Harangody, Brey Take Big East Honors

Coming into the season after a disappointing first-round loss to Winthrop, not many Big East coaches expected No. 14/14 Notre Dame to amount to much success. After the Big East handed out its conference awards, they couldn't have been more mistaken. Two pivotal cogs of the Irish squad brought home Big East honors.

In only his second year, power forward Luke Harangody powered through league opponents, and as a result was voted the Big East Player of the Year by the head coaches of the conference, excluding his own. The sophomore forward averaged a total of 21 points per game, as well as 10.3 boards per contest. However, in conference play, Harangody stepped it up even further, notching a league-leading 23.3 points per game in addition to 11.3 rebounds. The sophomore's breakout season has seen him pick up an impressive 17 double doubles throughout the course of the year.

Although Harangody was a member of last season's Big East All-Rookie Team, he was not picked in this year's Preseason All-Big East Team. As if the motivation to win wasn't enough, Harangody excelled individually and as a teammate throughout the season. When the Irish needed a basket most, they turned to the star sophomore in many games down the stretch.

The sophomore forward was known for his relentlessly aggressive approach in the paint, but expanded his game even further as the season progressed. Slowly but surely Harangody began to consistently hit a mid-range jumper from all angles. This helped draw taller opposing defenders out to the perimeter, which gave Harangody a window to penetrate past them on the way to the hoop. He also learned to dish the ball to his teammates when these defenders were out of the paint, exploiting the void their departure created. Towards the final stretch of the season, the power forward even developed a three-point shot that was visible in his career-high scoring game against Louisville February 28.

Although the game ended up being a devastating Irish loss, Harangody displayed his determination and will to win in the defeat. The sophomore almost single-handedly brought Notre Dame back from what was developing into a Cardinal blow out. Just two weeks after achieving his career-high in scoring, Harangody netted 40 total points, hitting three consecutive three-point bombs to pull the Irish to within five. However, Louisville proved to be too much for the Irish that day. One thing was certain after the loss: Harangody would not let his team go down quietly.

Harangody would have never made the progress he has both as a player and as an individual if it wasn't for his head coach, Mike Brey. In his eighth season as the Irish head coach, Brey has led Notre dame to a 24-6 overall record, as well as a second-place finish in the conference, at 14-4. For the second year in a row, he has received the honor of the Oppenheimer Funds/Big East Coach of the Year award. He is only the third head coach to win the honor in consecutive seasons, joining Seton Hall's P.J. Carlesimo and Lou Carnesecca of St. John's.

Not many of his conference peers thought that Brey would bring the Irish success this season, predicting his squad to place ninth in the league in the preseason polls. He used this underestimation to fuel his players and strive for them to reach their potential. An assistant coach under Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski, Brey is a huge proponent of team basketball, with an emphasis on ball movement and solid shooting teams. Coach Brey has also advocated for greater crowd participation at the Joyce Center, and it is no surprise that under his tenure the Irish have amassed the second-longest current home win streak in the nation at 37 games.

The awards and accolades serve as a pleasant indicator of the Irish recent success. However, both Harangody and Brey will easily acknowledge that the honors will not mean nearly as much if Notre Dame does not succeed in the upcoming conference tournament in Madison Square Garden.

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