Well we knew how this one would end.
A common rule for perfection in a college basketball game is scoring 100 points and holding your opponent under 50. The Irish just missed that standard, but showed plenty to be excited about.
McAlarney, Jackson, Ayers, Hillesland, and Kurz were your starters. Luke Zeller was held out of the starting lineup with a sprained ankle.
It was great to see #23 on the court again. Kyle brought his steady hand back to the offense as well as a strong shooting touch. He really can stroke the ball from deep. 11 points and 5 assists in 27 minutes. He was 3-8 from three-point range but seemed better than that. Rumor is he made 60 threes in a row during practice this week. Maybe a bit exaggerated, but a good story nonetheless. His leadership and secure ballhandling are a welcome addition to the squad and he played well with Tory Jackson.
Tory was really fired up for this game. He finished with 12 points and 5 assists in 25 minutes and was the vocal leader on the floor. He made several slashes to the basket reminiscent of the BET loss to Georgetown. His passing opened up several other scoring opportunities and he was able to create havoc under the basket contesting for rebounds. His pure talent and athleticism is fantastic. The strides he made during the year last season are very encouraging because I certainly believe he can improve even more. Playing beside McAlarney was not a problem today and even helped him open up the floor a little more.
Ryan Ayers showed why he earned the starting spot this season. 6 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes, but added 3 assists and 2 steals. His long wingspan enabled him to take away his man from the St. Ambrose offense in half-court sets. He ran the floor well and showed some ability to drive and move well without the ball.
Zach Hillesland is a tough player to keep on the bench, however. He certainly earned the start in place of Zeller and should continue to start until Harangody is healthy. 12 points and 14 rebounds in 18 minutes. He was all over the court tonight and had no trouble taking over the game. He would be a great addition to the starting lineup full-time, but Coach Brey must be content to let Hillesland chalk up full-game stats in only limited minutes. His less-than-half-game performance tonight was better than just about anyone else on either team...
...except Rob Kurz. The senior had no equal tonight with 23 points and 11 rebounds. There was simply no one from St. Ambrose who could guard the big man. Kurz scored with ease and controlled the boards. In addition to his great half-court game, Rob ran the floor well and shot 1-2 from deep. 8 of 10 overall is fantastic. This could be a huge year for the team captain.
Coach Brey had a 7 man rotation to start, adding Luke Zeller and Jonathan Peoples to the mix. Zeller just doesn't play like a big man. The contrast between Kurz and Luke is astounding. Rob took over the game down low. Zeller just seemed uncomfortable with contact. He finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes, but most of his scoring came from open jump shots. 6'9" Hillesland is a much better option down low. Peoples was pretty solid, spelling both Mac and Jackson. He was the main backcourt sub tonight and performed well, with 11 points and 2 assists.
Ty Nash was the first freshman to play. He is physically and mentally ready to get in the mix right now. 7 points and 3 rebounds, but had no trouble competing out there. A little uncomfortable with the speed of the game right now, but that comes with time. He certainly has loads of talent and heart.
Carleton Scott was the second frosh off the bench and played well with 4 points and 4 rebounds. He has great moves and is lightning quick cutting to the basket. Coach Brey has a tough decision to make, but barring injury in the next game I would certainly be in favor of sitting Scott for a year.
Abromitis finished with 9 points. He looks a little like a younger Zach Hillesland. Proffitt scored 3 points and ran the offense when all the freshmen were on the floor. Andree and Kopko played a couple mop-up minutes.
The crowd was fitting for a glorified scrimmage, pretty empty. The student section filled out well enough, however, and looks good in black. St. Ambrose travelled rather well and had some great support from the visitor's section. The freshmen looked really excited to be playing, Scott and Nash especially. The full-court press worked very well in the beginning, resulting in some turnovers. Defense broke down a bit in the second half, understandable with the score, but that is something to work on.
Overall, a great win to get the ball rolling. Next Wednesday is another exhibition against St. Edward's, then it gets started for real.