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Robby Carmody: A Football Mentality On Notre Dame's Basketball Court

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Robby Carmody started the opener last year versus UIC, the first freshman men's player to do so in 16 years.
Robby Carmody started the opener last year versus UIC, the first freshman men's player to do so in 16 years. (Fighting Irish Media)

Only seven players were healthy enough to scrimmage mainly 3-on-3 during a 40-minute Notre Dame practice earlier this week that was open to the media, so some caution was imperative .

Just don’t tell that to sophomore guard Robby Carmody. A starter in last year’s opener, Carmody took a medical redshirt last December whensurgery for a partially torn labrum was required.

Despite wearing a brace/sleeve, Carmody made a head-first diving save of a loose ball early in the scrimmage in which he landed on the mended left shoulder (and almost his face), and shortly thereafter took a charge near the basket.

“One guy took a charge and one guy dove on the floor — and it was Carmody both times,” noted head coach Mike Brey shortly after the abbreviated session. “He gives us some toughness.”

For the Mars, Pa., native who averaged 31 points per game as a four-star, top-100-ranked high school senior, Carmody takes greater pride in taking a blue-collar, lunch bucket approach to his play.

“That’s how I’ve always played, even in high school when I had to be the best scorer, the best facilitator, everything,” said the 6-4, 201-pound Carmody. “I was always the one out there working the hardest. I always had cuts, bruises, stuff like that just because that’s the way I was taught to play. It’s the best way to play. It’s the most fun like that.”

That mentality hardly comes as a surprise when you consider that younger brother Michael Carmody will be joining him on the Notre Dame campus next year as a four-star prospect as well —but as a 6-6, 280 pound offensive lineman.

Seldom do two brothers play two different sports as scholarship athletes at the same school, and they are mindful of this unique situation.

"It's super special," Robby Carmody said. "My entire family has been a Notre Dame family since the time that I can remember. I talked to him almost every day about trying to get him to come here once they offered, so hopefully, I helped a little bit.”

Ask him who is the better athlete of the two and the elder Carmody’s ultra-competitiveness ever so briefly is put on the back burner.

“It might be him,” he responded. “He can move for 300 pounds.”

Although the surgery was on his non-shooting side, donning the brace has mentally and physically affected his shooting stroke for now. In the first two go-rounds where all seven players rotated taking foul shots, the six other players converted both of theirs while Carmody missed both. Currently he says he is taking 500 three-pointers a day in his attempt to regain a rhythm and flow.

“The one thing he has not done is shot it very well,” Brey said this June. “He shot it better in high school, and now the [three-point] line is out there [at international distance]. But he does guard, and he sticks his nose in there. He drives physically and is a tough kid. When he and Prentiss Hubb are in the backcourt, they can really guard.”

“It gets tough to shoot with [the brace] sometimes but it will be off after summer school is over, so I’m not really worried about it too much,” said Carmody, the first Irish freshman in 16 years to start an opener (in which he naturally took a charge in the first minute versus UIC while adding 11 points, four rebounds and two steals in just 14 minutes). “…But with the brace on I can kind of go out there and play, and do what I need to do.”

His leaping skills might be the best on the team, and it’s those hops that enabled Carmody to develop a strong head fake and aggressive drives and finishes to the basket. He averaged 14.1 rebounds per game while becoming Pennsylvania’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior and is far from a stationary, one-trick pony.

“The game has really slowed down for me over the past year,” he said. “I’m seeing the angles and how to get to the rim a lot better, and that’s something that I think I do really well — get to the rim and finish. If that’s going to be open for me I’m going to take it as much as I can.

“I have a lot more confidence in the offense and how I need to play. Sitting on the bench [last year], everything kind of started to slow down for me out there. That was a big key to get my confidence up because I played way too fast at times last year.”

This year he will endeavor to avoid the speed bumps — yet never slow down in his approach to the game.


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