Captain Kurz Leads Irish

SOUTH BEND - Rob Kurz blocked a shot, then grabbed a defensive rebound, came down the floor and nailed a jumper to give Notre Dame a quick 5-0 lead in its men's basketball exhibition opener on Friday night. Just like in that 30-second sequence, the 6-foot-9, 232-pound Kurz was able to do as he wanted in the Irish's 109-53 victory over NAIA Division II Saint Ambrose (Iowa).

The senior Kurz, sticking his tongue out and enjoying the game as if it were a January Big East contest, finished with a game-high 23 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, four assists and three blocks, in front of a half-full Joyce Center crowd. Most of the damage came in the first half, where Kurz went for 16 points and nine boards, as Notre Dame cruised to a 51-17 advantage at intermission.

"In general, we just tried to make sure everybody touched the ball and everybody got some open looks," said Kurz, who led six Irish scorers in double figures. "I got some easy buckets in transition, a couple offensive rebounds, and kind of just got into a good rhythm that way."

Kurz was good on 8-of-10 field goals, connecting from the outside, mid-range and in the paint.

Junior Zach Hillesland and sophomore Tory Jackson each netted 12 points, and junior Kyle McAlarney, junior Luke Zeller and sophomore Jonathan Peoples each had 11 points.

Before the game, Irish coach Mike Brey announced that the senior Kurz would be the team captain. The team's leading returning scorer and rebounder, Kurz handled that duty last season with now graduated guards Russell Carter and Colin Falls.

"It's very fitting that Rob was selected by our team to be our captain this season," Brey said. "He's been the voice in our locker room since we ended our season last March and he has the respect of our entire coaching staff, and most importantly, his teammates.

"No one has worked harder during his career than Rob Kurz to make himself into a better player. His work ethic is something that is admired by our veterans as well as our younger players. I look forward to Rob having his best season ever in an Irish uniform.

***When McAlarney heard his name during the starting lineups, the Staten, Island, N.Y. product let out a big yell while slapping hands with his Irish teammates. After missing the last 20 games of the season a year ago because of a suspension, the 6-foot combo-guard was as excited as anybody for tonight's game.

"It was great," McAlarney stated. He also had five assists, three steals and just one turnover. "I think I answered before, my high point of the night was getting introduced with the starting lineup. I heard the crowd cheering and everything."

***Sophomore forward Luke Harangody, who is out with a torn ligament in his right thumb, was in street clothes for tonight's game, and is not expected to play in the team's next exhibition game against St. Edwards on Nov. 7. Harangody's cast is scheduled to come off on Tuesday, and the 6-foot-8, 251-pound returning starter could play in the season opener, Nov. 12, against Long Island.

***Walking out onto the floor for the opening tip, Kurz asked Hillesland if he had it. The last time the 6-foot-9 Hillesland jumped the opening tip was back in his prep days.

"We don't even do that in practice," he said.

Starting in place of the injured Harangody, Hillesland did what he always does in filling up the box score and being the team's high-energy guy. He finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, two steals and two assists. "Just be all over the floor and just do whatever my team needs me to do," Hillesland said. Pass, cut, rebound, score here and there and just play an all-around game."

***Former Irish standouts Ryan Humphrey and Colin Falls attended tonight's game. Top Stories