Tournament Tales: Luke Harangody

The NCAA Tournament rolled through Quicken Loans Arena last week, helping to pare down the field of 68 to the Sweet 16.

Over the years, several Cavaliers have taken part in the Madness, including rookie Luke Harangody – who, during his time in South Bend, was named the 2008 Big East Player of the Year.

Born in Schererville, Indiana, Harangody actually comes from a football family – with his father and brother both taking the gridiron at Indiana. Luke broke from the pack, eschewing the Hoosiers and attending Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish made the field of 64 in Harangody’s freshman season, but were quickly eliminated by an upstart Winthrop team. In that first round upset, Harangody played just 17 minutes, netting four points and one board.

In his sophomore season, the Irish were knocked off by Marquette in the Big East Tournament, but bounced back to beat George Mason in Round 1 of the Big Dance. But two days later, they were eliminated, 61-41, by Washington State at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The Irish had high expectations in Harangody’s junior season, but after a 21-14 regular season, were relegated to the NIT. Mike Brey’s team still had a solid run, making it to the Final Four in New York before falling to Penn State.

In today’s Tournament Tale, one of the Wine and Gold’s five freshman talks about his experiences in the Big Dance with the Golden Domers …

Previous Tournament Tales: Daniel Gibson | Chris Jent | Ryan Hollins

So you actually come from a football family?

Luke Harangody: Yes. (My dad) was a tight end. My brother played (at Indiana), too. He was a fullback. He’s around 6-2.

>Did you play?

Harangody: No, I never played football. I was really into basketball and baseball when I was little. I never got into football. People are always surprised about that.

Why did you choose Notre Dame over Indiana for basketball?

Harangody: Notre Dame made a big push and I felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the guys there. It just seemed like a fit. It was close to home. And at that time, Indiana really wasn’t in the picture. They offered at the end. But the whole way through, they really weren’t (in the picture).

Even though Notre Dame was knocked off, what do you remember from your first trip to the Tournament?

Harangody: I mean, as a freshman it was just a cool experience going into the Tournament. But all of a sudden, you get there and the first game, one of the first days, and we lost right away. And it was like, ‘Wow, this can go by quick.’ And it was especially tough to lose to a mid-major like Winthrop.

How were your nerves in that first year as a freshman?

Harangody: I was pretty comfortable by that point of the season. And just being in the NCAA Tournament was cool, because I think that’s something that a lot of kids dream about when they’re little. So that was a pretty great experience, even though we lost.

Did that experience help going into the Tourney your sophomore season?

Harangody: Yeah, definitely. You just know what to expect, you know what you’re going to get. You know how to deal better with the media. Everything.

What are your favorite memories from the Tournament?

Harangody: I think sophomore year. We just had a tight-knit group. We got a win that year. It was a disappointment losing to Washington State, but it was just a good time that year. It ended shorter than we wanted it to, but I just remember how great the Tournament was my sophomore year.

Notre Dame went to the NIT in your junior season. Was it a little tough to get up for that at first?

Harangody: It was. That season we were preseason top 10 and we had some big expectations. But we came through and still made it to the Final Four of the NIT. We pushed through and said, ‘Let’s make a run at this thing.’

As great as your numbers were in South Bend, do you think anyone will break Austin Carr’s record at Notre Dame or in the Tournament?

Harangody: No, no one’s ever going to break those records. It’s funny – we were on the road for the opening day games and they were talking about the record for an NCAA tournament, saying A.C. scored 61 against Ohio U. At Notre Dame, they told me about that game a lot.

How tough was it to watch Notre Dame fall to Florida State?

Harangody: You have to catch a little luck. Florida State’s not going to play another game like that in the Tournament. And they hit a couple early threes – one came off the backboard, one rattled around the rim and in. And after a good defensive sequence, things like that are demoralizing.

So there is some luck to winning the whole thing?

Harangody: To win six games in a Tournament, luck has to factor in there somewhere.