Talking Notre Dame hoops with NDI's Tom Noie

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

(Editor’s note: NDI’s Tom Noie holds the occasional Notre Dame men’s basketball chat during the college basketball season. Following are highlights from Tuesday’s session. The next one will be the second week of January. For a complete transcript of Tuesday’s chat, visit NDInsider.com).

Q If Mike Brey were to leave/get let go/retire, who are potential replacement candidates?

Michael via Twitter

A 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!

Q Nik Djogo. Does Mike 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 mistreatment is criminal. Ten 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 break.

Ben from Cincinnati, Ohio

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.

Q With the way Dane Goodwin has been playing, is there any chance he supplants Rex Pflueger in the starting lineup?

Brian from Bloomington, Ill.

A 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.

Q What will Cormac Ryan bring to this team next year? Starter?

Nick from South Bend

A 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.

Q I’ve noticed the attendance has been down big time this year, even though 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.

Justin from Fort Wayne

A 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.

Q How would you compare the attractiveness of the Notre Dame job from when Mike Brey took it in 2000 to now?

Bill

A 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.

Q Having seen what you have seen this year, how do you think this year finishes?

Collin from Elkhart

A 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.

One of the most popular questions from Tuesday’s NDI Irish men’s basketball chat — why doesn’t senior guard Nik Djogo play more? It’s complicated.