Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mission Being Accomplished in Ireland

By Mark Allen
Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Men's Basketball

The Notre Dame men's basketball team is in Ireland from August 12 through August 25. While there, the Irish - Fighting Irish, that is - will be playing six exhibition games. Notre Dame will take on (actually, as of this writing, the Fighting Irish have played three games.) Ireland, the Irish All-Stars, Poland and Iceland. They will travel to Limerick, Belfast and Dublin.

The Notre Dame team as well as Mike Brey are looking at the trip as an early start to the 2008-2009 season. Under NCAA rules, the team was allowed to have 10 practices prior to the trip.

Coach Brey looked at the trip as having many advantages. First, he could experiment with different starting lineups as well as lineups throughout the game. He planned on starting a different lineup for each of the six games.

A second advantage for the trip is that Brey can give up-and-coming younger players a chance to prove themselves. Specifically, this means players such as Carlton Scott, who was red shirted during the 2007-2008 season, Ty Nash, Ty Proffitt and Tim Abromaitis. All except Scott (Scott is academically a sophomore, but athletically, has four years of eligibility) are sophomores. Can any of these players have a breakout trip and work their way into more playing time? The feeling here is that Scott and Nash will increase their playing time in 2008-09.

Being so far from home and having a team that likes to be with each other creates a third advantage - closeness. This kind of trip will create a stronger bond among the Notre Dame players. Through the process of learning about Ireland and having a good time while there, the Irish players will come home a united bunch.

Of course, a final offshoot of all of the aforementioned advantages will be the growth of confidence. By playing well against teams that are older, the Irish will come back and be prepared to take on their upcoming regular season schedule, which is their toughest in a long time.

The Irish are off to a great start regarding all of the above. They have played well in their games. They have had a great time, thus far, everywhere they have gone. They have seen Limerick, Belfast and are now in Dublin. That means they have seen a rural Irish area (Limerick), a controversial area (Belfast, site of British rule and war) and Ireland's biggest city (Dublin).

Notre Dame opened up against Ireland in Limerick. The Fighting Irish defeated Ireland, 104-67. In the win, six players reached double figures. Luke Harangody led the way with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Others in double figures included Tory Jackson (14 points), Jonathan Peoples (11 points), Kyle McAlarney (11 points) and Carlton Scott (10 points). Ty Nash almost scored in double figures with 9 points. Luke Zeller pulled down 7 boards. Walkon Tom Kopko put the Irish over 100 points on back-to-back three-pointers.

The Irish, next went to Belfast, Northern Ireland. They took on the Irish All-Stars. Notre Dame won handily, 123-77. Once again, the Irish placed six players in double figures in terms of scoring. They were led by Luke Harangody and Zach Hillesland who each had 19 points. McAlarney had 18 points on 6 three-pointers. Zeller had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Scott had 15 points and 5 boards. Tory Jackson rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 points and an impressive 8 rebounds.

Game 3 figured to be Notre Dame's toughest. They played an experienced and big Poland team. It turned out to be their tougest, but the Irish still won easily, 104-86. Harangody had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds. McAlarney had 17 points. Jackson has 13 points and 7 assists. Ryan Ayers contributed 12 points.

Notre Dame has 3 games remaining on the trip. They play in the Emerald Hoops International Series from August 21-23. They will take on Ireland, Poland and Iceland.

The lads are accomplishing the mission they set out for very well.

Go Ireland! Go Fighting Irish!

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