Irish Want To Run

The Notre Dame offense has struggled in the last couple of games and the Irish will look to get things turned around by getting some easy hoops tomorrow afternoon against Pittsburgh.

Scoring points has been the biggest problem for Notre Dame during its current four-game losing streak and as Mike Brey tries to decide on a starting lineup for Saturday's game at Pittsburgh, he has to choose between an extra shooter or a guy who can get shooters open.

Luke Zeller started in place of Zach Hillesland in Monday's loss to Marquette and while Zeller can knock down open shots, Hillesland helps get guys like Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers open looks.

"That's one of the things that Zach really brings to the table and you give a little bit of that up early in the game when he doesn't start, but you kind of swallow it," Brey said.

Brey says that the Irish have been inconsistent as a screening team and that they need to improve to get the offense going again.

"Zeller has gotten better. It's not something that Harangody is great, he's gotten better at it," Brey said. "It's not something that he is going to be super at and I don't necessarily want him to be super at it. Our perimeter guys have to continue to screen."

But the Irish offense has been more diverse in the past than just running shooters around picks.

"I think screening is an issue always and has to be emphasized. We go in and out of being a really good screening team. Kyle needs screens. But it's a fine line too, you can't just sit there and focus on screening for Kyle," said Brey. "The strength of this group offensively over the long haul has been a lot of different ways to come at you and not just focusing on trying to get him open.

"Cutting off of Harangody in the post and those types of things. That's an area that always has to be emphasized, screening better for Ryan and Kyle and for ‘Gody."

Brey also wants to see his team get out in transition more.

"I think what can really help us is running and moving and getting down the floor. This group is at its best when it plays fast, sometimes even in halfcourt fast," he said. "Made baskets, getting it in quick, getting down the court, I think that sets us up to get into our rhythm."

McAlarney has struggled recently to get open and says that some of it has been caused by opponents and some by himself.

"I think against UConn I had some good looks. Marquette I would argue otherwise. I think Marquette really guarded me and it was really tough," he said. "I thought I had maybe two good looks all game and on a good day I would hit those other shots, but when you're struggling a little bit, they're all over you and you've missed a few than those shots are tough."

Notre Dame believes that it can get McAlarney better looks when the Irish run.

"That's the one thing, there's a lot of athletic ability and speed that can really hug him," said Brey. "I think the first thing that we can do a little bit better that maybe we didn't do as well in the two home games is run more and try and get some easy baskets in transition."

McAlarney thinks that getting up and down will also help Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson and the entire Notre Dame offense move better.

"That frees up some space a little bit and we haven't been getting out in transition well the past few games and that's something that we've been coming back to," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get some open ones in transition, but I think more it just opens the court up for everybody and it doesn't leave me trying to scramble just to get open a little bit.

"It leaves me with a little space and guys have to worry about me more, which in turn could spread the court out for Tory's drive or Luke running down the floor."

Jackson says that the Irish are more comfortable playing that way and that it will be good for McAlarney and Ayers.

"That's more of us. That's our style, getting up and down the floor running and we have fun then," he said. "When we run a lot of teams don't get back in transition and look for shooters like that so it'll get them back in their rhythm."

Harangody said that it will be good for the Irish to get back to playing the way they were before the slump.

"It's good for Kyle and Ryan because if you watch tape from the beginning of the year we kind of got out and ran more in transition," he said. "That gives them open looks because the defense is coming back kind of lost in the transition so that frees up Kyle who is going to be shadowed the whole game."

Brey has stressed playing fast all week, so look for the Irish to push it any chance they get against Pittsburgh.

"Even on makes, get the ball in quick. I think we walked it up a little bit too much at times," said Brey. "When we run and move that's when we've gotten open looks and easy buckets and then you don't have to play against the physically set, hugging defense that you see." Top Stories