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WHEN NOTRE Dame embarked on an exhibition tour of Ireland in August, there was no doubt as to which of its players would be the crowd favorite. When the Fighting Irish play Stateside, it tends to be Luke Harangody, the junior forward who was the Big East Player of the Year last season after leading the conference in scoring. But on the Emerald Isle, just for the Hibernian sound of his name, it was senior guard Kyle McAlarney, an Irish-American from Staten Island, N.Y. And by leading Notre Dame in scoring (with a 20.8-point average) during the six-game trip, drilling 10 three-pointers against Poland in one victory and seven against Ireland in another, he made sure the family name was well represented. Says senior forward Zach Hillesland, "[ McAlarney] was like a rock star over there, this little Irishman knocking down threes."
McAlarney, who made 44.1% of his 245 long-range attempts last season, so enjoyed having the hot hand overseas—"That's the best I've ever seen him shoot," Harangody says—that teammates have since caught him practicing with the international ball that was used on the tour. He also kept a diary of the trip for a South Bend newspaper and in one entry mentioned that his airplane reading had been Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich.
What drew him to Maravich, McAlarney says, were not highlight videos of Pistol Pete's open-court wizardry but rather their common obsession. "[Maravich] used to be in the gym for nine hours a day, doing ball handling and shooting drills," McAlarney says. "I just love his approach to the game."
Early this summer, McAlarney set a goal of making 23,000 three-pointers in one 43-day stretch—and was on pace to reach it until an injury sidelined him near the end.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey says McAlarney "has a different license to shoot than anybody I've had here. Kyle can get the shot off a little quicker, and get to open spots off the dribble, which ignites runs for us. I don't know if I've ever gotten on him about [taking a bad] shot."
As a team the Irish were the top major-conference three-point-shooting outfit last season, making 40.5% of their long-range attempts. McAlarney and senior swingman Ryan Ayers, who made 45.1% of his treys, keep defenses from collapsing in the post on Harangody. And the Irish are hardly daunted by the longer distance from the arc this year. The 20'9" line was added to the court in South Bend by the time they returned from a second-round loss to Washington State in the NCAA tournament, and McAlarney was testing it within days. "With the kind of shooters we have," he says, "it's not going to affect us."