Irish look to end losing streak against Louisville Print
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Wednesday, 11 February 2009 22:52
NCAAB Headline News


 SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Notre Dame is past the point of panic.
Losers of seven straight, including their worst performance of the season in an 89-63 loss to No. 11 UCLA on Saturday, the Fighting Irish say the pressure is off them heading into Thursday night's game against fifth-ranked Louisville.
``There really is nothing to lose. No one's going to pick us,'' guard Kyle McAlarney said. ``So we really can go out there and let it all hang out and play with reckless abandon.''
The Irish (12-10, 3-7 Big East), who lost a total of eight games in each of the past two seasons, are trying to avoid an eighth straight loss. The Irish haven't lost that many in a row since a 13-game skid during the 1965-66 season.
Luke Harangody, who was held to five points and one rebound against UCLA, promises Notre Dame will put in a better effort against the Cardinals (18-4, 9-1).
``It's going to be a fight and there's going to be punches thrown as we didn't do Saturday,'' Harangody said. ``They threw the first punch and we just fell down.''
were 12-3 at the time, played No. 20 Louisville, which was 11-3. The Irish had a chance to win in the closing seconds, but guard Tory Jackson turned the ball over. The Irish lost 87-73 in overtime.
Since then the Irish have lost to No. 1 Connecticut, No. 4 Pittsburgh, No. 10 Marquette, No. 11 UCLA, No. 23 Syracuse and Cincinnati.
Notre Dame's usually reliable offense has been inconsistent at best. Through 15 games the Irish were averaging 82 points. During the seven-game losing streak, they've been held to 71 points a game and have scored at least 80 only twice.
``It's been hard for us to establish our style of play,'' coach Mike Brey said. ``That offensive rhythm that has been a strength of ours has been really hard to get into. I think that's kind of affected everything, quite frankly.''
Irish players say they've been trying too hard and at times are rushing shots.
``When you get out of character and you take bad shots and you kind of try to do too much and try to get out of your comfort zone, teams make you pay for it and it's really frustrating,'' forward Zach Hillesland said.
The Irish also have been having trouble with transition defense against quicker teams.
Brey, who has been switching starting lineups to try to break the Irish out of their slump, said he probably won't decide who will start against the Cardinals until a few hours before tip-off.
his season was supposed to go for the Irish. This was supposed to be Notre Dame's year with four seniors and three juniors, including the reigning Big East player of the year in Harangody.
The Irish had a few minor road bumps early in the season with losses to Ohio State and St. John's, but were ranked as high as No. 7 and the biggest questions seemed to be whether they could contend for the league title and where they would be seeded in the NCAA tournament. Now they are in 12th place in the Big East and not even an NIT berth is a certainty.
Brey doesn't want to talk big picture yet about the disappointing season, saying there's still some things to be decided. He remains hopeful that the Irish can still turn things around with a big finish, especially with games at Connecticut and at home against No. 13 Villanova.
``There's no question it has to be a big run,'' he said. ``We certainly know it's a steep climb and a lot of work to do.''
Although the losing streak has put a strain on the team, the Irish are still working together and determined to play better.
``As negative as everything has been around here I think we can still say, and be confident in saying, we're going to find our rhythm in February,'' McAlarney said.
 

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