Chat Transcript: Opener impressions, lineups and good guys to cover for Notre Dame hoops
Tom Noie: Yea!!! We made it to the college basketball regular season. Sort of. College basketball is in full swing, while Notre Dame remains stuck in neutral. The Irish have had three games postponed/canceled this week because of coronavirus and remain 0-1 following last week's loss to No. 8 Michigan State. Positive tests won't hold us back. To join today's discussion, be sure to include your name and hometown. And with that, let's light this (regular season) Irish hoops chat. Legggoooo!
Mike New Jersey: Tom, I’m a fan of the skill set Nate and Dane have but it’s becoming apparent that they are not aggressive at all when this team really needs a bucket. Is this something Brey is trying to instill in them and the rest of this team? Notre dame never had the most athletic guys but Farrell,vasturia, colson etc never hesitated to take a swing pass and take it right to the bucket
Tom Noie: Mike: Good to hear from you. As will be the case often in this chat, your concerns are understandable, but here comes the but....I'd hesitate to draw any conclusions after one game against a really good team. Yes, Juwan Durham and Nate Laszewski need to be waaaay more aggressive around the bucket. Take it hard to the hoop and draw a foul and don't settle for fadeaway looks. But that happened against a really good team, maybe a Top 10 team. To have to hit the ground running against a team like that, it's a tough ask. Still, they've got to be better than what each showed. That's why this week was important - learn some tough lessons against Michigan State, then get home and work on what needs work against lesser teams to be ready for No. 23 Ohio State.
Trevor: Brey mentioned in a recent interview how Ryan Humphrey is a hot name in the asst coaching ranks. Do you believe there’s any chance he’d be a possible candidate for ND when Brey retires.
Tom Noie: Trevor: Ryan's a good guy and someone I covered when he was a player and now a coach. That's a pretty big jump to go from an assistant coach to head coach of an Atlantic Coast Conference school with no coaching experience. He'll eventually have to leave Notre Dame to get said experience. I have no idea what kind of head coach he'll be. If he succeeds at another school, maybe he's on the short list. But we're a long way from that.
Trevor: It’s way to early to jump off the ship for this season. But this junior class reminds of a Rocky movie fighting scene in the later rounds where he lets the guy pummel em just to turn around and win.. this junior class has taken the hits from ranked opponents. What will it take for us to hit back?
Tom Noie: Trevor: Good question, and one that I'd hoped to see at least a sliver of an answer the other night at Breslin Center. Like, this was THEIR turn, not necessarily to go up there and beat the nation's No. 8 teams, but at least show something different than we've seen the last two years. I expected at least that much. Instead, it was more of the same from Notre Dame - early deficit, can't score, big hole and then, oh, look, a comeback to make it a respectable score. Again, as you said, it's only one game and the proverbial game where they have something to build on/learn from, but honestly, we should've been beyond that with this group.
Dave from Washington, DC: Do the Irish have a dribble penetration problem? More broadly, do the Irish have a recruiting problem? In the past, Brey has been able to get guys - both highly and not so highly rated - who can get to the bucket. Drive past their man to get a shot, create a play for someone else, or draw a foul. Ever since DJ left, that seems to be a missing element on offense, which was on display against MSU whenever defenders took away the jump shot. I thought Hubb could be that guy, but he seems to have a difficult time getting to the bucket as well. Thoughts?
Tom Noie: Dave: I agree, but I'd go with the dribble penetration of Matt Farrell after Demetrius Jackson. I like Prentiss Hubb and his swagger and fearlessness, but I don't like anything about the point guard taking a career high 22 shots against Michigan State. I'd like the point guard to be more like Farrell and Jackson and Jerian Grant. Not necessarily that Hubb has that talent like a Grant to be an All-American or a first round NBA draft pick, but to be someone who can probe the defense, put them on their heels with a drive and then kick it out to Dane Goodwin or Cormac Ryan for an open 3. Pass it around the perimeter once or twice, then jack a low percentage look and high degree of difficulty makes the Irish too easy to guard. They were too easy to guard the other night. And for far too long. Since Farrell, really.
Andrew from Plymouth, IN: Do you think Elijah Morgan should be the first man off the bench in the next game? He's not a typical walk-on and that's been obvious since he first stepped on the floor. Djogo has proven who he really is over 5 years now and the freshmen probably need to be eased into the lineup instead of just thrown to the wolves. I believe Morgan would give this team the best production off the bench right now.
Tom Noie: Andrew: An interesting idea, but knowing Mike Brey wanting to show loyalty to his guys (Djogo, the freshmen), that would be a big leap for him to take, giving a walk-on minutes before a scholarship guy. Think he's hoping the NCAA might rule Trey Wertz eligible, which would solve that dilemma.
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom thanks for the chat and good to get the basketball season rolling. Coach Brey keeps reiterating that guard Elijah Morgan could see "meaningful" minutes this season. When or if this will ever happen?? He seems to play pretty well in mop up time the last 2 minutes of a game. This past Saturday would have been a good time to get some meaningful minutes in the 2nd half since the game went off the tracks in the first half.
Tom Noie: Mark: That's Coach-speak for keeping Elijah Morgan engaged. I think if Mike Brey really, truly believed that Morgan could help, like seriously help in meaningful minutes, he would've tried that out at some point last season. Now, Brey could go to Morgan next time out and he could be an absolute revelation. We don't know. I like what I've seen from Morgan in his mop-up minutes, but they're also mop-up minutes. There's no pressure to play. Game's all but over. He can just go play. What's he like when the game's close and he needs to get the Irish into something that works offensively?
Jake: Do you see them scheduling another game before 12/8 vs OSU?
Tom Noie: Jake: More like a two-parter there, my man. Do they WANT to schedule another game before Ohio State? Absolutely. It's almost a must at this point where you're staring at a run of Michigan State-Ohio State-Kentucky-Duke-Purdue-Syracuse-Virginia. Oooof! Now, CAN they schedule one is the $64,000 question. Notre Dame was already working last night soon after the Purdue Fort Wayne game was scrapped to find a game for Sunday. They may find on. They may not. They may also find one that they think can be played, and then, not. Welcome to college basketball in a pandemic.
joe from the south side: Tom: What with all the cancellations, any chance Brey is looking to replace any of the three lost games?
Tom Noie: Joe: Looking? Yes. Hoping? Absolutely. Will it happen? To be determined.
Greg M: Tom - any update on Wertz’s waiver status?
Tom Noie: Greg: None, and it's not specifically HIS waiver. Notre Dame did not apply for the traditional transfer waiver (like Kentucky did for Olivier Sarr and numerous other teams did). The plan always had been for Wertz to sit out this season as a traditional transfer and then have his two years of eligibility remaining. Wertz's eligibility hinges on the NCAA ruling on the proposal from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) with a nudge from Brey to allow coaches access to ALL of their players (eligible and non-eligible) for COVID-19 roster issues. When will we hear? As with everything with the NCAA, there's no timeline. Brey's been hopeful the last few weeks, but what does that really mean?
joe from the south side: Tom: I know the "who will replace Brey" question comes up every time. Do people realize you have 5 coaches in the ACC who are 70+ years old? Three of those 5 are HOFers. There are a lot of dominos that have to fall before Brey gets replaced.
Tom Noie: Joe: It's a popular question, and I get it, but Mike Brey has said he has every intention of finishing out his contract (runs through 24-25) at the very least. He might decide it's time to hit the beach in Florida. He might decide he wants to still keep this going at Notre Dame. He might decide to give coaching somewhere else a shot. As long as Jack Swarbrick remains the athletic director, it'd be hard to see a change being made if a change is warranted. Who's the next coach at Notre Dame? I'd say someone that nobody sees coming.
Michael, Iowa: Hey Tom, How do you think Notre Dame will do during these next 3 games against Ohio state, Kentucky, and Duke?
Tom Noie: Michael: Hard to say because there's such a small sample size - and such a small opportunity to see what this team actually does well against elite talent. That's why this week was a big step for them - get some confidence to work on what didn't work against Michigan State. Based solely on that game, this team doesn't look ready to beat a ranked team just yet.
John: do you think that in this next stretch will finally be the time ND gets their win over a ranked opponent?
Tom Noie: John: Not based on what we saw Saturday, and especially if the Irish have to go 10 days between game action if they can't get a game before No. 23 Ohio State on Tuesday. That's a big ask, to lose to Michigan State, not play for nine days, then play another ranked team.
John from coloumbus: I get that Brey wanted to get Cormac going the other night but cormac and prentiss will find shots. Why not more screen action for Dane pick and pop for Nate. I love when they invert and play Dane in post. only one game in so no panic but the ball sure seemed to stop a lot in the hands of cormac prentiss and juwan.
Tom Noie: John: Amen, my man. I'd love to see Hubb or Ryan drive it more and then kick out to a shooter. Too easy to guard, otherwise. Goodwin in the post is a good move, but only with the right matchup. Foster Loyer was the right matchup the other night. As for Durham, a big guy's gotta get right into his move, otherwise the defense can dig down on him and get him off his rhythm. Like, one dribble or one move and go. He's still to mechanical down there.
Tom from Gary, Ind.: Would Coach Brey consider either changing or adjusting the style of play for the Irish? Color commentator Steve Bardo mentioned the other night ND has more of an "NBA style" offense. Is that the reason for poor, predictable shot selection at times? The Irish also need more of a physical presence in the paint. When will the next Ryan Humphrey, Zach Auguste, Martin Geben be walking through the door?
Tom Noie: Tom: Good stuff, but no, at this point after 21 years at Notre Dame, Mike Brey is kind of who he is on the offensive end. Give his guys freedom to make plays and go. That has to be reciprocated by the guys who are responsible for making the right reads and the right plays. The offense works when you move the ball and move yourself. Too much standing around and not enough movement, player and ball, makes for the poor, predictable shot selection. As for the next Irish big man, Juwan Durham was supposed to be that guy. He wasn't happy about playing so few minutes last season and taking a backseat as John Mooney garnered all the rebounds and attention. Well, careful what you wish for, because now it's on him to prove he can play and produce. Gotta see more than four points and five rebounds. That's how it works in this system - Brey puts the trust in his guys that by the time they're juniors and seniors and graduate students, they get it. Hump certainly got it. Geben too. And Auguste. We keep waiting for Durham.
Jim from Berlin, CT: Tom, is it just bad luck that every season the Irish lose a bunch of players to knee injuries or is it something else? How can one team constantly have so many injuries to key players where they're left short-handed all the time? It's very frustrating!
Tom Noie: Jim: Probably a combination of bad luck and just a run of what happens over the course of three, four, five seasons. I'd counter by saying the Irish haven't lost a key player since Rex Pflueger blew out his ACL against Purdue a couple Decembers ago. Now, Robby Carmody could have been a main guy, but he's been hurt too much to the point where we don't know. And Elijah Taylor undergoes ankle surgery this month for something that stems back to high school. It's frustrating to be short-handed because Mike Brey's philosophy is to stay under the 13-scholarship limit. Fewer guys means fewer issues with playing time. That's swell, but when you have injury issues as the Irish have had, it puts a lot of stress on the remaining guys. I'd like to go to 13 just to offer some flexibility when/if the Irish need it. It looked the other night they were a player and likely two short.
James: How come Notre Dame. Never seems to have at the most 11 players including walk ons. Who make decision to keep such a small squad, compared to other teams that have as many as 16.
Tom Noie: James: See the previous answer. The head coach prefers not to go the full 13 scholarship player route. He prefers a smaller core, one that can think and play together as one on the floor as opposed to running a dizzying array of combinations out there where you lose continuity and connectedness.
John: Do you think trey wertz will be starting if he gets a waiver? He seems like he’d be one of our best players.
Tom Noie: John: Normally, I'd have a solid answer for you. Trey Wertz will start, and here's why. Or Trey Wertz won't start, and here's why. But here's the thing - I don't know. I've not seen Trey Wertz play. Usually, in a non-pandemic year, I'd have seen him play plenty in summer pickup games and preseason stuff. I don't know if he's one of Notre Dame's best players. But say he should start. Who, then, sits? Prentiss Hubb? Not likely. Cormac Ryan? Not likely? Dane Goodwin? He was pretty good the other night. Think Mike Brey likes his starting five right now (as much as he can after only one game). What he wants is some more boost off the bench. That would be a good spot for Wertz. Let's actually see him before we decide how he should be utilized.
joe from the south side: Tom: I am not sure why everyone wants to get on JD. He had limited OFF skills coming out of high school. He was a lanky athletic kid who could run the floor. At best, a shot blocker and rebounder. You guys all have him pegged (including Brey) as a potential double/double guy. No chance. Eventually, Brey will sour on that and revert back to chucking 3 pointers. JD won't get enough touches, does not have a post game, gets into foul trouble and apparently still has stamina issues. I see him as 8-9ppg and 5-6rpg, especially with that schedule. You can't pad stats against SYR, UVA, FSU, Duke...........
Tom Noie: Joe: The old "You guys...." discussion already? LOL. Look, at that size, in this league, Juwan Durham should be able to fall out of bed and get himself 10 points and 10 rebounds. Brey said it againt he other night - Durham should be able to get hismelf 10 points. Why? What does he show? He wa sa guy who believed last year that he should do more and play more and show more. In this program, you wait your turn. Did anyone think Martinas Geben would do what he did his senior season (11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 60 percent field goal percentage) or Zach Auguste do what he did as a senior (14.0 ppg., 10.7 rpg., .560 percent from the field). It was the natural progression of a big man in this program. Durham may not be able to do this or do that, but he should, at the least, be an adequate big man in this league. Can't say he didn't get enough touches the other night. He's got to go and show it now. Nowhere else to hide.
Mark: I know it’s a ways out but do you have any sense of the ceilings for the two South Bend kids that are committed? Any comps come to mind?
Tom Noie: Mark: That would be shooting guard (really small forward) J.R. Konieczny and shooting guard Blake Wesley. Both really need to find the inside of a weight room to start. They're each about 170 pounds. Next, it would be nice to see them play with and against actual college kids. It's easy to see them play in high school and say, yeah, they're pretty good. But the competition they face isn't always high level. It's high school. The game changes when they move up to the next level, especially the ACC level. Need to see them in that setting before saying, OK, now I see why they were gotta-get guys other than being in Notre Dame's backyard.
joe from the south side: Tom: Any word on Carmody? I can't imagine he'll contribute much but at least he is a warm body.
Tom Noie: Joe: Maybe sometime after Christmas, but how do you ease him in? At home against Virginia on the 30th? Back in his home area against Pittsburgh on Jan. 2? Given his history, just get him through practices in late December and January and see if he's still in one piece. That's about the best we can hope for at this point. But the possibility of having another option off the bench would be nice.
John from coloumbus: Yes Dane definitely needs right match up to score but even with a bigger player he can make plays, pass, get guys moving..not saying to station him in post but hes got a nice pace when he's down in post and anything that gets ball below defense has to be better than what we saw Saturday.
Tom Noie: John: I wouldn't mind seeing Dane Goodwin handle the ball more, move Prentiss off the ball and see where the goes. Again, that's where these two games that were canceled this week really stings. Hard to tinker with this and that against only ranked teams.
joe from the south side: Tom: I want JD to be outstanding. DESPERATELY, I want him to be outstanding. He'll need to be IF they play most of their ACC schedule. My point is, with all of the other guys you mentioned, you at least saw a glimpse of "things to come". And in that glimpse you thought "if Hump can work with this guy for a few years, maybe, just maybe................." I haven't seen that glimpse from JD. Have you?
Tom Noie: You saw it from Geben? Really? His senior season kind of came out of nowhere. That's what I expected from Durham - like the light bulb finally comes on and we're like, whoa, didn't see that coming.
Tom from Gary, Ind.: Let me ask another question, does Notre Dame not have the realistic ability to compete with top teams of the ACC, Top 25? Mich St., Florida St. players play like animals and Irish guys look like Boy Scouts in comparison. And after those two Elite Eight runs, I thought the arrow would be pointing up, not this cant beat a ranked team streak or make March Madness.
Tom Noie: Tom: I think we first have to stop comparing everything to the Elite Eight runs. Any momentum/carry-over effect from that is long gone. That's not necessarily a bad thing for these guys and this program. But they have to show that they can compete. Until that happens, no, they're not among the top five or six or seven in the Atlantic Coast Conference and they're not beating a ranked team. Gotta have more dawg in them first.
joe from the south side: Tom: Geben was the toughest to gauge. Remember, he played 30+ games his junior year. After he lost the midsection, you could see he could at least move well and he did have good instincts. But no, not to 11 ppg. With JD, I don't see those instincts. To your point, it's mechanical. Almost like if they dump it into the post, in his mind he is saying "my turn to shoot no matter what."
Tom Noie: At that point, it's on him not having the required basketball IQ and feel for the game to A) Know what he can do at that very moment and B) Know what he should do if he can't do what he wants. It's also on the staff for not getting him to that point. He's a fifth-year guy now, which means the game shouldn't at all be anywhere near mechanical. It's early, so maybe that was just one game, but I have my concerns that it's not ever going to get to 10-10 territory. In this program, it should.
Steve: Do you think ND will let in some fans soon to MBB? I don’t see why they can’t offer some seats to students still in town or faculty/staff. It’s certainly debatable about what the appropriate # is right now, but it sure as heck is not ZERO. Why can’t athletics offer up 500 seats to faculty/staff first come first serve? It’s just another example of the school doing anything and everything for football but jack squat for hoops.
Tom Noie: Steve: Whooaa....that turned in a hurry. Totally disagree. Can't disagree more. Think it has something - OK, everything - about football being played outside. And if Notre Dame is going to do "anything and everything" for football, why wouldn't they let in closer to 50 percent or more capacity for say, Saturday's game against Syracuse. I don't see fans being allowed in for hoops anytime soon, certainly not before February. Indoor gatherings are a tough sell right now. And, honestly, unnecessary. We need sports right now to help us through everything that's going on, but in-person spectators? Nope. Too much unknown.
joe from the south side: Tom: I'll circle back to the two new recruits. I saw Wesley in an interview state they he and Brey think he might be "one and done." Really? I don't see it. He's good, but not that good. Cole Anthony went 15th in the draft after one year. Wesley isn't close to that level. Questions. Do he and Brey really believe that? Is that what you have to tell Top 100, borderline 4 star kids to get them to come to your school. Hell, with as many guards as they have on the roster, I am not sure who he displaces. Hubb? Cormac? Dane?
Tom Noie: Joe: I hesitated for more than a few minutes on whether to even answer this question - just because of the absurdity of Blake Wesley being a "one and done" guy. I don't want to pull the old beat writer card, but in 23 years on the Irish hoops beat, there have been exactly two players I've seen during the regular season who were NBA ready at that moment. One was Carmelo Anthony. The other was Zion Williamson. That's it. That's the list. A third come Atlantic Coast Conference tournament time was former Duke forward Jayson Tatum. I remember watching him at Barclays Center in 2017 and turning to my man Tim Prister from Irish Illustrated and saying, that kid should be the first pick in the draft. He was NBA ready. He was the third pick.
Tom Noie: Blake Wesley's not a one and done guy. He might not be a two and done guy. Or three. I don't think Brey's telling him that - every kid really thinks they can go from high school to a year of college to the league. They don't know what they don't know. And I wrote it when Wesley committed - does he even start next year? Not with that loaded perimeter. Not a chance. Doesn't mean he's not good. It means you have to grow your game and grow up before you earn the trust from the head coach to start as a true freshman. Robby Carmody was the first in 15 years at Notre Dame to do it in 2018. Let's slow the one and train with Wesley.
John from coloumbus: With regard to Robby, he is the one guy that is strong enough, fearless (to a fault) enough to go in and attack the rim. Last year's injury was just terrible as he seemed to be finding his footing as a college player. He didn't start first hand of career by accident and he looked damn good against Carolina. I hear people say he's made of glass, his injuries were legit and I don't think toughness is something he lacks. Hopefully they take it slow and get him healthy I think he becomes a needed addition and not just warm body
Tom Noie: John: You said it yourself - Robby Carmody is fearless and tough to a fault. Yeah, you want him attacking and aggressive and all that, but do you really want him trying to dunk in the closing seconds of a blowout game, which cost him his knee? At some point, you have to learn how to change gears. Know when to push it and know when to pull back. There's plenty there for him. Thing is, I don't know if we'll ever get to the point where we see it.
Mike from Rochester: Tom- thanks for doing this. Do you see the postseason being pushed back into April or May?
Tom Noie: Mike: Right now, it's easy to say, yeah, shut it down and push it back and play it safe. But I think (hope) that we see fewer postponements and cancelations once teams get into league play, where the testing protocols and standards are a little more steam-lined. That's where Notre Dame is running into issues right now - with non-conference opponents from non-power five leagues where I don't know the testing is as thorough. Look at what Notre Dame did to play at Michigan State - it tested four times last week, including once Friday afternoon in East Lansing and again Saturday morning. No issues. Now? Opponents have major issues. Hopefully, once teams get into league play, it kind of settles down. If not, the game's in biggggg trouble.
John from coloumbus: I agree robby definitely needs to learn to change gears and that why the injury cane at such a bad time, he was playing much more under control figuring out all that stuff he missed after freshmen year. Even in that Maryland game he had some great drives and finishes. That play was tough, open lane to drive, trying to stay aggressive, awkward foul and fall. Not many kids will play harder
Tom Noie: True, but also have to play smart at this level.
Mike from Rochester: Favorite ND players to cover (top 3-5) over your tenure on the beat?
Tom Noie: Mike: Always a loaded question, because a former player or two will feel like I've slighted them in some way, shape or form. But this is overall in 21 years, liking these guys because of the way they played and the give-and-take we had in media sessions - Can't name just five, but Troy Murphy, David Graves, Chris Thomas, Ryan Humphrey, Jack Cooley, Ben Hansbrough, Ty Nash, Pat Connaughton, Bonzie Colson are right there. Again, probably left a few out, but those guys were fun to cover because they got it. On and off the floor. Luke Harangody should be on that list, but he was wayyyyy too "protected" by an SID who had no business protecting him.
Tom Noie: And see, I knew I'd forget somebody....have to add Tory Jackson to that list.
Joey from Highland, IN: Your initial thoughts on Cormac?
Tom Noie: Joey: Too early to tell. Hard to drop too heavy a hammer in his first game back, but did expect him to be a little more aware of his surroundings. He hit his first two 3s and then struggled to adjust when Michigan State adjusted to leaving him open. Hopefully, that comes in the next week or so....or whenever they play again.
joe from the south side: Tom: With you and Brey coming on the ND scene around the same time, what are the one or two things you've seen that you thought, "boy this guy is sharp, this guy is good"? And the one or two things where in 20 years there still leaves something to be desired?
Tom Noie: Whew, that's a lot of history and ground to cover. Let's see. If I had to go with one aspect about Mike Brey as the coach at Notre Dame with short notice, it would be that he never let outside influences influence the job he did in making that his program. Football gets the first and second and sometimes third seat at the table on campus? No big deal, just keep winning and building. Facilities stink? Don't let it deter you from the big picture. The former league you were in (Big East) kept changing with schools and divisions and format? Just win double-digit league games. Moving to a new league? Keep grinding. That's a lot to handle, and Brey's probably done as good as anyone could. Anyone. Should he have won more? Sure, what coach hasn't won as everyone wanted? Brey has his faults, but I'll ride with this - nobody would've been able to do what he's done in 20-plus years in the way he was expected to do it. Nobody.
Tom Noie: Something to be desired? I'd say his insistence on sticking with his guys and being loyal to a fault - either on his staff or his roster. Not making a change here or there when change might've been best. I think back to after the 3-15 season in the ACC. Yeah, that was injury-related but it also was player-related, as in the guys they had weren't good enough. Every option should've been explored and used in the offseason to upgrade the roster. Bring in a traditional transfer. Bring in a grad transfer, if only to shake up the locker room status quo. Take a chance sometime. He didn't do it. The result? 10-10 last season. I'd like to see him take a few more chances, especially for someone as secure in his job as he is.
joe from the south side: Tom: I know ESPN and the ACCN are handling some of the early games, but I don't recall any TV schedule for the Wildcats. Have you heard anything?
Tom Noie: Kentucky? That's a noon tip next weekend in Lexington on CBS.
joe from the south side: Tom: Much as I would have liked more from East Lansing consider this. MSU had a game under their belt. Huge! Road game on a SAT night at the Breslin Center. HOF Coach. Arguably, somewhat better talent. Finally, other than UVA, probably the best fundamental DEF and REB and screening team they will face, maybe in the country. That's a tall order for Game #1.
Tom Noie: Joe: All true....Notre Dame wasn't going to win that one, fans or no fans. What I'd have liked to have seen was the compete level a little higher. More fight from the Irish. Less of more of the same in terms of shot-missing, decision-making, softness. There's no shame in going up to Breslin Center and losing. There is when you give up a 26-0 run.
Caleb from Charlotte, NC: With the graduation of John Mooney, Juwan Durham is expected to have a bigger role in the offense and on the boards. However, he wasn't much of a factor in the Michigan St game. Can he be a guy that can consistently get you double-figure points and rebounds?
Tom Noie: Caleb : For this season to be any sort of a success, he has to be that guy. It's his time. He wasn't happy with his role or his minimized minutes last season playing alongside John Mooney. Now's his chance to do something about it. Think you're an ACC big man? Legit ACC big man? Go play like one. It's not like he's not going to have every opportunity to max it all out. What he does - or doesn't do - is really up to him. Go be a player.
Joey from Highland, IN: One game isn't enough to sell an entire season, but, from one game, it looks as if these guys haven't gotten any better. Still quite a few airballs and bad possessions. I just don't understand why. They're a veteran team. I know it's a tough MSU team, but, they went up 4 and that was it.
Tom Noie: Joey: Yep....too early to draw many conclusions but this one we can draw - can't give up a 26-0 run and go down by as many as 28. Not this group. We should be beyond that.
Andrew from Plymouth, IN: This has felt, for awhile now, similar to when Brian Kelly needed to finally go outside his own coaching tree and shake things up. This has been happening with the long dry scoring spells for multiple seasons now. Something has gone stale with the coaching, does Brey need to go get some assistants that haven’t played for him in the past? The coaching seemed best when Solomon and Cross were on the staff.
Tom Noie: Andrew: Yes, yes, yes times 10. Notre Dame needs an assistant coach who can be the heavy, as Anthony Solomon was coming off 14-19 in 2013-14. He ran the spring workouts. He was tough on the guys, but they responded. What happens next? Consecutive runs to the Elite Eight. I don't know if this staff has a heavy, someone who can really get into guys when warranted. It has to be someone beside the head coach. It's OK to be liked, but it's also to at times be feared, even loathed, by guys if you can tap into their potential.
Lee from Lancaster, SC: Which ND basketball team will win more games, the men or the women? Which team has a better chance of getting back into the NCAA tournament?
Tom Noie: Lee: Let's go with the women, mainly because the schedule might be a little lighter on that ledger. And same for getting back to the NCAA tournament. The number of tournament-worthy teams in the women's game is nowhere near it is in the men's game. You can pencil in the same two or three teams to the Final Four in women's hoops every year. Men? Little tougher. Not better. Just tougher.
Andrew from Plymouth, IN: I liked the aesthetics of the MSU arena on TV with the mural behind the bench where the seats would normally be. I could’ve done without the fake crowd noise that BTN pumped in, though. Any idea if ND is doing something similar to make the crowdless arena look better for TV?
Tom Noie: Andrew: It would help to have a home game to see exactly what they're going to do, but please, please, please, no fake crowd noise. From where the media was seated on the concourse of Breslin Center, it sounded more like a low hum or crowd noise. It's a little annoying. Can't replicate what it feels like having 15,000 fans in there, so don't try it. Plus, it makes it more difficult to hear what's going on down on the court.
Coach from Reading, PA.: Hi Tom. ND has nobody, except Hubb, who can get past their defender. Yet that’s their offense. Penetrate gaps to get someone open. It’s not working. I think they need to run Chin, the Princeton offense. But in order to run it they need a shooter in the high post who can back screen then pop out. That puts Durham on the bench. Play 5 guys who can all shoot. Your thoughts. PS. Nice work covering ND football.
Tom Noie: Coach: Good stuff, but I have to see this team play more than 40 minutes before declaring that they can't do this and that very well. Here's the rub - this is a veteran team, so they SHOULD be able to figure it out and not look as uncertain as they did the other night. A lot of it also is going against someone besides the same five guys in practice. Like, Juwan Durham can get that flip shot at the rim off. Cormac Ryan can get that layup to fall. Against a team like Michigan State, it's being swatted. It's an adjustment.
Tim from Chicago: Hi Tom, how difficult is it in today's world to find an opponent to play on short notice to replace cancelled games. What are the logistical challenges that the average fan doesn't realize? What's stopping Brey from calling up the Depaul coach and saying we'll jump on a bus Saturday for the 90 minute ride over, see you at 2pm at your campus gym?
Tom Noie: Tim: A lot of it is that teams already have games scheduled for the weekend. If not Saturday, then Sunday. Nobody's going to play back to back like the NBA, especially during a pandemic. Is an arena available? Officials? Game management staff? DePaul recently shut down because of virus issues. A head coach/program has to take into account how badly they want to play. yeah, Notre Dame really, really needs a game this weekend, but at what cost? Getting Tuesday's game against No. 23 Ohio State and Saturday at No. 20 Kentucky wiped out? Any program that's not testing as often as Notre Dame carries a really high risk at this point. College basketball should've just started the season Jan. 1 and gone to a 28-game Atlantic Coast Conference league schedule. Every team would be on the same protocol. Non-league games, as we've seen this week, are just a roll of the dice.
joe from the south side: Tom: My knock on Brey would be this. He coaches a style of BBL that I don't think should go deep in the Tourney. Too perimeter oriented, and it's way to tough to outshoot everybody in unfamiliar courts. They don't rebound all that well and they don't defend all that well. In my mind, you just can't outscore teams for three weeks. That said, shouldn't shooting guards be knocking on his door to play? Especially with the freedom he allows? I think that would be my gripe. That guys like JJ Starling or kids from DeMatha aren't wearing out a path to South Bend. Too me, those are the kids who should be slam dunks.
Tom Noie: Joe: True, but there a lot of that falls under fit. And timing. Shooting guards might've been lined up to play for Notre Dame a couple years ago - say when this current junior class were freshmen. Shooting guard sits down with Brey and says, hey. you've got Robby Carmody and Dane Goodwin signed and T.J. Gibbs for two more years. Am I going to get meaningful minutes? Brey's going to say, yeah, if you can earn them, but I'm going to look first and second and third and maybe fourth as the guys I already have. You wait your turn. Guys then say, thanks, but I'll go somewhere I can play. That's why Notre Dame went the one-and-done (and whiff) recruiting route a couple years ago. Brey couldn't sell anyone on playing time. And every kid wants to play now.
Bill from chicago: Tom, has there been any effort to communicate with Ryan Ayers to find out about his abrupt departure ? Is he trying to land an nba job ?
Tom Noie: Bill: We were led to believe that the reason Ryan Ayers no longer is an assistant coach at his alma mater, where he also played, was to pursue other opportunities. He's not coaching in college. He's not coaching in the NBA. He's not coaching, period. He's got a house in South Bend that he's not living in. That will tell you all you need to know about his "abrupt" departure. It wasn't so abrupt, and it wasn't to pursue future basketball opportunities. We'll leave it at that for now.
Bill: Any word on the rumors that ND has just scheduled a home game against Detroit Mercy on Sunday?
Tom Noie: That would fit the profile, but nothing's official yet. They're going to get a game for Sunday. Whether they play it? Flip a coin....lol
Lee from Lancaster, SC: Mike Brey is a good coach and has done as much with the ND basketball program as can reasonably be expected. Back in the days of Digger Phelps, the Irish were on occasion a legitimate contender for a national championship. However, given all the changes in college basketball since those days, it's almost unfair to expect the Irish to legitimately compete for a national championship. What should be the realistic expectations of the men's basketball team every year? Does the ND administration expect the basketball to compete for championships like they do in several of the other team sports?
Tom Noie: Lee: Make the NCAA tournament at the very least. Finish in the top half of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Have enough able bodies to be competitive relative to your league. I don't buy that whole "compete for championships" baloney that Notre Dame likes to trot out there. How many championships has the school's flagship program competed for/won since 1988? It's more like chase championships and still graduate your players and make the school more money than it knows what to do with. That's Notre Dame 2020.
Tom Noie: That will do it for today. Thanks to all who participated. We'll be back later this month, say, maybe Dec. 17 with another chat. Hopefully the Irish will have played a few more games. If you have a question or comment that cannot wait, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and stay healthy!