Welcome to today's Notre Dame men's basketball hoops chat. Glad to be back talking hoops. it's final exam week for the Irish, so it's kind of slow...perfect time to get caught up on all (and it's a lot) that's happened with this program the first six weeks of the season. You guys know the drill....be sure to include your name AND hometown with a question or comment. Off we go. Let's light this chat candle!
Tom Noie: Let's start with one of the questions offered on Twitter - from Kevin, who wants to know if Juwan Durham is helping Notre Dame.....
Juwan Durham is averaging 8.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game. He's shooting .603 from the field and has 30 blocked shots. The rest of the Irish combined have 15...have to say that's pretty solid, right? But you get the feeling the coaching staff would like to see more from Durham, who's really only scratched the surface of his big-man ability. WSBT's Pete Byrne asked Mike Brey the day before the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Maryland about Durham, who has a tendency to run hot and cold in terms of his production. How can Durham be more consistent? Brey's answer was telling. He laughed and said, basically, i don't know if we're ever going to get Durham to be consistent. He's kind of who he is. Translation - be more consistent. Durham can be a presence around the rim, and that's going to be big come ACC time, but he does have a tendency to drift through games, especially against better competition. That has to change. Has to.
From Michael on Twitter: If Mike Brey were to leave/get let go/retire, who are potential replacement candidates?
Tom Noie: No idea. Really. It's no big secret that Mike Brey's close to the end of the coaching line at Notre Dame. When that's going to happen is anyone's guess. This year? Next? two more? I do know that last year took a lot out of him, and he didn't look the greatest during that Maryland-Boston College week. He looked like someone in need of a beach. Anyway, there's no clear-cut replacement for the day Brey decides to walk away. Martin Ingelsby? Still too early to tell. Someone on the current staff? No experience. Timing is everything. I'd have said Monty Williams but he's just getting restarted as a head coach with the Phoenix Suns. Chris Quinn? Think he believes his future is in the NBA - maybe when Erik Spoelstra retires at Miami. An up-and-coming college coach or assistant? You'd hope the Notre Dame program is further along than to be a test run for an inexperienced coach. However it unfolds will be interesting. Let's hope that's a few years down the road - there's nothing worse than a coaching search.
Why? Because NOBODY really knows. It's all a guessing game, and a bad one at that. You'd think Jack Swarbrick has somewhat of an idea of what direction he'd go, but even that's a guess. Stay tuned!
Ben from Cincinnati: Nik Djogo. Does Brey have a vendetta? You cannot justify sitting a kid who has stuck with the program through all the injuries and transfers...it's truly BS. i support the program through and through, and will back coach brey to the grave... but this kind of mis-treatment is criminal. 10 minutes a game. No excuses, I do not care if he gets crossed up and yammed on, the kid has good size (on an undersized team), a decent enough stroke, he can give someone a blow.
Tom Noie: Seems like this is one of the more hot-button issues early this season. I do have to say this - I respect and like most of the guys on this team and the 21 that have come before them. But sometimes, you have to be critical. It comes with the territory. I like Nik Djogo. Always been a stand-up guy. Respectful. Insightful. That said, he's had a lot of chances to show what he can do. Remember last year when he went for 21 points at Boston College? Everybody hollering for him said, see, this is what he can do!!! Play him!!! Then he scored a combined six points the final 11 games of the season. Now he's the eighth man in a rotation that seldom goes past seven. Mike Brey would rather give those minutes to Dane Goodwin at this point. Hard to argue given Goodwin's recent run. Thing is, I think Djogo gets it. It's the fans that are more upset about it. Criminal? That's a little overboard, no?
When Robby Carmody shredded his knee at Maryland, I was in the camp of throwing every option out there - including playing Djogo major minutes. The coaching staff chose to stay the course, believing that the remaining seven give them a better chance to win. Djogo's been all class in his role - just report for work every day and keep working.
Dave from Washington, D.C.: Hey Tom - is the coaching staff still looking to add to the 2020 class? A guard or wing to compliment the two bigs that have already signed?
Tom Noie: Loaded question, no? Notre Dame still believes it has a good chance with DeMatha center Hunter Dickinson, who was said to possibly have a college choice this week. It's likely down to Michigan and Notre Dame. The Irish staff can't do anything more at this point to show Dickinson how much he'd mean to the program. The departure of Chris Doherty opens another scholarship for the spring. Don't know how the staff would want to use it, but they should. On a traditional transfer or a grad transfer. Getting someone that can offer something right away could be a boost for next year's group. As he said last year, Mike Brey has said every option is on the table. Just like to see them utilize that option. Bring in a grad transfer. An old guy. Someone that could shake things up a little. This program might have that in Cormac Ryan. They could use another guy like that next season.
Dave from Washington, D.C.: This team seems to be even more reliant on three-point shooting than previous squads. One thing I haven't seen much of from the team this season is the pick and roll that was so prevalent from 2014-17. Think Auguste and Geben running to the rim for dunks. Or Colson pick and popping. With bigs who can shoot (Mooney and Nate) and a big who can go up and get a lob pass (Durham), why haven't the Irish featured this more?
Tom Noie: Good call. We haven't seen the pick and roll for myriad reasons. John Mooney's more of a pick and spot up guy. Juwan Durham's still figuring it out. To play that pick and roll game, you also need a guard that can effectively get to the rim and finish. Like a Jerian Grant. A Demetrius Jackson. A Matt Farrell. The reliant on the 3-point shot is so heavy this season because Notre Dame can't break a defender down off the dribble and get to the bucket. So it's 3s and 3s and more 3s. It all looks good when the shots are falling, but what happens when they don't?
Tyler: Tom- out of the 3 scenarios- what would you say is the most likely outcome with Juwan Durham for 2020-2021 season? Transfer? Pro (overseas)? Starting frontcourt with Nate?
Tom Noie: I'd have to go with Door No. 3, but in this day and age of college basketball, nothing would surprise me. Juwan Durham has one more year remaining following his sit-out transfer season from Connecticut. There's been no indication that he won't use it at Notre Dame, but who really knows? As mentioned earlier in the chat, he's really still so raw as a basketball player. He seemingly learned nothing about the game his one year at Connecticut. His first year at Notre Dame sitting out was eye-opening - like, so THIS is what it's all about. He really couldn't develop/grow last year with the ankle injury that sunk his season. Just now is he figuring it out.
Brian from Bloomington, Ill.: With the way Goodwin has been playing, is there any chance he supplants Pflueger in the starting lineup?
Tom Noie: Dane Goodwin doesn't start, but in some ways, he really does. Rex Pflueger is the starter, but his early minutes are getting fewer and fewer to start the game. Goodwin usually has been in the game (for Pflueger) shortly after the first media timeout (under-16 minute mark). On Saturday, Goodwin checked in for Pflueger even before the first TV timeout. That's a first this season. Goodwin's in a nice groove in his sixth-man role. Don't think Mike Brey wants to mess with that just yet. Plus, if you know Brey, you know how tied together he is with veterans like Pflueger and T.J. Gibbs. He breathes easier knowing they're out there taking care of the ball.
Brian from Bloomington, Ill.: I like it when we see Mooney and Durham on the floor together as I believe we’re a much better rebounding and defensive team when they’re in the game together. Any chance Durham’s minutes go up as we approach ACC play? I know Rex makes “winning plays” as Brey says, but I would love to see Durham get more minutes.
Tom Noie: Durham has to prove worthy of those minutes. Pflueger has that confidence of Brey because he's going to make those winning plays as you mentioned and kind of holds everything together. He's not going to score, but he's going to give the group a better sense of direction - one they didn't have last year. What is it that Durham does well? Score? Rebound? Block shots? It was disappointing watching him against the size of UCLA. Durham played only 13 minutes and was a non-factor. That can't happen come ACC play. If it does, that puts waaaaay too much pressure on John Mooney and Nate Laszewski. That goes back to the consistency mentioned earlier about Durham. Can't disappear like that.
Zach: Any players we should be looking at as potential recruiting commitments coming soon?
Tom Noie: Right now, there's only one and that might - stress, might - happen this week with Hunter Dickinson, the 7-footer from DeMatha. There was talk during the DeMatha-Montverde Academy telecast last week that Dickinson plans to announce sometime this week. Haven't heard whether or not that's definite. He's the only guy left - for now. Notre Dame will do its due diligence with Terrence Williams, who recently decommitted from Georgetown. So there are options as spring nears.
Joey from Highland, Ind: With the outlook of the ACC, it looks very down this year. That BC loss is going to haunt them. I think they have/had a shot at a double bye. You?
Tom Noie: That Boston College loss was a crusher for several reasons. Notre Dame had always beaten Boston College, and now it couldn't. Also, the fact that it was at home really hurt. The Irish pointed all offseason toward being better at home than last season, where they went 2-7 in league play. Want to play in the NCAA tournament? Can't lose home games. Can't lose LEAGUE home games. How much will that hurt? Can't say. I wrote after the Maryland loss that nobody knows what direction this program, and this season, is going. That may turn out to be good for Notre Dame. Look at the ACC. It's going to get really wacky come league play. Maybe even chaotic. That could help Notre Dame. Let's see.
Mike: Hey Tom, thanks for the chat. What are the chances we land Terrence Williams?
Tom Noie: It was Georgetown and Notre Dame as finalists for Terrence Williams, who hails from the same high school as Irish guard Prentiss Hubb. WIlliams committed to Georgetown but didn't sign last month. He's since decommitted. Does that mean he's headed to Notre Dame? It's recruiting, where anything can and usually happens. We'll see.
Fred: Looking at next years roster. Only 7 not counting Juwan or Nik. Do you think either will come back? Any other 2020 options, other than Dickinson or Williams ? Looking more like the transfer wire.
Tom Noie: There's been no indication that Durham and Djogo won't come back. Durham's still developing and I think Djogo is smart enough to know that he has a chance to work toward a Master's at Notre Dame. We'll see. Maybe both do come back. Maybe one does. Maybe neither. Regardless, Notre Dame still has to see what happens with Dickinson and Williams, then still hit the transfer/late-rising prep senior wire in the spring. it would be interesting to add a graduate transfer as a way to stay old. It's a one-year gamble, but at this point in the program, it's time to gamble.
Nick from South Bend: At some point you would have to think Goodwin starts over Rex? Or is it a pride thing?
Tom Noie: It's more a loyalty thing for Brey and old guys in the program. Goodwin doesn't start, but he's coming in earlier and earlier for Pflueger. Plus, he's in a nice groove with his game right now. Brey won't want to mess with that. Goodwin's got two more years to start.
Nick from South Bend: Also I am sad for Djojo, has Brey & co given up on him?
Tom Noie: You and a whole lot of others might be sad for Djogo, but Djogo may be the first to say, Hey, don't weep for me. I get it. And at the end of the day, I've got a pretty good gig right now.' He gets it. it says something about his team first and second third approach to where he's not been as much a "me-guy' Seen too many of those lately around this program.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Do you think these last 2 games are what they are going to do? Live and die by the 3? I like that they are shooting better, but let's be honest, they still only shot 38% vs UCLA. That will not get it done versus better competition.
Tom Noie: Good point. The shots are falling now, but can we really expect Notre Dame to MAKE 17.5 3s a game, which is what it's averaged the last two games? That's a bit much. But again, the ACC might not be quite the ACC we've seen the last couple years. The whole league is down top to bottom, which may mean Notre Dame has a chance to do something. Still, when the 3s aren't falling, they've shown that it's a struggle because you still don't have a guard who can continually pressure the defense on drives and kicks or drives and finishes. That's eventually going to catch up to them in the league.
Greg: What are the tea leaves saying on Hunter Dickinson and/or Terrance Williams?
Tom Noie: The magic Eight ball says, too soon to tell. Stay tuned. That's the wonderful world of recruiting. Notre Dame's done as much as it can with Dickinson and was right there at the end the first time around with Williams. At some point, it has to turn the Irish way, right?
Adam S: Djogo is a 26% 3 point shooter for his career. He does not have "a decent enough stroke". Incredibly silly to resort to it being a "personal vendetta" from a players' coach who has probably earned the benefit of the doubt on personnel decisions after 20 years. Goodness.
Tom Noie: Very true. I said as much last year and was promptly flogged on social media for being too hard on a kid. Thing is, in this role, you have to be critical when it comes time to be critical. I can't sit here and say, poor Djogo, he should play. He's gotten a lot of chances to earn the trust of the staff. He may just be a back end of the rotation guy who's good in practice and good in the locker room and gets it. There's been such a rush of "poor Djogo" tweets and emails, but I don't get the sense that Djogo feels like he's been handed a raw deal. It's really bizarre the way some have carried the Play Djogo torch the last two years.
Dylan: I have heard there is some doubt on Juwan Durham taking his 5th year at ND... Are you hearing anything about that?
Tom Noie: In this day and age of college hoops, there's always doubt when players have options. Durham's been discussed plenty already today, but i'll stick to, it's hard to think of the time Durham's put in with big man coach Ryan Humphrey that he'd scrap that for a graduate transfer elsewhere...and basically start over. There's something there with Durham....it's just going to take time to get there.
Nick from South Bend: What will Cormac Ryan bring to this team next year? Starter?
Tom Noie: Great question. What will Stanford transfer Cormac Ryan bring next season? A whole lot, starting with an edge. He's got some of that "dawg" in his game, something that we haven't seen around this program since the days of Colson and Farrell. Ryan will step into the starting lineup the minute this season ends and maybe never leave it. He's that good. He plays with an edge. He plays. He'll be fun to watch the next three years. Odds are fans will see A LOT of him.
Andrew from Plymouth, Ind.: Is there something going on that we don't know about with Laszewski or were we expecting bigger things from him too soon? He was supposed to be the guy that stepped his game up in a big way this year and it just hasn't been there yet, he's looked pretty lost out there.
Tom Noie: Been waiting for the Nate Laszewski question, especially after some dope beat writer that's supposed to know better (yeah, me) penciled him in as a starter and a major-minute guy in our last chat. Yeah, big swing and a miss, there Noie, but I digress. Here's the thing with Laszewski - the way that he played toward the end of last year allowed the coaching staff to go to D.J. Harvey in the spring and say, look, you're going to have to change your game and maybe your role because the way Nate Laszewski played late in the year, that's the direction we want to go with him. He could start, but he's going to play a lot. That was one of the factors that led Harvey to decide that he was going to transfer. Everything was pointing Laszewski's direction - a starting spot, shots, a big role, opportunity. So what happens? Brey decides somewhere along the offseason line that Notre Dame is better off going to two big-man route with John Mooney and Juwan Durham.....(continued)
Tom Noie: That kind of knocked Nate Laszewski off his trajectory. A broken nose suffered in preseason also didn't help. Whatever it was, it wasn't only Notre Dame that seemingly missed on Laszewski - he was touted as one of the best shooting big men in that entire recruiting class. Maybe THE best. Even those inside the program were touting Laszewski last year as someone who would give the school record for 3s a run. But he's rarely looked comfortable. He's had a tendency to shoot as if the ball is a grenade in his hands - get the shot up before it goes off. He's better than his .283 percentage from 3. It's just taking time. There have been signs that he's close to figuring it out. I think starting might help. Then again.....
Adam S: Is it ok to say that I've been a little disappointed in Mooney so far this season, despite the solid headliner numbers? I think he's been floating too much on offense and needs to get back to doing more of the dirty work that this team desperately needs. Too harsh?
Tom Noie: Yeah, sorry, but too harsh. John Mooney's leading the Atlantic Coast Conference and the country in rebounding at 13.4 per game. He's played in 10 games and has had nine double doubles for points and rebounds. Thing is, too, he's not sneaking up on anyone on the opposing scout as he could do when he did what he did last year. Now he's a known guy. he's the team's leading scorer (14.8 per game). Can't really ask much more from him. On a team where you still don't know what you're going to get game to game, you know Mooney's going to deliver.
Adam S: 38.5% from three (which is what they shot against UCLA), would make them a top 30 three-point shooting team nationally. They'll win a ton of games if they can keep that up (which is still a big if for now).
Tom Noie: Two for Tuesday for you. That's a massive IF.....Detroit and UCLA both were bad basketball teams. Open looks were there. Notre Dame knocked them down. Let's see what happens Saturday against Indiana, another team that's maybe not the best defensively. What will that tell us about Notre Dame? The Alabama A&M game won't tell us much. I'm really interested to see what happens Jan. 4 in the Carrier Dome against the Syracuse length. Knock down a host of 3s on that day, and this season might turn into something.
Dylan from Minn.: I don't think we can get back to the Mike Brey offenses we saw from 2014-2017 until we get that guard that can break down a defense off the dribble. I know we had all our eggs in the Cole Anthony basket, but really wish we had a backup plan. With two more bigs coming in 2020, I don't know if there is an answer out there.
Tom Noie: Amen, brother! Though a correction - hearing Mike Brey talk earlier this season, it was obvious way, way, way before Cole Anthony decided on North Carolina that he wasn't coming to Notre Dame. All the more reason to go and get a break-the-defense down guard on the transfer wire. Can't tell me there's none out there. Or will be out there this offseason. Trouble is, Mike Brey is hesitant to add someone like that. He worries (probably correctly) that it sends the wrong message to his current guards - like this guy can do something you guys can't. But at this point, I'd be all for upgrading every spot on the roster.
Joe from Scottsdale, Ariz.: Any word on where Hunter Dickinson is leaning? I know recruiting is almost impossible to predict but figured you may know more about his decision, thanks!
Tom Noie: Don't get hung up on his Final Four - Duke and Florida State likely aren't involved. It's Notre Dame and Michigan. Might be Michigan one day, Notre Dame the next. That's recruiting when it comes to teenagers. Every once in a while you come across someone that can't make up their mind. We're there with Dickinson. Notre Dame still likes its chances with him.
Andrew from Plymouth, Ind.: Djogo was someone the coaches stumbled on when trying to woo Thon Maker, right?
Tom Noie: Correct. And they landed Djogo mainly with the idea that he'd earn his degree from the Mendoza College of Business. That was important to him, maybe more important than getting major minutes. Kids at Notre Dame are different. He saw the bigger picture, and maybe still does, which is why he's still around.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Saturday's game to me is a "must win" even though it's not a league game. Beating UCLA and IU back to back combined with a win over a very good Toledo team, now you have the start of a resume. It's also basically a home game for IU. They also owe them, they've blown leads the last 2 times vs them at the Crossroads. Thankfully Juwan Morgan is gone.
Tom Noie: Must win? Maybe....but that atmosphere always carries that asterisk. It's really a home game for Indiana and a road game for Notre Dame. Which is yet another reason to do away with the Crossroads when it ends in 2021. It's kind of run its course. There's no more Juwan Morgan, but Trayce Jackson-Davis is a handful. Plus there's always an unknown IU guy that delivers a big game against Notre Dame. Watch it happen again....
Nick from South Bend : Hubb, Ryan , Goodwin, Nate , Durham doesn’t sound too bad ??
Tom Noie: I'll run with that group, but whatcha got coming off the bench? That's where it gets dicey next season.....
Joey from Highland, Ind.: This was a million years ago, but, the year they won the ACC tourney and were a minute away from a Final 4, they were only a 3 seed in the overall #1 seed's bracket. To this day, this still bothers me. Every other team who wins the ACC tourney gets a 1 or a 2. Such a bad seeding that year and probably cost them a Final 4 or potential national championship.
Tom Noie: Going on five years, my man....gotta let that go. It's not like they didn't give Kentucky a punch or two right to the guy. They had that game....just couldn't close it out. Had nothing to do with seed. But if they beat Kentucky, they probably win the national championship. That team had it. They were rolling. You could see it and feel it. Might be best it will ever be. The atmosphere in Quicken Loans is unlike any I've ever felt in 20-plus seasons. It was anticipatory....like we were watching Irish hoops history unfold. What a team. What a night.
Justin from Fort Wayne Ind.: Tom, I’ve noticed the attendance has been down big time this year, even thought the UCLA game would have more people, you think the attendance will go up for conference play, i really only see a sellout against Louisville?
Tom Noie: The hoops home attendance usually stinks until January. Something about football season on campus. Like the student body can only focus on one sport at a time. Same with the general population. Louisville might not be a sellout with the students gone on break. Syracuse usually draws, as does North Carolina, even if the Tar Heels might be down and maybe out by then.
JT from Abilene Texas: I know you’re not a Djogo guy but I’m surprised they can’t find any use for a guy of his size and athleticism. Seems like the development of a lot of guys has stalled out with the current staff. What do you think?
Tom Noie: See, that's the thing...I am a Djogo guy, but not in the way everyone wants me to be a Djogo guy. He's had ample chance the last two-plus seasons to cement his spot in the rotation. The idea that he's gotten a raw deal from Brey is ridiculous. Like everyone else sees what Djogo can do, but Brey's the only one that can't?
Joey from Highland, Ind.: how about no more questions about Djogo?
Tom Noie: Done!
Andrew from Plymouth, Ind.: What's the prognosis for Carmody, at what point next season do we think he'll be ready to step back on the floor?
Tom Noie: It was a crusher watching Robby Carmody tear his ACL in the closing seconds of the Maryland game. He was just starting to find his niche and settle in and then that happens. He had surgery on Dec. 9, which usually means a full year recovery. Rex Pflueger was way, way, way ahead of schedule on his so we'll see. Carmody should be close to 100 percent by the start of the 2020-21 season, but you have to wonder how that will affect him psychologically. That's two season-ending injuries in two seasons for someone whose game revolves around being aggressive and attacking? Hope it doesn't detract from his game, but at some point, he has to wonder, is it worth it?
Joey from Highland, Ind.: is Carmody going to ask for a 6th year? also, he won't be available until this next time year right?
Tom Noie: Yeah, but that won't come until it's time to apply in a couple years. Look above, or below, however this new chat format runs, for more Carmody 411....
Adam S: Is there anything you can do to get Gibbs to stop shooting such terrible 2-point FGs? Go to the rim strong for once...
Tom Noie: It's just not in his game. He tried to get to the rim against Maryland and you saw what happened. Swat-fest. Get that $#%@ outta here, they told him. He just can't drive and finish with any sort of consistency, which leads him to keep stepping back and and back and back on the 3s. Would love to see Gibbs refuse to settle and just attack and play with swagger in league play. Like, i'm a senior guard, try to stop me.
Justin from Fort Wayne Ind.: Can you give us a rundown on just how good you think Cormac Ryan can be?
Tom Noie: Really good. Been told by the old "sources" who should know that he's exactly what this program needs. Someone who has some #@$%# to his game. He'll be a three-year starter, someone who can make shots and get to the bucket and light guys up when they need to be lit up. Been told his game's a combo of Tim Abromaitis, Steve Vasturia and maybe even a little Pat Connaughton. We'll take that.
Chris, from Dallas, Texas: Tom: Great chat, thanks. How many scholarships are the top ACC schools filling? Seems like leaving 3-4 unfilled each year points to an issue? Is Brey’s deal fully guaranteed thru 24-25? Happy holidays!
Tom Noie: Off the top of my head, no clue on other teams. It does speak to how Brey likes to operate....even 11 is too many for him....guys get squirrely and want to transfer. Mike Brey's contract runs through 2024-25, though I'd be surprised if he sees it entirely out if they keep missing the NCAA tournament.
Dave: Will either of the two recruits for next year contribute?
Tom Noie: Given the current makeup of the roster, both Elijah Taylor and Matt Zona will have to contribute. Notre Dame will have nine guys on the roster, but will have to wait and see if two - Djogo and Durham - return for a fifth year. Both have the bodies and the games to see some early minutes.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Hubb was awesome vs UCLA, I wish he could bottle that and do that every game. The inconsistency of these sophomores is maddening especially after they played so much last year. You never know what you're going to get, game to game. If he can do this game to game, they are a good to great team.
Tom Noie: You and Mike Brey both. But the operative word there is sophomores. In an ideal Irish basketball world, they'd still be learning the ropes behind the old guys. That's how it's always worked under Brey. Now when he needs to young guys to be old guys, they're still too young. But each of the three has shown signs the last couple games that this league season might be different than last year.
Andrew from Plymouth, Ind.: Did the NCAA make changes to basketball eligibility rules similar to allowing football players to play in 4 games while retaining their eligibility? I saw an article somewhere saying that a basketball player can play in 8 or 9 games now while still being able to redshirt in that season, is that true in all cases or just if an injury occurs?
Tom Noie: That only applies to an injury. Carmody and Pflueger both were able to squeeze in under the cut-off line last season. But there's no football-like rule for hoops. Once you play in one regular-season game, barring injury, you burn that entire year.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: this team misses Harvey's game more than they thought. Might not miss his attitude though......
Tom Noie: Given that they set the Purcell Pavilion record and tied the school record with 33 assists against Detroit Mercy, I'd disagree. Notre Dame is better off without Harvey for so many reasons. He'd probably agree. He just had to go. They knew it; he knew it.
James from Indiana: You must have seen Doherty in practice. Was there no future for him with the Irish? Just a practice player like Djogo? Why did he leave if not for playing time?
Tom Noie: FINALLY! A question about Chris Doherty, who for some reason has followed the same route as Nik Djogo as someone who if he had stayed and played would have helped turn the fortunes of this season around. Uh, no. Chris Doherty, like Nik Djogo, was an end-of-the-rotation guy that Notre Dame took a chance on. It already had secured the nation's No. 15 recruiting class before adding Doherty. He was a project. A kid you could slow play and develop. If he burned a year of eligibility in a pinch last season, no big deal. There would be another Chris Doherty to come down the recruiting pike. Chris Doherty not being at Notre Dame has so very little to do with actual playing time. There were (and are) other factors at play that have nothing to do with basketball. Everybody knew that this was going to be a tough road for him.
Coach Reading, Pa.: Tom. I’m tossing in Richard Pitino as the next coach at ND. Don’t know when, but I’d like to see it. Not as cold in South Bend!
Tom Noie: Rick Pitino nods in agreement somewhere in Greece.....
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Harvey can create his own shot, they don't have that. They miss that.
Tom Noie: Trust me....they don't. Not with everything else that came with creating that own shot. It stagnated everyone else and drove the staff bananas.
Joe from Scottsdale, Ariz.: Tom - I see it from fans and I also feel it from the program. But do you think either has moved on from those two elite 8 runs? I feel like everyone is still stuck in those memories which may be holding the program back. Thoughts?
Tom Noie: Hmmmmmm. Interesting. Kind of like the Notre Dame football fan base stuck in 1988? Irish fans have a tendency to live in the past, which clouds their view of the present and forces them to see only an uncertain future. Thing is, it ALWAYS ends in college - that wasn't a team that didn't stay together because of trades or retirements or salary cap issues. Either way, 2015 was going to end. 2016 wasn't going to last. I don't know why some stay so fixated on what was. Those were great years, but as a beat guy, I've got to take every year as a separate journey. It's different. The players are different. The season's different. Notre Dame caught the proverbial lightning in a bottle with those two groups. But those days are long gone. Doesn't mean tomorrow can't be better, right?
James from Indiana: Other factors for Doherty? Like? The course work was too difficult? What is your intel?
Tom Noie: Just look at the back story. When he was here for summer school before the start of his freshman year, he was homesick. So his mother drove out from Marlborough, Mass., picked him up and drove him back home. The staff had no idea that happened. He never really got over being away from home. The playing time stuff? That's the PC answer, but not all that accurate.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: if you had to guess, does anyone else transfer after season's end? Not including Durham or Djogo. Laszewski seems to me like he would be a candidate.
Tom Noie: Nobody, least of all anyone in that sophomore class.
Ben from Cincinnati: Appreciate the response tom. depth issues are frustrating in a conference where a lot of teams are playing 8/9 guys. Heck, I've seen Leonard Hamilton sub 5 for a new 5, although I still question his coaching ability. but fair enough with Nik. looks like another year of living and dying via 3 ball
Tom Noie: If Djogo could help, he'd find a way to earn minutes. That operative words there is EARN. It's nothing personal. If given the choice between splitting the minutes three ways (Pflueger-Goodwin-Djogo) or two, Brey's going the shorter rotation route every time. Thing is, Djogo probably agrees.
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Goodwin seems to have an edge to him since the Boston College game. Man, was he bad that game. He seems to be a Chris Quinn like guard. Good size.
Tom Noie: Loved hearing the story that Mike Brey told about Goodwin after he went for a career-high 27 points against Detroit Mercy. First, Brey always seems to talk about Goodwin and Nate Laszewski at the same time. Like, it's always about Dane and Nate, Nate and Dane. Anyway, he asked the two how he can better help them feel comfortable. Goodwin answered by saying Brey needed to coach Goodwin even harder. Stay on him. Bark at him. Be an SOB when being an SOB was needed. Goodwin said he responds better when he's coached harder. That's refreshing to hear, and, to see with what he's done the last two games.
Bill: How would you compare the attractiveness of the ND job from when Brey took it in 2000 to now?
Tom Noie: Interesting. Like night and day. Look at what this job has now - a home arena that doesn't have Duct tape holding chairs together and bleachers in the upper level, a stand-alone practice facility that's among the best in the nation, charter flights to away games and a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference where you're playing the best of the best every year. If you understand and accept that the kids Notre Dame gets are different - they're looking for the entire college experience, not just a couple quick seasons of hoops - and that football comes first and second and third, this is a pretty good gig. A lot better than it was in 2000.
Ben from Cincinnati: what're your thoughts on brey's tendency to hire assistants from within? also, not really a question, but i dont see brey coaching anywhere else. with all the great relationships he has with coaches and his personality, would be great for TV
Tom Noie: He doesn't necessarily hire them from within as he hires guys with that Notre Dame background. He'd had his eye on both Ryans - Ayers and Humphrey - for years before they actually returned to their alma maters. Both were considered rising stars in the profession. I'd like to see one or both have a little more of an edge to them. That's what this program's missing, an Anthony Solomon type who really could get on guys and get them to respond. Don't know if they have that on this staff. And no, the coaching train ends in South Bend for Brey whenever it does stop moving. He's said it himself - he's too old and done too much to go start over somewhere. When it's time to go, he'll go hide on some beach in Florida for a year than parachute right into TV where he'll be the loosest color commentator in the country....and crush it.
Bill: If you could point to the strength of this team, what would it be?
Tom Noie: I've sat on this question for about 10 minutes trying to find an answer. Like, what do these guys do really well that will hold up over conference season? Shoot it? Score it? Defend? If I had to pinpoint a strength I'd say it's resiliency. It was pretty dark around the program with the losses to Maryland and Boston College. It affected the head coach. It affected the media (OK, me) wondering exactly where this was all headed. it didn't seem to affect the players, who seemed to be like, yeah, we're fine. They've been tested this season with close games (Marshall, Presbyterian (really), and Toledo) and have found ways to win. That could mean nothing come January; it could mean everything. At least it's something, right?
Joey from Highland, Ind.: Can i ask what type of guy Brey is? Is he a what you see on tv and in his interviews or is he a different person outside of that? I really hope he is a genuinely nice man.
Tom Noie: What you see is what you get. I've learned to have a pretty good read on him covering him for 20 years. Notre Dame couldn't have done any better in the summer of 2000. He was the right guy at the right time for the right program.
Bill: Since Ingelsby left for Delaware, the program has declined. Do you think there's a lot of substance to that or is it coincidental? There's no denying the guard play development has suffered
Tom Noie: Fair observation, but probably more than just Ingelsby leaving. It was Ingelsby leaving and Solomon leaving and recruiting not panning out in ways it needed to pan out and the hangover of 2015 and 2016 looming and injuries, which cost Notre Dame one NCAA tournament trip. it was Notre Dame coming off that three-year run of 2015-16-17 and not knowing for sure how to keep everything fresh and humming and moving in the right direction. This program was a Bonzie Colson ankle sprain away from winning two Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships in three years. Think about that for a minute. That's staggering. It really hasn't recovered from that near-miss for many reasons - coaching, player development, injuries, etc.
Bill: Is it probable that the crossroads only has two years left? If so, how do you see ND replacing it on their schedule. More annual tournaments in Nov and Dec or one more home and home matchup?
Tom Noie: Yeah, it's time to end the Crossroads Classic after the deal runs out in 2021. Its had a nice run, but it's done. That would open a possible return of the UCLA series or another home game in December. Everything's changed now that you're playing 20-game league schedules. Not playing Indiana or Purdue in the Crossroads also would open those teams up to possible ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponents.
Wadelite from Long Beach, Calif.: Couple things. IMO Durham leaves if Dickinson picks ND. Translation: Durham returns. Also, next year on the perimeter Brey likely returns 5 guys with one being someone coming back from a serious injury and a fifth year senior he does not trust. If he does bring in another wing or preferably a combo guard than its sheer negligence on his part as he will be running Hubb, Ryan and Goodwin into the ground. Oh yeah I hope Ryan can drive it to the basket because Hubb has no interest in that.
Tom Noie: And Wadelite has spoken......agree with all of it.
Drew: I had a late arrival to the chat so I apologize if I'm repeating anything. Do you think they could get Hubb or Pflueger in some more high ball screen actions and look for more drive and kick threes or opportunities in the paint?
Tom Noie: Ideally, yes. But Hubb's not shown that he can properly see the floor spaced the way it's spaced when he drives. Pflueger could drive it in a previous basketball life. They're going to have to do something with the offense. You can't expect to drop 17.5 3s per game as they have the last two and survive in the ACC. Then again, this league season has the potential to get really wacky, so maybe they can!
Justin from Fort Wayne Ind.: You see any way John Mooney works his way on a NBA team?
Tom Noie: Would have to absolutely be the right fit with the right team at the right time as a free agent. There have been plenty of NBA scouts through Purcell Pavilion already - and they're often there to watch someone else.
Drew: Do you think you can attribute some of the offensive struggles over the last couple years to a lack of a true floor general? I honestly thought Gibbs would be a better PG but hasn't really shown great decision making. Hubb CAN be that guy but i don't know if he's there yet.
Tom Noie: Yes, last year especially when it should've been Gibbs' time to take the ball and run with it.....then he didn't. It was like, no, you do it....no you do it....somebody had to do it....then nobody really did. It also goes back to how everyone's role was out of whack in a program where it was always about the old guys. Then last year it was about the young guys....but still old guys around. It wasn't so much a power struggle as a power outage. Nobody really knew what to do. The leadership wasn't the best. The losses started coming and nobody really knew how to handle it. That's on the old guys.
JT from Abilene Texas: I know the percentages worked out well for the game, but I saw some awful looking missed 3s in the second half against UCLA. Does this team need to try something different on offense than shooting 3s and if so, what is it?
Tom Noie: Get. To. The. Basket. There's going to be a point where there 3s stop falling, likely in league play. Then what? Will Notre Dame have figured it out or will it look like Maryland? Say what you want to say about how good it was to beat Detroit Mercy and UCLA, but Notre Dame still struggles with size and athleticism and length, and that's coming in waves in the ACC. Hubb or Gibbs or Pflueger or someone need to loosen up the defense more by getting in the lane. Shoot the floater, kick it to a shooter, get Durham a lob at the rim. Gotta add another dimension other than, we can't penetrate or finish, so let's just shoot some 3s.
Ray From Mishawaka: Any chance you could do a weekly Podcast like "Pot of Gold" except this would be for men's and women's basketball. The pot of gold podcast is great and I think a basketball one would be great also. Thanks.
Tom Noie: Still in the developmental stages. It's harder to figure out for hoops because there are so many times during the week where they play. But the possibility is on the table. Honestly, though, both teams need to be better for it to happen. Kind of a dead-end to go down if the NCAA tournament isn't a possibility at season's end. Will let you know if it gets the go-ahead.
Wadelite from Long Beach, Calif.: Tom, with Mooney at the 5 in a 5 out line up, why are we not seeing more hard cuts to the basket? I did see Mooney find Hubb late in the UCLA game.
Tom Noie: Mainly because guys haven't been able to consistently finish. Try it once or twice or three times and you miss or your shot gets swatted, you're more apt to stay out on the perimeter where it's safe. I don't see a lot of true cutters on this team. Consistent cutters. Cutters with the capability of finishing.
Bill: Kids transfer for all different reasons, but do you see the transfers of the last few years since Matt Ryan as something systematic with the program or poor fits? You have also mentioned the team having some older guys that would allow the sophomores to come along, what do you attribute most to that roster/recruiting mismanagement?
Tom Noie: It's so multi-layered why the roster looked like it did last year and why it looks like does this year. Guys who were counted on to be main guys (Ryan, Harvey) leave. Guys get hurt (Pflueger). Guys who are supposed to develop into leaders (Gibbs) don't. Everything Mike Brey knew about his program went out the window last year. He's still trying to get it back on track where the old guys are your best guys. Won't be like that until next year. As for the transfers, that's systematic of college basketball, not necessarily Notre Dame. Take Matt Ryan, who left because he saw D.J. Harvey taking his spot. Ryan wanted to be a starter and a major shot guy. Didn't think it was going to happen, but imagine for a moment had he stuck it out. How many shots would he have gotten his last two years? We're taking like record-breaking attempts when the injuries hit in 2017-18 and then again next year. But kids today don't want to wait. They want it now. Not just at Notre Dame.
Woof Cookies: I've come around to believe that Mike Brey is a good coach and was maximizing the possible recruiting pool for Notre Dame given it's parameters. However, I feel like in the last 2 years either A) the recruiting effort has really fallen off or B) Brey has had really bad luck. Thoughts?
Tom Noie: I don't have the same sense of "WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS HE DOING BY SIGNING NOBODY!!!!!!" when the 2018 class went empty. I understood why Notre Dame did what it did - when it recruited for the 2018 class, it had no idea what it had in the freshman class. Would they hit the ground running and be really good right away? If that were the case, and Brey said as much about signing nobody, it was going to be really difficult to land even a single prospect. He couldn't point to something EVERYONE wanted - playing time. So he went a different route and shot as high as he could - try to land a five-star one-and-done guy (Stewart, Anthony, Robinson-Earl). That didn't turn out well, which would have been fine had Brey changed gears and gone the grad transfer route last year. That's where the big miss. You can't bring back almost the entire roster of a team that went 3-15 and think you're going to be that much better. This year's class, with Ryan in the fold next year, needed to be heavy on the front court.
Mark Kruz: Tom the other day I heard you on Sportsbeat 960 discuss the worst losses in the Mike Brey era. I have 2 for the (dis)honorable list. One is the loss to an average IU team 2 years ago with the missed free throws at the end. Also the NIT loss to Holy Cross played in front of family and friends. I don't think there was 400 people in attendance.
Tom Noie: Good stuff. Sorry, Austin Torres, but gotta make at least one free throw. Think about what a story that would've been - an Indiana kid in Indianapolis making a free throw to beat the state school. That one was more heartbreaking that head-scratching given what we talked about earlier in the the Crossroads game really is a road game. That NIT loss to Holy Cross? I'd counter by saying playing an NIT home game already is a failure. The outcome's not going to matter. After you've experienced the NCAA tournament, there's nothing worse than the NIT. I tried to wipe that from my memory! lol
Wadelite from Long Beach, Calif.: Tom, this team looks like they could full court press a bit more and force some turnovers. Oh wait, Brey has only 8 scholarship players with just 7 he trusts as an excuse not. Imo he still could with Djogo and even Harris. I've seen roy Williams and bill self actually play walk ons in short spurts in legitimate game situations. It seems fairly clear that Harris is a more talented walk on than what we have seen with Brey. Nah, let's just stick to the current plan of passing the ball around the perimeter and hoping the treys are going in.
Tom Noie: I felt after Carmody went down and Notre Dame lost the way it did to Maryland to throw every possibility out there. Play Djogo more. Play walk-on guard Elijah Morgan more. What was there to lose? The status quo remained and the Irish lost to Boston College. Shows you what I know.
Wadelite from Long Beach, Calif.: Worst loss is Central Michigan. No other is close. The IU loss is up there because apparently expecting your star player to block out on free throws is a lot to ask.
Tom Noie: Central Michigan was my No. 1 choice. Chris Thomas gets schooled on a last-second 3 from a guy who was 5-7 from a team that would finish 6-24. Said it when I walked out of the old Joyce Center that night that it would keep Notre Dame out of the tournament that year. It did. It was like all the air went out of the program after going to the Swet 16 the previous season. That was a tough one to take.
Ray From Mishawaka: Is Notre Dame getting any feedback with the ACC Network not available on Comcast? I had to subcribe to another streaming service just to get the ND road games not on the regular Espn Stations. I would have thought with the Duke football game being on ACC Network there would have been alot of upset people.
Tom Noie: Don't even know if it's on their radar. In today's tech world, it's kind of like, ah, people will figure out some way to watch it, even if there were (and there were) a lot of people confused/upset about not being able to watch it. Totally off the subject, but having Notre Dame football on the ACC Network is another reason (maybe further down the list) why Notre Dame will stick to independence as long as possible. Could you imagine the ACC Network assigning Notre Dame a home game against Georgia Tech that kicks at noon? Or say Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, then has to play an 11 a.m. game at Minnesota on the Big Ten Network? Don't ever see that happening. But there's no excuse for Comcast not to have the ACC Network. None
Justin from Fort Wayne Ind.: Where do you see Notre Dame stand with Caleb Furst and Blake Wesley?
Tom Noie: No idea....and it's still so early to project. Think Furst would be there ahead of Wesley. I've seen Wesley play several times, and he's really talented, but have heard through multiple sources that grades might be an issue. We'll see.
Ray From Mishawaka: Did you have a chance to see the replay of the UCLA ND Game with Digger and Bill Walton? Honestly, if they would have stuck to the game they could have given good insight. I did enjoy when Bill Walton asked about Digger about his cancer and Digger said they would discuss it later, and then I think play by play announcer Dave Pasch said "that's why we have production meetings Bill"! Great Line!
Tom Noie: I'm in the minority here, maybe the extremely minority, but if there's a game with Bill Walton on the call, I'm watching. I find him refreshing in a weird sort of way. He's not breaking down the Xs and Os and not pumping up this guy or that guy as a future NBA star. He's funny without overly trying to be. He doesn't take the game or himself very seriously. And my admiration for Walton grew after I watched him hang around nearly an hour after Saturday's game ended to take pictures and talk with whoever wanted to take a picture and talk. Totally chill guy. Genuine. Refreshing.
Bill: With all of the injuries in the last few years, do you see Brey taking a look at the strength and conditioning program? I know an aspect of it is bad luck, but it has been a lot of bad luck
Tom Noie: Not at all. Notre Dame's been down this road before. Rex Pflueger and Robby Carmody both were hurt on floors other than Notre Dame. Remember, Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis both blew their ACLs out on jump-stops in the Pit. Just one of those stretches of fluky stuff. Notre Dame went a long time without a serious injury. Now it seems like it can't get through a year without one or two. Everything at Rolfs Hall is state of the art and Tony Rolinski is one of the best in the business.
Wadelite from Long Beach, Calif.: Honorable mention loss was Ball State. ND had a healthy roster. I just don't think at times Brey gets his guys to play hard enough. ND beats a ky bowman team last with just 6 healthy scholarship guys and loses to a BC team with bowman and popovic out. Hubb just plays too casual too often. If he's not making treys this season he adds very little else.
Tom Noie: That Ball State game was No. 2 on my list....turns out that one basically kept Notre Dame out of the NCAA tournament that year. Notre Dame was No. 69 in a 68-team field, which means one swing game here or there did it. Here's my take on Brey getting his guys to play hard - he kind of thinks they're going to play hard on their own. But as Goodwin's said, he needs Brey to push him more. Hae didn't have to push Jerian Grant or Pat Connaughton or Steve Vasturia. Or Bonzie Colson or Matt Farrell. Those dudes were different. Brey realizes that this group may need to be pushed more than previous guys.
Collin from Elkhart, Ind.: Having seen what you have seen this year, how do you think this year finish’s?
Tom Noie: A great way to end today's chat. But without a great answer.....ready? I don't know. I wrote as much pre-Boston College, like I have no idea where this program's headed. Even more so now that we've seen what's happened around the Atlantic Coast Conference. How good is anyone? Louisville? Duke? North Carolina? Virginia? Every team has had pretty low moments to date, which means we have no idea what league play will mean. There might be some highs for Notre Dame - running off some really powerful/resume-like home wins. There might be some real lows - losing at Wake Forest? At Georgia Tech? Usually I have a good idea what to expect with this team and this league. This year? Not a chance. It's going to be crazy, and Notre Dame may be right in the middle of the crazy.
Tom Noie: Thanks to everyone who joined today's marathon chat. We went for nearly five hours. We'll circle back around to this early in January. Maybe the second week. If you have a question or comment that cannot wait, drop me a note at email@example.com. Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year! Talk to you again in 2020!