McAlarney can shoot at will, but he was also the Irish's second-leading assist man.
John W. McDonough/SI
Nov. 16 South Carolina Upstate Nov. 21 at Loyola Marymount Nov. 24-26 Indiana* Nov. 30 Furman Dec. 2 South Dakota Dec. 6 Ohio St. (in Indianapolis) Dec. 13 Boston University Dec. 20 Delaware State Dec. 22 Savannah State Feb. 7 at UCLA** * Maui Invitational (also St. Joseph's, Texas, Alabama, Chaminade, North Carolina, Oregon)
Traveling cross-country in the middle of a brutal conference schedule to face a team that has been to three straight Final Fours is asking for trouble, but the Irish -- who ranked 12th out of 16 in scoring defense in the Big East last season -- need all the toughening they can get before the Big Dance.
Coach: Mike Brey (8th year) 2007-08 record: 25-8 Big East record: 14-4 (2nd) NCAA tournament: Second round
The Irish have a fighting shot at a title thanks to a trigger-happy guard
When Notre Dame embarked on an exhibition tour of Ireland in August, therewas no doubt as to which of its players would be the crowd favorite. When theFighting Irish play Stateside, it tends to be Luke Harangody, the junior forwardwho was the Big East Player of the Year last season after leading the conference inscoring. But on the Emerald Isle, just for the Hibernian sound of his name, itwas senior guard Kyle McAlarney, an Irish-American from Staten Island, N.Y. Andby leading Notre Dame in scoring (with a 20.8-point average) during the six-gametrip, drilling 10 three-pointers against Poland in one victory and seven againstIreland in another, he made sure the family name was well represented. Sayssenior forward Zach Hillesland, "[McAlarney] was like a rock star over there,this little Irishman knocking down threes."
McAlarney, who made 44.1% of his 245 long-range attempts last season, soenjoyed having the hot hand overseas -- "That's the best I've ever seen him shoot,"Harangody says -- that teammates have since caught him practicing with theinternational ball that was used on the tour. He also kept a diary of the tripfor a South Bend newspaper and in one entry mentioned that his airplane readinghad been Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich.
What drew him to Maravich, McAlarney says, were not highlight videos ofPistol Pete's open-court wizardry but rather their common obsession. "[Maravich]used to be in the gym for nine hours a day, doing ball handling and shootingdrills," McAlarney says. "I just love his approach to the game."
Early this summer, McAlarney set a goal of making 23,000 three-pointers inone 43-day stretch -- and was on pace to reach it until an injury sidelined himnear the end.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey says McAlarney "has a different license to shootthan anybody I've had here. Kyle can get the shot off a little quicker, and getto open spots off the dribble, which ignites runs for us. I don't know if I'veever gotten on him about [taking a bad] shot."
As a team the Irish were the top major-conference three-point-shooting outfitlast season, making 40.5% of their long-range attempts. McAlarney and seniorswingman Ryan Ayers, who made 45.1% of his treys, keep defenses from collapsingin the post on Harangody. And the Irish are hardly daunted by the longerdistance from the arc this year. The 20' 9" line was added to the court inSouth Bend by the time they returned from a second-round loss to WashingtonState in the NCAA tournament, and McAlarney was testing it within days. "Withthe kind of shooters we have," he says, "it's not going to affect us."-- Luke Winn
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