Going Gaga For 'Gody
Don't be fooled by Luke Harangody's lineman physique and hard-nosed game. Notre Dame's deceptively agile strongman could have the Irish and their fans dancing deep into March
Posted: Wednesday March 12, 2008 10:00AM; Updated: Wednesday March 12, 2008 10:00AM
The latest pastime of the Harangody brothers can be characterized as schadenfreude for the Digital Age: They entertain each other by exchanging links to YouTube videos, "usually," says Luke, "of someone getting hurt." The most recent, e-mailed from Ty, a junior at Indiana and the elder by 20 months to Luke, a sophomore power forward at Notre Dame, stars a TV correspondent at a mule race called Fór-Mula in rural Brazil. The newsman has foolishly chosen to report from a spot on the edge of the fenceless, dirt track; 18 seconds into the clip, his peppy Portuguese commentary is cut off when he's blindsided by a hard-charging mule making too tight a turn. "The guy just gets rocked," Luke says, smirking at the mere mention of it. "We tend to find that stuff hilarious."
That collisions equal comedic gold to the Harangody boys should not be shocking. Physicality is central to the family identity. The boys' grandfather George had his teeth knocked out while playing center on the offensive line at Michigan State in 1946; their father, Dave, played tight end for Indiana; and Ty was a tight end for the Hoosiers until a torn right ACL ended his career during his sophomore season, in 2006. Luke, whose 6' 8", 251-pound body seems ideally suited for the gridiron as well, has willed himself into an All-America candidate for Notre Dame's 14th-ranked basketball team, which has established its credentials as an NCAA tournament sleeper by battering teams on the interior and hitting 41.1% of its three-pointers.
Basketbrawl might have been a better name for the sport Luke and Ty played growing up in Schererville, Ind. They had epic one-on-one battles on their backyard court, which bordered the out-of-service train tracks leading toward the oil refineries 14 miles north in Whiting, where their parents were raised. Those games gave Luke something Notre Dame coach Mike Brey calls his "motor," a relentlessness born of being a little brother that, Brey says, "I don't want to do anything to put a governor on."
With a style that thrives on contact -- he has gone to the line 185 times, the fourth-highest total in the physical Big East -- Harangody has steamrollered Big East opponents with 21.0 points and 10.3 rebounds a game for the Irish, who were 24-6 at week's end. His biggest games have come against some of the league's toughest teams. He had 29 points and 16 rebounds against West Virginia on Jan. 3; 32 points and 16 boards against Connecticut on Feb. 13; and went for 40 and 12 versus Louisville on Feb. 28. He now appears to be a lock for conference player of the year honors.
"He deserves it," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun says. "His numbers are outrageous." To Calhoun, there's really no one else in the game to compare him with. "He's a very, very odd player. His game is very unorthodox. An NBA [scout] asked me about him, and I just said, 'I don't know. He doesn't play like anyone else.' "
That Harangody is sui generis accounts for much of his appeal. "He's got a lot of characteristics, or funny quirks, that make him a very recognizable figure in college basketball," says junior forward Zach Hillesland. Among them are: the flushed intensity of Harangody's game face; the hair growing straight out of his head in all directions, almost porcupinelike; the nimbleness of his feet for a big man; the jablike hook shot with which he regularly scores; and the fact that his truncated nickname is a favorite of college basketball analysts, who've gone gaga for 'Gody. All of it has made the northwest Indiana native an unlikely star in a conference known for its urban character and whose last four top players were Carmelo Anthony (of Baltimore), Emeka Okafor (Houston), Randy Foye (Newark) and Jeff Green (within the Capital Beltway in Maryland).