Wine and Gold's Blue-Collar Man

September 11, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Luke Harangody is a serious dude.

You’ve seen him play. You’ve seen him answer questions in our #AskACav feature on (He wouldn’t even give it up to Austin Carr over Joe Montana!) He once challenged Samardo Samuels to a push-up contest in the middle of a team flight. The man doesn’t have a lot of give in his game.

Harangody’s jumper is unorthodox and he’s definitely not an above-the-rim guy. Luke’s game isn’t always pretty, he’d be the first to admit.

“Every team needs a blue-collar guy to come in and do the dirty work,” he explained in-between voluntary workouts at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “That’s a little bit of what I bring to the table. And I think every team needs that element.”

If you don’t think Luke Harangody is a blue-collar guy, you weren’t paying attention to the end of last season, when the former Domer worked overtime (and then some) as he split stints with the Cavaliers and their D-League affiliate in Canton.

In that stretch of four games in four nights – including traveling to a road game in Washington D.C. – Luke led the Wine and Gold to a win in his first NBA start one night and led the Charge to the D-League Semifinals two nights later.

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. But on year, in 16 regular season games with Canton, Harangody went for 19.4 points and 12.6 boards per game.

As well as Harangody performed in Canton, he’s looking forward to an entire season in the Big Show this season – and he worked all summer to ensure it.

Luke Harangody“(I’ve been) working on my outside game, my perimeter footwork,” he explained. “Shooting on the move; pick and pop type stuff. I tried to work on my body a lot again – lose as much body-fat as possible.”

Harangody was also part of the Cavaliers Summer League team in Vegas, where he also performed well.

“I thought the team looked good in Summer League,” Luke continued. “We had a couple slip-ups, but at the same time, we still showed a lot. It was fun to see the young guys as well and what they can bring to the table. I think that’s why every body’s excited about this season because I think we have a lot of solid pieces.”

Harangody might be an old soul, but he’s still only 24 years old. But on this team – (he mentioned the “young guys”) – he finds himself as the squad’s second-oldest big. (Anderson Varejao turns 30 later this month.)

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 ppg in his first season. In 2011-12, he saw less action at the pro level, just 17 games. In part of three years, he’s had just one career start – but he made that one count.

With Antawn Jamison getting his first breather of the season, the Cavaliers brought Harangody up from Canton, midway through their first round series. 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.

This summer, like the rest of the league, Harangody is taking advantage of a full offseason with a coaching staff that knows him well.

“It’s great; this will be the third year with everyone on the staff,” said Harangody. “I know what to expect. I know what they want out of me. There’s great communication among the staff, and it’s a big reason I wanted to come back here. It is like a family. We work hard and it’s a work environment but, by the same token, everybody takes care of each other.”

Harangody’s role will be about the same as it’s been since he was drafted. Stretch the floor, bang in the post, rebound, defend and above all, bring energy to the floor.

Luke Harangody“Coach Scott knows what he’s going to get from me every night coming off the bench,” asserted Harangody. “I’m the type of guy who’ll do whatever he asks and that kind of defines my role on this team. And I think that’s one thing Coach Scott knows is what he’s going to get day-in and day-out is that no matter what, I’m going to bring it.”

What little time Harangody did spend outside the gym this summer, he used to travel back to the Chicago area to see his family and down the Dominican Republic for some R&R.

But he’s back in Cleveland almost full-time now. And the three-year vet sees some good things for the young Cavaliers this year.

“(The team’s youth) is why I wanted to come back here. It’s a young team; it’s an exciting team. This is a playoff team. I think a lot of factors still have to fall into position, but I think we have the pieces to get there.”

Luke and his young teammates will get a taste of “Camp Scott” in just a couple weeks. But Harangody seems ready for its arrival.

Oh, and about that push-up contest on the team flight against his former Big East foe, Samardo Samuels … well, who won?

“I did, easily,” smiled Harangody. “It was West Coast plane ride and we were just bored. I don’t know how that started, to be honest. But someone said something, then somebody called somebody out and one thing led to another. And that led to two guys doing push-ups at 35,000 feet.”

Yeah, it’s safe to say there’s not a lot of give in Luke’s game.