Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Get The Irish Ready For the Long Haul

Everyone can now put it to rest, the Fighting Irish won a game on the road. In fact they won a league game on the road against a nationally ranked opponent. Notre Dame's 90-80 win over Villanova showed the Big East and the national media that the Irish can play some ball on both ends of the court.

Saturday, Mr. Outside, Kyle McAlarney light the Wildcats up for 30 points. By channeling in the power of "5", McAlarney made five 3-pt. baskets, five 2-pt. field goals, and five free throws, for his second 30 point effort of the season. Mr. Inside, Luke Harangody produced his ninth double-double of the season with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Despite being out rebounded by Villanova, the Irish never relinquished the lead after trailing 4-0 at the start of the contest.

Brey was masterful on Saturday as he not only tweaked the starting lineup by inserting Zach Hillesland for Ryan Ayers, but he installed the 1-2-2 defense to stifle Scottie Reynolds and the Wildcat offense. Ayers finally showed some glimpses of what type of player he can be by netting 10 points on 19 minutes of action. Hillesland helped the Irish on both ends with ball control and key defensive stops.

Senior Captain Rob Kurz got it going early with five quick points, en route to 12 points and four rebounds. Tory Jackson was masterful controlling the game from the get-go as he assisted on seven buckets and scored nine points.

Even though the Irish are on the outside looking in both the AP (30th) and ESPN/USAToday (T-27th) polls, Notre Dame is getting the right numbers needed for their NCAA resume. Gary Parrish of has Mike Brey's squad 16th in his weekly poll. At 14-4, and 4-2, in league play, the Irish are currently in sole possession of third place in the Big East. Also their current RPI rating has jumped up to 41.

Below are the current Big East standings with RPI rankings, records, and national poll rankings for all the conference teams:

Georgetown: 9 (RPI), 16-2, 6-1 (BE), 6 (AP) and 6 (ESPN/USAToday)
Louisville: 36 (RPI), 15-5, 5-2 (BE), NR (AP) and NR (ESPN/USAToday)
Notre Dame: 41 (RPI), 14-4, 4-2 (BE), 30 (AP) and T-27 (ESPN/USAToday)
Pittsburgh: 18 (RPI), 15-4, 4-3 (BE), 18 (AP) and 21 (ESPN/USAToday)
Marquette: 20 (RPI), 13-4, 4-3 (BE), 17 (AP) and 16 (ESPN/USAToday)
UConn: 23 (RPI), 14-5, 4-3 (BE), 27 (AP) and T-27 (ESPN/USAToday)
WVU: 32 (RPI), 14-5, 4-3 (BE), NR and NR
Seton Hall: 51 (RPI), 14-6, 4-3 (BE), NR and NR
DePaul: 118 (RPI), 9-10, 4-3 (BE), NR and NR
Syracuse: 40 (RPI), 14-7, 4-4 (BE), NR and NR
Cincinnati: 112 (RPI), 9-11, 4-4 (BE), NR and NR
Providence: 50 (RPI), 12-7, 3-4 (BE), NR and NR
Villanova: 61 (RPI), 13-5, 3-4 (BE), NR and NR
Rutgers: 162 (RPI), 10-11, 2-6 (BE), NR and NR
S. Florida: 122 (RPI), 10-10, 1-6 (BE), NR and NR
St. John's: 150 (RPI), 7-11, 1-6 (BE), NR and NR

Personal accolades are also in store for Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside as well. Luke Harangody was one of 30 players named to the John Wooden Award Midseason list. In fact, Harangody is one of three Big East players (Georgetown's Roy Hibbert and Pittsburgh's Sam Young) to be mentioned on the list. Meanwhile, Kyle McAlarney was named the Big East's Player of the Week for the first time in his career. It's a shame that this is first POW honor, because he deserved it after his 32 point explosion against UConn. Anyway, both players are definitely setting themselves up for post season league honors!

The Big East and media pundits take notice, Notre Dame is for real.

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