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Men’s Basketball: McAlarney’s shot heats up at home

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kyle McAlarney wanted the ball.

Actually, that’s an understatement.

“I was dying to get the ball,” he said.

That’s how “in the zone” the junior guard was Monday against Colgate. He shot 7-for-10 from behind the arc against the Raiders, scoring a career-high 25 points.

McAlarney said he was so confident in his shot that he knew he was going to score “before I even got the ball.”

“Once you hit one, then you hit another one, then you’re itching to get the next one off,” he said.

The Colgate game was the second in a row in which McAlarney has caught fire from long range. Against Youngstown State on Saturday, he was 5-for-10 from 3-point range and scored 23 points.

But McAlarney’s shooting hasn’t always been sharp.

Before the Youngstown State game, he was 6-for-20 from long range on the season and was coming off a seven-point performance in Notre Dame’s 70-69 loss to Georgia Tech at the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virigin Islands.

McAlarney said part of the reason for his improvement is that the last two games have been at the Joyce Center, after Notre Dame played three games in the Virgin Islands.

“This is our home floor,” he said. “We play here every day. It’s a lot easier to get into a rhythm here than anywhere else.”

McAlarney also has been adjusting to his role as Notre Dame’s primary outside shooter. Last season, before his suspension in January, McAlarney was the starting point guard. His main responsibility was to find his fellow guards, especially then-senior Colin Falls, for open shots. He needed to shoot from the outside only when he found himself wide open.

But this year, McAlarney is the starting shooting guard for the Irish – and his team needs him to look for his own shot. In short, he needs to be more like Falls.

“I’m going to try to mimic him in certain situations, although I am a different player,” McAlarney said.

Notre Dame has had plenty of inside scoring this season, with forwards Rob Kurz and Luke Harangody averaging 15.2 and 17.0 points per game, respectively.

But until McAlarney’s recent hot streak, Notre Dame was lacking in sufficient scoring from its guards – something it will need against No. 25 Kansas State next week and once the Big East season starts.

Point guard Tory Jackson, while averaging more than five assists per game, has compiled only six points per contest and has hit a single three-pointer this season.

Forwards Ryan Ayers and Luke Zeller have some jump shooting ability, but their height often necessitates them setting up closer to the basket. So most of the outside shooting responsibility falls on McAlarney – and in the last two games, he’s started to meet that pressure.

“I feel like I need to be the gunslinger,” he said. “If the other team makes a run, and then I hit a three, that can be a dagger.”