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February 25, 2010What took so long?
Putting together a plan and executing a Ring of Honor - banners placed around the rafters of Purcell Pavilion saluting Notre Dame basketball greats - was well past due.
Notre Dame got the ball rolling Wednesday night before the Pittsburgh game when Luke Harangody, in street clothes instead of a home uniform while continuing to nurse a knee injury, had a banner in his honor unfurled.
"It's something that I thought about probably seven or eight years ago," said Irish head coach Mike Brey, who accompanied Harangody on the court for the pre-game ceremony.
"We walk into places on the road and our guys will see the banners and grab the assistants and say, 'Who was Smith? Who was ' It grabs kids. It's something that basketball places have. We certainly have some great ones in our past on the men's and women's side."
Brey spoke with Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick about the possibility of honoring the former Irish greats with banners commemorating their careers with the Irish. Swarbrick assured Brey that the university "would be aggressive and do something" to execute the plan.
That plan was unveiled Wednesday night, and the fact that Harangody was the first to be honored was gratifying to Brey.
"It's fitting to start this Ring of Honor with Luke Harangody," Brey said. "I'm very, very proud he's the first guy in there. As I told (Harangody) about a month ago, five years from now when you come back to a game, we're going to have some people up there swaying in the wind, and that's powerful.
"That's what a basketball place has, and we certainly have a lot of guys (worthy). But I think it's awesome that (Harangody is) the leadoff batter."
While players such as Carr, Adrian Dantley et al certainly will occupy spots in the Ring of Honor in the future, Harangody is a worthy first choice.
Despite missing the last three games and the final eight minutes of a fourth, Harangody is just 136 points away from breaking the all-time scoring record set by Austin Carr. Carr scored 2,560 points and Harangody sits at 2,425 points with 1,198 rebounds. He is the only player in Irish history to crack both the 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound barriers.
The Big East player of the year in 2007-08 and two-time first-team all-conference selection, Harangody led the conference in scoring and rebounding in his sophomore and junior seasons - the first Big East player to achieve that feat. He currently sits third on the all-time Big East scoring chart with 1,324 points and second on the rebounding list with 660.
Harangody admitted he was surprised when he first heard about the Ring of Honor.
"When coach first brought this up to me, I was shocked that Notre Dame was going to allow this to happen," Harangody said. "It's a powerful thing for the university, and I'm honored to be the first one up there.
"When you think about the great players to go through here Dantley, Carr with the players that have come through this program, this is a huge honor."
Harangody verified Brey's comments about the way players notice banners in other arenas.
"Everywhere we go on the road, we talk about that," Harangody said. "Who's this and who's that? It's a great thing for the University. In five years, we'll have a lot of names up there, and that just helps the tradition of the school."
Harangody would much rather be playing than talking about honors. His status for Saturday's game against Georgetown remains in doubt. He hyper-extended his right knee at Seton Hall on Feb. 11 and has not been able to put together a full practice session the last two weeks.
Harangody tried to practice Monday in preparation for the Pittsburgh game, but quickly was shut down by Brey and the Notre Dame medical personnel.
"I'm just trying to get healthy and come back," Harangody said. "(The Notre Dame scoring record) is the last thing on my mind. Watching this team win tonight made me feel a lot better. It was great to see them out there having fun and get a nice win."
Asked if he thought he would play Saturday against Georgetown, Harangody said, "As of right now, it's hard to tell."
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