Notes: Injuries part of offseason equation for Notre Dame men's basketball team
A familiar storyline that dominated too much of winter for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team also will slingshot into summer.
The health concerns of former power forward Bonzie Colson, who missed 15 games with a broken foot and former point guard Matt Farrell, who missed five with an ankle injury, have been replaced by the knee issues of power forward Elijah Burns and swingman D.J. Harvey.
Harvey missed the last 17 games of his freshman year with what originally was diagnosed a bone bruise after a non-contact injury during the Jan. 16 loss to Louisville. Turns out there was serious cartilage damage that required delicate microfracture surgery on his left knee Feb. 28 – the same day that Colson returned from his first broken left foot.
Harvey remains on crutches as he travels his rehabilitation road, one that is expected to cost him most of the offseason and the team’s foreign tour of the Bahamas in early August.
“First day of practice in October, he’ll be ready to go,” coach Mike Brey said. “I think we’re going to have him pretty healthy in October.”
Harvey averaged 5.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. He played in 19 games with five starts.
When the severity of Harvey’s injury was learned, Brey opened the possibility of Harvey taking a medical redshirt and sitting out next season. If Harvey’s rehabilitation schedule is any indication, that’s a bridge he likely won’t have to cross. Doesn't want to.
“He’s been unbelievable coming in ‘cause his (basketball) life flashed before his eyes,” Brey said. “I’ve seen a lot of maturity in how he’s handled his rehab.”
Burns was expected to see more time than his season average (10.6 minutes per game) in postseason, but he missed both the NIT games with left knee soreness. Burns has undergone two plasma rich platelet (PRP) procedures, which Brey hopes will help sidestep any surgical procedures.
“It’s too bad he was hurt,” Brey said. “I really wanted to play him even more in the NIT games.”
Burns at one point was on track to possibly graduate in the summer, which means he could have transferred and immediately played his final two years of eligibility. Burns will not have enough credits to graduate in summer. Brey plans to have him back for his final two years.
“I think he’s all in,” he said. “I told him I want him thinking about being in a white (starter’s) jersey on the first day of practice in June.”
Burns averaged 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 29 games with one start.
Exact dates and start times are still months away from being finalized, but the Irish schedule for 2018-19 has taken some shape.
The non-conference slate includes games against DePaul (home), Oklahoma (Jimmy V Classic) Purdue (Crossroads Classic) and UCLA (away). Notre Dame also likely will get a home game in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Those matchups are usually finalized in late May.
The game against Oklahoma will be Notre Dame’s first in Madison Square Garden since Dec. 21, 2013. The other half of the doubleheader pits Florida against West Virginia. Indiana was originally schedule to play the Mountaineers.
Notre Dame’s league schedule includes home-and-homes with Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Home games are Clemson, Duke, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Wake Forest. Road games are Florida State, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
Next season is the last that ACC teams play 18 league games. The conference moves to a 20-game league schedule in 2019-20.
Brey and his staff have been out on the road for segments this month during the annual spring evaluation period. After signing five high school seniors last fall – the most during his 18 seasons – Brey only has two scholarships to offer current high school juniors.
“There’s not that sense of urgency,” Brey said after the previous recruiting cycle, where there was a whole lot of urgency. “We’re trying to figure out what we need.”
The top three high school prospects likely are power forward Isaiah Stewart (6-foot-8, 240 pounds, Rochester, N.Y./LaLumiere), swingman Justin Moore (6-4, 190, Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) and guard Joe Girard III (6-1, 170, Glens Falls, N.Y.)
Notre Dame also will look at the transfer route, even a graduate transfer that could play right away. No current transfer currently fits, but Brey expects more options to be weighed moving forward.
On Friday, Brey was scheduled to make one of his more important recruiting spring visits — to Washington and incoming freshman Prentiss Hubb. The point guard missed his senior year after undergoing reconstructive right knee surgery. He’s expected to be an important piece to next season’s rotation. How important?
Hubb could start in Farrell’s spot to give the Irish another able handler right away.