Harangody: 'I'm the Toughest Player in the Big East'
“It’s going to motivate me a little more, I can say that,” Harangody admitted.
First, a review. Here’s what Thabeet said in the issue (the quotes were printed on the magazine’s front cover, to the left of a full-page photo of Hasheem):
“I played Luke Harangody and he was not tough. Tyler Hansbrough? I don’t see nothing.”
The Huskies don’t play Hansbrough’s North Carolina Tar Heels, at least in the regular season, but they’ve got two bouts with Harangody and the Fighting Irish, beginning on Saturday night at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. (Where, by the way, Notre Dame will try to win its 46th straight home game Saturday night).
“When it came out, my initial reaction was to laugh at it,” Harangody said. “But at the same time, it’s on the cover of a national magazine, and it’s saying I’m not tough. I heard he was joking around, this and that. I know Hasheem, I know he’s a good guy, I’m not going to take it too seriously.”
Still, the fact that Thabeet questioned Harangody’s toughness irked the reigning Big East Player of the Year – and still does.
“Because he pretty much called me out for something other than basketball,” Harangody explained. “Because I think I’m the toughest player in the Big East.”
While Pitt’s DeJuan Blair or UConn’s own Jeff Adrien may beg to differ, it’s tough to argue that the 6-foot-8, 255-pound Harangody isn’t on the short list. After leading the Big East in scoring and rebounding and winning conference Player of the Year honors a year ago, he leads the league in scoring and rebounding once again this season.
To his credit, Thabeet knows he’s going to have to deal with plenty of abuse from the Joyce Center crowd on Saturday night.
“I’m going to have to take it,” he shrugged. “I can’t run away from it. He’s a great player. It’s part of the game that I have to go through, and I’m looking forward to the match-up.”
Thabeet wouldn’t talk about the article shortly after it ran and, in fact, has backed off commenting on any other player (Harangody, Greg Monroe, Mike Rosario … anybody) ever since. Until Wednesday night, that is. When asked about the entire situation after the Huskies’ win over Villanova, Thabeet seemed to go out of his way to compliment Harangody. He also said he didn’t like the article at all, and even sent Notre Dame coach Mike Brey a letter of apology shortly after it hit the newsstands.
“It ended up making me look like I don’t respect other players,” Thabeet said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Brey and his team. In the letter, I just told him the way they quoted it wasn’t the way I meant. Maybe the dialect wasn’t right. I respect him as a great player and I’m looking forward to a great match-up.”
Brey said he sent Thabeet an e-mail response.
“I understand how guys can be led astray with questioning,” Brey said. “I don’t know if that’s what he meant to say. He’s kind of a playful kid. Luke is ready to compete, whether it’s against Thabeet or Tim Andree in practice. I think it was probably something where he was led astray.”
Harangody said he hasn’t talked to Thabeet about the article yet.
“I’m sure I will on Saturday,” he noted.
(Read more on this in tomorrow’s Register)
In other UConn-related notes:
***The Huskies are currently ranked sixth nationally in the RPI. The Big East has seven teams in the RPI Top 25: Pitt (2), UConn (6), Georgetown (7), Louisville (11), Syracuse (12), Marquette (15) and West Virginia (25).
***Thabeet is currently seventh on the Big East’s all-time shot block list (in league play) with 179. Next on the list is Dikembe Motombo, with 184. With 11 league games left, Thabeet also has a good chance of passing Emeka Okafor (207), Jason Lawson (216) and perhaps Alonzo Mourning (224). He’d have to average about 4.8 per game to catch Syracuse’s Etan Thomas, who had 232. Thabeet is currently averaging 3.66 per game this season.
***Saturday night’s UConn-Notre Dame game will be ESPN’s GameDay feature. Should be a fun one.