Blue-Collar Impact

SOUTH BEND - Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey says he has dreams about Luke Harangody. Opponents are going to have nightmares about him over the next few years. The 6-foot-8, 250-pound freshman with the blue-collar attitude, is the type of find the Irish program needed in turning the team into a regular selection for the NCAA Tournament again.

Not highly recruited, Harangody's rugged style of play will make him tough to deal with when Big East play rolls around in January. He's already been tough on his Notre Dame teammates in practice, breaking both Rob Kurz's and Zach Hillesland's noses, and busting open Kyle McAlarney's head.

Unlike football, on the hardwood, the Irish are rarely in on any of the nation's top-100 recruits. To stay competitive in the Big East and nationally, the Irish have to bring in the best of the mid-level guys that have a good upside. Harangody fit's the bill.

Only four games into his career, it's too early to say Harangody can impact the program like former All-American Troy Murphy did (another great find that wasn't highly recruited), but after four games the kid certainly looks like a player. He has come off the bench to score double figures in all four contests, including a game-high 18 points against The Citadel, Sunday afternoon, in a 74-50, Irish win.

Harangody played just 17 minutes, 11 in the first half where he outscored the Bulldogs, 16-12.

"He's obviously a blossoming very talented young man who's got a great demeanor, a great frame of mind," Brey said. "He approaches the game more like a junior than a freshman, certainly physically but emotionally, confidence wise. We want to continue to nurture that, and continue to try and find out what are the best ways to use him."

Harangody hails from Schererville, IN., about an hour away from campus, where people either commute to Chicago for work or man the mills. It's a typical Indiana town where things don't get done without a little bit of sweat.

Harangody's demeanor is a reflection on the household he grew up in and the values that are taught. Harangody's father Dave, who works as a broker, played tight end at Indiana. Hard work is the reason why he's been successful and he has pushed that attitude on his two children.

"He's always hollering at me to work hard and have a good worth ethic," Harangody said. "He instilled that in me when I was a little kid and it's stuck with me."

Harangody and his brother Ty, who is one-year older, used to duke it out on the court in the family's back yard. Bigger than Luke until eighth grade, Ty used to put a beating on his younger brother on the court, and off it. Ty is now a red-shirt freshman on the Indiana football team.

"I was just a little runt," Harangody said. "He pretty much just beat me up all the time. I owe a lot of that to him. People always say we fought all the time."

Harangody brought that fight to the court at Andrean High, and now brings it to the Irish program that has been considered soft since the Murphy days. An Indiana All-Star, he has the ability to impact the game in many ways. He has great instincts on the block, moves quickly and can turn both ways with the ball. He has nice touch around the rim after making a physical move. Harangody doesn't force anything. He is a nice passer as well.

Harangody does things a step faster than Torin Francis did in his four years in an Irish uniform. Though he's been coming off the pine, Harangody has been the team's first option when he is in the game.

"When he's in the game what we try and say are low-post touches for Luke H are good," Brey said. They certainly have been. His 16.2 points and six rebounds per game rank second on the team.

"No one in that locker room would go egh, they no the deal," Brey continued. "Throw it in there, and if he doesn't make a play, he makes a heck of a pass out of it."

Against The Citadel (1-4), Harangody checked in four minutes into the game and quickly finished a three-point play. On top of his variety of post moves, Harangody showed his athleticism by getting into the passing lane in the backcourt and almost finishing a dunk at the other end while being intentionally fouled. In the paint, he was too much for the Bulldogs, who's tallest player was 6-foot-8.

"We just knew coming out today, this was a smaller group and I could get inside touches real well," Harangody explained. "I knew that guys like Kyle and Colin could feed me and I got some good low-post feeds to start off. I came in and got an and-one, it was nice to get off to a nice start like that."

Harangody quickly made his first four field goals and finished 7-of-9 from the floor. In a eight-minute span in the first half, Harangody scored 11 points, blocked a shot, had a steal and deflected several balls. When he checked out after that run, the crowd gave him a nice ovation. It's apparent Harangody is quickly becoming the Joyce Center favorite.

"I started to notice," Harangody said. "I love it and I feed off the crowd's energy. I try to get the crowd involved, I love it. It's nice to have that behind your back."

Brey is now getting peppered with questions about when Harangody is going to move into the starting lineup.

"As a staff we've kind of kicked that around," he said. "When you make a move how does that effect everybody, not just the guy you're playing."

The Irish (3-1) and Harangody will be tested against Maryland and No. 11 Alabama to open December. Then the big bodies of the Big East follow the next month. It's in those games where we'll see how Harangody matches up with guys just as physical as him.

"I am getting ready," he said. "We have some big games coming up after Thanksgiving break. It should be a good challenge for us.

"Obviously it's going to be a lot harder out there." Top Stories