The story has been told so often that the headline virtually writes itself: GARRITY SCORES (fill in the blank) IN NOTRE DAME LOSS. "There's no one we play against who's better than Pat Garrity," said Indiana coach Bob Knight, after his team defeated the Fighting Irish 91-80 on Dec. 3, despite 24 points from Garrity. "It was the Pat Garrity show this afternoon, and he did whatever he wanted," said Seton Hall senior forward Donnell Williams, after Garrity scored a career-high 37 points, including 31 of Notre Dame's final 41, in a 64-58 loss to the Pirates last Saturday.
But while Garrity, a 6'9" senior forward, is well on his way to winning his second consecutive Big East Player of the Year award, and though he is likely to leave South Bend as the most decorated Irish basketball player since John Paxson in 1983, his college career appears destined to go down as a disappointment. Through Sunday, Notre Dame had gone 47-49 during Garrity's career, and with this year's edition 9-6, 3-4 in the Big East, odds were he would move on to the pros without having played in an NCAA tournament game.
Though he's not one to assign blame—"The hardest thing about losing is feeling responsible for it," Garrity says—only three other players have averaged double figures in scoring during his tenure in South Bend. "I think losing really eats away at him," says Jaimie Lee, Garrity's girlfriend and a senior All-America volleyball player at Notre Dame. "I was talking to him on the phone during semester break, and he was speaking in this monotone. I asked him if he wasn't feeling well. He said, 'No, I'm just so frustrated. We just don't win.' "
Garrity's anguish isn't surprising, given his disdain for any kind of failure. He wasn't a top 100 recruit coming out of Lewis Palmer High in Monument, Colo., but he has made himself into a better player, than most of the guys who were rated above him. Although he long ago assured himself a lucrative future in the NBA, perhaps even as a lottery pick, Garrity maintains a 3.7 grade point average as a premed major. Last semester he aced the first two tests of a biology class he took on a pass-fail basis but found himself stressed out over his final term paper. "I just hate to do badly at anything," he says. "It's almost an obsessive thing."
Garrity, who led the Big East in scoring through last weekend, with a 24.1 average, may find life to be easier in the NBA, where he won't have to contend with double teams and junk defenses. He got a glimpse of the future last summer while playing for the U.S. at the Under-22 World Championships in Australia. Garrity not only led the Americans in scoring (11.8), but he also spent more time on the bench than he was used to. "I think I still played pretty well, but it was a big change," he says. "I wasn't expected to score 20 points a game. I could just be in the flow and play team basketball. It was kind of nice, actually."