Pretty flat first half... overwhelming is a good word. The Irish led by 13 at the break, but were unable to take control of the game. There was too much perimeter play, by design or on accident, with 5 guys sometimes staying on the three-point line. This took away inside chances and relied on driving to the basket for points. Sometimes the offense looked a little slow and Colgate was able to outhustle the Irish who were simply going through the motions.
In the 2nd half, Notre Dame outscored Colgate 48-30 and the quality of basketball was much higher. A little more intensity and better fundamentals helped the lead grow and allowed for quality minutes for the freshmen.
We'll start with the player of the game, Kyle McAlarney. The junior can simply shoot lights out. 7 of 10 from beyond the arc for 25 points. Add in 4 assists and no turnovers. After a little poor shot selection at the start of the game, Mac hit good jumpers from all over the floor. He has no problem stepping up from 25 feet and knocking down shots. If he can keep the good shot selection he had today, he will be one of the best pure shooters in the conference. After a game like today, it's easy to compare Kyle to the man he is replacing, Colin Falls. K-Mac is hands down the better overall player and showed more range than some of Falls' games, with the ability to hit from 2-3 yards beyond the arc. Absolute top-notch performance.
Tory Jackson was the sparkplug during some of Notre Dame's rough patches, running the floor and accumulating 7 assists to one turnovers. Coach Brey was quite right after the game in mentioning Jackson's strong performance as the catalyst of the offense. 3 steals and 3 rebounds isn't too shabby either.
Rob Kurz stepped up with a slightly below-average performance from Bamm-Bamm. 20 and 10 for the senior from Lower Gwynedd, PA. Able to dish for 4 assists as well. He was our inside presence tonight.
Luke Harangody only played 19 minutes and picked up 3 fouls. He did score 11 points and grab 7 boards. No superhuman performance was required from him and it was nice to see the other players pick up for his slightly lowered production.
Ryan Ayers is the big question mark in my mind. He plays solid defense and can shoot when given looks, but really doesn't bring a lot to the table offensively. He scored 9 on 3-7 shooting but with McAlarney as the deep threat, it would be nice to add a guy who can drive to the basket. We'll see if Hillesland or Nash can step up to the plate.
Hillesland looked tired tonight. Not sure if he was sick, but definitely off his game. Looked a bit slow on both ends of the floor. Only 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. He is the best option at power forward off the bench, but I really would like to see him start at the 3. If he does end up taking most of Ayers' minutes with the starting 5, Coach Brey will need to develop a good option for spelling Bamm-Bamm and Kurz.
Luke Zeller is not that guy. A very good game for the 6'10" junior, but he's a small forward in a big man's body. Great catch and shoot from outside, but ugly under the basket. 4 of 5 from deep for a career-high tying 14 points, surely earning him the right to keep his 15 minutes a game. He did have four rebounds, but was unable to establish an offensive presence inside. He must be paired with a player who can provide some buckets in the paint to be successful.
Peoples was rock steady once again. 4 points, more importantly 4 assists and no turnovers. As the backup point guard, he does exactly want you want. Just run the offense and don't mess up.
Great opportunity to see Tyrone Nash in action. Entering with 10 minutes to play, Ty was physical from the start, providing the some of the best inside defense all game. He did pick up three fouls for having his hands all over the opposition, but certainly made use of his time on the floor. Gave the Irish energy and intensity and dished out 2 assists to go with 3 rebounds. I can't wait to see more from him and hopefully he will break into the rotation as a 3 or 4.
Abromitis and Proffitt earned 4 minutes each. The two walkons saw a minute of playing time. Really like to watch Tom Kopko on the bench. He's the first to cheer for baskets and high-five the starters for good performances. Great team player.
Check out our starting lineup compared to last year-
- Carter-Ayers, Hillesland, or Nash
Looks like we found a solid replacement for Colin in the resurgent K-Mac. If we can replace Carter's driving ability without losing too much of an outside threat, the starting five looks better than last season. That's a big if with Ayers not overly impressing. Maybe Nash can develop into that guy. That's something only more playing time will be able to determine.
Also, the lack of a great backup post player is disconcerting since the team loses Kurz next year. Someone will need to step up and fill those shoes.
Overall a very good win. The team finally gets a little time off after 5 games in 10 days and returns Saturday against E. Michigan.