Aug. 17, 2008
Editor’s note: During the Notre Dame men’s basketball team’s 12-day, four-city foreign tour of Ireland, senior guard Kyle McAlarney will file a daily diary after talking by phone with the South Bend Tribune’s Tom Noie. Following are McAlarney’s thoughts on day 5 of the trip.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland – This was the first time that we stopped for a history lesson on the way to a basketball game, so that was weird.
We played a group of Ireland All-Stars (on Sunday) and handled them pretty easily (123-77). We really put some numbers on the board.
We left our hotel for the game and drove around Belfast a little. It was pretty cool. We stopped for a team picture at City Hall. They have this big Ferris wheel right next to City Hall. Nobody took a ride on it, but some of us were thinking about it.
Our tour guide gave us some history about Belfast and how divided it used to be with the Irish Republican Army. It was interesting to learn about all the fighting that went on here. Even as recently as the 1980s, there were bombs going off. Belfast has more of a feel of an American city than Limerick. There’s more of a downtown area. In Limerick, we didn’t experience that.
We started Ryan Ayers for Luke Zeller and stayed with the same starting lineup to begin the second half. Starting Ryan may have lit a fire under him. Everyone agreed that he really played with great effort. It was his best performance in a while. He really got after it. It was the first time that I could remember where he let out a big yell after getting a rebound. He was big for us. Luke Zeller also stood out. There were a lot of different combinations and everyone played their role.
We could have played a lot better. We kept pouring in points, getting out in transition, defending and sharing the basketball. When we play like that, it’s really a beautiful game to watch. But when we get big leads, we tend to get lackadaisical and lose interest in the game. It’s easy for your mind to wander and start thinking ahead. We got sloppy at times.
We didn’t start off the game well. There were some stupid plays that got us to wake up. We gave up two wide-open lay-ups early. We said, ‘Let’s pick it up. We’re not going to coast.’
When we focused on defending and rebounding, we went on some real good runs. A couple of guys had some good dunks. I wasn’t one of them. I’m going to save that for … no, I can’t get up there.
The international game is very tiring. With a 24-second shot clock, you find yourself getting up and down the floor a lot faster. And there are no media timeouts — that’s something we’re not used to.
The weather (Sunday) was a little better. It was pretty cloudy with bits and pieces of the sun, kind of like South Bend in winter, so we’re used to the weather. Our tour guide said that this area had more rain (Saturday) than it does all of July, but the country is so beautiful no matter the weather.
We’re on the bus going back to the hotel right now and some of the guys are filming everybody acting silly.
(Saturday) night was our first weekend night in Ireland, but nobody did much of anything. We didn’t go out since we had a game to play. I don’t know if we’ll do anything (Sunday) night because we’ve got another game (Monday). Some of us are kind of sore so we’re just going to hang out around the hotel. Hopefully, they’ll open the pool and we can go goof around there. It was closed (Saturday) night.
We’re playing Poland next. On paper, they look to be our main opponent. We may be the two best teams in the (Emerald Hoops International Series) tournament. I’m looking forward to it.
Love you, mom.