April 16, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. – Two-time captain Rob Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.), the lone senior on the 2007-08 Notre Dame men’s basketball team, was named the recipient of the Notre Dame Monogram Club MVP award, while junior Zach Hillesland Toledo, Ohio), was selected as the winner of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete award.
The two awards, along with six others, were presented on Wednesday evening, April 16 at the team’s annual basketball banquet that was held on the arena floor of the Joyce Center. The event, celebrating the achievements of this year’s squad, was attended by more than 650.
Notre Dame wrapped up the ’07-’08 campaign with a final 25-8 record, the third most wins in school history, and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year and fifth time in eight seasons. The Irish tied for second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings after finishing with a 14-4 ledger, its best record since becoming conference member in 1995-96 and the fifth time in eight years under head coach Mike Brey that the Irish won 10 or more BIG EAT games.
Notre Dame became the first team in league history to record back-to-back undefeated seasons at home. The Irish extended their Joyce Center win streak to a record-setting 37 games and currently owns an 18-game BIG EAST homecourt win streak, the second-longest all-time in league history.
Over the last 41 BIG EAST regular-season games, the Irish have compiled a 31-10 record for a .732 winning percentage.
Kurz was the recipient of the MVP award for the first time in his career. The lone senior on the Irish team and is one of just 18 players in the 103-history of the basketball program who has served as a two-time captain. The 6-9, 232-pound forward was the third-leading scorer for Notre Dame as he averaged 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds. Kurz started all 31 games, scored in double figures in 22 outings, grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 11 contests and recorded eight double-doubles.
He finished his career with 1,013 career points for a 9.0 career scoring average and a 6.0 rebounding mark. Kurz was the 47th player in Notre Dame history to reach the 1,000-point mark and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll once during the season.
Hillesland earns the Rockne Student-Athlete award for the first time in his career. A marketing major in the Mendoza College of Business, he owns a 3.466 cumulative grade point average and finished with a 3.654 grade index following for the fall semester (second-highest on the team). Hillesland also was named the recipient of the Best Defensive Player award.
The 6-9, 233-pound forward averaged career-bests of 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds and started the final 16 games of the season in which the Irish compiled a 12-4 record. Hillesland scored in double figures in six games and matched his career-high with 14 points in Notre Dame’s win at home against Marquette. He grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds versus George Mason in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore forward Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) collected the Best Rebounder award. The 2008 BIG EAST Player of the Year and a NCAA consensus second team All-American averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds. He became just the second player in BIG EAST history to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 23.3 points and 11.3 boards.
A unanimous first-team all-conference selection, he was named to several All-Anmerica teams following the campaign. Among the highlights for Harangody was his selection as a member of the 10-member John R Wooden All-America Team and his being named to the State Farm/NABC All-America first team and Associated Press All-America second team.
He scored 672 points during the season — the third most by a Notre Dame sophomore. The 6-8, 251-pound forward scored in double figures in 32 of 33 contests, including the final 31 games of the season. Harangody netted 20-plus points in 18 games that included three 30-plus performances and recorded 19 double-doubles. He scored a career-high in a loss at Louisville and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds versus Washington State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore Tory Jackson (Saginaw, Mich.) received the Outstanding Playmaker award after leading the Irish in assists (5.8) and BIG EAST conference (5.6) for the second consecutive year. He also averaged 8.0 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Jackson started all 33 contests and scored in double figures in 11 games and grabbed a career-high 13 boards against Pittsburgh. He also matched his career best with 11 assists versus Connecticut in Notre Dame’s win at the Joyce Center. Jackson recorded back-to-back double-doubles when he scored 17 points and dished off 10 assists versus Rutgers and then came back with a 16-point and 13-rebound effort versus the Panthers.
Juniors Ryan Ayers (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Luke Zeller (Washington, Ind.) were named co-recipients of the Most Improved Player award. Ayers played in all 33 games and started the first 17 contests of the season. After netting just 2.9 points per game as sophomore, he averaged a career-best 7.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in ’07-’08. He scored in double figures in nine contests that included a 17-point performance at Louisville.
Zeller averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds while playing in all 33 contests. He scored in double figures in three games, matching a career-high with 14 points against Colgate and grabbed a career-high 10 boards in a loss at Marquette.
Junior Kyle McAlarney (Staten Island, N.Y.) received the Comeback Player award. A first-team all-BIG EAST selection, he was the second-leading scorer for the Irish with a 15.1 scoring average. He set the Notre Dame single-season three-point field goals record with 108 and became just the second player in school history with 100-plus three-point field goals in a season. McAlarney also set the Irish single-game record with nine three-pointers in a win over Syracuse. He scored in double figures in 25 games and topped the 30-plus point mark on three occasions, including a career-high 32 points in Notre Dame’s versus Connecticut.
McAlarney shot 44.1 percent from three-point range and topped the BIG EAST at 46.3 percent in conference games.
Sophomore Jonathan Peoples (Bellwood, Ill.) was the recipient of the Team Irish award. In his second season with the Irish, Peoples played in all 33 contests and averaged 3.3 points. He scored a career-high 12 points against Georgetown.