An Evening with Notre Dame Basketball" as they call it now.
Kelli Kalisik, president of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, presented the Rockne Student-Athlete Award to walk-on guard Patrick Crowley for his 3.1 grade-point average as a Finance major in the Mendoza College of Business.
Harold Swanagan, Coordinator of Basketball Operations, announced Jerian Grant as the team's Outstanding Playmaker.
Assistant coach Martin Ingelsby handed out the Most Improved Player Award to Tom Knight while fellow assistants Rod Balanis and Anthony Solomon bestowed the Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Captain's Award respectively to Pat Connaughton and Eric Atkins.
The seniors spoke: Mike Broghammer, Joey Brooks, Scott Martin and Jack Cooley after Cooley was presented the MVP Monogram Club Award by president Dick Nussbaum.
Cooley was last but by no means the least. After joking that giving a speech couldn't be any worse than shooting free throws in front of a crowd - allowing for a 30 percent margin for error to match the frequency he missed free throws with the Irish - Cooley stunned the crowd the Purcell Pavilion audience.
Cooley called his girlfriend, Jackie Oberlander, to the stage. Moments later, after Cooley pulled a ring out of his pocket and took a knee, Oberlander became his fiancé.
Although she couldn't be heard, Oberlander could be seen nodding her head, accepting Cooley's proposal.
"I got the ring (Tuesday)," Cooley said. "It worked out fine. A couple people knew. She didn't find out, but the whole team knew, the coaching staff knew. As long as she didn't find out, I didn't really care (who knew)."
Oberlander, as it turns out, knew a proposal from Cooley was coming at some point. The timing seemed right Wednesday night, one day after Cooley signed with an agent on the heels of an all-tournament performance in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament.
"That's a tough act to follow," said Irish head coach Mike Brey.
Broghammer was emotional at times as he talked about his first visit to Notre Dame as a 15-year-old out of Orono, Minn., and the many knee problems that he encountered that eventually led to him giving up basketball this season.
Brooks, whom Brey called "a great ambassador for our program," acknowledged an occasional butting of heads with Brey along the way, but said the two have nothing but respect for each other as he pursues his latest endeavor - a spring try-out with the Irish football team.
Brey was effusive when introducing Martin, whose five years at Notre Dame and six total in college made for a truly unique experience.
"When you think about his contribution to our program, it's amazingly powerful," said Brey of Martin. "He stirred the drink, he fit in, and he taught many of the young players in our program how to play just by watching him. He was a beautiful basketball player to watch because of his feel for the game."
Brey said Martin was "a thrill to coach and a thrill to communicate to the team through."
Martin reciprocated the love to Brey.
"I tell people Coach Brey saved my career," said Martin, who had knee surgery about three weeks ago and intends to make a run at a basketball career in Europe. "When I was at Purdue, it wasn't a good fit. I even had thoughts of just hanging it up and letting it go.
"Coach wouldn't let me do that. He sent me a letter that just said, 'Jackpot!' That's fitting for me. I won the lottery when I decided to come here and when they asked me to come here."
Jack Nolan, Director of Media Productions at Notre Dame's Sports Properties, was presented with the 275th honorary degree in the 97 years of the Monogram Club.

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