Former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody is having his first taste of European basketball this season. Last summer the 6-foot-7 forward has started his career outside the U.S. by signing a contract with Unics Kazan and making Russia his first stop overseas.
In first 11 games with Unics, Harangody’s playing time was limited as he averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 16 minutes per game. However, Harangody’s role has been increasing as he has been a starting power forward in last eight games. Harangody also put his best performance so far this season in last match against VEF Riga, where he scored 16 points, grabbed seven boards and dished out tree assists.
RealGM caught up with Harangody to talk about his experience in Russia, playing under foreigner coach, NBA and more.
RealGM: First of all, what are your first impressions of Russia and Unics Kazan? Which things are different than you expected?
Harangody: My first impression is I love the city I’m in. It’s been a great experience so far. To be out of my element has been interesting, to see a new culture. As far as the team, I couldn’t ask for better teammates. It’s made the transition easier. It’s a great group to play with overseas.
RealGM: It is probably the first time you’re playing under a non-American coach (Andrea Trinchieri). Could you name a few differences between the U.S. and European coaching?
Harangody: Yes, this would be the first time I’ve played under an international coach. I think the approach to the game is much different in the U.S. There’s some things I’ve learned, just fundamentally. It’s a lot slower of a pace. It’s more of a chess game in Europe.
RealGM: Andrew Goudelock has also made his debut in Europe. Is it easier when there’s an American player who is pretty much sitting in the same boat with you?
Harangody: Yes. Having Andrew and also two other Americans on the team to lean on has made the transition a lot easier because they’ve gone through the whole transition.
RealGM: There’s another American on your team, Chuck Eidson, who’s been playing in Europe for ten years. Did you get any advice from him in terms of living and playing basketball in Europe?
Harangody: Yeah, Chuck’s been great. He’s a veteran so he’s seen it all, so any questions I have I go to him for it. He’s what you’d expect from a veteran leader. Whether on the court or off the court he’s been amazing.
RealGM: How did you choose your first team in Europe? Did you have any other options?
Harangody: I had about three options, but my agent and myself decided this is the best opportunity competition-wise for my first experience overseas.
RealGM: Talking about your NBA career, what are your best memories from Boston and Cleveland?
Harangody: I think a few of my best memories from my first year in the league was how exciting and new it was and realizing a dream and just taking it all in. It was surreal for me. I’ll always be able to look back on that experience and have good memories.
RealGM: During your time in the NBA, you’ve been assigned to the D-League for a few times. Could you take us through the process of what goes through players’ mind when this happens?
Harangody: Any time a player gets sent down it’s always looked at as a negative, but in my case I tried to take it in stride, showcase my skills and it was a chance to play more. I’d give the same advice to anyone who’s going down there - to take advantage of the opportunity to play and be as successful as you can.
RealGM: After being waived by the Cavaliers, why did you decide to spend a season in the D-League instead of going to Europe straightaway?
Harangody: I think going to the D-League was the best bet for me. I felt more comfortable staying in the U.S. Looking back on it, it was the right decision. I needed to get healthy. That was the biggest goal for the season.
RealGM: Is playing in Europe something you would like to continue doing on your upcoming career years, or will you be attempting to get back to the NBA?
Harangody: That’s yet to be said. I’m enjoying playing in Europe. It’s a new experience. I’m making the most of the experience as I can. I can easily see myself making a career over here.
RealGM: What are your individual expectations for this season and also what goals do you want to achieve as a team with Unics?
Harangody: Basically coming over here, it’s been a transition. I’m still learning the European game and figuring out a couple of things individually. I’m just trying to be a part of the team. I know it sounds cliché but for the first couple of years over here that’s as much as I can do.