Publish date:


The Irish Have A Fighting Shot at a Title Thanks to a Trigger-happy Guard

WHEN NOTRE Dameembarked on an exhibition tour of Ireland in August, there was no doubt as towhich of its players would be the crowd favorite. When the Fighting Irish playStateside, it tends to be Luke Harangody, the junior forward who was the BigEast Player of the Year last season after leading the conference in scoring.But on the Emerald Isle, just for the Hibernian sound of his name, it wassenior guard Kyle McAlarney, an Irish-American from Staten Island, N.Y. And byleading Notre Dame in scoring (with a 20.8-point average) during the six-gametrip, drilling 10 three-pointers against Poland in one victory and sevenagainst Ireland in another, he made sure the family name was well represented.Says senior forward Zach Hillesland, "[McAlarney] was like a rock star overthere, this little Irishman knocking down threes."

McAlarney, whomade 44.1% of his 245 long-range attempts last season, so enjoyed having thehot hand overseas—"That's the best I've ever seen him shoot," Harangodysays—that teammates have since caught him practicing with the internationalball that was used on the tour. He also kept a diary of the trip for a SouthBend newspaper and in one entry mentioned that his airplane reading had beenPistol: The Life of Pete Maravich.

What drew him toMaravich, McAlarney says, were not highlight videos of Pistol Pete's open-courtwizardry but rather their common obsession. "[Maravich] used to be in thegym for nine hours a day, doing ball handling and shooting drills,"McAlarney says. "I just love his approach to the game."

Early this summer,McAlarney set a goal of making 23,000 three-pointers in one 43-day stretch—andwas on pace to reach it until an injury sidelined him near the end.

Notre Dame coachMike Brey says McAlarney "has a different license to shoot than anybodyI've had here. Kyle can get the shot off a little quicker, and get to openspots off the dribble, which ignites runs for us. I don't know if I've evergotten on him about [taking a bad] shot."

As a team theIrish were the top major-conference three-point-shooting outfit last season,making 40.5% of their long-range attempts. McAlarney and senior swingman RyanAyers, who made 45.1% of his treys, keep defenses from collapsing in the poston Harangody. And the Irish are hardly daunted by the longer distance from thearc this year. The 20'9" line was added to the court in South Bend by thetime they returned from a second-round loss to Washington State in the NCAAtournament, and McAlarney was testing it within days. "With the kind ofshooters we have," he says, "it's not going to affect us."




Nov. 16
South Carolina Upstate

Nov. 21
at Loyola Marymount

Nov. 24--26

Nov. 30

Dec. 2
South Dakota

Dec. 6
Ohio St. (in Indianapolis)

Dec. 13
Boston University

Dec. 20
Delaware State

Dec. 22
Savannah State

Feb. 7

*Maui Invitational(also St. Joseph's, Texas, Alabama, Chaminade, North Carolina, Oregon)

Key Game
Traveling cross-country in the middle of a brutal conference schedule to face ateam that has been to three straight Final Fours is asking for trouble, but theIrish—who ranked 12th out of 16 in scoring defense in the Big East lastseason—need all the toughening they can get before the Big Dance.

Mike Brey (8th year)

2007--08 record

Big East record
14--4 (2nd)

NCAA tournament
Second round

my SI
A stronger-than-ever Luke Harangody has the Fighting Irish thinking Final Four,writes Luke Winn.



Free Hand McAlarney can shoot at will, but he was also the Irish's second-leading assist man.