This game scared me a little bit, but the Irish had no trouble putting the Tigers to rest. The team that took Michigan to overtime in Ann Arbor could not respond to a very balanced Irish attack.
Coach Brey opened up the bench in the final nonconference game of 2008 with Ty Nash and Carleton Scott getting extended minutes. Nash is really starting to look like the eighth man in the rotation, so we may start to see a little less reliance on just the seven veterans (not as bad as Syracuse's six man rotation, at least).
The only complaint tonight was a little sloppiness, headlined by Tory Jackson. Three turnovers for the point guard. However, he did pick up ten points and three rebounds to go with a below-average four assists. His best moment of the night was confidently stroking a three pointer from in front of the Notre Dame bench. Nice to see he has no problem hitting an open three.
Kyle McAlarney picked up his 1000th point tonight, with eight on the game. Ryan Ayers was the better long range threat, scoring ten and grabbing six rebounds. If he can be a decent rebounder in league play, it will make him a much better player overall.
Hillesland also helped out with four rebounds, but not a whole lot of other stats. Luke Harangody played only 25 minutes, but scored 23 and pulled down 13 boards. Eight of those were on the offensive end. Probably his most exciting stat was the 13-14 line shooting free throws. That led the Irish to their best foul shooting game in a very long time.
Off the bench, Luke Zeller seemed to draw a little confidence from Ryan Ayers' progression as a scorer, utilizing the midrange jumper once to pad his six point total. He also made a couple good passes for the two assists. Jonathan Peoples did his usual bit, 4 points and 2 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Ty Nash was very impressive once again. Playing 14 minutes, he scored 9 points and had 5 rebounds. He just makes plays when he gets the opportunity. Was also good again from the line, a pronounced improvement from the beginning of last year. Carleton Scott played 9 solid minutes in the second half, scoring 6 points with 1 rebound. That's not the most impressive stat line, but it is hard to rack up good numbers in such limited time. Even Andree and Kopko got to play a couple more minutes than usual.
Savannah State fouled for 40 minutes, which kept the Irish from getting into too much of a rythym offensively. The crew of refs was also pretty bad, teeing up Hillesland and the SSU bench during the game. Just let them play.
Not a whole lot to be gained from looking at the stats, just a good solid win before the players get some time off. Nice to see us hold an opponent under 50 and win with some solid defense.
9-2 entering conference play. 8/11 in the rankings. Not too shabby. Good to know at least one Notre Dame team will enjoy Christmas. We'll see about that other sport on Wednesday.