Final Thanks

Honored last night at the team banquet, Luke Harangody and his senior teammates exit the University with more wins than any prior class in program history.

A night of poignant, sometimes rambling, but always heartfelt memories and moments of reflection brought the official end to college careers of four Irish senior basketball players Wednesday on the Purcell Pavilion floor.

Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson, Jonathan Peoples, and Tim Andree, Jr. were responsible for 93 wins, 43 of which occurred in Big East conference action. Both numbers stand as program records, and when coupled with a pair of Big East semi-final appearances and three NCAA Tournament berths, earn the outgoing seniors the moniker of the most successful class of the Mike Brey era at Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame Men's Basketball Banquet featured a potpourri of smiles and tears (as would most social gatherings in excess of 180 minutes, I suppose).

It featured a player's misidentification of the University's President (Reverend John Jenkins' good-natured acceptance of the error provided a moment of levity at the banquet's conclusion).

It featured athletics director Jack Swarbrick with a (nearly) shirt-free homage to the team's always tie-free head coach (Swarbrick jokingly tossed aside his requisite collared-shirt and tie for a more comfortable sport coat and mock T in honor of Mike Brey's lack of sartorial splendor during his opening remarks).

And it featured a 35-minute oration by one of two players to take home two awards last night. (Let's just say it's a good thing Tory Jackson will exit the University with a degree, a tailor-made Euro-League skill set, and the near-certainty of a coaching position in his future, because last night is likely his last on the public-speaking circuit).

But amid the frivolity of teammate and assistant coach ribbing, of well-deserved thanks to those behind the scenes, and of recollections of cherished moments only a team can share, was the finality and subsequent tears that flowed from a reflective and thankful Luke Harangody: the most decorated individual in program history.

Ever gracious (and to his credit, conscious of a teammate's previous oversight: "I have to apologize. Father Jenkins is the President of the University," Harangody offered upon taking the podium, correcting his well-meaning but ultimately off-base senior teammate from Saginaw), Harangody broke down as he offered final thanks to his family: parents who never missed a home game in their sons career.

"I'm sorry," said Harangody. "I told myself I wouldn't cry.

"People don't understand why I came back," he continued. "It's just a great place to spend your college career. It truly was a great experience. I've had a great ride. You wish you can get it back.

"This place really means a lot to me."

Harangody, as expected, won the Notre Dame Monogram Club's MVP award. The only three-time 1st Team All Big East performer in program history, Harangody exits the college game as the only player to average better than 20 points and 10 rebounds for his career in the history of the Big East Conference.

Jackson won the team's Playmaker Award and Captain's Award while Ben Hansbrough and Jonathan Peoples shared the Team Irish Award.

2010 revelation Tim Abromaitis shared the team's Most Improved Award with classmate Carleton Scott, while also earning the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award. Abromaitis posted a 3.72 GPA in Finance and will graduate from the Mendoza College of Business in May – one year ahead of his class and with two seasons of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Junior Tyrone Nash was named the team's Best Defensive Player, an honor that elicited the night's best (half-joking) quote, courtesy of Jackson: "I have no idea how you won the defensive player of the year. You couldn't play a lick of defense."

Not surprisingly, the night's best speech and words of wisdom came courtesy of walk-on Tim Andree ("We were 27-2 when I played in a game…"), whose eloquent oration illustrated the camaraderie that exists in the program and what it means to be a basketball player at Notre Dame, on and off the court.

"It was Pericles who said: ‘What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.'"

NCAA Tournament success eluded the outgoing seniors, but in the words of Jonathan Peoples, one of four set to graduate in May: "We're set for life."


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