ND/Stony Brook Notebook

How will KMac's absence affect the team and the Irish fortunes this season?

No decision has been made on Kyle McAlarney's long-term future. Coach Mike Brey was not able to get into details because of privacy rules, but he said the decision to suspend McAlarney for this game was his, the team would prepare for Big East play assuming he was unavailable, and emphasized there will be some discipline in McAlarney's future. "He made a mistake," Brey said after the game. "He knows it. He's handled it like a man, and he'll take his medicine like a man. That's what this place has been about."

At the same time, the Notre Dame program will continue to be a support for the sophomore guard, and McAlarney will participate in practices and sit on the bench for games. "You can't take away hope from a young person," Brey said, "because if you take away hope, you break their spirit. His body of work as a citizen here at Notre Dame has been very good. You have to ask what's fair for the kid and what's the right thing to do. We support him in his effort to come back to us."

Timing has not been resolved. While logic would dictate the "official wheels" at Notre Dame would be put into motion at the start of the second semester, Brey said it could happen sooner, although he wouldn't give specifics.

McAlarney's absence put the spotlight squarely on freshman Tory Jackson, who started the game at point guard. His nervousness was evident in three early turnovers, including a double-dribble that negated a nice steal. But the youngster settled down for some good feeds to his teammates, leading to buckets and free throw opportunities, and while he only scored three points, he contributed three steals and didn't have a turnover in 12 second-half minutes.

"After the first five or six minutes, I had fun," Jackson said. "I got the jitterbugs out. I made the wrong reads early, but after a while, I got my mindset together. Coach Brey talked to me, and the game came better to me in the second half."

His teachers on the court graded him out well. "It's his first game in the starting role," Falls said, "and he's going to have nerves. But I'd give him a B+, and I expect an A performance from him on Wednesday."

With the slightly reduced roster, Jonathan Peoples saw his first extended action in the second half. Although he didn't score, he successfully ran the team from the point guard position for 13 minutes with no turnovers, an assist, and a steal.

McAlarney's absence, Brey said, makes Peoples very important to the team. "Jonathan is a guard and he handles the ball pretty well. He's got great instincts. He's got strength, he can defend, and he's played against good guards in Russell and Colin ever since the summer. Jon can take some pressure off us, and allow [Tory Jackson] to pick up some things we lose with [Jackson] having to play so much."

"They told me to be ready," Peoples said after the game, "and it felt great to get the opportunity to get out there and play. With Kyle out, I'm going to have to start running the Blue Team and Tory will be running the White Team. But we've got a lot of depth, and I think it can pay off for us."

Game Notes:

  • McAlarney becomes the first Fighting Irish men's basketball player to officially miss a game for punitive reasons since Mark Stevenson was suspended four games following an arrest for being a minor in possession of alcohol in 1989. McAlarney was not in attendance for this game, but will be back on the bench Wednesday when the Irish take on Louisville.
  • Irish fans attending the game were welcomed by a familiar voice, as long-time Irish football announcer Mike Collins handled the P.A. duties.
  • Walk-on Tim Andree has been on crutches the last two contests due to a broken ankle. His return this season is uncertain.
  • No leprechaun or cheerleaders at the game left the t-shirt gun operator to exhort the crowd of 8,072. The results were mixed.

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