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Terriers are next, Big East looms

Fran Tolan | Thursday, December 11, 2008

By the time the team takes the court against Boston University Saturday, Notre Dame will have had exactly a week to think about its 67-62 loss to Ohio State. The Irish, who dropped from No. 7 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls to No. 12/13, respectively, are eager to get back on the court.

“We had a few days off which we kind of needed to get our energy level back up and we can learn from [the loss] a lot of ways,” Irish co-captain Kyle McAlarney said. “But I also think it’s important for us to put it in the back of our minds and really move on and bounce back on Saturday.”

After the game against the Terriers, Notre Dame will have another week off before taking on Delaware State and Savannah State.

Then the real fun starts for the Irish – they begin Big East play on New Year’s Eve at DePaul before squaring off against four more conference opponents before classes resume.

“Every time this time of year comes around, it’s exciting for me and for us as a team because it’s all basketball,” McAlarney said. “School, especially around this time of year, can be a big distraction, so having finals over with leading up to Big East season will be good for us.”

Eight Big East teams currently sit in the top 25, and McAlarney said it’s important for the Irish to pile up wins before beginning conference play.

“We have to take care of our business. The rest of the Big East is doing their part taking care of their business and we’ve already been knocked down twice,” McAlarney said. “These games are very important for us to build that resume. I think we know that, we’re a mature enough group to realize that. Every game counts.”

Irish forward Luke Harangody, who returned after missing two games with pneumonia to lead the Irish with 25 points and 16 rebounds against Ohio State, said it is natural for the team to look forward to the Big East season. But the reigning Big East player of the year echoed McAlarney’s thoughts about the importance of non-conference wins.

“I would be lying if I said we’re not looking forward to Big East play but you’ve still got to take these games seriously,” Harangody said. “We’ve still got a lot of things to do, to clean some things up in these games. That’s what’s nice about these games. And with Boston University coming in – they’re a good team and it should be a good challenge for us.”

Harangody said the team did not play well on Saturday and deserved to drop in the rankings.

“We didn’t deserve that top-10 ranking and we know that,” he said. “We realize that rankings don’t really mean anything right now so we’re not really thinking about that.”

Still, Harangody said the Irish are capable of performing much better than they did against Ohio State. They will get their first chance to prove it against Boston University.

“Everyone’s hungry to get back on the court and prove we’re that top team,” Harangody said. “I think we’ll be ready Saturday.”