Valencia lost their Euroleague opener to Olympiacos but Luke Harangody sent a message that the Gody of Notre Dame lore is ready for business this season, writes Emmet Ryan.
Luke Harangody is a monster but a terribly specific one. To look at, despite his 240 lbs frame, the Valencia big man is about as intimidating as peak level Tyler Hansbrough (think junior year UNC) but he carries himself with the presence of a Sofoklis Schortsanitis. It’s just taken four years for him to find a situation that works.
In NCAA ball, Harangody was the Gody. This unathletic and unimposing looking big turned Notre Dame from meh into borderline contenders and was an establish force to be feared. He’s just not any use if he’s a bit party. True, Harangody worked fine as a sixth man in his final half season for Mike Brey, a situation imposed by injury, but when he was on the floor there was no doubt it was his floor.
Harangody’s game however was never likely to translate to the NBA well, although he gave it a solid try, and his style relies on heavy usage not a ninth or tenth option. Feed the Gody and he will score. After suffering injury setbacks at the tail end of his time in the association, Harangody finally made the move to Europe last year with Unics Kazan where he gave a hint of what he could do in the right situation.
Last night in Pabellón Municipal Fuente San Luis we got a look of what type of player he could be on this continent. Harangody knows what he is as a baller and has a relentless aggression which allows him to ensure he can stay there. Harangody went 6 of 7 from the floor for 14 points and grabbed 5 boards in a losing effort (where Valencia looked terribly dumb in the end-game but that’s another debate). The game is at a higher standard than what he was used to in South Bend, not to mention a whole lot faster, but the mindset for Harangody remains the same. Go inside, hurt people, get to the hole, finish. It is blunt force trauma basketball but a baller needs to know the how and the when to execute.
That’s where Harangody’s reliance on heavy usage is a plus. He will make shots for those around him if he is trusted with the load. There is nothing scrappy about his game, Harangody is not playing with grit or hustle. Forget all those horrible clichés. This is a tremendously intelligent baller who adapts quickly.
To the casual viewer he’s a brute whose game is ugly as hell. All of that is aesthetically accurate only he’s an awfully well-tuned brute who knows how to use his body to create opportunities in a style that is actually pretty elegant when broken down. The more chances he gets to attack, the more he learns about the man he’s taking on. Over and over, refinement after refinement, to find that little tweak which he will exploit ruthlessly.
That’s the Luke Harangody who Mike Brey used to devastating effect. That’s the Harangody Valencia appears to have. Other pieces need to come together but there’s already plenty of evidence that the Gody learns fast. He will develop, he will get better, and we won’t be waiting half a season to see the results.