Chat Transcript: Talk Notre Dame men's basketball with Tom Noie

Staff reports
ND Insider

Tom Noie: Welcome to a Notre Dame men's basketball chat like no other, at a time like no other. Time, and college basketball, has stood still since everything went dark a week ago today. No conference tournaments. No Selection Sunday. No NCAA tournament. It's a different world we're living in right now, and hopefully, you're safe, you're healthy and you're smart about taking care of everyone around you. We're here for a couple hours to offer a little break from all the breaking news, the coronavirus updates, the new world that finds us all trying to find our way. Plenty of ground to cover, so let's get going. Please be sure to include your name and city with any question or comment. And with that, you know what's next - let's light this chat candle!

Joey, Roswell Georgia: With the lack of bench depth on the roster next year how many grad transfers could we get and what names stick out?

Tom Noie: Joey: Likely a popular topic today and rightfully so....something has to be done to deepen the roster next season. Notre Dame returns only six scholarship players, adds Stanford transfer Cormac Ryan and incoming freshmen Elijah Taylor and Matt Zona. Walk-on Elijah Morgan makes 10, which means there are three scholarships to use. Figure Notre Dame would use two of them (Mike Brey always wants to keep at least one open in case of emergency). The traditional transfer/graduate transfer pool again is deep, but as far as names, it's really too difficult to determine given the way Notre Dame operates. Brey prefers transfer prospects see campus, get around his guys, plays pickup, sees how he fits in on and off the floor. With coronavirus having shut down the university for who knows how long, that's not going to be possible. Do they then just take a guy or two on blind faith and hope that he fits in with the culture of the school and the program? It's a tough spot right now. ....

Tom Noie: ...I know some players have already transferred to other schools, but Notre Dame doesn't operate that way. it wants to make sure both sides agree that there's a fit. On the other hand, Notre Dame really needs to lengthen its roster. Ten guys - at least these 10 guys, doesn't offer much confidence that it can compete with the ACC elite.

Alex Perry: Will mike Bret try to add a transfer forward ?? And what does cornmac Ryan bring to the table ?

Tom Noie: Alex: It remains to be seen what type of player Mike brey might add. I don't know if it's necessarily a forward. Juwan Durham will get a chance, as will Elijah Taylor. If they'd ask me, and why would they ever do that, I'd try and find someone who could create off the dribble and go get a few buckets with relative ease. As far as Cormac Ryan, the minute this season ended last week, he immediately became a key guy - a starter, a scorer, a leader. I wrote a column in Tuesday's SBT about there not being any Alpha dogs in this year's team, no guys like Grant or Hansbrough or Connaughton. Ryan's that alpha. He'll get into guys. He'll get guys to follow his lead. Don't let his slight frame fool you. He can play.

Annie from Anapolis, Md: If the NCAA grants all CBB players another year of eligibility, will Mooney and Rex come back?

Tom Noie: Annie: I just don't see that happening. It's hard to rationalize that college basketball seniors should get a do-over. They did play an entire season. They didn't get their league tournaments or postseason, but not every college player is afford the opportunity to play in the postseason. The spring sports athletes have more of a chance to get that year back than basketball players. It hurts teams like Dayton and Baylor and San Diego State, teams that captured the proverbial lightning in a bottle this season. But you can't re-create that by giving seniors a second chance. Seasons are a journey. They just kind of happen organically. Those teams had great seasons, but what if all the guys of say, Dayton are allowed one more year and take it, but they don't go 29-2 or 18-0 in the A-10. Makes that chance more of a waste than a second one.

Mike: Any potential grad-transfers on our radar for next year? It would be nice to add another body

Tom Noie: Mike: Asked an answered above. That's going to be an interesting offseason dynamic. How long is campus closed? Summer? fall? Nobody knows, and nobody really knows how to proceed in the coming weeks. Maybe months.

Ian: I think ND hoops has a chance at being top 15 next year but probably need another transfer would be a big help, who is on NDs radar?

Tom Noie: Ian: Top 15 might be too big of a step for a team that finished seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season unless this year's sophomore class takes a quantum leap. It'd be nice to see, but think it's a bit of a reach. See above for the transfer talk.

Matt from DC: Hey Tom, thanks for the distraction. Since the ACC tourney was cancelled, does ND's win over BC (giving us a 20-win season) count for official records? And do you think the way this season ended could affect Brey's decision to either retire or carry on? Finally, just for fun, give us your projection of how the rest of ND's season would've unfolded. Thanks!

Tom Noie: Matt: That second-round Atlantic Coast Conference tournament victory over Boston College (the most lopsided in Irish hoops history) does indeed count toward the overall record. The Irish finished 20-12. How the season ended has zero influence on Mike Brey's future. They could've gone 5-15 or 15-5 in the league and he would feel the same about his future. How would the rest of the season unfolded? I think Notre Dame would've beaten Virginia in the quarterfinals but lost to Louisville in the semis - lack of depth and three games in three days would've caught up to them. A deep run through the NIT would've been nice - and needed - for the core coming back next year. I know the NIT's awful - it really is - but this group of returning guys needed to know what it was like to play in postseason in some capacity.

Steve from Fort Wayne: Has Mike Brey commented on his future with Notre Dame? Do you have any more information? When is a reasonable time table for a decision? Do you get the feeling the school wants him back? I know I do, I think he is a fantastic coach.

Tom Noie: Steve: Might be the most popular question of the offseason - other than the transfer issue - so we might as well address the elephant in the room. Buckle up. I mentioned in our previous chat in February that I thought it was a 50/50 proposition on whether Mike Brey would return for his 21st season in 2020-21. The flip of a coin. Heads, he stays, tails he leaves. And it would be totally HIS decision. Why? Simple. After the last two seasons, and this year was almost as trying as last year's 14-19 campaign, he had to decide whether at his age (he turns 61 on Sunday) he still had the energy required to do this job and do it well. If he didn't, it was time to hit the beach and grab an adult beverage and recharge his batteries about life. If he did, he'd have to take a hard look at the program from top to bottom and do all he could to make it better. Bring it back to where it was in 2015-17.

Tom Noie: Having been around the program for his entire 20 years, having been around him for 20 years, having been around his staff and his players, I had a sense that this year was going to be it. Nothing definitive, just a beat writer's gut feel. I saw what the losing and the inconsistencies was doing to him. He didn't look well. He blew up after the first Florida State loss. Then the second. It was frustration on his part, but part of me wondered whether he was frustrated with being frustrated about the program, and didn't care to be politically correct anymore. He's still as media friendly as any college coach in any sport around, but he's cut way back on that. He used to do a weekly presser that ran 30-plus minutes. The last two years, we gather in the lobby of Rolfs for a 10-minute "gaggle." There were just so many small instances that made you wonder if he was ready to move on.

Tom Noie: Now, though, I get more of a sense from those close to him that he's not ready to walk away just yet. he wants to see this sophomore class finish out, and, hopefully, max it out. I can't show all my beat writer's cards but I can say this - I wasn't going to be surprised if I had to spend the offseason on a coaching search/transition. Now I'd be surprised if that happens. Remember that coin flip? Heads he stays, tails he leaves. Think he's flipped it and it's come up heads.

Mark M.: Where does Nik Djogo fit next season? Does he transfer?

Tom Noie: Mark: Nik Djogo remains one of the weirdest storylines in the two-plus decades that I've covered the team. Hearing from the fan base, you'd think he's the X factor that would've not only gotten the program back to the NCAA tournament, but a Final Four. Or two. Usually when the topic of Djogo comes up, I have to offer this disclaimer because too few people understand the role between beat writer and player, which leads the to roast me (yeah, you know who you are, lol) for coming down too hard on a kid. Nik's a great dude. he's always had time for me. He's always been up front and honest. All class. But I think he'd be the first to say this when people wonder why he doesn't play more - he'

Tom Noie: He's got to be better. More consistent. What he does in practice doesn't always translate onto the court. If you know how Mike Brey's program operates, you know you've got to have several skill sets to cement your spot in his rotation. Nik's strength in practices has been an ability to make shots, but what else? What can he offer that would allow Brey to sit, say, a T.J. Gibbs or a Rex Pflueger. Brey always walks that proverbial line of fragility - he doesn't want to take a chance of giving up easy baskets or turning it over if even for a few minutes. So he goes with the guys he trusts. Djogo would be the first to admit that, yeah, gotta be better in other areas to earn Coach's trust. He's expected back next year and does have value. Like an Austin Torres of the 15-16 teams. He doesn't play much can be a good locker room guy, a voice of reason, a resource for the young guys. It's just not going to translate into a large role. Maybe ever.

Tom Noie: At the end of the day, that might be more than OK for a guy who never dreamed he'd have the chance to attend Notre Dame, much less leave with a degree from the Mendoza College of Business and a likely Master's. That's pretty good for someone no one knew about coming out of high school.

Mark M.: What is your way too early starting 5 for next year?

Tom Noie: Mark: Easiest question of the day, kind of like asking if John Mooney's going to get at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in an ACC game. The starting lineup if the Irish were rekindling their series with Georgetown tomorrow and a non-league game in D.C. would be a perimeter of Prentiss Hubb, Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski and Juwan Durham in the frontcourt with Robby Carmody and Elijah Taylor the first options off the bench, along with a transfer (hopefully) to be named later.

Tom from Atlanta: Hi Tom. What are the odds that Gibbs gets another year now? Mooney's probably ready for next level, somewhere, and Rex has probably closed that chapter, but T.J. might really benefit.

Tom Noie: Tom: None. We hit that topic earlier in the chat. It's too much of a stretch to say college hoops kids should get another year. It's one thing if the season was shut down in November or early December. But they played an entire season. And not every college kid or program is assured of going to a postseason tournament. It might seem harsh, but there's no way they should have that option. It's unfortunate and for some kids unfair, but so is life.

Christian, Chicago IL: Tom, I have a hard time understanding the groundswell of support for Juwan Durham. He has trouble catching the ball, goes stretches without making any positive plays, and often plays with a lack of energy/enthusiasm. He has big shoes to fill next year without Mooney. I'm cheering for the guy but he's not the answer. Thoughts? Can we find a big-guy on the transfer market that can "fit in" with our culture of losing to ranked teams 20 straight times and not making the NCAA's?

Tom Noie: Christian: Thanks for the voice of reason. Juwan Durham is headed down the same fan support role as Nik Djogo. Durham's had his moments this season - 16 points and nine rebounds in the first Florida State game, 21 and 4 at Duke, 12 and four in the ACC tournament win - but man, there were some serious gaps between those games where he was just kind of....there. Now, part of it probably can be explained that it's Durham still maturing as a basketball player. He sulked a bit when his role was diminished because that's never happened to him. He didn't know how to properly channel those frustrations or that focus. It looked like he did in the B.C. game when he came off the bench for the first time this season. OK, he didn't like it and felt he should've played more. Guess what? Now he gets that chance to show everyone what he can. No more John Mooney puts the frontcourt focus on Durham. He's not going to deliver a steady stream of double doubles, but he's got to do something to merit that time. It's his time now.

Mike from Rochester: Tom- when I read national articles at Rivals and 247, I never see ND mentioned when a recruit is asked who contacts him the most? It also seems like the staff doesn't establish relationships early. Why is ND so late to the party always?

Tom Noie: Mike: Probably because they prefer to take their time with recruits....make sure the academics are in order....make sure it's a prospect worth pursuing. If a kid has Notre Dame listed along with North Carolina and Duke, probably not a guy you want to spend a lot of time with unless he's made absolutely clear that he's interested in Notre Dame. Recruiting kids to Notre Dame is hard. That's not an excuse. It just is. Notre Dame was the first big-time school to identify Matthew Hurt. Once Duke swoops in, the Irish were an after thought. Notre Dame thought it had Hunter Dickinson. He picks Michigan. Nobody was earlier to the party on both those guys, and they can't land them. That's recruiting.

P. Rose: Durham seems to have a great touch on the offensive end. He doesn't do a great job with rebounding. What is the growth prediction on him? Does Brey expect him to become a 30 minute a game guy?

Tom Noie: P: I don't see him having the stamina to go 30 minutes a game, but he should give them way more than the 17.5 minutes he did this season. He's probably not going to get any bigger (223 pounds) but he can afford to get tougher. He (and John Mooney) were pushed around by Olivier Sarr late in the year. That can't happen. Not in this league. Can he be a 10-point, 8-rebound guy next year? He has to be.

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom with John Mooney graduating who could you see between Juwan and Nate gathering double double's next season? Also I wish the ACC would change up the scheduling on the home and home matchups. Tired of seeing Ga Tech and Boston College every season. I'd like to see Louisville being such a close proximity to ND plus the games have been pretty good too. BTW congrats on the award from the AP!

Tom Noie: Mark: Thanks for the shout-out my man....that first-place award came from the 2019 NCAA women's Final Four. I've also finished in the top 10 in the country for our newspaper circulation size for column writing - pretty good for a beat hack! But back to hoops. It's good that Mooney put the Notre Dame sports information department to work documenting double doubles because it might be a while before we see someone come anywhere close to those numbers. Durham and Laszewski might get one now and then, but that steady stream will slow to a trickle. Mooney was unique....

Tom Noie: As for the repeat opponents, be careful what you wish for. Think at this time, Notre Dame is right where it needs to be with Boston College and Georgia Tech as the permanent repeat opponents. There are rotating repeaters, and there's no way that Louisville shouldn't be a part of that mix. That's the ACC being the ACC. Next year's league repeaters, in addition to Boston College and Georgia Tech are Duke (oof!), Miami, Virginia (oof, too!) and Virginia Tech. The 2021-22 repeaters are BC, GT, Clemson, Lousiville, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame went 6-6 against its repeaters this season.

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom I have been checking the transfer portal and an interesting name is on there in Landers Nolley from Va Tech. One other name that I think ND would seriously consider is grad transfer Jordan Bruner from Yale. He is a 6'8" PF that averaged 11 ppg and 9 rpg for a really good Yale team. Any other names in the portal that have caught your eye that possibly might fit at ND??

Tom Noie: Mark: Asked and answered earlier. But Landers Nolley? Woof the way he played that season finale against Notre Dame and then in the ACC tournament. Hard pass on that one.

Dick Barone: Tom you do a nice job but are a tough critic, have you considered being a bit more positive? ND had a first team all ACC member, competed in some close games, had a head coach who stuck his neck out there for the boys, and earned a bye ending the season with a win in the ACC Tournament! Didn’t like the uniforms with white and gold but that’s my only compliant, they need some blue in there. Come on Under Armour! - Dick Barone, Formerly of Northern New Jersey, current whereabouts undisclosed

Tom Noie: Dick: I'll answer, even though I know you're still hiding behind that Twitter alias (lol). Fair question/comment and one that seems to surface only when the Irish struggle. There are still those who wonder why beat writers aren't more,w ell, upbeat, about the teams that they cover. Losses should be reported more of how nice of an effort the team might give instead of the ways it couldn't figure it out at the end (see, Florida State). Notre Dame had some nice aspects to its season, and those were indeed noted - John Mooney being John Mooney, the bump in league wins by seven, the scramble-back from starting 2-6. But I have a hard time painting positive pictures when you lose four home league games or when you lose 20 in a row to ranked teams or lose to a 14th-place Wake Forest team knowing your NCAA tournament life depends on it. The criticism comes because you see the potential in this program to be better than 10-10. The Irish figure out just a few of those close games, they're 12-8 or 13-7.

Tom Noie: I was just as critical of the 2014-15 team that went 32-6 and 14-4 as I was this year. The 30-point loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor comes to mind. I was hard on Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. I criticized the effort and the focus and the no-show that day. Wondered where it was all going. When teams go to the Elite Eight, that gets swept to the side. When teams struggle to sustain success, like the last two years, the easiest avenue is to say, ah, beat guy's too critical. Tough? Fair? I'll take that because it means I'm doing my job.

Tim- Collingswood, NJ: Do we see any changes to Breys staff going into next year that could have an impact on gameplan or recruiting?

Tom Noie: Tim: That's a hard sell. He's got four Notre Dame graduates who all played for him on staff right now in assistant coaches Ryan Ayers and Ryan Humphrey, opps guy Harold Swanagan and video coordinator Scott Martin. His associate head coach (Rod Balanis) has been with him since the start. Balanis is the one guy who can push back with ideas for the head coach. If he's not changing staff, he at least should figure out a way to better teach/reach the guys on the roster.

Steve Kerr New Hope,MN: Will Mike Brey make any changes to his staff?

Tom Noie: Steve: Asked and answered.

Taylor - South Bend: Any chance Mooney or Gibbs come back for a 5th year to get their Masters?

Tom Noie: Taylor: Asked and answered. Have a hard time seeing that happening. See above for reasoning.

Ray From Mishawaka: I heard rumblings of possibly giving seniors another year of eligibility. While a nice gesture I don't think that its a good idea. At this time of the year from an academic standpoint, most students are ready to move to the next phase of their lives. Do you think this will happen?

Tom Noie: Ray: Asked and answered. Don't see it and don't think it should. Yeah, way season ended isn't fair, but welcome to the real world, too.

Nick South Bend: Probably a popular question today, what’s up with ND’s transfer prospects?

Tom Noie: Too popular...first question out of the gate, my man...see above, or below, however these chat questions line

Nick South Bend: has there been any more whisperings in regards to Brey’s future ?

Tom Noie: Nick: Strike previous comments in chat. You'll find your answer there.

Bobby Washington, DC: Tom - thanks so much for your coverage this year and every year. I've been vigorously scoping the web for replays of past Irish NCAA tournmanent games, but I can only find a select few on YouTube. Do you have any idea of where I might be able to find more of them? (Most interested in the 2015 Butler Rd of 32 game and 2016 Wisconsin Sweet 16 game).

Tom Noie: Bobby: Yeah, those were two good ones. Other than YouTube, keep an eye out on CBS Sports Network, which I believe is running some of the top games of NCAA tournaments past. Still can't believe they won that Wisconsin game. Remember getting up from my seat on press row at Wells Fargo Center and asking Brian Morrison, the former communications director for hoops in the ACC, wait, what just happened? And how did that happen? That was the game where Mike Brey thought he blew out his Achilles late in the game...just a calf muscle. He played through it that weekend in South Philly.

Kyle, Charlotte NC: Although it seems unlikely currently, if the NCAA was to grant an extra year of eligibility to winter sport athletes, what are the odds that Mooney, Gibbs, and/or Pflueger would return?

Tom Noie: Kyle: Slim and none. At some point, you're ready to move on....players from the program and program from the players. College was a great four years of my life, but doing it for a fifth year? Wouldn't feel right....I was ready to start the next chapter of my life. Same should go for this year's seniors.

Jack: If Brey stepped down today, who do you think are the coaches Notre Dame would go after? Also, do you think Beilein or Kevin Willard (or someone of their ilk) would even consider the job?

Tom Noie: Jack: Not a question that needs to be answered based on what I've gathered. Ask again when there's an opening

Noah; Chicago: Of the 4 Sophomores who makes the biggest jump next year? A better question who NEEDS to make the biggest jump next year.

Tom Noie: Noah: I'll keep this to the three sophomores who are healthy. The easiest answer would be Robby Carmody, but coming off two season-ending injuries the last two years, next year is easy for him - just make it through healthy. You can't pencil him for anything else right now for the fact that the next Atlantic Coast Conference game he plays in will be his first. That's staggering. So of the three - Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin - we'll go with Laszewski. He took some steps this season, but with John Mooney leaving, Laszewski's got to be more consistent in his scoring and shooting and rebounding. Those 7.4 ppg., have to jump to double figures. Those 4.6 rpg should go to six or seven. Those 21.0 minutes? Maybe closer to 27. Boost the field goal percentage from 41 percent to 44-46....the 3-point field goal percentage from 31 to closer to 40 (he's that talented a shooter) and the free throw percentage from 73.1 closer to 80. Hubb's going to run the show and Goodwin's going to continue to trend up

Dave, DC: I know the Irish athletic staffs are in a difficult position during this public health event. Do you know if Brey and his staff (Balanis, Humphrey, Ayers) are still communicating with the players and, importantly, recruits/transfer candidates?

Tom Noie: Dave: No idea. Sure there's a plan in place to follow in terms of conditioning from strength coach Tony Rolinski and group texts between staff and players and players and players. Sure they're talking with potential transfers, but will take them only so far. How do they fit in on campus? In the program? That's going to be the big question. One that in the way the world's operating today, nobody has an answer.

Mike from Rochester: Tom- is there any chance that Brey would consider retooling his staff, even if it means firing a former player?

Tom Noie: Mike: Man, that's a tough spot, isn't it? I can't see that happening.

Eric: Sorry to see this happen to your Dayton Flyers. They had as good a chance as anyone this year. With what the Irish are losing this year, is there any way they don't finish in the bottom quarter of the ACC next year?

Tom Noie: Eric: Absolutely. They went from 3-15 to 10-10. Now do better than the break-even mark. How? With whom? That's up to the guys way above my pay grade to figure it out. They'll have a lot of time to find a way.

Nick South Bend: How is Carmody’s recovery going? Will he be ready by seasons start?

Tom Noie: Nick: All indications are that Robby Carmody is on schedule in his return from the ACL tear suffered in the closing seconds of the Maryland game. He resumed traveling with the team late in the year and should be close to full strength when fall practice commences.

Ryan: I heard you say needs to add depth, but Mike Brey historically doesn’t go more than 6-7 deep it seems. Granted I didn’t watch much this season.

Tom Noie: Ryan: Thanks for the note, and the didn't watch much of the season????? Where you been? Listening to Mick Jagger music and bad-mouthing your country? (Sorry, that's a movie line, let's see if anyone gets it). You still need depth even if you play only six or seven guys. It's about having the option of changing out those six or seven guys. The fifth man or sixth man or whatever man isn't doing what's required? Change up the rotation. There weren't many options to change this year. They played seven because a lot of times, they only had seven. No reason not to have 11 guys fighting for those seven spots. Create a little competition.

Joey: This year at times it seemed like guys who can score off the dribble were hard to come by, do you think Cormac Ryan will be the best guy on the team at creating his own shot?

Tom Noie: Joey: Yes, and maybe add another guy like him, unless we suddenly see something from Nate Laszewski or Dane Goodwin that we didn't see the first two years. But that's a big area of concern. Notre Dame passed it well and took care of it well but it didn't have that one guy, especially in close game situations, who could just go get a bucket when a bucket was needed. Almost every ACC team has a guy like that. Notre Dame needs that.

Bobby Washington, DC: Along the vein of no NCAA tournament or NIT appearance this year, do you think that stunts the growth of the rising junior class? If it does, does a tranfer with some post-season experience become more desireable? (I believe the 2020-21 roster as presently constructed carries a combined 0 games of postseason experience)

Tom Noie: Bobby: Yes and yes and yes. Times two. I'm as anti-NIT as anyone (shocking, I know). Two years ago, after this team was coming off a pair of Elite Eights and a second-round NCAA appearance, it had convince itself that it even wanted to play in the NIT (the loss to Penn State kind of answered whether their hearts really were in it). But this sophomore class kind of needed an NIT experience this year just to know what postseason basketball feels like. That wasn't going to slinsgshot them into the NCAA field next season or the following year, but if that does happen, at least they'd have some sort of reference point. Bring in someone with postseason seasoning? Yes, please.

Greg from NJ: Any chance Juwan Durham decides not to come back next year? With our small roster returning, he would be in line for a lot of opportunity, but do you think he is frustrated he didn't play more this year? Tough to take minutes from Mooney and then we would "downshift" often and also Nate seemed to step up later in the year (especially on the backboards). I guess if i knew Juwan was going to be a big part of next season, i might have tried to find more spots for him to play (especially in second half's) this season. Would be a big blow if we lost him.....

Tom Noie: Greg: Time for me to put on my critical hat, but man, Juwan Durham was given a whole host of opportunities this season to prove worthy of being a key guy. As mentioned earlier, he had some really good games, but there also were a lot of gaps between those gaps. Last year, his one-step-forward, two-steps-back related to playing through injuries. This year, it was not being able to piggy-back good games with more good games. Part of that had to do with playing two bigs at the same time (probably this team's biggest misstep this season) but part of it also was Durham learning how to be consistent every single game, every single practice. Could he leave? In this day and age of college basketball, absolutely. Will he? The staff believes he understands the big picture and what it looks like for him next season. It'll be now or never for him. Maybe for a lot of them.

Andrew from Plymouth, IN: What are the expectations/prognosis for Robby Carmody going forward? He was the most college basketball ready player in that class and has now lost nearly 2 seasons to injury. He's gone from the first freshman to start his first game since Torin Francis in 02-03 to who knows what now, by no fault of his own. I'm just curious what those in the program think he can offer for the rest of his time on campus. Do they think he can get back to being a starter? Hopefully his ACL injury isn't as devastating as the one Pflueger suffered, it clearly zapped a lot of Rex's athleticism this season. Is he a Pat Connaughton type of glue guy that fills the stat sheet in every category or more of a Zach Hillesland/Torrian Jones type of glue guy that does little things you don't see and every once in awhile flashes his true potential.

Tom Noie: Andrew: Whew....that's a lot to unpack. Here's what's known about Robby Carmody - a whole lot of unknown. He remains the ultimate mystery man. A blank slate. Yeah, he was college hoops ready, but what happens to that college hoops ready game after two season-ending injuries. He played with so much reckless abandon that it's caused him to miss two full seasons. Psychologically, how big of a hurdle is that? Full transparency, I requested to sit down with Robby in late-January, early February. Was told it would happen, then told it wouldn't happen. Would've been nice to hear from him, no?

Chris: Hi Tom. What do you think about Nd kicking the tires on players like nolley, Aiken and Marfo in the transfer portal?

Tom Noie: Chris: Kicking them probably as far as it goes.

Kyle, Charlotte NC: Second question since my last one was answered early, if you had the option would you forego a sweet 16 appearance next season to rejoin the old big east? I'm talking Syracuse, Pitt and everyone else comes back.

Tom Noie: Kyle: Interesting take there....have to sit with this for a few minutes before answering. OK, sat first answer would be absolutely not. When you have a chance to go to the Sweet 16, you go to the Sweet 16 and worry later about what comes next. From a hoops perspective, I can see how that would make sense, but from a whole athletic department picture, don't know if the Big East would offer the competitiveness that Notre Dame's other teams need. Not just hoops. But soccer and volleyball and everything else. That's one reason staying in what was the old Big East wasn't feasible. Think Brey would pack it up and head for his favorite beach in Miami before having to go it the Big East route again. That's a tricky one. Quick Q - has any major Division I coach been asked to adjust in terms of conference play more than Brey? Think of how many times the Big East changed during his tenure. Then they got it right. Then they moved to the ACC. In a lot of ways, it's been constant change.

saint knute CLE: greetings from the north coast... i think your alma mater lost the most in the cancellation of the tournament... we have lost numerous players to transfer over the past couple of years, any rumblings that there might more on the horizon??

Tom Noie: Not a whole heck of a lot to choose from, my man! lol Go Flyers!

Luke Hogan: Thoughts on grad transfer Rich Kelly?

Tom Noie: None....would be wary of adding another guard unless he's really good. Elite good.

Mark from Grand Haven MI: Tom—Always enjoy reading your work. You provide us fans with great perspective on the team and its

Tom Noie: Finally, a voice of reason speaks! Thanks my man...check's in the mail!

Bill: Do you think Hubb's recklessness at times is a result of him still being a young point guard (I don't think you can overstate how much it hurt him to miss his senior year of HS) or is it a trait of his game where you have to take the good with the bad?

Tom Noie: Bill: Might be a little of both. Whatever the case, Brey's made clear that he's got the keys to this car and will drive it the next two years. He can be really good, but also at other times, really rough. Maybe that evaporates with age and experience. Maybe it doesn't. It will be interesting next year with Hubb not having T.J. Gibbs as his assist/turnover ratio security blanket.

saint knute CLE: what will happen with the post season awards normally given out at the banquet?

Tom Noie: Mailed out? At least the program had plans for a post-season awards night, which wasn't announced until really late in the home schedule. Last season, think they all gathered at Brey's home and had Nelson's port-a-pit chicken.

Joey from Highland, IN: Durham, staying 100%

Tom Noie: Feel like this one's been asked on email, no? Let's go with a Magic-8 ball response....As I see it, yes.

Bill: I hope this does not come across as minimizing Mooney's impact because he was amazing for two years, but in Brey's system, don't you think the guards play makes the engine run? We had a borderline All-American big man for two years and didn't really come close to making the tournament. Mooney's loss will for sure be felt, but do you think the maturation and improvement from our guards will raise or ceiling despite Mooney's departure?

Tom Noie: Bill: Absolutely. It's a guard's game, and not having a guard who could absolutely solve a defense and get to the basket and finish was a crusher this season. Read into that what you will, but for all T.J. Gibbs did, taking over games and getting buckets when buckets were needed seldom was part of that plan. Until the Irish have a guard who can attack and put other defenses on their heels, it's going to be a struggle. It was this season in close games. Were you ever confident that the Irish would figure out a way to win? It took a Pflueger rebound and kick-out to Laszewski to finally do that against Carolina.

Jerome: I'm back, baby. After the rocky season you ready to reconsider whether Brey is the right man for the job still?

Tom Noie: Jerome: Where you been? I'll pose the same question that I get all the time. Brey leaves tomorrow (which he isn't). Name five coaches who would take this job. More transparency - nobody's ever come up with five names that fit.

Justin, Fort Wayne: When will the schedule for next season come out and do you know any of our non conference schedule other than the legends classic?

Tom Noie: Justin: Not soon enough....usually that's finalized around Labor Day, which might be when the rest of the sports world gets back on line. As you mentioned, Notre Dame is in the Legends Classic against USC with either Connecticut or Vanderbilt (hello, there, D.J. Harvey) in the second game. Other non-league locks (for now) include a TBD opponent (at home) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Purdue in the Crossroads Classic and a tentative two-game D.C. road swing with games against Georgetown and Howard (part of a home-and-home agreement stemming from Eric Atkins' hiring at Howard). There's always a slight chance that Delaware gives Notre Dame the return game from going to Newark in 2017-18, but looks like that one will just kind of fade away.

Ryan From Grand Rapids: Hey Tom, just curious based on what you know now, put a percentage guess on Notre dame making the NCAA tournament next year

Tom Noie: Ryan: Actually, I know even less when it comes to college hoops. What does the offseason look like? Are there any key transfers in the ACC? What guys in the league decide to go pro? Do the Irish add anyone to their roster? How does the schedule shake out? Too many unknowns to say other than 50/50 - either they make it, or they don't. Will have a better idea when we get closer to October.

Joey from Highland, IN: Would you say They have the top backcourt in acc next year?

Tom Noie: Joey: Too early to tell. Do Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley leave Duke? Probably. What does Cole Anthony do? How about Florida State? Louisville? Have to see how the NBA exodus shakes out, but right now, top three at least with Hubb-Ryan-Goodwin. That's a pretty good start.

Joe -New York: Hey Tom, what is a realistic expectation for this group of guys next year? NCAA tournament? or another year of average?

Tom Noie: Joe: If this is indeed a climb, then NCAA tournament becomes the baseline minimum. They were 3-15 last year in the ACC. Then 10-10. If the dudes you need to be dudes again get better, then you're at at least 12-8 in the league. That's NCAA tourney territory.

chuck/brigantine,nj: Hi Tom, "first time, long time." I like Brey as a coach --- flexible strategies, maximizing talent, motivating the team. His Achilles Heel is recruiting. Teams like Gonzaga, Duke, Villanova, Virginia and others get suitable or better talent despite the academic requirements. Our talent level this year and last is quite pathetic ---- inconsistent shooters, low athleticism, no depth. I believe in Brey --- what can you do to increase my confidence is the recruiting process? In my estimation, he needs a full court press NOW to increase talent or we may lose a very successful and effective Coach. Keep up the fine work and stay safe.

Tom Noie: Chuck: Fair point, though don't think I'd put those four schools anywhere close to Notre Dame when it comes to academics. Notre Dame, from an academic/athletics standpoint, may be closer to Wake Forest than the Gonzagas, Dukes and Villanovas of the college hoops world. Will it get better? It has to, and I think Brey and his staff know it.

Jerome: Are you a Rick Cornett or Jordan Cornette man?

Tom Noie: Can't choose. Two good guys.

Wadelite: Tom, but why male models? I could not resist a Zoolander reference with so many of the same questions repeated.

Tom Noie: Transparency - never seen

Sean,Greensboro: Thanks for the great job you do. With respect, academics aside, you always said that lack of top notch facilities was holding back recruiting. Well, we have the new facilities, so I do not see any reason why there should not be an improvement in recruiting. We cannot have a continuation of the last three years.

Tom Noie: Sean: We've reached the point where I need to drop int eh GIF of Homer Simpson fading back into the bushes. Will have to check the transcripts or past columns....don't think I've ever said the facilities was the ONLY thing holding back recruiting. Notre Dame could build, or transform its student center, the best stand-alone practice facility in the ACC (it's up there) but it still wasn't going to get the elite of the elite. Or near the elite guys. I think a lot of people who follow recruiting (you know who you are, lol) tend to blur the lines between football recruiting and basketball recruiting. Notre Dame gets the bluechip kids for football and should for basketball. Apples to oranges. Different sports and not even in the same ballpark. Notre Dame basketball, and to an extent football, operates differently. It has to get kids who want the TOTAL college experience. If they get to the NBA, great, but they value the degree and the experiences almost as much as their scoring and rebounding averages. It's hard

Dwight from central Arkansas: With the USA coast to coast pretty much quarantined how do college basketballers stay in shape and court ready? I assume there's no summer leagues, no on campus readiness, no camps---just basically nothing in way of staying sharp. Would NCAA consider pushing back schedule next year assuming some normalcy returns by August. Perhaps start season later and push finals back a month or so?

Tom Noie: Dwight: Great questions, but we're probably a long way away from figuring what happens with college hoops. Let's just get through the next week when coronavirus cases are expected to spike and see where are. (Still can't believe I even typed that sentence). There's so much unknown right now. My 30-year reunion at Dayton in June? Probably not happening. Billy Joel at Notre Dame Stadium? Doubtful, at best. What's our world going to look like in August? Our economy? Let's get there first before focusing on October hoops. But no, there's no plan for players to stay in shape other than what the strength coach mandates. Then again, how do you enforce that? You really can't

Joe: Hey Tom, curious if you've mentioned this before, but whatever happened to Anthony Solomon? See him a big part of Dayton's staff and have heard you reference his presence has been missed after leaving.

Tom Noie: Joe: Philosophical differences led to Anthony Solomon's departure following the second Elite Eight run. He was an assistant coach for one year at Georgetown and then the last two at Dayton. Had someone ask a question on Twitter about his loss from a recruiting standpoint. Think his loss has been felt more in day-to-day coaching. He was the heavy on the staff - the guy who really held the players' feet to the fire. Coming off the first ACC season, when Notre Dame went 14-19, he was the one in charge of the spring workouts where it was six guys going three-on-three. Those sessions were brutal. Relentless. But they also laid the groundwork for the next two seasons. Notre Dame still hasn't gone to a Sweet 16 without Solomon on staff.

Jake: What kind of impact do you think zona and Taylor could make first year, and maybe this is broader and hard to answer but long term what do you think they will be as players at ND?

Tom Noie: Jake: Hard to really project until I see them against other college players. Summer's usually the time for that when you see them play pickup where you first see it like, yeah, that guy can play or, uh, oh, that guy's going to need some more time.

Jerry: I've heard rumors for the past 4 months that Brey will retire at the end of the season. What are you hearing

Tom Noie: Jerry: White noise. Including the word "rumors" in your question tells you all you need to know about that.

mark: To your point earlier about better teaching/reaching players - it seems like Brey used to be really great at that. His demeanor during the 5OT game against Louisville in 12-13 was a good example - the team was playing as loose as the coach. Do you think that's been more of an issue lately and if so, why?

Tom Noie: Mark: I think it becomes an issue when you've lost the last 20 games in a row against ranked teams. You're not coaching as loose as you used to coach, though Brey did some of that at times this season, and the players have more of a sense of, don't know if this one's going our way. Usually, it takes only one win to get the team past that mindset.

Andrew from Plymouth, IN: Piggybacking off of Joey's question about needing a guy that can get to the basket off the bounce, I'm really curious to hear what Brey's offensive philosophy has become in terms of shooting the ball vs driving the ball. I say this because it appeared that Gibbs, Hubb, Goodwin, and Laszewski actually could get to the basket whenever they wanted to, but they were choosing not to and taking more 3's instead. Are they being coached to shoot more from distance instead of being more aggressive and taking more chances on getting to the basket?

Tom Noie: Andrew: There seldom was a time when I thought any of those four could routinely get to the basket and most importantly, finish, against ACC-level talent. There were some drives here and there - Hubb off the dribble, Goodwin against Virginia Tech, but watch Gibbs when he's one-on-one against a defender at the bucket. You could almost see his mind racing in wondering how he was going to finish. They just couldn't, which is why it was almost a case of trading twos for threes. They shot a lot of threes because they couldn't beat their defender.

Carmen from Goshen: What do you think is next for Rex Pflueger? Try to play overseas? Get a job in the business world? Kick back on a Cali beach?

Tom Noie: Carmen: Business world. He'll hold out hope and try to play, but you'

Tom Noie: You've seen Rex's's just above church-league level now that he has no more college eligibility remaining.

Steve, Milwaukee: Share your impressions of the ND career of T.J. Gibbs. To me, he flashed early, then seemed to plateau and never took the next step.

Tom Noie: Steve: T.J. Gibbs, the ultimate enigma. He played in a lot of games and piled up a lot of points and minutes, but he was just kind of there. Never great. Never really bad. Just.....there. Maybe a little too careful with the ball, never overly careless. Just kind of going with the flow. Funny, I tweeted something to the affect that for all the games T.J. Gibbs played, he never made a shot that really mattered, then he tosses up the floater to beat Boston College. He was one guy I was critical of, and it was something he never could get past. Or understand. Critical because he had all the opportunity to take that next step and become an elite guard, but never became elite. He never understood that there was a reason for the criticism. That he didn't receive one vote for all-league honors for everything he'd done is rather telling.

Joey from Highland, IN: Any reason why you were told it wouldn’t happen with Carmody sitting down? What’s the big deal?

Tom Noie: Joey: Probably because I wasn't following the company line (didn't know there was one) when they were 2-6. Goes back to when it goes south, or threatens to go south, certain people at Notre Dame believe the beat writer should be more supportive and less, I don't know, realistic.

Chuck from Seattle: Beyond being wildly inconsistent, Prentiss Hubb really took a quantum leap this season in his play. What do you see next year looking like for him?

Tom Noie: Chuck: I liked his game last season as a true freshman. I liked his game even more as a sophomore. One reason, he talks the talk on the court, but can also walk the walk. Yeah, he takes the occasional questionable shot, but then he goes on those runs where he's dealing and shooting and scoring and has that swagger for a group that didn't have enough of it the last two years. Look at his stats and what he's done in two years. It's impressive.

Molly, Beaumont: Does Laszewski lack the "killer instinct" to take his game up to the Mooney level? He looks so passive on the court.

Tom Noie: Molly: Perhaps, but also it might be something he wasn't ready to show or play with the first two years. Freshman year, given everything that class was handed, it was a battle just to keep their heads above water. Settle in and show some of your traits (ah, sorry) this year, then show a little more next year. He showed more emotion at times this year than he did for most of last season. Now as he rotates into being an upperclassman, more of that will surface.

Ned from Norfolk: You've pooh-poohed the chances of Mooney playing in the NBA most every time it's been mentioned by the national media. What are the biggest factors/limitations that inhibit his chances?

Tom Noie: Ned: Again, think we have to go to the video evidence. Don't remember pooh-poohing anything. I'd go more the realistic route. Don't think I've ever said John Mooney's not an NBA player. Is John Mooney a first-round draft pick? No. But my feeling on Mooney is the same for anyone who doesn't appear on many - if any - top 100 draft boards. He can find a place in the league if he finds the right fit. He's more athletic than people give him credit for being. And the numbers he put up his last two years? Gotta take those seriously. But four-year college guys are four-year college guys for a reason. The NBA is first and second and third about one word - potential. You stay for four years, you might as well be viewed as a 30-year-old in the NBA eyes.

Illinois Fool: Hey Tom, it's been a while. Watching the games this year I noticed a pattern. The few times he played Nic Djogo almost always seemed to be set up on the left side in the corner or on the wing. As such when he rolled to the middle of the court he would be forced to set up and shoot against his body. Is this a result of his being left handed in a right handed offense or am I reading too much into this?

Tom Noie: IF: You're watching games with WAAAAY too much a critical eye. Never noticed it, because Djogo never really was on the court long enough to notice it. Sorry my man!

Nick South Bend: What can you say about Zona and Taylor’s games? What’s your best guess at their 4 year outlook?

Tom Noie: Nick: No clue. Have to wait to see them play against other college players to really get a gauge on their games. Think Taylor is more game-ready to help next season.

Nick South Bend: Any talks of a late 2020 senior being added to the class?

Tom Noie: Not as much there is about states of emergency and sheltering in place unfortunately.

Illinois Fool: Do you see any possibility that Laszewski hits the weights hard and grows into a Mooney type? I don't see anyone else on the roster that might be a consistent rebounder next season.

Tom Noie: IF: No. That's not who Nate Laszewski is, or who the coaching staff projects him to be. Think Eljiah Taylor has more future Mooney in him than Laszewski. Nate was considered the best shooting big man in that recruiting class. Think we might see why next season.

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Movie quote is from Gunnery Sgt. Foley( Louis Gossett jr) to officer candidate Mayo (Richard Gere) in an Officer and a Gentleman. One of my all time favorites! With no basketball hopefully AMC or other stations will show the classics!! Speaking of movies your favorite baskeball movie? Lets leave out Hoosiers. Mine are Blue Chips and a late 70's movie titled Fastbreak. Can you name the ND basketball connection in Fastbreak??

Tom Noie: mark: good call, my Hoosiers? Then gotta go Hoop Dreams or One on One....who's burning leaves?

Chuck, KC: Where did you go, to lunch? Is the chat over?

Tom Noie: Chuck: We're nearly four hours in....just broke for lunch, which eating as I type. Second wind kicking in. Let's keep it rolling!

Brian from Bloomington, IL: Tom, I think Juwan Durham is a huge key to next year’s team. How does the coaching staff get him to play with the energy he had in the ACC Tournament game versus just going through the motions?

Tom Noie: Brian: That's eventually gotta kick in from within like it did in the ACC tournament. Like, be pissed about losing your starting job, but don't sulk over it. Do something about it. Go play, and maybe along the line prove something to the coaches.

Collin from Elkhart: Tom, no one messes with my emotions more than Hubb. Do you think we will ever see him establish an ability to get to the rim or will he live and die by the 3? How does his game and Ryan's game mesh together?

Tom Noie: Collin: Don't know because I've never seen them play together. We media dopes don't get to see practice, though this one was late in the year and the Irish were practicing in Purcell Pavilion. Media availability was pushed back to the end of practice. Usually, all the question and answer stuff happens before practice. This day, it was after. Waiting atop one of the arena tunnels, Notre Dame had Hubb, Ryan, Durham, Goodwin and Laszewski all in the same color jersey. I thought, wow, Mike Brey already getting a sneak peek at next year. Also was an indication that maybe the old coach isn't going anywhere after all.

Tom D.: Will Mike Brey ever be able to recruit better players to Notre Dame? I think I know the answer, but what do you say?

Tom Noie: Tom: No, because he's not just recruiting players, he's recruiting students. Gotta be both at Notre Dame. You don't want the full college experience at Notre Dame, you're not going to Notre Dame. I know everyone gets worked up over the program's recruiting or lack thereof, but somebody, they're going to look back on what Brey was able to do with the players he did it with and think, holy smokes, that was pretty good given what he had to work with.

Bill: I know ND's student section and overall home court advantage leaves a lot to be desired, especially in down years. If you were in charge of the ND marketing department, what would you do to improve it?

Tom Noie: Bill: Give them x amount of hours to guarantee that they're going to be at a designated home game. Once the deadline passes and there's seats remaining in the student section, turn those over to groups from around Michiana free of charge, which would guarantee the seats don't go unused. Some of the best big crowds have been when the students are gone because the tickets go to people who otherwise wouldn't be in the building. The student seating situation is bottom third in the ACC. Not Wake Forest or Boston College bad, but getting there.

Justin, Fort Wayne: You seem to be pretty high on Elijah Taylor, can you talk about what he might bring to the table?

Tom Noie: Justin: You know when we talk about Florida State and say that they've got dudes? Elijah Taylor's the type of dude Notre Dame hasn't had. He's got some stuff (not actually stuff but another s word) to his game that this program can use.

Robert, Louisville: Durham seems to be taking a lot of flak in the chat. I personally felt he looked good at the end of the season in a high pick and roll set, (possible shades of Auguste)? Do you think ND will go back to the slip screen sets that led us to two straight elite eights next season now that we have a more mobile big? Personally feel this would be a massively positive change.

Tom Noie: Robert: So of the 31 games Notre Dame played this season, he looked good of them?? Don't know if he's getting flak around these parts as much as a lot of people are wondering why we didn't see more of what he showed against BC and FSU and Duke through the whole year. He's getting flak from the beat writer perspective because I thought the approach of having two bigs on the floor was all wrong. Like it was an arranged marriage. It was forced on us and forced to work. But when the Irish went four around one, that's when the offense finally looked like an Irish offense. Don't know how much pick and roll they'd play with Durham because Hubb can't get consistently get to the rim and finish.

Collin from Elkhart: People have been asking for specifics/names of possible transfers, how about you just tell us the type of player they need to go get? Probably not a guard? Another post player? Frankly I don't see someone who has the ability to make a difference wanting to come to ND because the best thing for our program would be to start as many Sophomores as possible. Grad transfer probably want to start not be 6th men.

Tom Noie: Collin: You've been around these parts long enough, so I know you've been paying attention....type of player???? Uh, anyone who can go get a bucket, get past their guy off the dribble and get buckets, come on down!

Guest: Tom: Do you think the staff has any interest in a non-graduate transfer? There are several in that category who look intriguing.

Tom Noie: Guest: Of course, but given where we are in the world today, how do you do your due diligence on someone like that? Blind faith?

Brian from Bloomington, IL: Tom, Thanks for your levelheaded approach on recruiting. Is ND still trying to add another 2020 high school recruit? And, how do you think the additional dead period will affect things?

Tom Noie: Brian: Think that's the first time since my name and levelheaded have ever appeared in the same sentence. The staff always is looking to add a player or two or three. But the way the world is today, how do you possibly do that? Hint: You can't.

Jerome: Recruiting should be getting better though, regardless whether there are still some obstacles. Looks like Brey just doesn't have his heart in it anymore. Here are my five: muffet, beilein, Kevin Willard, Craig McDermott, Randy bennett

Tom Noie: Your first one earns a lifetime ban. And only half kidding. Come on. Don't be a clown.

Mike: Do you ever hear from any of the 90s guys like Keith Kurowski or Ryan Hoover?

Tom Noie: Mike: I play pickup hoops in the spring and summer with Keith Kurowski. Ryan Hoover's a go-to guy if I want to track down a former player for something. Good guys, both of them. Glad to know them.

Grayson, Virginia:

Why do you think Brey has struggled so much to get good recruits since the Hubb class?

Tom Noie: Grayson: I get the question, but really, honestly, have they? Hear me out. Notre Dame signed what many believe to be its best class under Brey with the current sophomores. Five guys. Monster class. Four of the guys were inside or near the Top 100. Next cycle, knowing the one question coming from any potential prospect (cough, cough, playing time, playing time) and not knowing really what he had in that freshman class, yet wanting to give them the benefit of the playing time doubt, Brey decides to go a different direction. Getting any kid who wanted to play immediately was going to be a reach, so let's shoot for the stars and recruit five-star guys who might be one-and-dones. So they chase Isaiah Steward, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Cole Anthony. Strike out on all three, but still land a Top 100 guy in Cormac Ryan via the transfer route. Carmody gets hurt and basically becomes a second recruit for that class.....

Tom Noie: So this year, knowing the perimeter is pretty much set, Notre Dame sets its sights on strictly power forwards. Bolster the front court . Add Elijah Taylor and Matt Zona. They also really believed they had Hunter Dickinson, then also get word through recruiting channels that they'll be in play for Terence Williams, who went to same high school as Prentiss Hubb. Dickson then decides to go to Michigan and Williams decides to do the same. Now they have three scholarships remaining, and really need to use two of them. Who do they get? Who knows? So really, they don't get one guy they needed to get (Dickinson) but the perception is, recruiting stinks. I get it. I don't agree, but I get it. Again I think part of the carry-over is what Notre Dame does in football that people think hoops should go the same way

Kevin from Detroit: When Dickinson announced for Michigan in November, they were in the midst of a meteoric rise to the top 5. Since then, the luster has gone off the program with a 10th place conference finish and per an article in today’s Detroit paper they are currently at the scholarship limit and still actively recruiting at least 2 others. Might that be something Brey revisits since he hasn’t signed yet and ND has been involved with him since the 9th grade?

Tom Noie: Kevin: Perhaps, but the week Dickinson decided to go to Michigan really knocked Brey back on his heels. It was that stretch in December when they got boat-raced at Maryland, lost Carmody to a season-ending ACL tear, lost at home to Boston College and then eventually lost to Indiana. Brey laid all his cards on the table for the kid for four years, and still got beat at the end

Tigger-Valpo: Who is the best assistant coach currently on the ND staff, and why?

Tom Noie: Tigger: Honestly, I don't know. I really don't. The Ryans are really good guys. Covered both of them as players. Get along with them. Like them both. Don't know if the staff's better since Ingelsby and Solomon left. It is what it is, nothing personal.

Phil from Basking Ridge NJ: Saw some remarks that you're too tough at times. Think you've been honest and fair 99% of the time. On Hubb, know you're a fan of his, and he can be great at times. Regardless, they really need a backup point guard. Hubb is a very sloppy ball handler, poor defender and his judgement ebbs and flows. With Gibbs gone, they'll be exposed. Are they looking for a point guard?

Tom Noie: Phil: Thanks for the kind words, but you know what's coming next.....but.....Hubb can be loose with the ball and makes some odd choices in terms of decisions or shots, but he had 162 assists to 85 turnovers while playing 35.2 minutes a game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. That's pretty good. Think Cormac Ryan will be able to help handle if the roster remains status quo.

dennis , orange county, CA: Tom if this was already asked I apologize. What are the chances that the NCAA will let seniors come back for an additional season? If this does happen do you think our three seniors will come back? I'm hoping it happens but I don't want to get my hopes up if Mooney plans to leave Notre Dame even if he has the opportunity to come back for another season.

Tom Noie: Dennis: I don't see that happening. And don't think it should. They did get an entire regular season. Totally different situation for the spring sports where some seniors played not even a third of their schedules.

Lisa: What does a good ND career look like for Dane Goodwin?

Tom Noie: Lisa: He evokes memories the next two years of Steve Vasturia. Maybe not Vasturia-like but in the neighborhood. He has it in him. Let's see it.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, please don't misunderstand. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Rex. He could contribute in so many ways and in some regards was the ultimate glue-type guy. But even taking his injury issues into consideration, there is absolutely no excuse why he didn't evolve into a more dynamic offensive player and average at least 12 to 14 points a game. I know he's capable of doing so. What the hell happened that prevented him from being more of a consistent force on the offensive end? I'm mystified!

Tom Noie: Jim: No reason to be mystified. Even before the knee injury, there was something about his game that was missing. There were times where I'd watch him and think, he's the most unathletic athletic guy this program's ever had. We heard so much about his athleticism before he got here, and then, we never saw it. He didn't really drive it when he was healthy. He didn't probe the defense. Maybe part of that was by design, but other than the tip back against SFA and the reverse dunk against Virginia, where was the rest of it? Just seemed like one of those guys content to play a certain role and not stray from the script.

Jack from Las Cruces: Considering how Durham often got into foul trouble while playing limited minutes, how in the world will he be able to stay in games when his minutes increase next season? What's the over/under on the number of times he fouls out in 2020-21?

Tom Noie: Jack: All part of the expected maturation process. OK, you've been here now as a player for three seasons, you sat out one. Time to put it all together and PLAY. No being out of position. No silly fouls. No disappearing for long stretches. Be a senior. Be a main guy. In this system, it's really not that hard.

Mia, Elkhart: Not talking about next season or any season in a general sense, what does a "successful" basketball season look like at Notre Dame?

Tom Noie: Mia: Finish in the top half of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Finish above .500 in league play. Win at least one league tournament game. Get to the NCAA tournament. Every year. Get to a Sweet 16 once every four years. That would be a good start. Oh, and give every single available good quote to the SBT beat guy! lol

Mark from Grand Rapids: In light of how UNC's season went, would Cole Anthony have been better off choosing ND? What does last season look like with Cole Anthony on the court for the Irish, at least when he wasn't injured?

Tom Noie: Mark: Think he'd have been good for a four-game league swing, so 10-10 becomes 14-6. They beat Indiana, give more of a game to Maryland. Give some of the older guys some swagger, which is weird to say, but the sophomores raise their games knowing the guy a class below them is elite.

Melissa: Not asking for names...What are the qualities that the Notre Dame men's basketball coach needs to have?

Tom Noie: Melissa: A whole truckload of patience and understanding that you're coaching at a football school. So get in line and wait your turn, sometimes decades down the line, before your employer takes care of you. And you better want to grind it in the league you're in because nobody else in the Big East and now the ACC will have to do it the way you have to do it. Oh, and you better win, sometimes more than a lot, which still won't satisfy the fan base. Good luck.

Nick South Bend: do you think the practice hero we heard about a lot these past few years in Djogo finally translates to the game in his 5th season? Maybe he can offer 10 minutes or so? Saw you say something about a Torres role for him. Thats something nexts years team could use IMO, a momentum guy (gets the crowd hype)

Tom Noie: Nick: One word - no. Honestly I'm Djogoed out the last two years. If it hasn't happened now, it's not going to happen. Best we just let it all go.

Collin from Elkhart: ND already has one local recruit on commited, any insight on where Blake Wesley is leaning?

Tom Noie: Collin: He doesn't even know.

Nick South Bend: How does ND look in the Blake Wesley sweepstakes?

Tom Noie: Like a distant destination that might never be reached.

Stan in Indiana: Is there a notre dame policy that you can only attempt a three point shot if no one is in position to rebound?

Tom Noie: Stan: I'll call Digger and see what he says. If there's anyone who'd know, it's him.

Bill: What would you say is the biggest weakness of this program and what is its biggest strength?

Tom Noie: Bill: Might be one in the same - it plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference

Justin, Fort Wayne: If ND can find the right grad transfer who fits the style of play and is very good, any way he can start or do you see all situations of a grad transfer coming off the bench?

Tom Noie: Absolutely

Jerome: Wow. Sexism much?

Tom Noie: Wow, clown show much? In the words of Bryce Harper, that's a clown question, bro. Why even ask it. It's just flat-out dumb.

Justin, Fort Wayne: Do you think Hubbs senior year and Taylor sophomore year could be something worth looking forward too. Both guys have extreme swagger and like you said, Taylor has something to him Notre Dame hasn’t had in a long time?

Tom Noie: Justin: One year at a time, my man. Then one game at a time.

Dylan from MN: I understand Notre Dame will never consistently land blue chip recruits... but isn’t a caliber of athlete comparable to what we had on the 2014-2015 team a very reasonable expectation? Other than DJ, everyone on the roster was similarly rated to the guys we have today. Why doesn’t Brey address athleticism more when he recruits?

Tom Noie: Dylan: I think there's a level of athleticism from Goodwin and Laszewski and Carmody that's there...we just haven't seen it yet. Now, not to a level of a Connaughton, but something better than the last two years.

Quincy: You brought up Digger's name, not me. Do you talk to him much? Does he ever give you a good quote or share anything of value? Or is every conversation about beating UCLA?

Tom Noie: Quincy: All the time....sometimes twice a day. Sometimes three times a day. Doing a column on him next week for how he's handling the coronavirus. Never thought I'd have the relationship I have with him after throwing toilet paper rolls at him and chanting "Sit down, Digger!" during my undergraduate days at Dayton.

Bill: Do you have anything specific as to what pushed Dickinson to Michigan over ND? The usual academic requirements?

Tom Noie: Bill: Cough, cough, might've been the shoes....cough, cough.

Ryan, Lexington, KY: Do you think Martin inglesby has the best chance to succeed Brey at ND?

Tom Noie: Ryan: Too early to tell. It really is.

Andrew from Plymouth, IN: Call me crazy but I think Brey needs to try to convince former Warsaw and current Indiana Wesleyan NAIA DII Player of the Year Kyle Mangas to give the ACC a try for his last year. In all seriousness, I always thought he was a D1 player, maybe not in the ACC, but that kid is good.

Tom Noie: Andrew: You crazy, but at this point, crazy might work. Make it happen!

Kevin from Detroit: No offense but the 3rd Thursday in March we should be watching basketball instead of chatting about it. I’m wearing out One Shining Moment on YouTube

Tom Noie: Kevin: I'm long over it. Doesn't do any good wishing about this or about that....when everything was shut down a week ago, I gave myself about three days to wish it wasn't, and then moved on. It's almost like it never happened. Like the new normal is sitting in your house all day.

MattyFree: Tom. Were you the first media member to the press box for every game this year?

Tom Noie: Well, there was one media regular who had plans to be there while I was traveling back from the Camping World Bowl, but he landed back in SBN and went home and fell asleep instead. I wouldn've been there that day as well! lol

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom what were your impressions on seeing ND recruit JR Konieczny in person for the first time? I got the chance to see him put up 42 in the sectional game v Marian. Looks like he would play the off guard or small forward at the next level. The good thing is he has another year to work on his game and his frame before setting foot on campus

Tom Noie: Mark: Glad you asked. I didn't do anything with Konieczny for much of the year, basically because I know he's going to be there next year and then on to Notre Dame after that, so I wanted to chase columns on several of the other kids in the area. So I saved Konieczny for last. I watched him play against Mishawaka and left that night a little perplexed. He was the biggest kid on the court, but played more like he was 6-1. Didn't take over. Wasn't aggressive. Didn't like a lot of what I saw. Then I stepped into practice two days later and watched him shoot. Ah, hah! Now THAT'S what Notre Dame sees in him. Then later that week when he went for 42 against Marian. I saw what i expected to see someone headed to the ACC. He was really good. Best part about it is, he knows he has to get better and will work to get there. Intrigued to see where it all goes for him.

Gary from Goshen: Tom-you touched on Rex a few questions below, but his career is a mystery to me. Most unathletic athletic guy is the perfect statement. He's such a great kid, such a great leader/team guy, and definitely made winning plays throughout his career...but for the entire 4 years he was at ND, they were playing 4 on 5 on the offensive end when he was on the floor. For a program build on offensive efficiency and offensive potency, why was this guy a 35 mpg guy and not a 10-15 mpg guy? and as much as he always struggled offensively, why did Brey never really stray from keeping him as a key guy? He had to know the 4 years Rex was on the floor that the offense was considerably worse, right?

Tom Noie: Gary: See, here's the thing, whether it's about T.J. Gibbs or Rex Pflueger or, I can't believe I'm going to say it, Nik Djogo. NOTHING I say about them as basketball players is personal. So don't take it that way. Sometimes others do. Sometimes they do. That led to some uncomfortable moments. They're all top-notch kids and class acts. But we're talking about the elite of the elite in college basketball - the ACC. If I'm critical of a guy's game, it's because this is a cruel and unforgiving league. Yeah, they're great guys, but you gotta play in this league. You gotta make a difference every single night. Otherwise, you're going to get beat. It's not personal. It's basketball. It's ACC Basketball.

Robb from Colorado: Hey Tom, So, you feel Brey is coming back. Is the NCAA a must next year for him to stay on, his choice or Jack's, or does he basically have a lifetime contract, aka Muffet?

Tom Noie: Robb: No, Brey's near the end of the line and I think he knows the end's coming. Maybe not next year, but definitely sooner than later unless he discovers the fountain of youth and figures out how to solve the recruiting riddle and wins a few more games and beat a ranked team and well, just about everything else!

Tom Noie: And with that, five hours and 22 minutes after we started, every question in the queue has been either addressed or deleted because it had already been asked. Solid effort. I've got nothing left, except maybe a nap. Might have to do this again in a few weeks depending on what coronavirus does to our world. Thanks for hanging in there. Hope I was able to offer a little diversion to the real world. Take care!