Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
October 22, 2008? MORE: Top 65 Countdown: No. 5 Notre Dame
If you saw Luke Harangody's 2007-08 season coming then Miss Cleo has nothing on you.
The Notre Dame power forward went from a nice freshman season to Big East Player of the Year. He went from 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game to 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds.
Only three other players in the "Big Six" conferences managed at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Two of them ? Kansas State's Michael Beasley and California's Ryan Anderson ? left school early and were NBA first-round picks. The other was consensus national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina.
"He's the perfect storm of athletic ability, psyche, heart, drive and attitude," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
The Harangody-led Irish won 25 games last season and tied for second in the Big East. Not bad for a team that was picked ninth in the preseason by the league's coaches.
It's unlikely the coaches will make the same mistake again. They certainly won't rest on trying to stop Harangody, either. As gaudy as his season averages were he was even better in Big East play. He averaged 23.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in league games, tops in both categories.
So what does he do for an encore?
"I want to come out and make myself a little more versatile, step out a little bit more and definitely work on my defense a lot, just guarding that tougher, quicker player and being able to do more on the court," Harangody said at Notre Dame's media day. "Just becoming that typical all-around player."
To that end he has worked hard in the weight room on his strength and conditioning. A leaner, faster Harangody was on display on the Irish's summer exhibition tour of Ireland. The team went 6-0, and Harangody showed that he'll step out and even shoot 3-pointers if left open.
"He thinks that he can step out with me and Kyle (McAlarney)," guard Ryan Ayers said. "He's definitely getting better. That's a weapon he's going to show a little bit this year."
Brey said he wants to see Harangody keep a bit of his emotion and enthusiasm in check, or maybe just channel them better.
"One of the things we talked to him about was being better about not being distracted on a mistake that he makes or a call," Brey said. "He is so intense and wound so tight. Also, moving him around offensively ? he can't just wrestle around in the low post with the players we have in our league."
At 6 feet 8 and 250 pounds, Harangody is a load to handle one-on-one, although some of the bigs in the Big East are capable. But for teams that have to double him, Harangody has an answer.
"A lot of people talk to me about how hard it's going to be, being a target for double-teams or triple-teams," Harangody said. "What's great about that is that I've got a great bunch of guys around me. I've got Kyle (McAlarney) and Ryan (Ayers) on the outside, Zach (Hillesland) and Tory (Jackson) and a bunch of playmakers, so it's great."
Notre Dame is ranked fifth in the Rivals.com Top 65 Countdown. The Irish, though, still are stung by the finish to their 2007-08 season. They were eliminated in their first game in the Big East tournament, and Washington State thumped them in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"These guys still do have a chip on their shoulder given how they played in the last game," Brey said. "They'd like to go deeper in both tournaments. There isn't any complacency."
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.