Chat Transcript: What additional college basketball weirdness awaits Notre Dame?
PM (LA, CA): Did Ryan Ayers' departure from the team have anything to do with Robby Carmody's knee injury?
Tom Noie: PM: In a word? No. In another word, huh? Assistant basketball coaches don't tend to leave the program because a player gets injured. That's especially true of an assistant coach who graduated from said school. And also played there. Though it would make for a fascinating Netflix miniseries - who plays Ryan Ayers? - think there were other factors involved in Ayers no being with the program.
Dave: Hey Tom! Long time, no chat. With the disappointing news of Robby Carmody’s knee injury, is there any talk of the team seeking a waiver for transfer guard Trey Wertz to play this season? Without Carmody, there is zero guard depth beyond the trio of Hubb, Ryan, and Goodwin.
Tom Noie: Dave: Think Notre Dame would like to keep Trey Wertz on the three-year plan - one year sit, two play - unless absolutely needed. Carmody's injury dings the guard depth a bit - there still are six guards on the roster. Yes, Prentiss Hubb, Dane Goodwin and Cormac Ryan will play a lot of minutes (but that was going to be the case had Carmody stayed healthy). Nik Djogo has to give them something. If anything, it accelerates the development of freshman guard Tony Sanders. The staff also remains confident in walk-on Elijah Morgan. Six guards likely is enough. Carmody was penciled as a possible sixth man, but he remained pretty much a blank slate even before the injury. What could he offer? Could he stay healthy? Nobody really knew. And still don't.
Ray From Mishawaka: Hi Tom, Great time for a chat. When do you think the final schedule will be released for this year? How many non conference and conference games do you think will be played this year? This will be the first year since 1975 that I will not be attending games as a season ticket holder. I know I'm going to miss it. ACC Network here I come.
Tom Noie: Ray: Great question, and unfortunately, one that doesn't have an answer. In normal times (remember those?) the schedule would've been released with the usual amount of non-conference games and 20 league games. The NCAA last week set the start date as Nov. 25, but that just added another layer of intrigue. What does that mean for non-conference games? For league games? Notre Dame, and other league schools, likely is waiting for the Atlantic Coast Conference to set the parameters for what is expected to be a 20-game league schedule. The NCAA would like schools to play at least four non-league games. Does that mean Kentucky on Dec. 12 is a go? Purdue on Dec. 19? At Howard on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
It's all a fluid situation, and probably changing every day or every other day. Especially now that football is on pause....that's going to affect how the basketball schedule comes together.
Jackie Daytona (Clairton, PA): Two weird headlines a day apart — Ayers’ bizarre departure and a weird injury (broken kneecap). Do you think they might be connected in any way?
Tom Noie: Jackie: Not at all.
Tyler: With recruiting visits on a halt indefinitely, you’d have to believe ND is pretty safe to secure Blake Wesley’s commitment. But outside of that do you see this as just a 2 man high school class with a graduate transfer big man to complete it?
Tom Noie: Tyler: Great question, and one, like the schedule, that has no firm answer. I don't know if anything is "safe" these days when it comes to recruiting. Notre Dame felt really good - more than really good -a bout getting big man Hunter Dickinson last year. He then signed with Michigan. Prospects cannot visit campus (Notre Dame landed both Trey Wertz and Tony Sanders without either ever meeting face to face with Mike Brey) and the staff can't recruit off campus. Right now, it would be a two-player class with the flexibility to add another big in the spring. Grad transfer? Mike Brey likes to always retain that option, but finding a grad transfer fit hasn't ever presented itself.
Tyler: If recruiting is of any priority for this program, Scott Martin would not be the answer for that 2nd assisting job. What can 17 year olds relate to with Scott Martin? That he was a student here? Pass.. that goes a long way. Ryan Ayers had something different. It showed. I think they need NBA experience on that coaching staff IMO though. Outside of that, Eric Atkins? Do you agree?
Tom Noie: Tyler: Might be a little early to make any decision on what Scott Martin can be as a recruiter. Playing Devil's Advocate here, it's not like Ryan Ayers had a long list of top-tier prospects looking hard at Notre Dame. Promoting Scott Martin likely was done on the fly. Like, the staff has a vacancy and right now, given everything else going on in the basketball world, there's just zero time to devote to filling that spot. That's a big spot. Is Martin a guy to do it? We'll find out.
Kling: I know ND is never going to consistently match the level of recruiting of Duke, UNC. Kentucky, etc, but Brey has built a good program that is more successful than not, and he appears to have some clout, or at least a good reputation in the the CBB world. What I'm wondering, is my perception of him correct, that he's considered by his peers and the media as a "successful" head coach who has some currency to play with? And can he ever turn that currency into a national championship team? Is a number one finish something I should be realistically hoping for as a fan?
Tom Noie: Kling: No, and I don't know if that's something that anybody over there is realistically hoping for either. It's just not going to happen. Now, finish in the top three of the ACC and make a run in the NCAA tournament like in 2015? No reason why this program can't do that more than once every 20 years. Maybe even make a Final Four. That's as good as it's going to get.
Mike from Rochester NY: Tom, Any more information on the stunning departure of Ryan Ayers?
Tom Noie: Mike: None, and I don't expect anything else. When nobody wants to comment on the record or off the record - and that's never happened - that tells you a lot. Stunning? Absolutely.
AA: Did anyone think to check with SBPD in regards to Ayers?
Tom Noie: AA: A check of Ryan Ayers' name in the SBPD and Saint Joseph County Jail police logs has been done twice this week by the Tribune. No record of his name in either.
Guest: Apologies for the vague question: what are realistic expectations for this Irish season?
Tom Noie: Guest: A vague answer for a vague question, and vague identity. Be better than last year, particularly in the ACC. Notre Dame went from three league wins in 2018-19 to 10 league wins in 2019-20. OK, now take that to 12 league wins, or 13. Finish in the top half of the league. Be better at home. Teams that want to play in the NCAA tournament shouldn't lose four home games. That
That's too many. Also, have the core of this junior class - Hubb, Goodwin and Laszewski - take that next step as players, as leaders. It's their time. This has to be their time.
Chris (South Bend): Huge fan of your work! Do you think that there will be fans at all this season?
Tom Noie: Chris: I don't. That may change as we move forward and see what November and December are like, but there's been no indication that fans would be allowed inside arenas for games. Baseball went its whole season with no fans. Having fans indoors - especially during the cold and flu seasons - would be too big of a risk. Hopefully, that changes. The NBA has been able to make it work without fans. I don't know if colleges could. Like, going to a game at an empty Cameron Indoor? Bizarre.
Tom: How do anticipate the style of offensive play changing this year without Mooney, Gibbs and Rex? What newbies do you see getting key minutes?
Tom Noie: Tom: Great question, and one that normally this time of year I'd have some insight on. I'd have seen the guys play pickup over the summer, and maybe during preseason. I'd seen the freshmen and would have a good gauge on how their games would translate to college. Last time I saw this team in person was the Virginia Tech home finale in March, so anything I offer is pretty much a guess....so here it goes....they're going to play more up-tempo with a three-guard look (Hubb, Goodwin, Ryan) that's better than last year's three-guard look. Laszewski takes another step as a shot-maker/scorer and can be the double-double guy. Not to the extent of Mooney. Juwan Durham? He has his best season as the No. 1 low-post option. They'll be able to score. Sometimes a lot.
Jake: If the staff is confident in Elijah Morgan, to what extent is that, particularly compared to your average walk-on?
Tom Noie: Jake: Elijah Morgan can play, to the point where I'd hoped Brey would put him in games last season. He's been hesitant to cross that bridge, but if it gets to the point where he needs to play, there's not as big of a drop-off with your average walk-on who's there just to be an extra body in practices.
John from Mitchell, SD: What's it like as a reporter when something like the Ryan Ayers hits and Notre Dame closes ranks? What avenues do you have to report such a weird story?
Tom Noie: John: Great question. Let's just dive right in....when that posts hits social media, you know as a reporter nobody in the program is going to offer anything additional. Not the head coach. Not an assistant coach. Not the university spokesperson. Nobody's touching that one based on the wording. It was blunt. It was cold. So you better have sources outside of the program that you can contact. So you do. The reaction from those sources (probably around a dozen) range from from stunned to speechless. They also choose to say nothing. As mentioned earlier, you check the police logs for SBPD and the SJ County Jail to see if there's any reason for an arrest. That comes up empty. You have, have, have to exhaust every avenue to uncover the reason behind it. Because for as much as the university and the program wants the three-sentence statement to stand on its own, it just doesn't do. So you dig, and you keep digging. In 20-plus years on this beat, usually somebody has something to say. This case? Everyone went dark.
Ian (Rockport, IN): My expectations for ND every year is final four or bust (like football). But realistically ND should get into the tourney and possibly sweet 16. If Brey fails, is his seat hot?
Tom Noie: Ian: Normally, yes. Times 10. But is any coach's seat really hot this year? Hard to light that fire in a year that likely will be no other. Who knows how the schedule is going to play out. Who knows if the games will include fans. Who knows if we can even get to March Madness. This is a program that at the least should get to the NCAA tournament every season, right? But this season, it's more about surviving the regular season and all the challenges that come with it instead of "failing" to get to the NCAA tournament. Every program, every coach, likely gets a mulligan for whatever year we're going to see in college basketball.
Nan, Goshen: What more do you think Juwan Durham can give ND this year?
Tom Noie: Nan: No reason to think that he can't be a consistent 10-10 guy. Ten points, 10 rebounds. Be an even more physical presence in the post. Block shots. Dunk lobs. And do it efficiently. He's not going to be someone who plays 30-plus minutes. But he's a fifth-year senior. John Mooney's not going to hog the space around the rim. That's Durham's territory. Go claim it.
William H: How big of a step up in his play can Nate Laszewski take this year?
Tom Noie: William: A big one, and not necessarily from a scoring/shooting standpoint which is his rep. A big shot taker and a big shot maker, right? I'm more interested in Laszewski developing into a really good college big man. We saw some flashes of it last year. Defensive rebounding. Taking charges. Standing his ground around the bucket. Mike Brey said this summer that there's no reasons Laszewski can't be a double-double guy for points and rebounds. Maybe not every night, but a lot of nights.
Bob: With little or no crowd, don’t you lose home court advantage to some extent ? Especially at ND where the students have been less than supportive of the basketball program.
Tom Noie: Bob: Absolutely you do. Just look at what's going on in the NBA bubble. There is no homecourt advantage. I'd contend that has led to better play. Guys just playing ball. Like back on the playground. The homecourt advantage really hasn't been one at Notre Dame the last couple of years. The Irish have had to muster their own energy. That works both ways....it will be easier/less stressful to play on the road.
Walter from Indy: Thom - earlier this week you hinted that the interim tag on Martin could very well be removed down the road...how?? why?! Sure it's too early to judge his abilities, but that just seems lazy. I get needing him to step in now given the circumstances, but this program desperately needs new energy, new juice...any way you slice it, Martin isn't it.
Tom Noie: Walter: In previous conversations with Mike Brey, when the subject of staff would arise, one name always was at the top of his wish list. Ryan Ayers. The second name? Scott Martin. Given Mike Brey's loyalty to his staff, to his guys, I have a hard time seeing him elevate Scott Martin only to demote him. That's not Brey. And if a program needs new energy, new juice (both Brey terms, by the way....lol) it probably needs something more than a new assistant coach.
Jake: That’s good to hear, so do you ever see a role for Morgan coming about, such as maybe a backup guard as an upperclassman?
Tom Noie: Jake: Not right now. He's the sixth guard on the depth chart. Unless there's another injury (please, not again) or the guys ahead of him just don't deliver, he'll always be that security blanket.
Bob: Mr. Noie: No questions, just a comment: Thank you for your dedicated coverage of the Irish as well as everything else you do (high school sports and so on). I get daily delivery of the SBT and hope print continues to live on.
Tom Noie: Bob: Thanks for the note. Keep reading the Tribune. Have a great day and stay healthy!
Rodger the Dodger: Don't know much about this Cormac Ryan. What can you tell us about his style of play and what we might see from him?
Tom Noie: Rodger: Just wait and see. Cormac Ryan transferred in last summer from Stanford after he played one year. He has three remaining and may never NOT start a game. He gives this program something it hasn't had since 2015 with Pat Connaughton. Since 2011 with Ben Hansbrough. He's a combination of both. He can play, but more importantly, he can lead. Maybe most importantly, he gives this team a different type of swagger. Holds guys accountable. Good teammate. But also backs it up with his play. Not afraid. You'll like what you see from No. 5.
BoBo from Topeka: How will the weirdness of recruiting this year (no campus visits, etc.) help or hurt Notre Dame? What are the holes you see us needing to fill?
Tom Noie: BoBo: I don't know if it helps or hurts. Prospects that are looking at Notre Dame are looking for the overall college experience. They want to hoop, but they also want an education. One reason Trey Wertz was interested in Notre Dame was that he'd be able to sit out this season as a transfer, which would also put him on track to work toward his Master's in Business. That doesn't happen at a lot of schools - and even fewer at schools that play in the ACC. Notre Dame doesn't trick anybody in recruiting. You want to go to Notre Dame, you better be in it for the right reasons. That means more than just hoops.
Tom Noie: Part two of the question, having not seen what this year's freshman class might offer, figure Notre Dame to again be in the market for a swingman and a big man moving forward.
Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Good morning Tom. This is just a generic question but don't you think the public has somewhat of a right to know what's going on with the Ayers situation? At least to a certain extent. After all, these coaches are in a highly visible profession and to just clam up about it with absolutely no explanation seems wrong. I understand all about confidentiality but to allow all the speculation and idle gossip to continue on for who knows how long without even a partial explanation doesn't appear to do anyone any good. And if this whole sad saga remains a total secret, who does that benefit? I would appreciate your input on this issue. Thanks much.
Tom Noie: Jim: I couldn't agree with you more. What happened with Ryan Ayers might indeed be a private matter, and I understand that, but like you said, these are coaches in highly-visible positions. Added to that, Ayers played at Notre Dame. He graduated Notre Dame. He was Mike Brey's No. 1 choice as AC when there was a vacancy on his staff. As much as the university wants to hide behind the "university matter" if that's what it was, the three-sentence announcement saying he's left (effective immediately) to pursue other opportunities says nothing. It's disingenuous that the university would look at that and think anyone would take it at face value and think, oh, OK.
Ollie: What gives you confidence that Djogo can contribute anything on the floor this season? I'm not sure what happens in practice, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone miss more shots in games.
Tom Noie: Ollie: Maybe blind faith? That being a five-year guy he's ready to be better than 30.4 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent from 3. I have zero issues with Nik Djogo personally. He's a good dude. A good locker room guy. A good teammate. He cares. But at this level, and he'll be the first to admit it, he's got to deliver something more than what he's delivered his previous four years. And it's not like he hasn't had chances. Maybe this is the year everything just clicks for him. It'd be a great story.
Joe from the south side: Tom. Participating from Europe. My thoughts on Ayers. You don’t quit a job at your alma mater in the middle of a pandemic. Especially with no job to go to. Who is hiring assistant coaches right now? Nobody. So assume he was fired. If there is no police record it could be a violation of school policy. I welcome your speculation as information on Notre Dame basketball is in short supply round here.
Tom Noie: Joe: Solid effort from across the Atlantic. I did have to slightly edit your question (for obvious reasons). Fair points, but I just can't speculate about what happened with Ryan Ayers. The information provided by Notre Dame didn't say much, but in other ways, it said a lot. Safe travels!
Q93 from Chicago: How much have you spoken/interacted with Brey this offseason? Has he gone into hiding (I haven't seen many quotes from him)? More or less than normal? It sure would be nice to hear his perspective on the team.
Tom Noie: Q: An offseason like no other has been pretty much status quo in terms of Mike Brey and the media. No hiding (except on the RA issue). I've done stuff with him (mainly about his former guys). One reason we haven't dived too deeply into his perspective on this team is I don't know how much he really knows about this group. Every time I see a photo on social media from practice, all the guys are wearing masks. How much can he really glean from socially-distanced workouts? Strange days indeed.
Walter from Indy: oh no brey-isms are seeping into my subconscious. next thing you know I'll be telling people I shot 9-9 on the golf course. all due respect to Rex and TJ, sincerely, but can you identify one thing (on the court) this team will miss from their absence? I thoroughly like both guys, but I'm excited to see the a new look backcourt
Tom Noie: Walter: LOLOL...and for the record, it's 10-10 baby! Rex and T.J....good guys, but in terms of basketball players, both hit their ceilings way too early in their careers. That's just the way it is. Or was. Both were hard to cover last year because they were only going to do so much. Time to move forward. For all involved.
Joey: Obviously you haven’t been able to get in the building and the team just got into 5 on 5, but have you been able to hear anything regarding the freshmen competing for the last 1 or two rotation spots or is everything still under wraps? Seems like one of them could have played into a rotation spot by now even though they’ve only been 5 on 5 for a few weeks.
Tom Noie: Joey: I don't know if everything's under wraps as much as it is under consideration. Given the lack of overall depth and other factors (can Djogo deliver? Can Carmody stay healthy?) Mike Brey's kept every option open. Official practices don't start until mid-October. But the feeling is Elijah Taylor and Matt Zona up front and Tony Sanders in the backcourt all are going to get a look. Think the focus the last few weeks has been getting on the court just to get on it and get moving, then get the schedule figured out. What's that look like? That's maybe more important than the rotation in late September.
Joe from the south side: Tom. With last year’s yawner of a recruiting class, brey really needed to step up. What do you say when you can’t recruit kids from your own high school Dematha), can’t recruit kids from a catholic basketball factory under your nose who is coached by an alum (La Lu and Isaiah Stewart not to mention Coleman lands), and can’t recruit kids whose old man went to Notre Dame (DaRon holmes
Tom Noie: Joe: Man, you salty on vaca! LOL. But you're right. Aren't you tired of the whole "DeMatha connection" storyline? Like, when has that really paid off other than getting Jerian? Here's a hint - it hasn't. And don't get hung up on the LaLu thing. Guys go to LaLu with the hope their profile blows up to the point where they're one-and-done guys (see Stewart, Isaiah). Again, hate to keep circling back to the same storyline, but Notre Dame guys are different. Few fit. Too many don't.
Mike from Pittsford, NY: Any idea on how long Brey might want to stick around and whether Swarbrick will be at ND to replace Brey and Kelly?
Tom Noie: Mike: Mike Brey's contract runs through the 2024-25 season. He has every intention of finishing out that deal and then maybe even coaching further - either here or elsewhere. I'd be surprised if Jack Swarbrick still was AD when Brey's contract expires. He just might feel it's time to go do something else and somewhere else.
Joe from the south side: Tom. If there is a bbl season shouldn’t the pandemic level the playing field in the ACC? No home court advantage, Coach K can’t make all those freshmen harmonize in a few weeks can he?, and brey essentially returns four starters and a top 60 recruit as his base 5?
Tom Noie: Joe: Thus, the ACC coaches' reasoning that everybody gets in the NCAA tournament. If they can pull this season off, you're going to see some wacky (stuff). Maybe Notre Dame can win at Duke. Maybe they lose at home to the last-place team. No one knows what the season will look like, but it will be strange. On so many levels.
Jeff: Tom, thanks for your good work in keeping us all up to speed on NDMBB. I'm curious what your thoughts would be on a state of Indiana bubble of sorts for non-conference games. Indianapolis has a lot of facilities, and the state has a good mix of major schools (IU, ND, Purdue, Butler) and mid-majors (Ball St, Valpo, IPFW, IUPUI, Evansville, Indiana St). All involved could play a handful of games against teams not in their conferences (maybe 2 games against majors and 3 against mid-majors) while not going more than 2-3 hours from home. There are probably a lot of logistical and contractual things to work out, but on the surface this type of bubble would seem to reduce costs to athletic departments and increase the odds of keeping players safe while also giving them good competition.
Tom Noie: Jeff: Good stuff. Any idea of how we could possibly see some hoops this season is a good one. The bubble option? Hmmmm....but again, Notre Dame probably (OK, likely) is waiting to hear what the plan is for the ACC before committing to anything bubble-oriented. Getting quality competition is important, but making sure you get all 20 league games overrides pretty much everything. Still, that comes with a caveat. What do you think the reaction would be if Mike Brey went to Father Jenkins and said that he and Niele Ivey were taking their teams to a bubble for six weeks of hoops? That's probably not an option.
Joe from the south side: Tom. Not on vacation. I live here. Too afraid of the government response if the pandemic spikes again. And I can look at prospects over here as brey has no interest in it. Might find the next Marty Geben!
Tom Noie: Joe: You're now Joe from Europe.....lol. You could be our European correspondent for ND hoops alumns playing overseas. Get me something on Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia and native son Martin Geben playing in Lithuania. Check in on Rex Pflueger in England! Pay's not great, but you can get your ND hoops fix! lol
Joe from the south side: Tom. I believe Geben and Steve v are teammates in Lithuania. I believe DJ is also in Lithuania but on a different squad. Sad because he has nba talent in some areas. Rex I thought went to England because his mother has roots there. Can u confirm the above?
Tom Noie: Joe: Martin Geben and Steve Vasturia are playing together in Zalgiris (Lithuania). Demetrius Jackson is an hour away playing for Rytas. Bonzie Colson is in France playing for Strousburg.
Mike from Pittsford, NY: Thanks Tom. One more: I know it's tough to speculate with recruiting, but any thoughts on Fletcher Loyer, Isaac Traudt and even Ryan Mabrey (who, to my knowledge, has not been offered)?
Tom Noie: Mike: All with interest in Notre Dame and some degree of mutual....but we've been down that road before....lol
Jeff: A PS to my earlier suggestion. I could see what I proposed playing out over a period of 2 weeks or so when students are on break, which this year means any time from November 21-February 2, but I agree that it's ACC first and then non-conference games. Thanks for these chats. You and the SBT/NDI staff rock!
Tom Noie: Jeff: Thanks my man.....keep reading and keep in touch as hoops moves forward!
Coach Calabria from Reading: Tom. You might have already covered it but what are the first practice date and first game dates for hoops? Thanks a lot. Hope you are well
Tom Noie: Coach: All is well in this crazy pandemic world. The first official day of practice for college basketball is Oct. 14. The first official day for games is Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Eve). Notre Dame was scheduled to open at home against Army on Veteran's Day. Not sure how the schedule's going to look once it get finalized. Might be league games only. Might have a few non-conference games in there. It will look completely different than the original.
Joe from the south side: Tom. Thanks for all of the chats. It makes me feel connected to fighting Irish basketball and the good old US and A (per Borat). And a special thanks for the link in Twitter. For the record the ND insider site is not available in Europe at all. So your link is my only link.
Tom Noie: Joe: Glad you were able to connect...and you're not the first person in Europe to have issues with NDInsider. Wish we had a better answer for you. Anything you need catching up on, drop me a note at email@example.com and I can email back the hard copy. For a fee of course (just kidding)!
John: Hey Tom, what do you think our chances of making the tourney are this year?
Tom Noie: John: Well, if the ACC coaches were in charge of the bracket, I'd say pretty good. Kidding aside, there's no reason to think Notre Dame shouldn't be tournament worthy after going from three league wins to 10 league wins. So go win 11 or 12 or more and get back with this junior core that wants to take this chance and run with it. Here it is. Go do it.
Joe from the south side: Tom. Now you are a rock star on 2 continents. BTW, I was born and raised near Pittsburgh. Has there been a more star crossed career than Carmody’s? I hope one of the brothers’ athletic careers pans out. Would love to see Robby contribute to the program. Like Cormac he plays with a little swagger. At least he did.
Tom Noie: Joe: It was going to be really hard for Robby Carmody to earn a role unless he absolutely crushed it in workouts and preseason, just because the unknown was always going to be there. Now? Who cares if he ever plays meaningful minutes. Just to be able to practice and stay healthy for a season or two would be a big deal. Now, if you're Mike Brey, probably can't count on him. It's tough.
John: Thanks Tom. I absolutely love this junior class. I think they could be one of the best classes in school history, and depending on the incoming freshmen next year, might have a shot at the final four. Just an opinion, but do you think this as well?
Tom Noie: John: Let's first see this core play well and have success, then get to the NCAA tournament where we see, OK, there's something there. Even that team that went to the Elite Eight in 2015 came from nowhere. Those are the best type of teams to cover, when that rocket just kind of takes off and you hang on for the ride to who-knows-where. Would hope to do that again.
John: Thanks Tom. You are a great man, and I always love your hoops talk. Keep up the amazing work!
Tom Noie: Keep reading! And chatting! And believing....
Walter from Indy: Senior year Torin Francis or Juwan Durham...who do you take for this year's squad?
Tom Noie: Walter: Whoa....that came out of nowhere....like one of those brain teasers the teacher throws in to throw you for a loop. This took some thought. Francis started all 30 games his senior season. He averaged 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in 29.9 minutes. He shot 50.4 percent from the field and 67.3 percent from the line. It was about the best he could do after many wondered if he'd ever be effective after back surgery earlier in his career. Juwan Durham's college averages heading into his final year are 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game. He's shot 56.8 percent from the field and 69.5 percent from the foul line. So....
Tom Noie: My first inclination is to take Torin for his steadiness and knowing that he'll be there every night. But there's still more in Durham that we haven't seen, something this staff should be able to tap into and ride this season. Francis maxed out his abilities as a senior. Durham has a few more steps to go to do that. Maybe this is the year we see it. Maybe.
Steve: Since the back-to-back Elite 8 years ND has been in a tailspin. We were all led to believe that high-ranking recruits would want to play at ND and that doesn't seem to be happening. Do you think that if ND missed the 2020 tournament, Brey may have considered retiring?
Tom Noie: Steve: I thought he was at the end of the line in 2020 and that there may well be a coaching change/search had last season not just ended. Why think that? The previous year took so much out of him in going 3-15. Like everything he tried, nothing worked. The freshman didn't get any better and weren't ready. D.J. Harvey wasn't going to work out. Brey himself looked worn out, like part of him was thinking, heck, why bother. Then last year when they're 2-6 in the league and he gets banged the $20,000 for the Florida State post-game. Then the Florida State post-game here where Notre Dame just can't beat a ranked team. He had the look of someone who was like, why bother.....
Tom Noie: The pandemic was a massive factor in Brey's professional life. While it allowed Muffet McGraw to see life after hoops (and like that life), it had the opposite effect on Brey. It allowed him to recharge, take better care of himself and find a second or third or fourth wind that told him, yeah, I don't want to stop doing this just yet. Getting to 10-10 allowed him to believe they're a lot closer than some might think.
Bonkers in Yonkers: Tom Terrific, it’s been awhile! I’m sure you’ve answered but I just joined so for those in the back: when do you think we will know why Coach Ayers left?
Tom Noie: Bonkers: Where you been? Been too long, but not long enough in regard to learning the true details behind why assistant coach Ryan Ayers is now former assistant coach Ryan Ayers.
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom I read this spring that long time official Mike Eades is hanging up the whistle to become supervisor of the SEC officials. In all the years you've covered the Irish who are the best and worst officials you've seen? I'm sure TV Teddy will be mentioned! With Indiana going to Stage 5 any chance fans allowed back? Hopefully its not students only since most of the games they bothered to barely show up!! Hope you're back to playing hoops.
Tom Noie: Mark: Whew, there's a lot to unpack there. Pull up a chair. This might take some time. Teddy Valentine is too much the showman, but he's actually a pretty fair official. Like, if you get Teddy in a road game, a league road game, you knew you were going to get a fair shake. Mike Eades, Pat Driscoll, Michael Stephens, Roger Ayers, Ed Corbett. There have been some good ones in the Big East and ACC. If you got one of those guys, you knew it was a big game. Tim Higgins? One time he was good, but felt he lost a lot of his game late in his career.
Tom Noie: Part II: Can't see fans (regardless of percentage of arena) being allowed in this season until we see what happens when the weather turns. The ONLY way sports has worked without much hiccup is keeping all fans away. Open up the arenas and you're opening yourself up to a potential super-spreader event. And sadly, hoops, even outdoor, has has to be shelved for me the last six months. Too big a risk to go play and may be bring the virus home to an at-risk household. Maybe one day....
Jim Reagan, Baton Rouge LA: Hi Tom. Ryan Ayers’ departure is probably troublesome, and this season suffers a pandemic curse. Afterward, in a new normal of some kind, do you think ‘24–‘25 is too long, for both Mike Brey and Notre Dame, to search for the next Coach?
Tom Noie: Jim: Depends on what happens the next two years. If this program is still treading water and flirting with 10-10 finishes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, then yeah, it's time to go a different direction.
John: Tom, how many years do you think Brey still has in him? I love Brey and want the best for him, and I think he’s a phenomenal coach. But it’s really hard to see him coaching that many more years. Thoughts?
Tom Noie: John: See previous answer....thanks!
Walter from Indy: I bet Bonkers also expects Tommy Terrific to tell us who killed Kennedy...smh rookie. Thom - is the 2012 upset of #1 Syracuse the weirdest game you ever covered? Noted stand-up comedian Alex Drago even played a big part in that game. What are some of the weirdest games/outcomes you've covered on the ND beat
Tom Noie: Walter: No, that 2012 game felt like Syracuse was there for the taking. Undefeated. The Orange weren't that good and Fab Melo, their starting center, was ruled academically ineligible that morning. Felt everything lined up for an Irish upset. There was some magic back in that building that night. Weird games/outcomes? Reaching for media guide as I type....give me a second.
Tom Noie: Off the top of my head, one really weird one I think of now that the NBA is in the Orlando bubble is an Old Spice Classic Game against California where Notre Dame led 21-5 at half! There's so many others - Chris Quinn going for 37 but the Irish losing at Pittsburgh in double overtime in 2006. The NIT loss to Holy Cross in front of select dozens that closed out the college career of Chris Thomas. The buzzer-beater loss to a Central Michigan team that would finish like 5-23. Kyle McAlarney hitting a school record 10 3s in the Maui Invitational but Notre Dame still not having any chance against North Carolina. nearly getting arrested one night trying to do post-game duties in Providence. So many memories. All good.
John: Do you think it’s possible for one of the incoming freshmen to take over Mooneys role? They seem pretty big and pretty good, or do you think it will Nate or Juwan?
Tom Noie: John: It will be a combination of Laszewski and Durham to fill Mooney's rebounding/double-double role. Though if Elijah Taylor or Matt Zona wanted to have their say, Mike Brey wouldn't mind.
Bob,Royersford: Hi Tom, you say final four is as good as it will ever get. I think the 2015 team if they beat Kentucky had a very good chance to win it all. Heck Butler has made a couple final fours
Tom Noie: Bob: Good stuff. I'm on the record that if Notre Dame beats Kentucky that night in Cleveland, it wins the national championship. Easy to say now, yeah, but easy to see then. That team just had a look about them. A feel. A swagger. So much confidence.
Mike: I know you can’t speculate on Ayers departure, but given it’s not a legal issue, the number of possible issues seem limited. 1). He had a serious falling out with Brey. 2) he had an inappropriate relationship with a student. 3). He committed some sort of recruiting no no. Not much else it could be IMO. I have heard he is telling people he left to pursue NBA opportunities, but that is all he is saying.
Tom Noie: Mike: If the Ryan Ayers departure had anything to do with basketball, a disagreement, a recruiting violation, Notre Dame would put its best face on and move forward with some sort of explanation. We wish Ryan Ayers the best in his next step of his coaching career sort of thing. Saying nothing, again, really says a lot.
John: In a way, do you think the two week setback will work out better for ND? It will give more time for Carmody for one, and I just think it will be better for everyone.
Tom Noie: John: I know people are rooting for Robby Carmody, but it's going to be really, really hard to count on him moving forward given the injury history. Can he just get through a year healthy enough to practice? That has to be the first step. As for the two weeks, two additional weeks of practice would normally help, but the Irish are doing a lot of stuff in masks with social distancing still an issue. Everything this season regardless of time is going to be sllllooooooow. Deliberate. Careful. In many ways, it's about basketball, but not about basketball. It's worrying about so many other aspects of life just to get a chance to play basketball. Coaches may be teaching and players may be learning, but you know everyone has the same questions rattling around - what's it all going to look like? Can they get there?
Bob,Royersford: Tom, Im a huge ND football fan, that 2015 basketball team is one of my all time favorite ND teams including football. The chemistry and leadership was outstanding. They were fun to watch
Tom Noie: Once in a lifetime team - just jump on and enjoy the ride. Those last three weeks went by in a blur. Those are the best kinds of seasons.
Bonkers in Yonkers: Tom Terrific, really interesting to hear that explanation about Coach Brey and how he looked to be almost out of gas but now could be refreshed. With that in mind, what would be indicators of a rejuvenated Coach Brey? 80+ ppg, recruiting success, clean shaven? I kid on the last one but you know what I’m saying!
Tom Noie: So many variables....an offense that can routinely get to 80 without looking like a chore. Like, everything flows. The head coach able to tap into a rotation that he can ride without worry where all the pieces seem to fit and he's not grab-bagging trying to figure it out. And the more he wins, the more he's not going to shave. So there's that.
Wadelite: Tom, is there any rationale you can provide for such a limited recruiting pool for the 2021 class and the pandemic is only a partial excuse. It sure seems Brey should have had more 2021 prospects in the mix than 2 guys from south bend and one from fort wayne. FWIW while I now reside in SoCal I am in south bend visiting with family until 10/11. Some nice weather so far.
Tom Noie: Wade: None that would suffice, because everyone wants recruiting to be better and the on-court success to be better and the NCAA tournament never to be missed. I digress, but you get the point. Recruiting isn't where you want it for the same reason there was no class to follow the current junior class. Not saying it's right, not saying it's wrong, but if you know Brey, if you know this staff, they're loyal to their guys to a fault. They needed to see exactly what they had in the junior class. They need to see what they have in the guys with eligibility remaining - Ryan, Wertz, the three freshmen. This isn't a program that's going to recruit over guys. A prospect fills a need (as Konieczny and Wesley do), go get them, then re-evaluate. That's how this staff operates.
Bonkers in Yonkers: And for Walter in Indy: I’m no rookie. I was live chatting with Tom Terrific when you were still running the motion offense. I’m Moe Green!!!
Tom Noie: That doesn't make me Fredo, does it???? lol
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom with everything thrown out of whack due to the pandemic is there any chance the NCAA tournament expands this season? Also has TJ Gibbs found a place to play abroad?
Tom Noie: Mark: I can't see it, not to the extent the ACC coaches want it where everybody gets in. It's going to be such a roll of the dice to get through the season and get to March that March, at least as we sit here at the end of September, needs to looked at and anticipated as being as normal as possible under the circumstances.
Illinois Fool: One of the biggest problems the Irish seemed to have recently is a lack of someone who can drive it to the rim. Is Cormac that guy or do you see possibly Goodwin or Hubb taking a step forward in that regard?
Tom Noie: IF: As the point guard/quarterback/facilitator, Hubb SHOULD be that guy, but don't know if that's in his game. Goodwin should evolve into that type of player, even if it's a shot-fake and a dribble or two before a pullup in the mid-range. That leaves Ryan the chance to take the opportunity and run with it.
Illinois Fool: Are the Irish going to take extra Covid precautions especially as long as the other students are around? Any sort of outbreak (followed by contact tracing) would derail a season quickly considering how few players are on a squad.
Tom Noie: IF: That's the big unknown....how college basketball is going to work through all this. Notre Dame football was providing a playbook the last couple of weeks. The numbers were low, there weren't any/many issues, practices were held and games played. Then it all blew up (for reasons that are still not known) this week. It goes from seven guys out against USF to maybe no practice to everything is shut down for the next two weeks. How did it happen? Notre Dame will use that information going forward. It's something every team, men and women, is going to have to deal with.
Bonkers in Yonkers: T-Bone, is there any insight on what the Crossroad Classic will look like in 2020? Hard to imagine a world (right now) when 4 teams will be traveling to a non-campus controlled site. Maybe a 1-year only on campus matchup?
Tom Noie: Shaky ground....I think to make this all work, you go with league games only (so every team follows the same testing protocols) and then get the four safest non-league games you have to play under NCAA guidelines. Figure two would be at home against teams that could make it a day trip. Then two others - say at Howard and at Kentucky?? Bringing four teams together for two games in a non-bubble situation is too big of a jump.
Tom Noie: Thanks to everyone who joined today's chat. Solid effort all the way around. We'll circle back and maybe do it again in October. Have a question or comment that can't wait, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care and stay healthy!