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Men’s Basketball: Team finds ways to score without stars

Fran Tolan | Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MAUI – Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney have grabbed most of the early-season attention for Notre Dame, but the Irish didn’t need either player to dominate as they blew out Indiana Monday.

As Notre Dame built a 21-point lead before halftime, it did not have a single double-digit scorer but had five players drop at least six points. And by the time the final horn sounded, the Irish had five double-digit contributors and eight players with an assist.

“A lot of unselfishness. Today’s indicative, if you look at the scoring, [that] it can come from a lot of different areas with our team,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We have a lot of different guys that can score the ball.”

Brey has repeatedly talked about the importance his team places on the plaque it received for leading the nation in assists last season. After the victory over the Hoosiers, he again brought up Notre Dame’s unselfishness.

“We can pass the ball, we led the nation in assists,” he said. “This group really knows how to find each other.”

Indiana first-year coach Tom Crean, who frequently coached against Notre Dame while he was with Marquette, said he hopes his young team can eventually adopt a similar style to the one Notre Dame uses.

“There’s no question they’re a very together team and they’ve done a great job building it up,” Crean said. “Somewhere down the road, there may be something for us to learn from this game in terms of the togetherness they have.”

The Hoosiers often concentrated their defense on Irish forward Luke Harangody, who did not put up his typically gaudy statistics. But Brey said the junior’s unselfishness helped the Irish cruise to an easy win.

“We can kinda take advantage of what the defense gives us and I thought we did a great job of that,” Brey said. “I thought Luke Harangody, they were aware of him, doubling him a little bit. He didn’t get 25 [points] and 15 [rebounds] but he set up a lot of these guys, there was just a lot of attention on him.”

In addition to leading scorer Tory Jackson, senior forwards Ryan Ayers and Luke Zeller were two of the players that benefited from Indiana’s focus on Harangody. Ayers scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while Zeller chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“My teammates have really been on me, so has coach, just [to keep] being aggressive, playing my game,” Ayers said. “My teammates were able to find me, set good screens … We share the ball so well, its really easy to play in this system.”

McAlarney, who scored 18 points, said his teammates’ screens allowed him to get open shots throughout the game.

“I think I hit one and then I started feeling pretty good. I gotta credit my teammates a lot. They’ve been screening much better lately…I give them a lotta credit,” he said.

Notre Dame was also effective playing as a team on the defensive end, limiting Indiana to 50 points on 39.6 percent shooting.

“I thought our position defense was excellent,” Brey said. “You hold them to 50 points and 39 percent field goal shooting, that’s something we’ve been trying to get better at.”