Brey would prefer Harangody takes time to get fully healthy

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Thursday he doesn't want reigning Big East player of the year forward Luke Harangody to rush back from a bout with pneumonia and told him he wants him to be ready to go by the Big East opener New Year's Eve at DePaul.

"That's the worst-case scenario," Brey said, "but we're going to be really cautious."

Harangody took shots and lifted weights Thursday and might participate in practice Friday, Brey said, but the coach is planning to keep him out Saturday against Ohio State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Irish played the last two games, wins over Furman and South Dakota, without Harangody.

Harangody contracted pneumonia at some point during the Maui Invitational and was sick on the return trip over Thanksgiving from Maui to Los Angeles to Chicago. He scored 13 points and had seven boards in Notre Dame's Maui Invitational title game loss to North Carolina; the previous night, he had 29 points and 13 rebounds in a semifinal victory over Texas.

The Irish have one of the stronger Big East schedules, playing title contenders Connecticut and Louisville twice.

"We have so many power games in our 18-game Big East schedule, plus playing at UCLA (Feb. 7)," Brey said.

Brey wouldn't rule out Harangody (22.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg) for a Dec. 13 game against Boston University, but the coach would prefer Harangody fully recover over the next few weeks, which would also mean DNPs against Delaware State (Dec. 20) and Savannah State (Dec. 22) before the Irish's Big East opener at DePaul.

Notre Dame will lean on senior Luke Zeller in Harangody's absence. Zeller played only 11 minutes against Texas, 26 against Furman and 22 against South Dakota, but only scored a combined 11 points in the two games.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.