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Men’s Basketball: Harangody’s post play frustrates opponents, key for ND success

Chris Khorey | Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Six months ago, Notre Dame’s inside game was considered its weakness and forward Luke Harangody was a freshman adapting to college workouts.

Now, after a season of basketball, the Irish are 23-6 and Harangody has become one of the most feared and effective inside players in the Big East.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound freshman is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season, including a 22-point outburst in Notre Dame’s win over Marquette Feb. 24.

Harangody, who also pulled down 13 rebounds against the Golden Eagles, frustrated Marquette’s defense with his physical style that wore down opposing defenders.

“When I go on the court, my personality just changes,” Harangody said. “One of the greatest compliments I ever received was that when I’m on the court I’m really intense, but when I come off I’m laid back and a good guy.”

Harangody displayed this intensity in Notre Dame’s final home game against Marquette – an 85-73 Irish win. With 22 seconds left, Marquette forward Dan Fitzgerald had enough of Harangody’s style and pushed the freshman to the ground, earning a technical foul.

“That had to do with how the game was going I think,” he said. “They were a little frustrated at the end of the game.”

Harangody grew up in Schererville, Ind., where he led Andrean High School to two conference championships. He led the Fighting 49ers with 23.6 points and 12.8 rebounds, both team highs, his senior year.

But aside from his high school experience, Harangody is quick to note that the variety of post moves he brought to Notre Dame actually came from his AAU days with the SYF Players. Now, near the end of the season, he has improved those and added some new ones.

“My AAU coach taught me a lot and the coaching staff here has taught me as well,” Harangody said. “It’s a combination of both.”

Harangody has shown an ability to hit free throws this season (81 percent from the line) – another skill he developed before he came to South Bend. The freshman said he has worked hard at shooting well from the charity stripe because he realized he would get fouled a lot in the low post.

“I always knew if I was going to be inside I would get to the line a lot, so I had to learn to make free throws,” he said.

Harangody has also avoided the physical “wall” that freshmen sometimes hit toward the end of the college season, a period that lasts longer than in high school.

“A lot of the older guys told me to make sure I took care of my body, that I ate well and kept in shape,” Harangody said. “The coaches have done a really good job with practices, too, to keep us fresh.”

Even with all that personal and team success, Harangody still has a few more goals to accomplish this season.

Notre Dame is the No. 4-seed in this week’s Big East tournament and will play the winner of Syracuse and Connecticut Thursday at 2 p.m.

“I’m really excited,” Harangody said of the tournament in Madison Square Garden. “It should be a great environment.”

After that, the Irish will find out where they will spend the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Harangody said he was excited by the prospect of the program’s first appearance in the Big Dance since 2003.

“It’s going to be great,” he said.