NEW ORLEANS — Three hours after the final buzzer sounded on Old Dominion's 51-50 victory over Notre Dame, here's the question I keep bouncing around in my head: What is Luke Harangody's legacy?
Will he be remembered as the All-American who consistently produced 20 and 10 for a Notre Dame team that made the NCAA tournament twice in three seasons? Or will he be remembered as the guy who was awful in a first-round NCAA tournament loss that ended a season in which the Irish looked best during a stretch in which he wasn't on the court?
I'm hoping it's the former rather than the latter, but there's no question the Irish would have been better off without their senior star against Old Dominion on Thursday.
Harangody picked up two quick first-half fouls and never found his offensive rhythm, missing his first seven attempts before sinking a pair of final-minute put-backs to finish with four points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes. Defensively Harangody also struggled, not surprisingly since that has never been his strength.
Tied at 46 with about 90 seconds remaining in the game, Old Dominion had star Gerald Lee run along the baseline, curl around a double screen and sink a go-ahead 16 footer from the right elbow. It was a brilliant call by coach Blaine Taylor because he knew Harangody lacked the quickness to stay in the play.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was quick to defend Harangody in his post-game news conference, emphasizing that Old Dominion's zone defense made it tough to get Harangody involved in the offense.
"He got the two fouls and I thought he could never really get into a flow," Brey said. Also when you're playing against zone for long periods of time, it's probably a little harder to establish him ... because you can't run sets for him. He's got to kind of hide behind it."
Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said he thought Notre Dame's success without Harangody made it difficult to work him back into the offense. Several Monarchs players thought he was still favoring the right knee he injured last month.
No matter what the reason, Harangody deserved better than to go out like this.