(In case you were wondering, Notre Dame's veterans easily dispatched of the visiting and badly overmatched Liberty Flames, 91-74 Sunday night, too, but that was a given from the opening tip).
Key to the contest was the first meaningful, non-exhibition playing time in the careers of freshman Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, and Jack Cooley. What the trio lacked in overall efficiency it made up for in aggressive play over 32 aggregate minutes.
"With the younger guys, just getting everyone in the flow of the game; getting everyone going (is important)," explained Irish point guard and captain Tory Jackson. "They really hit the glass, Jack Cooley and Mike Broghammer, those two hit the glass hard. I was happy with their effort.
"They just have to finish (make shots). That's going to come but that was a positive sequence, the last 6-7 minutes."
In addition to Cooley and Broghammer, Brooks gave the Irish minutes in both halves, checking in midway through the first and making an immediate impact, crashing the offensive glass and drawing a foul on a putback.
Then the nerves kicked in…
"He got poked in the eye," offered Jackson of Brook's airballed free throw right. "So that can be his excuse. I went through that once too (jitters early at the free throw line).
"Somebody with his size and his strength, to get in there and bang for us (as a guard)…that's huge for us."
(Click here for game notes covering the freshman trio and every Irish player vs. Liberty).
He Had 30? Really?
It was his 10th career 30-plus-point performance, and likely his most efficient: 10-14 from the field, including 2-2 from beyond the arc and a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe.
Luke Harangody is one of the few players in the nation who can score a "quiet" 32 points, but through an assortment of spinning, often awkward fade-aways, reverse layups, and pop-out jump shots, the coolly efficient Harangody took control and took advantage of his size early, as each of his 10 free throws were earned in the game's first 20 minutes.
"We got in the bonus with about 10 minutes left in the first half," Harangody observed. "You know you have to keep going inside and going to the line. We're going to take that every time."
In addition to Harangody's 32 points and 9 boards, juniors Tyrone Nash and Tim Abromaitis chipped in 12 points while Jackson added 9 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals quarterbacking the offense.
The Late-November Grind
After a quality test from dangerous if undersized Long Beach State last Thursday, its understandable that the Irish would be a little flat against a lower-quality opponent. Couple that with Notre Dame's heavy early schedule (8 games in 17 days) and there are likely to be a few moments of lost focus among the Irish regulars.
"I think it was a little interesting trying to get into our rhythm with Ben (Hansbrough) not being 100 percent offensively," offered Brey of his team's attack with Hansbrough still hobbled by ankle (primarily) and hip injuries suffered Thursday vs. Long Beach State.
"In the second half we were better. I though we were efficient offensively all night."
The Irish led 47-39 at the half as the Flames stayed close with a 6-12 effort from beyond the arc and 52 percent shooting vs. an indifferent Irish interior defense.
"I told the guys, 'we're not good enough' to play like that,'" offered Brey of a defense that gave less than 100 percent effort in the early going.
Notre Dame's coach on the floor took care of the rest.
"Just playing defense and trust in each other," said Jackson of Notre Dame's second half focus. "You can't take a team like that too lightly. Those teams can go in and knock down 15 three-pointers and win the game, so you have to be careful."
The Irish runs of 9-1 and 19-2 in the first 12 minutes of the second stanza to put the game out of reach.
Notre Dame's next game is Tuesday night vs. Kennesaw State at the Purcell Pavilion. The Irish then travel to Chicago to take on Northwestern Friday and either Iowa State or Saint Louis Saturday in the Chicago Classic to be played at the UIC Pavilion.
Irish Player Stats
- Luke Harangody: 32 points (10-14/2-2/10-10), 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 28 minutes.
- Tyrone Nash: 12 points (4-7/0-0/4-8), 2 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist, 17 minutes.
- Tory Jackson: 9 points (3-8/0-1/3-6), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 32 minutes.
- Jonathan Peoples: 8 points (3-6/1-3/1-2), 3 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 29 minutes.
- Ben Hansbrough: 6 points (1-4/1-3/3-3), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 21 minutes.
- Tim Abromaitis: 12 points (4-6/2-3/2-2), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 20 minutes.
- Carleton Scott: 4 points (2-5/0-2/0-0), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 17 minutes.
- Joey Brooks: 4 points (2-5/0-1/0-2), 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 12 minutes.
- Mike Broghammer: 0 points (0-5/0-1/0-0), 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 11 minutes.
- Jack Cooley: 2 points (1-4), 3 rebounds, 9 minutes.
- Tim Andree: 0 points (0-1), 2 minutes.
- Tom Kopko: 2 points (1-1), 2 minutes.