I was going to save K-Mac for Thursday, but we'll talk about him today. Full disclosure: I got some help with this article, but the co-author doesn't want any credit (so I'll take it all).
One of the things that some people who watch Kyle McAlarney may not know is how great a teammate he really is. Dating back to High School, Kyle was a team-first player who always treated players like they were the best on the court. Kyle's HS team was not anywhere the top of any national rankings, and not even near the top of their own league's standings, and the other players on the team lacked any real athleticism. Despite the other players dropping passes, and missing shots in games Kyle was never seen belittling a team, on the contrary building them up. This can be backed up by the fact that Kyle chose to speak about each of his teammates one by one, and saved a team manager who stayed to rebound after practice for last. Kyle simply stated that, "he makes me better."
While a great jumper, deep range, and nice plays catch the eye of a casual hoops fan, it's the deeper things that make Kyle such a popular player to fans back home, and basketball purists. It's things about his character that some will tell you are far better than his jumper:
Dedication to hardwork- began in HS when he would shoot at 4am before 6am practices.After his freshman season Kyle's coach grew tired of trying to beat him to the gym and gave him the key. A feature of Kyle's early morning workouts was on MSG's High School Weekly during 2005.
Loyalty to all his past coaches and teammates- After games in the local area of his hometown on SI, nearly 200 fans wait to say hello or ask for autographs. Kyle talks to nearly all who attend, and signs every request.
Friendship- Kyle's two best friends are in military services. Stories like this and this have been published in the last year that talk about just how much they mean to him.
Kyle was a kid who some said would never make a D1 roster, and wouldn't be able to succeed in The Big East, so for the people who believed in him, and enjoy everything about the way he carries himself and how much he honors the game, it's a joy to watch him succeed in something he loves so much.
Mac was the first recruit I really heard about well before he stepped on campus. With the departure of Chris Quinn, there was some fear that the point guard position would take a big hit. Kyle was recruited as a point guard and played alongside CQ for a season before taking over point guard duties his sophomore year. More on that later.
A four star recruit, Mac gained some renown as a pretty talented kid from Staten Island with solid ball-handling skills and a sweet shot. His freshman year, Kyle shot 43% from beyond the arc and averaged 1.53 assists per turnover in 22.4 minutes per game (a huge number for a Notre Dame frosh). Sophomore year, Kyle took over the reigns and really looked great in twelve games. 10.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 46% on his three pointers. Great stuff.
Then the pot arrest. You know the story, you know the eventual punishment. While the University was harsh with Kyle, it was certainly fair. A semester suspension would be the penalty for any other student in his position. There was no special treatment in this case, nor should there have been (we can argue about the school's drug policy another time). Kyle was understandably upset and considered transferring. In a move that demonstrated his maturity (and Coach Brey's strong relationship with his players), Mac returned in the fall of 2007 to play shooting guard alongside Tory Jackson.
He really made the transition back to the 2 well. 15.1 PPG, 3.5 APG, 44% from three as a junior. This year he started even hotter. In Maui, Kyle made a name for himself and probably earned a spot on an NBA summer league roster in front of the pro scouts. 39 points against #1 North Carolina, breaking his own school record with ten three pointers. Unfortunately, Ohio State laid out a blueprint for stopping Kyle a couple weeks later by blanketing him and not allowing any open looks. The rest of the season has been a struggle with Mac's three-point shooting percentage dipping to a still-impressive 43%.
He has been hurt by a lack of athleticism and ability to create his own shot. The open shots are no longer coming, and Kyle has been shut down on multiple occasions. His floater, a reliable part of the arsenal before his suspension, has been iffy at best the last two years. No longer able to fire away with impunity, Mac has been limited drastically in play. He's not a great defender and will need to prove an ability to run the point at the next level to earn Chris Quinn-type minutes in the NBA.
For his return from the suspension and gym rat mentality, K-Mac will always be one of my favorite Notre Dame players of all time. He is the best pure shooter I have ever seen live, a guy who can knock down 75% of practice shots from literally anywhere across the midcourt stripe.
Kyle, thanks for your hard work and maturity in returning to Notre Dame. You will be missed. Best of luck with your attempt to make an NBA roster. Though I doubt you will be drafted, the success of guys like Quinn and Rob Kurz leaves plenty of room for you.