Plenty of Notre Dame chat topics after big league road win
(Editor’s Note): South Bend Tribune columnist/Notre Dame men’s basketball beat writer Tom Noie holds the occasional Irish men’s basketball chat on NDInsider. Here are the highlights from Thursday’s session. A full transcript can be found at NDInsider. The next chat will be sometime in February.
Q I always enjoy reading the chats. My question is taking a bit of a wider lens. If ND misses the tournament for a third straight year, is Mike Brey on the “hot seat” next season? This level of regression, at this stage of Brey’s program, shouldn’t be acceptable to Jack Swarbrick. And taking a peek at next season, do you think ND could really be better without John Mooney, T.J. Gibbs and Rex Pflueger? Hard to see it, even with Ryan stepping in. On paper we seem to be in a bench depth crisis again next year. Thoughts? Thanks!
Matt from Virginia
A Matt: Any coach that misses the NCAA tournament for a third straight season would be the first to admit that their seat’s a bit warm. Uncomfortable. It should be, and will be. Especially since this program really did very little to make sure they’d be better than 3-15. It’s basically the same team that’s back that went 3-15. There were a good chunk of fans who slammed my 10-10 league projection, saying that Notre Dame should be better than an average program. But given where they were (3-15), getting to 10 league wins would be a massive leap for this program. Sadly, 10-10 likely won’t get them into the NCAA tournament. The resume’s just too ... empty. So say Notre Dame misses the NCAA tournament ... what do you do? Max out the available scholarships. Go the grad transfer route for one guy. For two guys. Do everything you can do to try to max out next season — something Brey and his staff didn’t do this season. We’re seeing the results. They’re still a player or two short.
Q My intention was to ask a question about if Notre Dame spends time on late game situations in practice, specifically the last 4 minutes, but since I know we do not have enough players for 5 on 5 for the 3rd consecutive year I know this is not possible. Kidding aside this is a troubling issue with missed free throws, lapsed defensive assignments, and horrible turnovers consistently during crunch time. Indiana, NC State, & Louisville are all recent examples. How does Mike Brey get this squad over the hump? At a certain point you have to wonder if coaching is the source of the problem?
Christian from Chicago
A Hopefully last night was the night and the game where Notre Dame finally climbed over that hump. Cleared the close game hurdle that’s really been an issue for two years. Yeah, Georgia Tech’s not Duke or Florida State or Indiana or Louisville, but being able to make the plays needed to be made down the stretch to win a close game might finally flip the confidence switch. Mike Brey said it earlier this week — nobody in the league is going to hand them an ACC win. They had to go do it. And they did it in a building where they hadn’t won in five years. Coaching does play a part in it — Brey’s long been a guy who has a veteran group that he believes will figure it out. Too young last year. Maybe they still need to be coached at times this year. Now if they can only figure out how they can get a home league win ... that’s the NEXT step. Then the next one is to run off three, four in a row.
Q When does Mike Brey enter the hot seat?
Joey from Highland, Ind.
A Seat’s warmer than you think ... and that heat often comes from within. Who most knows Notre Dame has to get back to the NCAA tournament? See Brey, Mike.
Q Tom since you have covered Notre Dame in both the Atlantic Coast Conference and in the Big East, which conference have you preferred and why?
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka
A Great question, one that doesn’t have an easy answer. If there’s one aspect I really miss about the Big East was that there really was nothing like being in midtown Manhattan for the week of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. There was an energy, a pulse about being in the city and it being all about hoops. The ticket scalpers outside Penn Station. Hearing former President Bill Clinton hold court on hoops in the backstage area. Watching Patrick Ewing walk through. THAT was college basketball at its finest. That said, it’s really refreshing making the ACC road trips when its 70 degrees and actually sunny in January and February. It’s a true basketball league.
Q What does this team have to do to become tourney bound come March? How many wins do we need in ACC to be relevant this year? A first round bye or somehow a double bye possible this year in an out of the normal ACC season where anything has been going?
Nick from South Bend
A No idea on all of the above. When you figure out where this league is going, let the rest of us know. Talk about a WEIRD year in the ACC. No, it’s not the best basketball conference in the country. Maybe not the second best. Or third. And that’s going to hurt Notre Dame. Usually, you’d say if the Irish can finish 10-10 or 11-9 they’d be in the discussion come Selection Sunday. But in such a down year for the league, 10-10 might not move the selection meter. And then when you see there’s so little in the non-conference, it’s going to be really hard to snag a bid. First-round bye? Double bye? This year? For this team? Love the optimism, but that might be a bit of a reach. Let’s see where the Irish are at this point next month.
Q Why does Nate Laszewski look like he doesn’t want to be here? His body language is terrible, he looks lost and sluggish, and just uninterested in being on the floor. Is there something mentally or physically going on that we aren’t aware of?
Andrew from Plymouth, IN
A Part of that is his makeup. He’s quiet, says next to nothing, doesn’t really show emotion. Think he’s a guy who’s still trying to figure out this college basketball thing. Like, it’s hard. Imagine — you’re a 6-9 guy who had it relatively easy in high school. Now 6-9 guys are a dime a dozen. Everyone has size. Everyone can play. How do you elevate your game? It’s a process. Yeah, we’d all like to see it sooner than later, but he’ll get there. Maybe.
Q Which would mean more for the program’s future? A great NIT run (wining or runner-up) or barely making the NCAA and losing the first game?
JT from South Bend
A An NCAA run every day and twice on Sundays. There’s really nothing redeeming worthwhile of being in the NIT. Nobody cares. They’ll say they do, but they don’t. Last time Notre Dame was in the NIT, players needed nearly an hour to decide whether or not they even wanted to play.