Luke's Wild Ride
Around Easter, Cavs fans went through an intense bout of “Hudsanity.” A pair of veterans – Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison – were rightly recognized for being good guys. On Tuesday night, the lead candidate for Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, returned to the lineup after missing nine of the previous ten games.
Amidst all this, sophomore forward Luke Harangody had a brief but excellent adventure – playing four games in four nights: leading the Cavs to a win in his first NBA start one night and leading the Canton Charge to the D-League Semifinals two nights later.
On Tuesday, the Cavaliers recalled Harangody and he’ll be with the big league club for the rest of the regular season. (Players with under three years of experience can only be assigned to the D-League affiliate three times per season.)
In his last game with the Charge – the series-deciding win over the Springfield Armor – Harangody netted just seven points, but led the squad with 10 boards. In three playoff games with Alex Jensen’s squad, Harangody averaged 17.7 points and 7.3 boards per contest – shooting 49 percent from the floor in 33 minutes a night.
Before Wednesday’s Cavaliers matchup with the Sixers, the former Golden-Domer admitted that he was dragging a bit by his fourth straight game.
“It was rough, because I’m the type of player where energy is a big part of my game and when I didn’t have that it was hard to do a lot of things I can do well on the court,” said Harangody. “But we pushed through and got the win.”
The second-year pro doesn’t easily admit that he was tired. Simply watching him play tells fans that he’s one of the more rugged members of the squad. His father was a tight end at Indiana and his brother played fullback for the Hoosiers. The no-nonsense Luke doesn’t back down often – whether it’s battling Thaddeus Young for a rebound or challenging Samardo Samuels to a push-up contest on the team plane.
Harangody finally got a rest on Tuesday. He traveled to Cleveland in the morning and was able to sleep all day. He played 13 minutes in the loss to Philly, tallying two points and four boards.
Like almost all his teammates, Harangody’s been through the basketball wringer before – schedule-wise. But that was back in AAU.
“Yeah, but that was when I was 15 years old, so it was a little different,” laughed Harangody. “But you look back and compare it and it was AAU, you’d be playing four games in two days. But that was a little different back then.”
Harangody never had to run the four-games-in-four-nights college gauntlet in the Big East Tournament because his Irish squads never had a low enough seeding.
The 22nd pick of the second round in 2010, Luke played 49 games in his rookie season – 28 with Boston, 21 with Cleveland. He averaged 6.2 points per contest in his first season. In 2011-12, he’s seen less action at the pro level, just 17 games this year. In two years, he’s had just one career start – but he made it count.
With Antawn Jamison getting his first breather of the season, the Cavaliers brought Harangody up from Canton, midway through their first round series against Springfield. And all he did was lead the Wine and Gold with 16 points and 10 rebounds. His three-pointer to start the fourth quarter snapped a 73-73 tie and his 18-footer gave the Wine and Gold a nine-point lead midway through the period.
The Cavs went on to get the 98-89 win in D.C.
“He was the MVP tonight,” praised Byron Scott after Saturday’s win. “For him to play in a D-League game last night and then to come start for us tonight was really great. You have to give him a lot of credit. He was definitely ready to play.”
Like many of the Cavaliers youngsters, Harangody has to view the end of this season as somewhat of audition for next year. But he’s not going to let that pressure affect him.
“I don’t think I’m going to put everything into this at the end of the season,” said Harangody. “I think this has been a good experience for me this year and whatever happens, happens. It’s not that I have to go out there and that’s it or nothing. So I’m just going to out there like the night before and do what I do.”
Harangody did exactly what he had to do in the NBA’s Developmental League. He improved his game and regained his confidence. He put up big numbers (within the team’s system) and led Canton to the final push towards the postseason.
In 16 regular season games, Luke shot .486 from the floor, including .413 from long range. He led the squad in rebounding, snagging 12.6 per contest. His 19.4 scoring average was third behind current teammate Manny Harris and Alan Anderson, now with Toronto.
Harangody worked as hard as Cavaliers management expected that he would. Now, Luke’s back in the Big Show, but he confessed that it was tough to leave his Canton teammates during their playoff push.
“It’s a good group of guys and I’ve gotten to know them really well,” said former Notre Dame star. “I wish them the best of luck. And they’re playing great right now. I think they have a great chance to win this whole thing.”