I recently sat down with Christopher Wilson over at Rakes of Mallow (a Notre Dame SBN blog, and yes, I had no idea what, "Rakes of Mallow" was until I googled it either) and exchanged Q&A's in advance of the Seton Hall / Notre Dame contest on Thursday night. In part 1, we're asking the questions to Rakes of Mallow, so read on to see how they handle a little plank walk as we inquire on such topics such as football vs. basketball fandom and hairstyles. Later tonight, we will post our answers to ROM's equally enticing and thrilling inquiries regarding Seton Hall Basketball.
A big thanks to CW and the folks at ROM for participating in the Plank Walk. Best of luck tomorrow night, although, be on the look out for some brilliantly marketed, "Luck of the Pirates" t-shirts from SHU in the student section. I kid you not.
GB: Your blog, Rakes of Mallow, is named after an irish jig/tradition that the fans take part in when the band plays, "rakes of mallow" prior to kickoff. Is the song/tradition upheld at Notre Dame basketball games?
ROM: Oh, absolutely. Like almost any other NCAA hoops game, the band gets to be very creative, especially compared to the rather rigid playlist at Irish football games. Doing the jig is actually a lot easier at basketball games, as you're standing on solid ground, whereas football jigging requires drunken balancing on thin, creaky, wooden benches that are aching to splinter at any moment.
GB: Notre Dame, one of the most successful college football programs in history has enjoyed moderate success in the basketball realm, enjoying numerous NCAA Tournament berths and one final four appearance, however, being realistic, it pales in comparison to ND Football. How does the student body take to Notre Dame basketball? Does it cure their football hangover in the offseason or are fans camping out waiting to buy tickets?
ROM: The basketball program plays second fiddle to the football program in almost every way on campus, from student interest to how much attention and money the athletic department spends on it. That being said, when the team is winning, there have been some very intense crowds, led by the Leprechaun Legion. The Irish held a 45 game home win streak - including twenty straight league games - that stretched from February 2006 to late January 2009.
GB: Everyone in the Big East is well aware of Luke Harangody's talents and we'll get to his hair in a minute, but other than Luke, who are the best scorers and rebounders on the Irish squad.
ROM: The best scorer on the Irish is Tim Abromaitis, a 6' 8" forward shooting almost 49% from three. If you go with Pomeroy's number, Abro is one of the most effective offensive players in the country, ranking sixth in Offensive Rating, fifth in effective field goal percentage and third in true shooting. He's really been a pleasant surprise this season. As far as rebounding, Ty Nash does a solid job as the other starting big man, but the biggest surprise in that area is starting two-guard Ben Hansbrough, who is averaging almost four a game and has reached totals of 10, 9 and 8 (twice) in Big East play.
Follow the jump as ROM continues down the plank answering questions on Mike Brey, Harangody's pictures, POY candidates and haircuts!
GB: How much does Mike Brey mean to the program? After nearly making the dance every year throughout the 1970-80s, they only made it once (1990) under MacLeod/Doherty. When Brey was hired, he led the Irish to there consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, talk about quick turnaround!
Bob, some of the lunatic fringe of Notre Dame fans are really upset that you're using historical context in evaluating the program. People have been after Brey for a number of reasons over the last five years - recruiting lapses, short rotation, lack of defense - but the fact remains Brey has this program in the best position it's been post-Digger, and he's done that with crappy practice facilities, high admission standards and a clean record. I'm a big fan of Brey the person, and that always clouds my judgment when evaluating Brey the coach.
GB: Was Rakes of Mallow the Notre Dame fan site that hosted the pictures of Harangody that nearly cost him his eligibility? How serious was the threat, was his collegiate career ever in jeopardy?
It was actually a random Boston cellular company that used Harangody's likeness in an ad for a popular ND site, not the site itself. I actually had to look this up to refresh myself on the details, meaning I don't think they were ever in too much jeopardy. ND sent a cease and desist letter, and as long as the school takes action - especially when the athletes didn't know their likenesses were being used - you're in pretty good shape.
GB: Harangody, the favorite for Big East POY, had a beastly 37PTS/14REB against Cincinnati last week, however in one of your recent posts you talked a little about his decline in offensive rebounding this season. In taking on the Big East's leading rebounder in Herb Pope, do you envision 'Gody changing his game at all and spending less time around the perimeter or will he allow for Abromaitis and Nash to handle boxing Pope on ND's offensive possessions?
ROM: It'll be interesting to see, as Brey's goal is to make sure ‘Gody doesn't pick up too many fouls. If the offense is initiated through Pope, I think Nash guards him, but if it's just a matter of putting a body on him after missed shots, Luke will be involved in keeping him off the glass.
Just as an aside, I don't think Luke is the favorite for Player of the Year at this point, despite the great numbers. I'd go with Scottie Reynolds for that distinction, although Harangody is definitely a worthy choice.
Editor's Note: I've heard the case for Scottie Reynolds and I do think he'll finish in the top 3. If we're not talking about the quality of each candidate's team, I just can't put Scottie ahead of Luke. Luke is averaging 24.5PTS/10.1REB/1.8AST on 49% shooting. Scottie's numbers while good (18.8PTS/2.8REB/3.6AST/1.7STL on 49% shooting), just don't outweigh the dominance that Harangody has displayed this season. If Notre Dame can finish the season strong and Villanova falters a bit down the stretch, I'm giving this award to Luke.
GB: Lastly, What's with Luke Harangody's haircut? When he rocked the buzz cut, I thought Big Country had come back to college for another go-round. Then there was the "Napoleon Dynamite actor's blonde mop" from blades of glory. This latest style? Doesn't it remind you of the tall, goofy, uncoordinated kid in town youth ball? Maybe he's doing it intentionally so the opposition will take him lightly and he's surely making them pay, but man it looks funny.
ROM: I'm not sure if you've noticed the weird Big East league commercials where two players from opposing teams talk about how tough and great the other one is, but the one with Da'Sean Butler and Harangody is hilarious. Either knowingly or unknowingly, they use clips from nearly every phase of Luke's continuing haircut adventure, and the results end up being a comical retrospective.
I hope you enjoyed my Harangody tribute. Make sure to check out Rakes of Mallow for your Notre Dame preparation and we'll have part 2 posted tonight!