Good Things Come in Pairs

Or so says the Chinese proverb. Tonight at the Joyce Center, Mike Brey and his Fighting Irish squad proved the statement true with a flourish.

In the first half, it was the Rob Kurz and Kyle McAlarney show, as they combined for 35 of ND's 56 points. After the break, Luke Harangody and Russell Carter took over the Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside roles, Harangody finishing with a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Carter adding five assists and steals to his 15 points. In both halves, the Irish coupled unselfish play on offense (21 assists on their first 28 baskets) with a quality effort defensively (forcing 16 turnovers while allowing only 18 field goals). A pair of double-digit runs put the game out of reach before halftime, and another pair in the second half kept it that way.

When it was over, the Irish had a pair of excellent halves of basketball, resulting in a 101-51 demolishment of the Broncos of Rider University. It was the first 50-point margin of victory for Notre Dame since Digger Phelps decided he had Gerry Faust's back and ran roughshod over the University of Miami in February of 1986.

Kurz put on a clinic in the first half, hitting five of six from the floor and from the line while providing steals and blocks on the defensive end, and muscled through some added attention in the second stanza. "I always thought he'd be a good shooter for us," Brey said, "and it was just a matter of him taking the shot. He never forces them. What's lost is on the defensive end. He's guarding everybody -- not only his guy, but his rotation has helped getting the extra possessions. He's a true pro, because he's going to be there every night."

Kurz preferred crediting the team at large. "Opportunities presented themselves," he said, "and I was able to knock down some open shots. We all got a lot of good looks tonight. We have so many guys that are playing really well, it's tough for opponents to focus on one guy. I'm just thankful to play for a team with so many threats on the court."

McAlarney's 21 points were a career high, and his six assists led the team. "I hit a few shots tonight. Guys were finding me in the right places. Offensively we're talented, but the main thing is we're unselfish. We move well off each other."

"He's learned a great balance," Brey said, "between running the team and hunting his shot."

In 12 games, Harangody already has four double-doubles, and the game is coming at a more steady pace each time out. "Every time I hit the court, I'm more relaxed," the big man said. "I'm more comfortable, especially in the post."

That comfort level hasn't been lost on his coach. "Luke has given us a scoring presence in the post," Brey said. "He continues to get comfortable in his role and with playing with his teammates."

With the offensive and defensive components of the squad continuing to complement each other, the players believe the team has yet to fulfill its potential. "We had a couple of breakdowns," Harangody admitted, "but we moved really well overall, especially in transition, and that showed in the score. There was a lot of good inside-out action, and Kyle had the hot hand tonight."

"Coach always says he wants us to get the inside game going early to open things up," said Kurz. "We got some inside baskets early in the game, and it opened up some driving lanes and jump shots for those guys."

Russell Carter agreed. "That's the flow we want to bring every game. Everyone's scoring, everyone's hitting shots ... everyone's just playing together. There's always something to work on, but as a whole, we did pretty well."

The Irish will need to hit on all pairs of cylinders as Big East play arrives next week, but Brey likes what he sees in this group, especially on the defensive end. "I've not been around [an offense like this] in all my years of coaching as far as shots coming from different spots, and we get extremely confident offensively. But what's helped us is we can go back to the other end and get three or four stops in a row, which really puts pressure on the other team. We missed some shots early, but our defense and our rebounding got us going." Top Stories