Chat Transcript: You had Notre Dame hoops questions - a lot of them. Here are some answers

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Tom Noie: We're back....and suddenly, it's summer around these here parts. Think it actually snowed the last time we chatted about Notre Dame hoops. None of that today in Northern Indiana, where temperatures will push toward 90. Weather aside, it's always basketball season in these parts. There's plenty to ponder and discuss when it comes to the Irish. To join, be sure to include your name and hometown. And with that, you know the drill - let's light this chat candle.

Bob: Who are some of the top recruits ND has a realistic chance with ? Donovan Clingan a possibility ?

Tom Noie: Bob: Buckle up, because this answer might take some time to chew through. Deep breath. OK, let's go...Notre Dame currently has around 20-25 names on its recruiting board for the Class of 2022. Topping that list are Donovan Clingan, a 6-10, 220-pound center from Bristol, Conn. and guard Rodney Rice, 6-4 from Potomac, Md. Notre Dame's immediate needs are twofold - a point guard and a big man. Who else might be on the short list? It's odd to say but it's true - it's too early to tell given that the staff has not been allowed to recruit off campus, really for the last two recruiting cycles, because of the pandemic. Recruiting finally will get back to some semblance of normalcy when college coaching staffs can get back out on the road in July. The Irish staff wants/needs that time to actually see kids in person. Recruiting solely off video and getting to know kids through Zoom is a tricky proposition. So July's going to be big to focus even more on a core group of maybe 10 guys that they feel are best fits.

Tom Noie: But, alas, it's not that easy given where we are in college basketball. Notre Dame will have seven players - Paul Atkinson, Robby Carmody, Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski, Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz - in line to graduate in the spring of 2022. Seven guys is a lot, but hold on. Of those seven, only Atkinson is out of eligibility. The other six have the option of returning for another year (and maybe more). That kind of muddles the recruiting crystal ball. What if Hubb returns? What if Ryan and Wertz? Do the Irish still need to find a point guard? Dane Goodwin already has indicated a desire to return for a fifth year. Then, with all that, there's also the ever-present transfer portal. This offseason, there were some 1,500 players in the portal. How will Notre Dame use that moving forward? Some schools will recruit the portal with more of an emphasis than high school kids. It will be fascinating moving forward how the Irish will construct their roster.

Bob: What does Anthony Solomon bring that some of the other assistant coaches have lacked ?

Tom Noie: Bob: First, let's cover this base - Anthony Solomon is expected to return for his third stint as an assistant coach. He'll replace Scott Martin, who will rotate back to video/recruiting coordinator. Martin was supposed to serve in that role last year before Ryan Ayers left for personal reasons. Solomon's hiring could be official as soon as the end of the week. What does he bring that the current assistants lack? How about everything?

Tom Noie: One reason - maybe one big reason - Notre Dame has found itself on the outside of the NCAA tournament looking in for the last four years is there was nobody on the staff that could/would really challenge Mike Brey or the players. Solomon will do that. He has an edge. He has experience. he has wisdom. He has an attitude and mentality that this program has lacked, really since he left following the 2015-16 season. If you want to say he's the "bad cop" on the staff, that fits. He just has that something that can reach guys. He's tough. He's fair. People respond to him. Notre Dame hoops hasn't been past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament under Brey without Solomon. That's not a coincidence.

Joe /Granger: How big of an addition will Coach Slo be on the recruiting trail!!...

Tom Noie: Joe: On a scale of 1 to 10, how about a 12? He'll go get guys that guys on the current staff haven't been able to get.

Dwight, NC Arkansas: I believe having Anthony Solomon returning to the staff is a real positive. Given Mike Brey's age, is it conceivable that Solomon was getting valuable coaching experience elsewhere and is now returning as a viable head coach at ND at some point in the future? He certainly knows ND as well as anyone not named Brey.

Tom Noie: Dwight: Good points on knowing this culture and this university, but it would be a hard sell to the Irish hoops fan base to bring in someone who went 24-88 in his only head coaching stint at Saint Bonaventure. And the Atlantic 10 as we know is nowhere near the Atlantic Coast Conference. No, I think Solomon's best as an assistant who can be a great resource for the head coach.

Eddie: What is the status of Robby Carmody? How many years of eligibility does he have left?

Tom Noie: Eddie: Robby Carmody has yet to play a full season of college basketball, which means he has at least four years of eligibility remaining - five if you count the additional year the NCAA has given student-athletes because of the pandemic, but that's sort of silly. He's not going to be in college - be it at Notre Dame or somewhere else if he chooses to reset his college experience - for eight years. Carmody was close enough health-wise to contribute last season, but it got too late in the season where there was little benefit to bring him into the mix. He's expected to be full go certainly for preseason camp in fall. Maybe for summer pickup sessions.

ND Hoops Addict, South Bend: Any news or rumblings on crowd expectations for football or basketball games? Will I get to use my season tickets this year?

Tom Noie: ND Hoops: look around at what's happening elsewhere in college football. And even, NFL or Major League Baseball. News that Pro Team A, B and C or college D, E and F are slowly upping attendance capacities or opening them up to 100 percent is a really good sign for Notre Dame. I'd be shocked if Notre Dame wasn't close to 100 percent by the Sept. 11 home opener against Toledo and at capacity for all sports for the 2021-22 school year. That's where all this is trending. If - and that's a big IF - there are no setbacks from coronavirus numbers, it should be business as usual from a fan experience at Notre Dame this season. In all sports.

Guest: Do you expect notre dame to make the tournament next year. Bill Tinley park

Tom Noie: Bill: The baseline expectation for this program should be to make the NCAA Tournament. Will they in 2021-22? I want to say yes, but the core of this group is going to have to show something and do something that it has yet to do the last three years. Maybe the additions of Paul Atkinson at center and Anthony Solomon on the coaching staff should be enough to push this program back to Selection Sunday. Unless there's marked improvement from the core, it's going to be difficult to get there.

Jim from Berlin, CT: Tom it's great to hear from you after a long pause following the end of the basketball season. In your opinion has Mike Brey basically worn out his welcome in South Bend? I worry that mediocrity has now become the norm for Irish men's basketball and reaching the Big Dance is now nothing more than a pipe dream. How many more losing seasons do we have to put up with before Brey finally calls it quits?

Tom Noie: Jim: Good to hear from you. Let's get a "normal" season to really drill down on where this is all headed for Mike Brey and the future of the Notre Dame men's basketball program. Missing four straight NCAA Tournaments is inexcusable and unacceptable, and everything else, but rewind to each of those seasons - Notre Dame lost Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell to injury in 2017-18 yet still was the first team out of the Field of 68. Lose those two guys, and it's a tough sell to get back to the NCAA. Next year, lose Rex Pflueger and turn the program over to freshmen who weren't ready. Yeah, they weren't getting in that year, or the following. You just don't go from 3-15 in the ACC to tournament team in one year. 2019-20, pandemic aside, that team should've done more to get in with seniors T.J. Gibbs and John Mooney and Rex Pflueger. Last year? Too many unknowns in a pandemic to point to the NCAA and say gotta get there. Let's have a "normal" season when everyone stays healthy (on and off the court).

Real Rob in Dallas: Tom, now that Coach Solomon has been brought back for the 3rd time and this time as an Associate Head Coach, it sure looks like Balanis is the odd man out. Do u see him moving into an ops role so we don't have too many cooks in the kitchen?

Tom Noie: Rob: This feels like an answer I'd give about the starting lineup, but if the season started tonight, Rod Balanis would be the associate head coach, Anthony Solomon and Ryan Humphrey would be the assistants and Mike Brey would be the head coach. Still think there has to be one more move - if they could create a different role (non-coaching) for Balanis and bring in another veteran assistant coach as another voice/recruiter that would align nicely I believe there's value in having Rod Balanis on this staff, but maybe in a different kind of role at this stage of his career.

mike: I.U gets a new coach and there recruiting goes wild. So is it that Brey is not able to recruit or is it the higher ups just will not allow it. Attendance at most games is real bad but why would you expect people to go to games if the school will not allow the team to be competitive. I have season tickets for thirty years thinking ever year it will be different but I think I am done.

Tom Noie: Mike: Indiana is Indiana, one of the top five or six blueblood programs in college basketball. Are we really comparing what happens down in Bloomington to what happens in South Bend as apples to apples? Because it's way different than apples to oranges or anything else. Attendance at Notre Dame games has been average at best (even in the best of years). And Notre Dame believes it can and will be competitive in the ACC, but it's going to do it on its terms. It's not a one-and-done destination. It's not going to take recruiting risks that other schools in the ACC can take. It's going to do it its way. Look at Notre Dame for what it is and not what others are doing and the frustration level might fade. Might.

Nick Ventura: How is Robby Carmody progressing and is there hope that he can contribute this year and if so in what role?

Tom Noie: Nick: Touched a little earlier in the chat about Robby Carmody's health. His role remains a blank slate. Notre Dame went out and added two more guards to an already crowded perimeter with J.R. Konieczny and Blake Wesley. That right there tells you that the window of opportunity may have closed a bit on Carmody. It's up to him to push it back open and carve out a role for himself. Stay healthy and figure it out.

Tony: Tom, coach Brey talked about getting a defensive asst coach. I don’t see any movement. Have you heard anything? Bringing back Slo is good if it happens but soon this staff will be able to hit the road to recruit.

Tom Noie: Tony: Anthony Solomon will be hired as an assistant coach and will be in charge of overhauling the Irish defense. He's going to earn his salary, because that end of the court is a complete teardown/start over. If anybody can do better, it's Slo. He'll get those guys' attention and get them to compete. That right there is a start on that end.

Tony: Tom, how come it seems Brey puts out fewer offers and is always later than other coaches. I understand the academics need to be good. But, shouldn’t this be checked on a head of time. Any rumblings that he leads for any recruits?

Tom Noie: Tony: Academics is a BIG reason for that. Like, everything has to be right and up to date on the transcript before the Irish proceed. And for anyone to hang their hat on getting offer A before offer B is kind of silly. Like, this kid's going to go to this school because they offered first? But what if the other school is a better fit? Don't get so hung up on offers. In journalism, it's often better to be right than to be first. Same can be said for hoops recruiting. Be right instead of first. What does first really mean? Not a whole lot. And it's too early in the recruiting cycle for reasons explained above to think Notre Dame leads for any given recruit. Recruiting has been on ice since the pandemic. It will get back to some sort of normalcy in July where coaches can actually get out and see kids. That's huge.

Dan - Chicago: I assume that there will be no more additional players (specifically, transfers) added to this year's team besides Atkinson and the freshmen?

Tom Noie: Dan: Given what the transfer portal looks like (currently about 1,500 kids) I'd not assume anything. Cormac Ryan was a late portal addition (June 2019). As of now, Notre Dame has no plans to utilize that last scholarship, but if a perfect guard jumps into the portal this afternoon or next week or next month, the Irish certainly will have interest.

Dan - Chicago: Will anyone sit out this year to preserve eligibility. I assume only the freshman would be potential candidates for this.

Tom Noie: Dan: Good question - and it may not be open only to freshmen. The plan last year was to play the long game with Tony Sanders, who in a normal year would've gone the five-year route. What if the perimeter is too crowded for him this year? What if power forward Elijah Taylor struggles to get up to ACC speed? I don't see one of the two freshmen going on the five-year plan. At least, not now. What if the returning guys are lights-out good and efficient and operating as one? Might be a consideration down the line. Would be a good problem to have.

Joe Asbury Pk Nj: Why does Coach Brey believe not carrying a full roster of scholarship players is a good strategy ? It seems we are constantly down to under 10 healthy players . This has to effect practice along with games no ?

Tom Noie: Joe: Personal preference for Brey, who would rather have 10-11 guys all relatively happy with their roles than carry 13 guys and have two leave after season's end. Brey comes from the Mike Krzyzewski way of thinking that a shorter bench is a better bench. Brey also believes that the law of injury averages that have crippled this program since 2017-18 HAVE to eventually turn. The Irish were under 10 healthy guys last year because Elijah Taylor underwent ankle surgery and Robby Carmody cracked his kneecap. Brey still believed nine was enough - if he didn't, he wouldn't have sat Carmody the entire year. The injury thing's gotta swing back the Irish way this year, doesn't it?

Bruce, Centralia, IL: Tom, I doubt that anyone doubts Coach Brey’s ability or his fit with the program. That said, I have observed a distinct drop off in energy from him over the last few seasons, on the sidelines and especially in the postgame. Have you observed the same thing, and if so, do you ascribe it to age, to this group of players being frustrating to coach, or to some other factor that might not be visible to the rest of us? Thanks very much.

Tom Noie: Bruce: Welcome to the grind that is college basketball. It's hard enough to be up and energetic all the time when your team is winning and all is going good. When it's not - and that's certainly been the last four years - everything about it is hard. Last season, especially because of COVID and the uncertainty staffs operated sometimes not day to day but hour to hour. Losing takes a toll on every head coach, especially someone like Brey who always seemingly had the right answer or button he could push. That's been draining since this core group were freshmen - he hasn't been able to reach them to the point where they can produce. There's something missing, and still might be this season. I thought two years ago that Mike Brey would contemplate leaving. He didn't. Same this year. Didn't happen. When you talk to him away from the coach-media setting, he's got all the same energy and juice he did in 2015-16. He believes he can get back to that. That's half the battle. Now actually go do it.

Andrew from Plymouth, IN: Do you anticipate a transfer sometime between the end of summer workouts and the beginning of the season? There aren't enough minutes for everyone so atleast one player is going to be frustrated with their lack of expected minutes. Someone like Tony Sanders is also probably headed for a redshirt season, which will be difficult to swallow coming off a season in which he actually got minutes on the court. I don't imagine Brey changes his philosophy and starts rotating in the way a team like Florida State does in that up to 10 players get significant minutes. How do you think this shakes out?

Tom Noie: Andrew: Whatever rotation writing that might be on the wall in summer and preseason already is there. It's no secret who the main guys are and will be. The returning guys know that, so it's not going to reach a point in August or September where someone says, whoa, didn't see that coming. That includes Tony Sanders. He played a total of 79 minutes last season, so that might be a reach to say it will be difficult for him to be handed a lesser role - especially if a bigger role awaits down the road. That's the kind of guy Notre Dame gets. They know what the current picture looks like and what the bigger picture will look like.

Tom Noie: And Florida State? Funny you brought up that program. What the Seminoles have done the last few seasons in-season has been remarkably consistent, but man, what happens in the NCAA? Too many guys who don't really look like they know their roles. There is a such a thing of having TOO many guys. That's an example. Regular season, it works in their advantage. Post-season, it works to their disadvantage.

xmustico: Do you think Elijah Taylor could be an underrated part of next year's team? Could he be the Colson (as a freshman) that comes off the bench and provides good minutes while guys like Atkinson and Laz get some rest. Big fan of Philly players and think they could use more of that toughness on this team.

Tom Noie: X: That would be a great story in a program really void of great stories the last few years. For too long, it's been we get what we see and we haven't seen anything close to what we need to see for this program to be considered among the top half of the ACC. Maybe Elijah Taylor hits the college basketball ground running with his surgically-repaired left ankle and becomes that junkyard-dog type of guy that Bonzie Colson was early in his career. That would be a wrinkle we haven't seen from the Irish in too long. I've tired of seeing the same old guys do the same old stuff. Some new energy is a must.

P. Rose: The starting five is pretty set, we assume, with some possible fluctuation on number 5 and first off the bench. Who do you anticipate being the 7th and 8th man of 2021-22 season?

Tom Noie: P: Your standard late-spring answer is coming....ready. Too early to tell. We just have no idea about the 7-8-9-10 spots in the rotation. As mentioned in the previous question, can Elijah Taylor take a role and run with it? If so, he's a main guy. What can Robby Carmody provide? If anything, given his age, he's going to have a case for bench minutes. How about Matt Zona? Then you have the two freshmen. Where/How do they fit? I'm anxious to see this team play in summer (if we're allowed). We usually get a really good indication on how all the pieces fit in June and July.

Andy from Bryan,Ohio: Thanks for taking my question...Mike Brey has been a God send for ND hoops and very few coaches could do what he has done.But everything eventually comes to an your estimation/opinion,what does Mike Brey's successor look like?..What is that snapshot?..Not necessarily asking for possible names as much as strengths to build on the last 20 years?

Tom Noie: Andy: A young guy with a pedigree of success - either as an assistant coach (like the NBA) or a head coach at a mid-major who has the potential to make that leap to the elite that is the ACC. What I don't see is a coach who's been around the block and we're doing this same possible coaching dance four or five years later. Brey took this job 21 Julys ago with the belief of making it his own. There's someone out there that has the same dream - and potential. Who's going to find him? Can they find him?

Pat, Springfield, IL: Thanks for offering this opportunity. Any idea what the non-conference schedule will look like? Will the season start around the usual time, mid-November?

Tom Noie: Pat: Good question, and from every indication in this pandemic world, college basketball is going to look a whole lot more like college basketball in 2021-22. That means fans in the stands. That means closer to 30 games. That also means the return of the November MTEs (multi-team events). Notre Dame is part of one and will go back to Maui for the first time since winning it in 2017 (and Brey going shirtless with the lei). The Maui field is Butler, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Oregon, Houston, Chaminade, Saint Mary's and Notre Dame. I'd think a first-round game between Notre Dame and Wisconsin or Notre Dame and Butler might be in the works. Notre Dame also will play a non-league road game at Howard (MLK Day) while it looks like the game against Kentucky will be at home (Dec. 11) instead of Madison Square Garden. There's the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge where Notre Dame is on the road (maybe Ohio State???) and the Crossroads against Indiana. That's seven non-league guarantees to go with a 20-game ACC schedule.

Steve Duff: Thanks for your great work on Irish hoops Tom. Two questions for you. In my view, player development has stagnated for several years. Do you think there will be marked improvement from the “old” guys on the roster or have they hit their ceilings and this is who they are? Also, how much impact will Atkinson and the two South Bend freshmen have this season? Thanks and keep doing your thing!

Tom Noie: Steve: Great to hear from you and really great stuff. You nailed it. Player development has stagnated. Guys that are supposed to get better or are expected to get better haven't gotten better (outside of John Mooney who became a backboard beast). Maybe some of that is coaching. I don't know if Ryan Ayers ever reached any of the guards in his time. Let's see if Anthony Solomon can take a run at elevating Prentiss Hubb's game or Dane Goodwin's game. My concern about this season is that this core is what it is - an average outfit. I'd love to be wrong about that and would be pleasantly stunned to see this core chase an NCAA bid. Atkinson's going to be a main guy the minute he arrives on campus - just plug him in and let him play. Konieczny and Wesley, I'll go the wait-and-see route. Both are talents whose talents are nowhere near ACC ready. Yet.

Mike,New Jersey: Hey Tom, Any chance we see an ND alumni team in the TBT this summer? Bonzie, Mooney,Auguste,Farrell,Abro etc. all having solid careers overseas. It would be a shame it they never got together to compete.

Tom Noie: Mike: Good call. Maybe throw in there V.J. Beachem and Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia and Martin Geben as well. Jerian Grant too. I know there have been early discussions about getting a team together (my source is pretty, but haven't heard anything lately. May reach out to my guy and see where that sits. John Mooney likely wouldn't be an option - he's got NBA options coming after his season in Australia. A lot of the Notre Dame alums have discussed a team last year. It didn't materialize because of COVID. Hopefully it does this year.

Guest: Gary From Elkhart; I read where Hunter Dickinson went to Michigan because his girlfriend was going there.Sounds like a last minute package deal to me what say you?

Tom Noie: Gary: That and Cost of Attendance (where student-athletes are offered a financial stipend on top of their scholarship) was better than what Cost of Attendance student-athletes get at Notre Dame. The girlfriend angle was only part of the story, but why let that ruin the narrative? Mike Brey walked out of his last meeting with Hunter Dickinson convinced he was coming to Notre Dame. Like, he he had a verbal commitment. And then he didn't. Ahhhhh.....recruiting!

joe from the south side: Tom: First question on FB, then strictly hoops. Recently, you had the chance to meet with or talk to Marcus Freeman. I forget which. Seems like you were extremely impressed. What about him made you so effusive with praise?

Tom Noie: Joe: Wasn't me. None of his have actually done anything face-to-face with anybody with Notre Dame football (or any athletics) since March 2020. I have listened in on some of the Zoom pressers that Marcus Freeman has participated in. Extremely well spoken. Grounded. Measured. Gets it. You can tell why kids want to play for him.

joe from the south side: Tom: Your thoughts on Solomon returning. Remember, you laughed at me for suggesting Grant and Solomon as a package.

Tom Noie: Joe: And I'm still laughing. Anthony Grant's a UD guy with really strong connection/relationship with Don Donoher. He's not going anywhere. I'm surprised it will be third time around with Anthony Solomon. He was really good the first two stints, but this one will be tougher for myriad reasons. Let's see how it plays out. I'd be stunned if it didn't work.

joe from the south side: Tom: Let's assume the first 6 are set (Atkinson, Hubb, Ryan, Nate, Dane, Wertz). IYO, who are the next in line candidates to contribute? Two guys with at least some experience---Sanders and Zona? Or, the second coming of Vasturia, (JRK) or arguably the best athlete on the roster but a pretty big ego (Wesley)? I am assuming that the injuries to Carmody and Taylor remove them from the discussion, at least for today. Pretty hard to see Carmody coming back from all of those injuries, and Taylor missing a whole year puts him in a hole, I think.

Tom Noie: Joe: Too many unknowns up and down and all around the next-in-line guys after the first six. All have potential, but all have red flags that say, no, not happening right away. I'm not aboard the Sanders-Zona experience train. They barely got a taste last year - certainly not enough to say yeah, they're ready. And then, like you said, have the two injured guys and the two freshmen. Summer workouts/pickups will offer a better idea how these pieces fit.

Greg in Chicago: Do you see ND starting an annual series with one or two schools (say Marquette or DePaul) now that the IU/PU/ND/Butler classic will appear to go away?

Tom Noie: Greg: And not a moment too soon for the Crossroads, which long wore out its welcome as a hoops doubleheader destination, at least for Notre Dame, which runs a very distant fourth (or fifth) in terms of fan support at Bankers Life. Anyway, I digress. Notre Dame and Marquette will renew its rivalry beginning in 2022-23 with a home and home (one game in Fiserv, one game in Purcell). Then it would be time to jump back and do something with UCLA. DePaul's got to get a little better (OK, a whole lot) to make that series worthwhile. But anything in late December would be better than Indianapolis. There's only so much IU a guy can take.

Greg in Chicago: What do you see as the 1 thing that absolutely must happen with this team to make it back to the NCAA tournament and conversely, what do you think is the biggest hurdle the program currently faces?

Tom Noie: Greg: This core has to show SOMETHING from a competitive/cruel standpoint where they just go and beat people. They play as one. They move the ball and get rolling confidence-wise and just run through with wins for long stretches. That's a big ask because we've seen next to nothing in that department the first three years. The biggest hurdle will be the confidence game - last time these guys were on a court together, they trailed an ACC opponent by 50. FIFTY! That's hard to do. The Irish did it. Can't do it again.

Erik (Granger, IN): Thanks for being here! What makes UVA’s “packline” defense so good, why don’t other teams (ND) try something similar, and what does it take to defeat it?

Tom Noie: Erik: Tony Bennett recruits to it - getting smart guys who embrace defense and aren't enamored with stats. You want to play 35 minutes and score a lot of points and showcase your skills, Virginia's not going to be for you. It's a greater good type of approach. Come to Virginia, embrace defense, frustrate opponents and win a lot of games and the personal accolades will come. Too many kids today don't want to play that way, which is why it hasn't caught on. To beat it? Think one and two and three plays ahead. Be so decisive in the post that you don't give them time for the double team to come. I covered Baylor's second-round tournament game against Wisconsin at Hinkle in March. You could just feel that the Bears were thinking a play or two ahead AS a play was unfolding. Be quick, be decisive, be sure and it eliminates the effectiveness of the packline. Oh, and shot-makers also don't hurt!

Erik (Granger, IN): Has Anthony Solomon had success at the coaching stops between ND stints? If not, why do you think he’s been more successful here at ND?

Tom Noie: Erik: Only at Dayton, where the Flyers were Final Four caliber before the pandemic wiped clean that season. He's had success at Notre Dame because he understands the type of kid who chooses that place. He can reach them. He can relate to them. That's why he's headed back for stint No. 3.

mschleet: Will Notre Dame hire another new coach? If so, any names that may be considered?

Tom Noie: Eventually. A few. How's that for to the point? LOL

Dwight, NC Arkansas: IU has in recent weeks picked up 2 apparent quality portal transfers which may help them greatly. Does ND have needs that a transfer could help fill? I understand there are a LOT of transfers out there. I realize the 'proper fit' is of prime importance/

Tom Noie: Dwight: Not really. Not yet. Here comes the standard Mike Brey loyalty response in a chat. The perimeter's packed. The low post will be Paul Atkinson's to man. Notre Dame could go out and get another veteran transfer big or veteran swing guy but Brey wants to see what he has in Elijah Taylor and Matt Zona, and Tony Sanders and Robby Carmody to an extent. There's no shortage of possible rotation guys on the current roster. How that shakes out, that's going to the be $64,000 (and more) question.

GEorge from El Segundo, CA: HI Tom; hope you and yours remain safe and well. Monty Williams appears to be on his way to NBA Coach of the Year. Just wondering if there Is there any current relationship between Irish basketball and Coach Williams? Thank you.

Tom Noie: George: Notre Dame hoops held a Zoom call during the pandemic (want to say early or mid summer last year) with Monty Williams and the members of the basketball team, which was cool to see. Outside of a quick conversation or text, there hasn't been much between Mike Brey and Monty - mainly because their seasons overlap. Monty hasn't been able to get back and be around the program and the program's a little far away from PHX.

Bruce, Centralia, IL: Tom, I’m excited about Atkinson coming in as a grad transfer. Can you give us a profile of his game please - strengths and limitations, and what his ceiling might be in the ACC? Thanks very much.

Tom Noie: Bruce: Start with the fact that the last time he played a college basketball season (he sat out 2020-21 after the Ivy League shut down because of COVID) he was the league player of the year. Ivy League or not, that's pretty impressive. He's been a double-digit scorer and rebounder at Yale. That should translate to the ACC. And he's older, which means a more mature body to absorb the pounding bigs take in this league. At one point, he was the most sought-after transfer before the portal blew up. He had his share of suitors. He'll be a consistent presence in the post. Right there is a good start. There's a lot to like, but also a lot we don't know.

Guest: Why do we struggle to recruit big physical skilled players?

Tom Noie: Outside of North Carolina, which seems to grow guys who are 6-11 and rebound and are athletic on trees down there in Chapel Hill, it's become a guard/perimeter game. It's hard to find a 6-11 guy with the skills that are needed in today's game. Though Notre Dame's run of bigs - Jack Cooley, Zach Auguste, Martin Geben - was pretty good, and pretty underrated. Those guys were big and physical, but also understood that to become skilled was a process and it was going to take time. Bigs today - like many elite prospects - want to play right away and get their NBA clocks started. Notre Dame's more developmental when it comes to that area. Might always be.

John from Orlando: Will Monty Williams be the next Head Basketball Coach at the University of Notre Dame? And does Jack Swarbrick have a mediocrity fetish, as express by the long tenures of Mike Brey and Brian Kelly?

Tom Noie: John: Might be out in the sun too long down there. Why would someone just named NBA Coach of the Year give up the paycheck and the lifestyle at the game's highest level to go coach in college? Not seeing it. Also funny that you can go 43-8 in the last four years as Brian Kelly has and be considered mediocre. Been reading too many internet message boards. Get out of the dark ages my man!

Lee from Lancaster, SC: Hi Tom, which player must have a MVP type season if the Irish are to get back into the NCAA tournament?

Tom Noie: Lee: Prentiss Hubb. Not from a stats standpoint, but from a leadership standpoint. An Alpha standpoint. From a jump on my back and I'll carry us where we need to go standpoint. Here's the rub - I don't know if that's in his nature - or anybody else's on the roster - to be that needed Alpha like a Pat Connaughton or Jerian Grant or Ben Hansbrough or Troy Murphy. You can add all the guys you want and shuffle the staff all you want, but if you don't have that one guy who others will run through a wall with, it's going to be really hard to go where you need to go.

Guest: Hi Tom. Been a follower for years & appreciate your work & dedication to the ND program. Just quick question: is it difficult to follow the baskelball program right now, as closly and passionately you do, without having or sharing a gut feeling that we're all just waitung for a change, whether warranted or not? Thanks, Tom.

Tom Noie: Guest: Great name, by the way. To your question, it's absolutely not difficult because that change that seemingly everybody wants or expects or hopes for just isn't happening anytime soon. The season is going to be the season, just like the previous 23 for me as the Notre Dame beat writer. Each one is a journey with so many twists and turns and storylines. There haven't been many where you're like, ugh, I can't muster the energy to cover this team. Hey, I've been there as the last couple seasons have wound down, but if this season started tomorrow, I'd be ready to roll. There's a lot of intrigue, both for the immediate and distant future for the program. Let's go!

Harold Cox: Why can’t ND get the big shouldered rebounders other teams seem to have in endless supply? ND relies on three point shots. When those shots miss and become 1 and done plays. ND then doesn’t get rebounds? Other teams always seem to have four or five but not the Irish?

Tom Noie: Harold: It's not the big-shouldered rebounders that hurts the Irish efforts on the backboard as much as it is want-to. That will change with Anthony Solomon. Trust me. He'll get guys who haven't rebounded to rebounded. What is the status of ND Men's Basketball going into 21-22, good or middle of the pack??

Tom Noie: Jim: Gotta be middle of the pack, right? For a team that was down by 50 last time out, that's as good as it gets for now.

Tom - South Bend: I'm very unhappy with NDs new ticket policy. Since I do not have a mobile phone, and do not plan to get one, I guess that leave me out in the cold when it comes to renewing my season tickets for all ND sports.

Tom Noie: Tom: Gotta get going and join 2021 or be left out in the cold. It's the way of the technological world. Adapt or get left behind. Kind of like newspapers, so I can relate.

Guest: Steve Diebold, Louisville KY Who is going to be a difference maker for the team next season? Do we have any players with enough talent to carry the Irish to something more than a .500 record with a middle of the ACC pack finish?

Tom Noie: Steve: We've waited three years on this senior class that collectively was ranked among the nation's Top 15 when they signed. We're still waiting. When does that waiting end? There are pieces here and key guys there, but for anything good to happen for this program, it sits on the shoulders of Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski. Like, let's go. If you can't or don't show us this season, then when? They're not the overwhelmed freshmen or uncertain sophomores or want-to-be-good juniors. They're seniors, which means it's their time. Is there enough there to breakaway from the middle of the pack in the ACC? There simply has to be.

Mark from Roswell, GA: Hi Tom. Why hasn't Brey signed a backup point guard behind Hubb. He usually brings a freshman in behind a senior. I know we have a plethora of shooting guards, but no true backup point guard. What if Hubb goes down, we are in big trouble. I know Cormac can play point, but he is too slow to keep up with the ACC point guards.

Tom Noie: Mark: Good to hear from you, but a question first - how do you go about finding a "backup" point guard? Most point guards believe they're good enough to be lead guards, right? There's just not a specific market for a "backup" point guard. You recruit a guard at a school like Notre Dame and in a league like the Atlantic Coast Conference, that guy's going to want the ball in HIS hands. Not wait for someone else to hand it to him. As a result, it's backup point guard by committee. Brey pushed Trey Wertz into that role last year. He'll be better in it this year. So will Cormac Ryan. Keep an eye on Blake Wesley. There are enough handlers to be handlers, even in the ACC.

Adam: Tom: When Slo was on staff during the Elite 8 run, was he doing a lot of defense then?

Tom Noie: Adam: Probably, because it seldom was an issue those two seasons the way it was last year. There may have been only a game or two along the way where you thought, sheesh, they're not guarding anybody in 2015-16. Last year, it was an every-day issue. That has to change.

Guest: Is Robby Carmody expected to be 100% by fall? Any other injury updates?

Tom Noie: Easiest answer of the day - yes and no. Thanks for stopping by! LOL

Bill from Orlando: Tom, Thanks for holding these chats. They are an interesting and welcome diversion from the daily tedium. I have an opinion and a question to offer.

Bill from Orlando: oops. First to the opinion: Looking over the roster of returning players, I see a team with a NIT ceiling; to return to the NCAA I think Paul Atkinson will have to be better than Durham was, and at least one of the two freshman will have to consistently provide quality minutes. Now the question: Do you think Anthony Solomon will make that much of a difference for ND's defense? I know they performed better in that area in his previous stints, but that is relative (they have never been great on D during Brey's tenure). When I saw the announcement of Solomon's return, it struck me as a comfort-level hire. Best.

Tom Noie: Bill: Good stuff. Anthony Solomon may look like a comfort-level hire and on some levels, is, but he'll challenge Brey in ways other staff members haven't. Brey needs to be pushed out of that comfort zone. Defensively, I don't think Notre Dame's becoming Virginia overnight, but it will be better enough to get a few more stops when it needs stops. And totally agree with your thought on Atkinson. He has to be better than Durham. Everyone else has to find a new level as well. Only then will they have a chance.

Danny/Chicago: Hey Tom, if you had to guess of the 6 seniors with eligibility to return the following year, how many do you actually see coming back?

Tom Noie: Danny: Dane Goodwin already has let it be known that he's interested in a fifth year. I can see Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz also leaning that way. Robby Carmody too, though with an asterisk. If he eventually becomes odd man out, he may consider going somewhere as a grad transfer if playing time is paramount. As for Prentiss Hubb and Nate Laszewski, if both have the seasons they're supposed to have, it might be time to make a run at pro ball. Whatever and wherever that may be.

Tim from Chicago: Hi Tom, I'm a regular visitor to these chats during the season and wasn't planning on dropping in today, but your tweet said the question queue is jam packed and I was wondering what big news I may have missed since the season ended a couple months back. Are people really that excited about a new assistant coach on a team that hasn't made the tournament in four years?

Tom Noie: Tim: I think they just want to hear something from me to be honest....LOL...every time I underestimate the Notre Dame hoops crowd, they prove me wrong.

xmustico: Should we expect anything out of Elijah Taylor this year?

Tom Noie: X: Depends on your definition of "anything." Major minutes and a big run of double doubles for points and rebounds? Probably not. Spot minutes and a glimpse that there's something there and just needs time? Maybe.

Toledo Johnny from Georgia: Hi Tom. This is strange timing, but happy to see it. Will Nate be our #5 (post) and will Zona be good enough to sub...or will Nate be our #4 and Zona our starting #5? How will Elijah Taylor fit in here?

Tom Noie: TJ: Have you forgot about or don't know about Paul Atkinson? The Yale transfer and former Ivy League Player of the Year will be the starting five. Nate Laszewski and Elijah Taylor at the power forward spot and Zona likely bouncing between both spots as the backup. As for timing, we're about to go to a whole new editing system at the Tribune next week. The kinks will take most of the summer to work out. It's chat this week or maybe not chat again until September. I'm only half-joking on that. Have questions, comments, concerns, better get them in today!

Todd S in Asheville, NC: What's the word on the contribution that Elijah Taylor will provide in 21-22? Heard lots of good things about him.

Tom Noie: Todd: TBD. Energy and effort greatly needed. How that fits/translates to the Atlantic Coast Conference will be determined only by game minutes.

Jack/Pa: We all know Brey can coach. What kind of spark is needed to jump start recruiting? Rick Majerus said he thought it would be easy to recruit at ND, and we seem to recruit well in just about every other sport.

Tom Noie: God Bless his soul, but that's Rick Majerus being Rick Majerus. Easy to recruit to Notre Dame? Yeah, not seeing it. Takes a special kind of kid who embraces the academic/athletic combo. And let's stop comparing how hoops recruits to how football recruits. Programs are just a litttttttttle different, no?

Clint from Winnipeg: Will you be keeping an eye on what Nikola Djogo does next season at Northeastern?

Tom Noie: Clint: Sure, just as I kept an eye on what Chris Doherty did at Northeastern last year, and what D.J. Harvey did last year at Vanderbilt and will do this year at Detroit Mercy. They're still Notre Dame guys to an extent. That doesn't change because they decide to go somewhere else.

Clint from Winnipeg: Can you quickly run through the main rotation guys from last season and tell us in what area(s) each could realistically improve his game heading into 2021-22?

Tom Noie: Clint: Quick rundown of the main guys and what they need to improve on: Prentiss Hubb (leadership), Dane Goodwin (perimeter consistency), Nate Laszewski (counter when teams smother him), Trey Wertz (feel, motor), Cormac Ryan (perimeter consistency), Paul Atkinson (feel for ACC), Matt Zona (presence), Tony Sanders (feel, motor).

Ed, Greensboro: Tom , great to be back. Aside from Solomon, what changes will Brey need to make to get this group going? Also, I have the feeling this is his last season if we do not make the tournament.Thoughts? Thanks

Tom Noie: Ed: Just tap into what this team and these guys can be. It's frustrated him that he hasn't been able to do that for the last three years, but there's a part of him that still believes there's more to unlock with them and that they can be really good. No NCAAs for five years running would be tough to ignore moving forward, though I thought that the case with three and four years....

joe from the south side: Tom: BTW, you laughed at me Part 2. Wojo is out there. Played for Brey at Duke. Catholic boy from the DC area. Head coaching experience. 44 years old. I say coach in waiting. BTW huge step down for MARQ hiring Shaka.

Tom Noie: Joe: Currently picking myself up off the floor. Might not be able to continue after that one. That statement is similar to the guy who was wondering if Monty Williams would leave the NBA for Notre Dame - once an NBA coach, always an NBA coach. Same goes for head coaches like Wojo - once a head coach, hard to accept that assistant's chair.

Erik (Granger, IN): Do you expect guys who have never really been held accountable in three years to respond to Coach Solomon’s tough love or do you think it could fall on deaf ears (too little too late?)?

Tom Noie: Erik: If I'm Anthony Solomon - I see you Slo! - I'm selling this - doing it the way you did it the last three years got you next to nowhere. Do it this way, and you might be able to dream those NCAA tourney dreams. It might not be in them, but it won't be for a lack of effort on Solomon's part.

Clint from Winnipeg: Have you heard anything on what Juwan Durham is going to be doing? Playing professionally overseas?

Tom Noie: Clint: Juwan Durham has hired an agent and will pursue his professional basketball options.

joe from the south side: Tom: You know, for all the flack Brey takes, some deservedly so, let's put this in perspective. In general, the ACC gets as much or more NBA talent as any league. When Roy was at NC, you had 3 HOF coaches in one league! The ACC schedule does ND no favors. 3 games in 8 days, two on the road, and two of the 3 are Duke and FSU. The refs certainly do them no help. The school does not back Brey like it does Kelly. And Brey really has STUDENT athletes on his squad. That is a mountain to climb every year. Where he needs to improve is recruiting more athletes, and he needs to instill some fight in the dog. From my point of view, it looks like there is no down side to playing sloppy D, or having a poor shooting night, or not fighting on the boards. I think he, or Anthony S, really needs to crack the whip, and if you piss off somebody, so be it.

Tom Noie: Joe: Trust me, the whip will be cracked. The accountability level goes up 10-fold just with Anthony Solomon back on the staff.

Ed, Greensboro: Tom, are you ever able to interview players one on one to get their thoughts, on or off the record, or is that a no-no?

Tom Noie: Ed: Always, but that was pre-COVID. One of the toughest aspects of this job is I feel I don't KNOW these guys because I haven't been able to sit with them and just talk hoops. Not everything is reporter-player interview stuff. Best part of it is turning the recorder off and just talking....maybe giving a guy grief for a missed dunk or something or a moment that we might have in common. Once guys know you, they trust you. I don't know any of these guys outside of Zoom. That's a big drawback.

Danny: Non related sports question to switch it up. Best pizza place around ND in your opinion?

Tom Noie: Danny: I'm a big Barnaby's downtown guy. Better than Rocco's. Yep. I said it. Never got Rocco's. It's just kind of, meh....Prove me wrong. If not Barnaby's, then Bruno's. No Bruno's? I'm hopping on the Toll Road and getting Malnati's. Gotta get my Chicago fix somehow.

joe from the south side: Tom: See Matthew Curtis Painter. Not so funny now, is it?

Tom Noie: Still is. You mean as a coach in waiting? Little different with a guy with zero specific school ties (Wojo and Notre Dame) and Painter being a coach in waiting behind a Hall of Famer AT his alma mater where he also played. Wojo went 128-95 with zero NCAA tournament wins at Marquette. THAT'S what you want for the next coach at Notre Dame? Really?

Tom in South Bend: How do you expect the "no sit-out" transfer rule to affect ND? There are already about 60% more transfers in the portal last. Here's what I epect.this year than

Tom Noie: Tom: It's not just Notre Dame, but it's all of college basketball and how teams operate in terms of roster management/construction/recruiting. Say you're Notre Dame and you need to start thinking about who gets the ball when Prentiss Hubb moves on. You need a future starting point guard. Do you invest time and energy and effort into recruiting a traditional high school kid who might sign with you? Then he does, but then, a veteran guard who liked you coming out of high school hits the portal and can play immediately and will have the ball in his hands. He'll make you better the minute he commits. How do you recruit? High school kids? Portal kids? Both? It's a circus now and will get even worse moving forward.

Wadelite Long Beach, CA: Tom, it seems like overall guard play has declined since Solomon and Ingelsby left. I always assumed Ingelsby had more to do with the guards, but perhaps Solomon will be an asset to improve the level of play, such as being able to break a press or shot selection (step back treys with 20 seconds left on the shot clock).

Tom Noie: Wade: Yes, yes, yes all across the board. Since you mentioned a step-back 3 with 20 seconds on the shit clock, let's use Prentiss Hubb as an example. Yeah, poor shot, poorer possession. That quick 3 may lead to a run-out and easy basket by the other team which tops out a 10-0 run against Notre Dame. Mike Brey calls timeout, but the head coach has 10 different scenarios running though his melon and doesn't have the time to jump his point guard for the decision. Nobody on last year's staff likely would either. Now with Solomon, you have someone who can pull Hubb to the side and explain the bigger picture of that decision to where he's better next time. The guards under Ryan Ayers were just kind of there. That shouldn't be the case with Anthony Solomon. Ask Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson.

Erik (Granger, IN): What does the team’s summer schedule look like this year?

Tom Noie: Erik: If all gets back to normal, its summer school (usually two classes) and workouts and a heavy dose of evening pickup with conditioning in mornings. The team did zero of that last year, which is a crusher for a program that values the offseason the way Notre Dame does. Summer's a time for the main guys to learn how to be main guys together, something that never happened last year.

Wadelite Long Beach, CA: Which frosh plays more this season? I know the level of play they faced in high school was not the strongest for a jump to the ACC. I'm also worried that we will see Goodwin playing 15 mpg at the 4 spot and that will again be a disaster defensively and on the boards.

Tom Noie: Wade: On May 20, I'm going with Blake Wesley, for myriad reasons. I'm not sold that J.R. Konieczny will remain a guard. Mike Brey says he is and his high school coach, Mark Johnson, says he is, but he seems to have future stretch-four written all over him than perimeter guy. Wesley's skill set better suits this team next season - especially his ability to get after it....wait for it....defensively. And he can handle. There was one game I watched Wesley play this season where teams tried to press and trap him and he beat it with the dribble, then shredded remaining defenders with look-away passes to teammates. Those passes were fumbled away, but at the ACC level, those are dunks for other guys. And not sure Dane Goodwin was as much of a "disaster" on the defensive backboard. He finished with 134 defensive rebounds - behind only Laszewski and Durham. I'll take that 5.5 rebounding average any day. Now, getting in a stance, that's a whole different story....

Ron, Tennessee: Why is Gonzaga so good? What do they do, have that ND doesn't? It would seem to me that if Gonzaga can compete year in and year out, there is no reason for ND not to do the same.

Tom Noie: Ron: Sure, if Notre Dame had an administration to green light giving the program every resource possible (which also includes bending a few admission standards) to be a national power. Happened at Duke. Happening at Gonzaga. Not happening at Notre Dame. Those two schools wanted to be good in college basketball and figured out ways to do it. Notre Dame wants to be good, desires to be good, but at zero cost to the way it does business. Big difference. Yeah, Notre Dame's not Duke and not Gonzaga. Never will be. Never.

joe from the south side: Tom: I do not expect much out of Taylor, nor should anyone else. First, he missed last year because of his ankle. I would guess that hampered his physical development both from a growth and a familiarity with his teammates standpoint. Next, Atkinson will be a pleasant surprise......if he is in BBL shape. He is an athletic big with a nice post game and a decent short range shot. I could see 14 and 7 on average, and 30 minutes a game. Nate will be the second big, and Big Zone likely #3. Remember, Brey singled out Zona last year as a nice surprise. If he spent some time in the weight room, he could function for 10 minutes or so in a game. Finally, Brey showed he was willing to play 5 guards at times, particularly if the OFF was stagnant. That said, Hubb, Dane, Ryan, Wertz and maybe Wesley or JR at times. All in all, Taylor reminds me more of E. Burns, so I would temper that enthusiasm.

Tom Noie: Preach my man!

Wadelite Long Beach, CA: Tom, you were considerably melodramatic and seemed sure that Brey would soon be exiting the program after the NC State game last season. Do you think if he had less years on his contract he would have been? It's quite clear Swarbrick is not going to pay millions for someone not to coach. Did Brey convey a sense he wanted a buy out offer that never came. Is Solomon the start of Brey 2.0 ala Brian Kelly 2.0? In fairness that had worked out quite well. Is there any potential head coach hire that could bring enthusiasm to this program? The only realistic name I can come up with currently is Buzz Williams.

Tom Noie: Wade: That's a lot to unpack.....A LOT. First, Notre Dame took care of the melodramatic part late in the year when they lost five of seven, which included consecutive losses when it blew a 20-point lead at Syracuse, was a no-show at Louisville, lost at lowly Boston College in a game it never led, then had the "Fire Brey" chants from its own students after another dog effort against North Carolina State. Go back to that postgame when I asked Brey about the chant. Watch him. Listen to his answer. To me, it seemed he was politicking to save his job. Now, though, it seems Brey and Swarbrick and even Father Jenkins are a triple-play package deal - all going through 2024-25 together. And you lost completely lost me with Buzz Williams. One of the reasons Buzz Williams bailed on Marquette was the lack of admissions breaks to borderline kids he couldn't get. Imagine his reaction when he learned of how Notre Dame academics/admissions operates. Yeah, no on Buzz.

Guest: Tom, is the staff pretty much set. I guess bringing just Slo back was our big hit! I just think the staff could of been upgraded more.

Tom Noie: Looks that way....maybe there's a transfer portal type of hire lurking, but don't hold your breath.

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom I've noticed in today's chat part of the discussion is about coach Solomon and the defense but what about the ball movement on offense? It seems last season there was too many late shots taken with less than 5 seconds left on the clock. To create this ball movement there has to be a flow of movement of players without the ball and last year seemed like there was a lot of standing around on offense. With Atkinson at center will there be some inside-outside movement to where he'll hit the open perimeter shooter or is he strictly go up and power my way to the bucket? Maybe with him they might run some hi-low? On the lighter side when they were short bodies for practice has Fr Pete ever had to put on a practice jersey?

Tom Noie: mark: Good stuff. That ball movement issue goes back to guys not really being connected. You take it, no you take it, no let Hubb take the bailout 30-footer with two seconds on the clock. Goes back to Brey not being able to really figure out how to reach these guys where it flows on offense. We saw it the first half of the Kentucky game and then rarely saw it the rest of the year. Why? Gotta answer that one to move forward.

Justin Ft Wayne: Hey Tom! Do you see Notre Dame really emphasizing how to break a press this off-season and during camp? For example that Syracuse second half was miserable to watch when we couldn’t even get the ball past half court. Hope they finally can break a press next year.

Tom Noie: Justin: That second half of the Syracuse game was an outlier. Guys know how to break a press. They just wouldn't do it. Went to the worst spots on the floor, had guys inbounding the ball that shouldn't inbound. Did everything they could to lose the game. Then they lost it.

joe from the south side: Tom: And your options are....................? Are coaches ringing the phone off the hook looking to fill the ND job when it opens? I don't think so. Current assistants? No chance. Number of NCAA Tourney wins Mike Brey had at Delaware..........0. Number of NCAA Tourney wins Shaka had at Texas............0. And let's not get into how much talent the state of Texas produces every year. All I am saying is kick the tires. Try to be one step ahead of the competition.

Tom Noie: Still a pass. A hard one. Sorry he's your guy, but still, nope.

Bill - Madison: As a fan, the Crossroads is great, but I get it wore out his welcome. How about something similar, but in Chicago with ND, Illinois, Marquette, Iowa State? Just grasping out of thin air, but ND would get way more support in a Chicago centric event than Indy

Tom Noie: Bill: You're still dealing with a team that would dominate the building - trading Indiana in Indianapolis for Illinois in Chicago. I'd rather add another home and home than those MTE dates.

Guest: Hi Tom, what should the expectations be for cormac Ryan heading in to this season? We definitely saw flashes of what he could be...

Tom Noie: String together more of those games like he had at Cameron Indoor Stadium together. He and Dane Goodwin had sooooooooo many open looks that just have to be made for shooters at that level. That has to change.

Clint from Winnipeg: You mentioned Chris Doherty earlier. What happened with him? Did he just get to ND and figure out that he wasn't good enough to play ACC basketball? It felt like he never really gave it a chance.

Tom Noie: Clint: Chris never gave it a chance. He twice left school (once without telling the staff) because he was homesick. They tried to work through it with him but at some point, a change needs to be made. One was.

Erik (Granger, IN): Do you know a good witch doctor who can de-jinx Rolfs Hall? All kidding aside, do you think there's any merit to the idea that practicing in that facility has somehow led to the poor shooting percentages we've seen the last couple of years? Sight lines, backgrounds, anything like that? Or has getting out of the sweaty dungeo-- I mean Pit made the team soft or lost their "all in this together" mentality?

Tom Noie: Erik: Thought about that. This team was better when they were poor, like look at this ratty practice gym we have. They have everything they want at Rolfs, which depending on the group dynamic, can have a negative effect. The building's state of the art and needed, but sometimes good to go back to your roots. Be poor. Play with something to prove.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Good morning Tom. Kind of a nice distraction to have an Irish hoop chat at this time of year. Thanks. In your opinion, what have been the key factors and or deficiencies that have led to ND's funk and inability to make the NCAA tourney in recent years? Also, I have always admired Brey for his class and past achievements but how much of this failure must be laid directly at his doorstep? And what could he have done differently to have prevented such a disappointing drop off?

Tom Noie: Jim: Whew, where do I start and not turn this into a 3,000 word analysis? So many factors - injuries to key guys (Colson, Farrell), inconsistency in recruiting, roster management, a freshman class that hasn't progressed as expected, a staff that went stale at the wrong time and a head coach who believed he could pull everyone along and recreate 2015-16 again. This is Brey's program so yeah, he accepts a big chunk of the backslide. Trust me, he's not in his office at Rolfs wondering, hey, how did all this happen? Why did it happen? How can they be better? It drives him to get this turned around. What could've been done differently? I go back to the 3-15 ACC season. That offseason should've gone a different direction. Cull the transfer portal. Bring in a graduate transfer. Something to change the tenor of the locker room. Notre Dame did nothing. It was like the status quo was OK. Main guys who shouldn't have stayed in main guy roles stayed in main guy roles. That carried over to the next season. Still does now.

Erik (Granger, IN): Thanks for answering all our questions! Love your dedication to these marathon chats. Good luck with the transitions this summer!

Tom Noie: We're going five-plus hours my eight-mile run in at 6 a.m. Plenty left in the tank. How many of you can say the same? Leggggooooo!

Erik (Granger, IN): You mentioned that the law of injury-bug percentages has to even out at some point, but is there any chance the strength/conditioning of the team has contributed to those injuries? Also, Bonzie had the same injury Kevin Austin had last year, right? Has Bonzie had any lingering effects that hampered him in the year(s) after the second break? I'm wondering about Austin's chances to be 100% this year for the football team.

Tom Noie: Erik: Yep, Kevin Austin broke the same bone in his foot as Colson did. I remember when Tyler James reported on Austin's injury, I mentioned that it was the same injury as Colson, who said doctors told him there was an 80 percent chance the bone would break a second time and to expect that with Austin. Then Austin broke it a second time. Colson hasn't had any additional injury issues outside of soreness during his time as a pro.

Tom Noie: Quick update going back to question about former Notre Dame standouts in the TBT this summer - a Notre Dame alumni team still in the works and a "definite maybe" for this year. The guys want to make sure that everything is in place for them to make a run at the title. Don't want to go halfway. The old In It to Win It philosophy. Stay tuned.

joe from the south side: Tom: What with gains against the pandemic, states and the CDC have started to relax social distancing requirements at indoor events and are allowing increased attendance. Have the ND students and fans been made aware of this, or will Purcell look like the restrictions are still in effect throughout the BBL season?

Tom Noie: Joe: I'd be shocked - shocked, I tell you - if capacity for basketball is anything less than 100 percent at some point during the season. Really from the start. Let's see where the science takes us from now until November, but everything seems headed in the direction of normalcy. Sooner rather than later.

joe from the south side: Tom: I am too far removed from the situation, but do you feel that Wesley and JR, being local boys, would help attendance or, meh, if ND is same old, same old, why bother going?

Tom Noie: Joe: I think it will help the casual fan be a little more interested. The veteran fans? Meh, they'll still whine and complain and wonder why Notre Dame basketball 2021 isn't Notre Dame basketball 1978. I kid, I kid.

joe from the south side: Tom: (note to you) I can do a quick update on recruiting if you need it. Your call.

Tom Noie: NDInsider has learned....go for

JIM C: Who will be our leading scorer, this coming season? Who do you think. I think could be Atkinson.

Tom Noie: Jim: Prentiss Hubb until somebody proves otherwise.

joe from the south side: Tom: These guys are NO CHANCE...Jaden Bradley, Jerace Walker, Isaac Traudt, Prince Aligbe, K. Filipowski, Jaden Schutt. Some chance but not much....D. Clingan, JJ Starling, Braeden Moore. Best chances.....Rodney Rice, Cam Whitmore, A. Karaban......Couple of notes. Just a hunch but I think Clingan is SYR/UCONN. I cannot get any feel on JJ. Playing really close to the vest. Moore is possible though brand new. Stock should go up. Rice would be a great snag and the family is close to the ND staff. Fingers crossed. Of course, Whitmore is a legacy recruit. Karaban has been under the radar. Typical Brey wing. Needs to bulk up. Probably a 5 year guy. I thihnk Brey i looking at 3 or 4 guys for the next class.

Tom Noie: Joe: Great stuff, only nit - think four guys is too big. Brey learned his lesson from this year's senior class. And might not have four spots if everyone wants to come back. Fat chance, sure, but how can you know for certain? Wild times in college hoops.

Tom Noie: Earlier deadlines means it's time to call it a hoops day. Solid effort all around for late May. Don't know when our next one will be - hopefully June or July but can't say for sure. Stay tuned at for further news. Take care and have a great rest of the week! Stay healthy!