Saturday, January 24, 2009

Irish Curse

(Just a couple of notes & quotes from tonight's stirring, 69-61 UConn win that ended Notre Dame's home winning streak at 45 games overall and 20 in Big East play. Read tomorrow's Register for the rest)

"It feels so good," said Jeff Adrien, who tore down a career-high 19 rebounds. "I think, really, just getting a win … it was a great team effort, that's what feels great. Adding that (we) beat a winning streak, that makes it even better. We finally snapped something they cherish. They defended it for 45 games. At 46, it (ended)."

When it was over, Hasheem Thabeet – treated harshly much of the night by the partisan crowd for his "dis" of Luke Harangody two months ago – and Adrien – who a week earlier openly stated how much he craved to end Notre Dame's home streak – strutted around the court with their chests out.

"(We stuck our chests) out a little bit," Adrien said, "(to) let them know we're here, it's our gym right now."


***Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame's sharpshooter who averages over 17 points per game, hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first 5 ½ minutes but didn't score again the rest of the way, finishing 3-for-15 from the floor. Craig Austrie held him in check for most of the night, with Kemba Walker and Dyson contributing, as well.

***Even some atrocious foul shooting (15-for-30 for the game, 7-for-15 over the final three minutes) couldn't keep the Huskies from victory.

"If we could have shot fouls, (the second half) would have been as good a half as we've played this year," said Calhoun. "If you combine defense, sticking to a game plan and running it every single time, and just great contributions from the entire team."

***During a timeout at one point in the game, ex-Notre Dame coach (and current ESPN analyst) Digger Phelps, sporting a green carnation, was honored for the Irish's win over UCLA in 1974 that ended the Bruins' long winning streak.

Calhoun didn't miss a chance to take a good-natured, postgame jab at his fellow Irishman.

"Jay Bilas said something very interesting – you notice I didn't say it was Digger that said something interesting. Green carnation? How can I say he said something good when he's got a green carnation on? And, wasn't he honored and making his speech when we were trying to get the game going? And he's the guy who's going to be objective … OK, I missed something there, but that's alright."

By the way, Bilas had said that in the Villanova game, UConn showed just how good they can be.

***Thabeet finally (we hope) put an end to the Harangody controvery (you know, "he's not tough" on the cover of ESPN The Magazine ...)

"The question was, 'Is Luke Harangody the toughest player you played last year?' The answer was, 'No, he was not the toughest. He was more experienced than me.' If you say the toughest, last year I played against Roy Hibbert, all those guys that left … I think he understood what I was saying, nothing personal."

Thabeet and Harangody (and virtually every other player) embraced in the postgame handshake line.

"We talked," Thabeet said. "He asked me who we play next, I asked him who they play next. He told me 'good game,' I told him 'good game.' The talk is just talk, off the court. You've got to step on the court and play the game."

Said Calhoun: "I told (Harangody) in the line, he's as tough and as good as everybody's always said he was, as Hasheem and all of us at Connecticut think he is. He's a terrific competitor. I mean, one of his 3's was McAlarney range."

Not tonight's McAlarney range.

***Harangody shot 10-for-23 from the floor. The rest of the Irish shot a combined 15-for-53.

***Tomorrow will be the Huskies' first day off in 11 days, per Calhoun.

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