After Notre Dame ends its historic season, senior Pat Connaughton is expected to play professional baseball. A righthander with a fastball reportedly clocked at 95 miles per hour, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Orioles last June and spent two months last summer with Class A Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League.
Even if the Fighting Irish pull off the upset of Kentucky and go on to win the NCAA title April 6 in Indianapolis, Connaughton's baseball career would appear to be ramping up soon.
But the 6-foot-5 swingman, averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season, said he intends to explore his chance to play professional basketball first.
"Everyone's always told me through my whole life, 'You're great, but baseball will always be your thing,' " he said Friday. "That could be true, but I'm not willing to burn that bridge before I cross it. I've always promised myself I would play both these sports no matter how many people doubt that I can do it for as long as I can. To burn a basketball bridge before I cross that bridge and see what's on the other side just wouldn't be something I would be able to live with."
Next in line?
Since Wisconsin's Bo Ryan earned his first Final Four berth after decades in coaching, Arizona's Sean Miller has been tagged with the mantle of the best coach who's never made it. Ryan's Badgers made it to the Final Four by beating Miller's Wildcats last year.
"Sean's like me. I'm sure he could care less," Ryan said. "We don't get into this as a profession just to do one certain thing. It's all about the years and the days and the hours that you spend with these guys doing our job. There are just so many good people, good teachers, good coaches, whatever, that didn't get to the Final Four, Elite Eight or Sweet 16."