NOTRE DAME, Ind. – There was never any real doubt that Notre Dame senior guard Kyle McAlarney would get his 1,000th career point in last night's win over Savannah State. There was also little wonder how it would come.
With just under three minutes to go in the first half, McAlarney came around a screen from Zach Hillesland and took a pass from point guard Tory Jackson at the left wing before knocking down a three-pointer that gave him 1,002 points for his career.
"That's just my game," he said. "It came from Tory Jackson and a screen with Zach Hillesland, that's probably what it's going to be like all year."
The crowd at the Joyce Center gave McAlarney a standing ovation when it was announced during the next timeout that he had become the 49th Notre Dame player to reach the 1,000-point mark. McAlarney downplayed the significance of the achievement afterward.
"I thought it was a cool feat my freshman year and Luke Harangody came in and did it his sophomore year, so it's not cool anymore," McAlarney joked. "It's kind of out of fashion now."
McAlarney did admit that it would be something he would appreciate more with the time.
"I'm very honored, it's something I can look back on and be very proud of," he said. "I credit my teammates and my coaches."
McAlarney was more concerned with the play of his team.
"The important thing is we played well tonight and got the win," he said. "It won't really be a big deal until after the season when I can look back and say I'm one of the 49 players in Notre Dame basketball history and kind of leave my mark so to speak. With everything that I've been through here, it's certainly an accomplishment that I can be proud of."
He was especially happy to pass the 1,000-point plateau before the start of conference play at the end of the month.
"It definitely felt good to get it over with especially before Big East season," he said. "I didn't want to go into Big East season with anything like that hanging over me."
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey believes that reaching the milestone tells a lot about a player.
"I think guys that have 1,000 points, you can really say they had a heck of a college career. That's pretty darn productive 1,000 points," he said. "Again, for him to do it with the games that he missed tells you how efficient he has been for us."
IRISH WORK OUT KINKS: Notre Dame wanted to get a lot of things accomplished in the final games before conference play began and the Irish feel like they did just that.
"I think it went real well. We cleaned up a lot of things that we needed to," Harangody said. "Our free throws, rebounding, our defense picked up. I think we shored that up right before we go into the Big East Conference, so I think we accomplished everything."
Probably the most important thing was getting players like sophomore guard-forward Tyrone Nash confidence heading into Big East play. Nash scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in 14 minutes of playing time against Savannah State after scoring 10 points and hauling in five boards in 14 minutes against Delaware State.
"It's great. You get a chance to finally get out there and show people what you can do besides teammates in practice. It's fun and I'm just glad I got the opportunity to play," he said. "It's a confidence-builder because the more I play, the more game experience I get and the better I feel when I'm out there and the more comfortable I feel out there. It can only help me when it comes to the Big East."
Brey was happy with what he saw from Nash in the last two games.
"I feel good about him as we move forward because again, he gives you that dirty work, rebounding guy, good close defender," said Brey. "I think he's smart enough where maybe they're not great minutes two games in a row and then two games in a row they're unbelievable minutes to help us win a game."
Nash understands his role.
"I have to be mentally ready because you never know when your name is going to get called and when your name gets called you have to respond," he said. "If I will continue to play these minutes that I'm getting, I have to bring it every day."
"I love my teammates, I love them. I always say that they're like brothers to me on and off the court. I'm always cheering for them, I'm always looking out for them and I love them to death," said Jackson. "To get an opportunity of a lifetime like this, I'm always happy to see that. Seeing my teammates Tim Andree and Kopko and them go out there and do well, I was very excited."
JACKSON WILL BE DOWN FOR CHRISTMAS: As one of 14 kids, Jackson knows that he has to wake up early Christmas morning if he expects any gifts to be left for him. But Jackson had to learn that lesson the hard way.
"We have a Christmas tradition where all of the kids go to sleep on Christmas Eve and you wake up at 12. I just so happened to not wake up at 12 and woke up at 8 and all of my gifts were gone," Jackson recalled. "We had to go shopping again, I was so sad. I don't want that to happen again. So I'm going to get back earlier, try to hurry up and get there and taking everyone else's gifts.
"There's too many of us. That happened when I was younger, but I won't let that happen again."
CHIPPY, CHIPPY: The game with the Tigers was a spirited one despite the score. Savannah State head coach Horace Broadnax was called for a technical foul in the first half and Notre Dame's Zach Hillesland was called for a technical in the second half.
Brey was happy that his team did not get distracted by any of that stuff.
"I thought our guys did a good job," Brey said. "Hopefully that's their maturity and they've been through it and know not to be distracted by stuff like that."
LOOSE BALLS: The Irish moved up from 12th to eighth in the Associated Press poll that was released on Monday. Notre Dame was listed at No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll… This game was the first of five Saturday-Monday turnarounds for the Irish this season... Brey got the players' first-semester grades and for the ninth straight semester they checked in above 3.0… The victory pushed Notre Dame's home win streak to 43 games… With the Notre Dame student body gone for Christmas Break, the Irish played in front of their second straight smallish crowd. The Irish have games against Georgetown and Seton Hall before the students return to campus for the Jan. 24 contest against Connecticut… The basketball team will have until Saturday to enjoy Christmas with their families before returning for practice. The team is under strict orders from Brey not to participate in any pickup games while home… Harangody definitely made an impact on Broadnax, who mistakenly referred to him as ‘Murphy', obviously thinking of Notre Dame grad Troy Murphy now with the Indiana Pacers.