Notre Dame Basketball Notebook

The Sports Xchange takes a look at Notre Dame going into its game against Pitt Wednesday night.

GETTING INSIDE Do you think Luke Harangody might have made a difference for Notre Dame had he not been injured and missed two games?

The Irish lost those two and the one before it during which Harangody suffered a bone bruise in his right knee.

The result was Notre Dame lost three games by a grand total of six points. He should be healthy when the Fighting Irish play host to Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Harangody's absence forced coach Mike Brey, who often plays his starters well in excess of 33 minutes a game, to go deeper into his bench than he normally likes to do. Freshmen Mike Broghammer and Jack Cooley, along with junior Carleton Scott, had to play in situations they normally would not.

All three played well Feb. 17 against Louisville in a 91-89 double-overtime loss.

"They really helped us," junior Tim Abromaitis told the South Bend Tribune after he contributed 29 points to the cause. "They've been fighting in practice, and this was the first chance for them to really show how tough they are in games. Those guys are ready to go out there and battle."

The 6-foot-9 Broghammer logged double figures in minutes (10) for only the second time this season. He had two points, two steals and a rebound. He also was a physical post presence.

"Mike Broghammer gave us a freakin' awesome game,'' senior guard Tory Jackson said. "That was ridiculous how he played defense.''

The Irish are expecting Harangody back for Pittsburgh on Feb. 24, but it may be too late to get them to the NCAA Tournament with a 17-10 overall record and 6-8 Big East mark.

NOTES, QUOTES --The difference between winning and losing is really fine at times. Notre Dame, for example, hit 13 of 14 free throws in a double-overtime loss to Louisville. However, they wound up in overtime because they missed four free throws in the final 3:55 of regulation, two by Ben Hansbrough with the Irish leading by three with 1:14 to play.

--When Notre Dame lost to Louisville on Feb. 17 it was their first double-overtime game since losing 87-84 to Michigan in the second round of the 2006 NIT. The Irish have not won a double-overtime game since beating Georgetown at home, 93-92, on Feb. 1, 2003.

   ON THE SPOT: F Tim Abromaitis has had to take on a big scoring burden with Luke Harangody sidelined, and he has responded big time, scoring 71 points in three games, an average of 23.7. Notre Dame would be well served when Harangody returns to continue to push Abromaitis as a scorer, considering the attention Harangody will receive. The Irish will be far more dangerous if both forwards are firing away.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know where this young man came from. He doesn't play for two years, and he's one of the premier players in the country in my book. Look at how much better this young man has gotten. He is a great basketball player." -- Louisville Coach Rick Pitino on Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis after he scored 29 points against the Cardinals.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Notre Dame let its season slip away through January and February after putting itself in position to return to the NCAA Tournament. The Irish had just beaten West Virginia, a Top 10 team, on Jan. 9 for its fifth victory in six games. Instead of moving forward, however, the Irish lost at Cincinnati and began spinning out of control, losing seven of the next 10 games, including its last three. An injury to Luke Harangody, who was on his way to a great senior season, has made things even tougher in the last two games.

   PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Luke Harangody, F Tim Abromaitis, F Tyrone Nash, G Ben Hansbrough, G Tory Jackson. Key Subs -- G Jonathan Peoples, G Joey Brooks.

GAME REVIEW: Seton Hall 90, Notre Dame 87 St. John's 69, Notre Dame 68 Louisville 91, Notre Dame 89 (2OT)

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Georgetown, Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. Connecticut, Wednesday, March 3 at Marquette, Saturday, March 6

IN FOCUS: At 6-8 in the Big East, Notre Dame needs to win it final four conference games to finish with a winning record. When you consider that involves beating two nationally ranked teams in Pitt and Georgetown, the Hoyas on the road, and then beating Connecticut at home and Marquette on the road, it seems to be a huge task. The return of Luke Harangody would help, and it is expected he'll be back for Pitt.

ROSTER REPORT: --F Luke Harangody has missed the last two games with a bone bruise on his knee. It has been a crushing blow for the Irish as Harangody averages 24.1 points and 10 rebounds a game and is the team's emotional leader.

--Harangody is among 16 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association to the national player of the year. It is the second year in a row Harangody has been nominated for the award.

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