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Men’s Basketball: Clipping the Blackbirds’ wings

Fran Tolan | Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In its first regular season game, Notre Dame overcame some early jitters and defeated Long Island 82-50 at the Joyce Center Monday.

Irish forward Rob Kurz scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Irish dominated the overmatched Blackbirds inside. Sophomore forward Luke Harangody chipped in 15 points while battling double teams down low.

“We thought coming into the game we’d have a mismatch down there,” Kurz said. “We were obviously bigger on paper than them so anytime you have that you have to take advantage of that and I thought we did a good job of using our inside presence.”

Overall, Notre Dame outscored Long Island 44-18 in the paint.

The Irish had four turnovers and several missed layups in the first six minutes of the game. But despite the sloppy play to open the contest, the Irish held the Blackbirds to 26.5 percent shooting in the first half to take a commanding 39-23 lead into halftime.

“I thought we did a really good job defensively,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I think we’re getting better and better staying in position and playing as a unit defensively, being able to switch with each other.”

With 9:51 remaining in the opening period and the Irish leading by just five points, Irish junior guard Kyle McAlarney nailed a three-pointer. On Long Island’s ensuing miss, McAlarney snatched the rebound and pushed the ball upcourt to junior forward Zach Hillesland for a layup and an opportunity for a three-point play. Hillesland missed the free throw but the Irish did not miss the chance to take control of the contest. They outscored the Blackbirds 23-12 to close the half.

“We started the game a little tight, wanting to play well the first game,” Kurz said. “But once we got over that, I thought we played pretty well.”

After halftime, Long Island senior forward Eugene Kotorobai hit a three-pointer to open the scoring. But the Irish followed with a 12-2 run to squash any hopes of a second-half comeback for the Blackbirds.

The Irish made 35 field goals and racked up 28 assists in the contest.

Brey said he was happy to see the unselfishness displayed by his players.

“When you look and see 28 assists, I don’t care who you’re playing, that makes me feel good,” the coach said. “What I love tonight is I don’t remember a bad shot.”

The Irish made 51.5 percent of their field goals, including 41.2 percent on three-pointers.

Notes:

uIrish sophomore guard Tory Jackson’s uncle passed away at age 49 Saturday.

Jackson missed practice and returned home to Saginaw, Mich., to be with his family this weekend. He was back on the court against Long Island, dishing out eight assists in 28 minutes of play.

uTo the delight of the Joyce Center crowd, the Irish unveiled a new pregame video montage. The show preceded player introductions and included clips of past and present Irish players.