Men’s Basketball: King of the Hill
Chris Hine | Thursday, November 8, 2007
Luke Harangody wasn’t going to let something as small as an injured thumb affect the way he played.
The sophomore forward, who is recovering from a torn ligament in his right thumb, overcame first-half “jitters” in his first game back to finish with 15 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes in Notre Dame’s 71-56 win Wednesday over St. Edward’s.
“When I first went in there I was thinking about [the thumb] a little bit and finally I just said, ‘If something happens it happens,'” Harangody said.
Harangody played with his usual wrecking-ball mentality in the second half, never thinking twice about diving for loose balls or shying away from contact. Even though the Irish let St. Edward’s hang around most of the game, Harangody’s 14 second-half points made sure the Hilltoppers didn’t beat the Irish like Findlay and Grand Valley State upset Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively, in the past week.
“At times it had the makings of [that game],” Brey said. “They made us play a little quick. I wish we could have been better with the basketball.”
Notre Dame had 19 turnovers against St. Edward’s but overcame its sloppy offensive play by getting the ball to Harangody in the second half. Brey said the strategy in the second half revolved around getting Harangody the ball on each possession.
“That’s basically where we were,” Brey said. “They had us pushed out a little bit. What we said was a low-post touch … We were talking about six passes, reversing the ball, a low-post touch, a Harangody-touch before we do anything. And that’s no mystery. That’s how we’re going to play.”
St. Edward’s trailed 38-28 at halftime and made things interesting in the beginning of the second half.
After sophomore guard Tory Jackson, who finished with 11 points while playing with the flu, hit a three to put Notre Dame up 41-30, St. Edward’s went on a 9-2 run to cut the score to 43-39. Then Harangody went to work, scoring seven points during an 11-3 Notre Dame run that made the score 54-43 with 10:45 remaining.
“I think [Harangody] did a great job,” said senior forward Rob Kurz, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. “It’s amazing to see him out there playing. He hasn’t been able to move his wrist in three weeks and then to come out there, he did a great job and is only going to get better and better.”
St. Edward’s got as close as eight the rest of the way.
Harangody played 11 minutes in the first half but only scored one point. Kurz picked up the slack in the first half. He had 13 points in the first half, while junior guard Kyle McAlarney had 10 of his 12 points. But McAlarney and Jackson combined for 10 of Notre Dame’s 19 turnovers. Jackson said that although he had the flu, he was still disappointed with how he played.
“I felt so terrible out there, but I let it get to me,” Jackson said. “I should’ve never let that happen because it affected my team. I got to get better at that. No matter what’s wrong with me, I can’t show any weakness.”
Notre Dame jumped out to an 18-10 lead, but turnovers and missed shots allowed the Hilltoppers to get within four at 21-17 with 5:22 to play in the first half. The Irish regrouped and outscored St. Edward’s 17-11 the rest of the half to go into the locker room ahead 38-28.
St. Edward’s sophomore guard Jannick Zimmer led the Hilltoppers with 12 points while senior guard Shawn Weinstein and sophomore forward Cory Griffin each added 10.
uBrey said he was happy with the Big East’s decision to allow all 16 conference teams to play in the Big East tournament beginning in 2009.
“I’m shocked we got it this early,” Brey said. “We’ve been lobbying for a while … I think it’s very fitting that everybody goes to New York.”
uBrey said freshman guard Ty Proffitt sat out Wednesday with a groin injury.
“We’re hoping he’ll be back in practice on Saturday,” Brey said. “But he pulled a groin in Sunday’s practice, and we’re just trying to be cautious with it.”