Thursday, January 31, 2008


January 31, 2008

Providence College is next up to try and end Notre Dame's long-standing home win streak. The Irish have won 31 straight games overall at the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center and 12 in a row in Big East play. That streak is on the line tonight when the Irish welcome the Friars, who only have one true road win on the season. That one win was impressive as PC won at UConn earlier this month.

Here are the local media preview stories on the game:

Finding His Inner Ballhog (South Bend Tribune)
Brey, ND Fear Friars (South Bend Tribune)
In the Big East, Hosts Unfriendly
Game Preview: PC @ Notre Dame (Providence Journal)
Back Home, The Irish are Rarin' to Go (P-J)

With the Friars their success is usually determined by how their perimeter shooters connect from long range. Brian McKenzie, Jeff Xavier and Dwain Williams like to set-up shop beyond the three-point line and let them fly. Each is a very dangerous 3-pt marksman thay needs to be forced to put the ball on the floor before launching. Their threat of the 3-pt ball opens up lanes for Weyinmi Efejuku to attack the basket and Geoff McDermott to bang away at the forward position. Providence struggles greatly at the post position with Randall Hanke, Jonathan Kale and Ray Hall splitting the time in the post, but they struggle rebounding and, for th emost part, fail to take advantage of the opportunities to score with the strong perimeter shooters.

Notre Dame is led by the inside/out duo of Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney. The bullish sophomore forward Harangody should find lots of success against the soft middle of the Friars. Harangody is a master at establishing post position and he is much too physical for Hanke inside. Kale will battle back, but the array of post moves and strong hands possessed by Harangody will keep him scoring on anyone the Friars use. The lack of offense run through the post by PC also limits the potential for Harangody to pick up fouls.

On the outside McAlarney has been red-hot for the Irish. As he has been prodded to shoot more by coach Mike Brey, the junior guard has averaged over 18 PPG in six Big East contests including games of 32 against UConn and 30 at Villanova last Saturday. He is complimented in the backcourt by lightning quick point guard Tory Jackson whose skills allow McAlarney to concentrate on being the long range bomber that Mike Brey loves.

Rob Kurz is also the perfect compliment to Harangody inside as he can step away from the basket to shoot the ball. He handles and passes the ball extremely well for a power forward and does the little things that frees up Harangody to do what he does best. The wing position is being split by Ryan Ayers, a strong shooter, and Zach Hillesland, instant energy. Hillesland was inserted in the starting line-up last weekend in place of Ayers and have the Irish a jolt from the beginning.

Notre Dame is an 8-pt home favorite tonight. They will need to keep the Friar 3-pt shooters marked throughout the game and ride the inside/out combination of Harangody and McAlarney. The Notre Dame depth is definitely a question mark, but they have not been tested deep on their bench very often. The Irish home win streak should stay intact tonight...

NBE Blogger Prediction: Notre Dame 82 Providence 73



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