Men’s Basketball: Return of Harangody gives Irish high hopes for 2009-10
Michael Bryan | Saturday, August 22, 2009
“I realized my time here wasn’t done yet.”
With these few words Luke Harangody summed up his decision to forgo entering the NBA draft and return to Notre Dame for his senior season, changing a potential rebuilding year for the Irish into plans for a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“We just want to fight back and get one of those seven or eight (Big East) bids,” Irish coach Mike Brey said at the press conference announcing Harangody’s return. “I think with [Harangody] back and what we have, we can realistically say we can make a run at one of those bids, period.”
The senior class of Harangody and guards Jonathan Peoples and Tory Jackson has a chance to become the winningest in school history, and will break in the newly renovated Joyce Center this year.
Harangody can cement his legacy at Notre Dame by placing himself in the record books alongside the program’s all-time greats. After three years, Harangody ranks eighth in points (1,823) and fifth in rebounds (949). Both school records are in reach this year, but the power forward said the individual achievements are far from his top goals.
“It’s good to be on a team again with guys that are family, and I’m just looking forward to wins this year and not individual statistics,” Harangody said.
This season the Irish will look to replace the scoring and depth provided by departed senior captains Kyle McAlarney, Ryan Ayers, Zach Hillesland and Luke Zeller, but that task may be made much easier with the addition of transfers Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough.
Both players were ineligible last season after transferring following the 2007-2008 season – Hansbrough following his sophomore year at Mississippi State and Martin after his freshman campaign at Purdue – but both have been practicing with Notre Dame for a full season, and should make the transition of replacing the graduated seniors far easier than the task other Big East teams will face.
“We lost four seniors who were such a key part of our fabric, it just changes the personality of the team, which is neat about college basketball,” Brey said. “You always have new personalities to add.”
Hansbrough averaged 10.5 points per game in his last year at Mississippi State, and will join Jackson on the perimeter as the likely shooting guard. Martin, a 6-foot-8 swingman with range from outside, will replace Ryan Ayers at small forward. Martin averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his only year with the Boilermakers.
Manning the frontcourt with Harangody will be junior forward Tyrone Nash, who emerged as a key rebounder and post presence for Notre Dame at the end of last season, averaging 6.2 boards per contest.
Brey said there are definite points of improvement he would like to see on both ends of the floor for the upcoming season.
“I’d like to see us getting a little better offensively than we were this year,” Brey said. “The year or two before we were very potent offensively, up in the 80s [in points per game]. I think we probably have that potential again.”
“Certainly on the defensive end, we can get better there, can we rebound the ball better, that’s always a certain, rebounding the basketball against the athletic ability in our league,” Brey said. “We’re not going to necessarily steal in down from people but can we keep the keep the field goal percentage down.”
Brey also said he preferred the lack of pressure compared to last year’s preseason top 10 ranking.
“We’re not on anybody’s radar right now and I think that’s a good thing for us,” he said.