Noie: News, notes and quotes from second Notre Dame men's basketball exhibition victory

Tom Noie
ND Insider
Prentiss Hubb did a lot of Prentiss Hubb things for Notre Dame on Friday against Division III St. Norbert.

SOUTH BEND – Following are NDI beat writer/columnist Tom Noie’s top three storylines/observations and other odds and ends/notes and quotes following Friday’s men’s college basketball exhibition between Notre Dame and Division III St. Norbert, a 78-44 Irish win. 

► The second and final exhibition was treated more like a regular season game by Irish coach Mike Brey, who slashed his rotation and limited the number of lineup combinations in the first half before this one spiraled out of control. 

A week after using 10 combinations in the first half of the first exhibition, Brey went with eight on Friday. He also used only eight players overall — the usual five starters of Prentiss Hubb, Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin on the perimeter and power forwards Nate Laszewski and Paul Atkinson, Jr. 

The three off the bench the first half were guards Blake Wesley and Trey Wertz and power forward Elijah Taylor. No Tony Sanders, Jr., No J.R. Konieczny. Eight may be enough this season, though which eight? That’s going to change. Maybe often.

► Much has been made about the strides the Irish have needed to make on defense, and rightfully so, but there also will be nights like Friday’s first half when Notre Dame is just going to score. A lot. And from distance. Notre Dame went for 39 points in the first 20 minutes thanks to perimeter shooting. The Irish made nine 3-pointers, which helped bust open a somewhat sluggish start. 

Notre Dame also did Notre Dame stuff on offense with 19 assists on its first 21 baskets. Regardless of what the Irish do on defense, they still can share it. And shoot it. 

► The first half was a great growth step for Wesley, who learned that it wasn’t going to come as easily as it the first time out when he finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists. On Friday, Wesley missed his first five shots, including a breakaway, buggy-whip, one-handed dunk. But he stayed with it, and Brey stayed with him.

Noie: Look beyond lopsided final to see what Notre Dame did well in exhibition opener

Wesley still rebounded and ran the offense from the point on occasion. He made a nifty one-handed pass to Hubb for a corner 3 in transition. After another missed dunk in the second half, Wesley drove and threw back to find Goodwin for a 3.

It's stuff like that that’s going to keep the freshman from Riley in the mix. He may dwell a few more minutes on his 0-for in the first half, but it happens. He'll be fine. He finally got a 3 to fall early in the second half, which gave the Irish a 27-point lead.

Senior Trey Wertz is part of a crowded Irish perimeter.

WHO’S HOT? 

► SG Trey Wertz: Wesley’s coming quickly through the rotation and the minutes of Wertz might be affected, especially after he missed the first exhibition with an ankle sprain. 

Wertz needed to play well Friday and responded with three quick 3-pointers in less than three minutes. Early in the second half, he had 12 points in only 11 minutes. Wertz made five 3s and finished with 15 points in 19 minutes.

This is going to be one crowded perimeter. Somebody have an off night, there are plenty of other options. Wertz looks to still be one of them. For now. 

Sophomore power forward Matt Zona currently finds himself on the outside of the Notre Dame men's basketball rotation looking in.

WHO’S NOT? 

► PF Matt Zona: The sophomore currently finds himself the No. 4 power forward in a rotation that goes only three deep. Atkinson and Laszewski are going to get the bulk of the minutes, but sophomore Elijah Taylor, who sat out last season following ankle surgery, has surged into the rotation. Why? He keeps it simple. He can defend. He can rebound. And at 6-foot-6, 242 pounds, he has more of a Big East banger type of body — more than anyone else on the roster. That’s going to keep him involved.

Zona? Just have to keep working, even after a DNP-CD (did not play, coach's decision) in the first half.

Injuries have sidetracked the development of Notre Dame senior guard Robby Carmody, perhaps forever.

WHAT ABOUT... 

Guard Robby Carmody, who did not dress in uniform for either exhibition game. Carmody has battled a variety of injuries — torn labrum, broken kneecap — during his collegiate career and continues to be too injured to compete. 

Not expected to play this season, the 6-foot-4, 202-pound Carmody has missed 75 of 91 games his first three years. He’s on track to graduate in the spring. 

Notre Dame last lost an exhibition game in 1999, then paid for it the next day under then-coach Matt Doherty.

HISTORY LESSON 

► Notre Dame moved to 42-0 in exhibitions under Brey, now in his 22nd season. The last time the Irish lost an exhibition was Nov. 11, 1999, Matt Doherty’s lone season as head coach. Notre Dame lost to Marathon Oil by 24 points, which led to the infamous quote by former All-American Troy Murphy about the Irish being “lackadaisical.” 

That led to the famous 304 wind sprints Doherty made his team run in practice the next day. 

Weird times. Wild times. 

Notre Dame trailed in its two exhibition games by 0:00 - John Belushi's grade-point average in "Animal House."

BY THE NUMBERS 

► 0.00: Not only was it John Blutarsky’s grade-point average in the movie “Animal House” – actually, it was “zero point zero” — but it also was the amount of time the Irish trailed in their two exhibitions. 

► 2: Notre Dame expects to sign at least two high school seniors when the early period begins Wednesday — power forward Dominick Campbell from Portland, Maine and combo guard J.J. Starling from Baldwinsville, New York.

► 8: St. Norbert missed its first eight shots and fell into a 7-0 hole before its first bucket at 14:42 of the first half. The first whistle didn’t arrive until 12:51 remained. 

► 15 and 9.5: Points and rebounds Atkinson averaged in the two exhibitions.

► 16: Number of 3-pointers made by Notre Dame, which would've been four shy of the school record of 20, last set in December 2019 against Detroit Mercy.

► 35: Points that Notre Dame led by before Konieczny checked in with 7:12 remaining.

► 40: Notre Dame's largest lead, 76-36, which arrived at the 5:29 mark of the second half.

► 40.5: Average number of points scored by Notre Dame's two exhibition opponents, both Division III schools. Notre Dame allowed an average of 74.3 points per game last season, last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

WORTH NOTING 

► The lead official for Friday’s game was Bert Smith, who collapsed five minutes into an NCAA tournament Elite Eight game last March between Gonzaga and USC. A blood clot in his lung was later determined the cause of Smith’s episode. Smith regained consciousness before being taken off the floor in a stretcher. He spent the next two days in an Indianapolis hospital. He gave Brey two thumbs up from across the court before this one tipped.

The paths of Brey and Smith crossed this summer at an officiating clinic in Atlantic City. With officials still keeping their distance from interacting with coaches, the two had only a brief conversation Friday.

"The only thing he said to me was, 'Can you believe we're not going to Maui?'" Brey said.

This month's Maui Jim Maui Invitational will be played in Las Vegas, where Notre Dame opens against Saint Mary's.

► Just having the pep band in attendance — it skipped the first exhibition — gave the place a little regular-season life. Now if they can get a few more fans. Not like the sellout No. 7 Purdue had Thursday — but a third of that would be a step. Purcell Pavilion is a building that’s overdue to wake up. It was noisy in there Friday, and that felt good. 

WORTH QUOTING

"Those seven had to eat most of the minutes tonight."

Irish coach Mike Brey on playing his top seven guys each at least 18 minutes Friday.

Notre Dame opens the regular season Nov. 13 against Cal State Northridge, nicknamed the Matadors.

UP NEXT 

► Notre Dame opens the 2021-22 regular season on Saturday, Nov. 13 against Cal State Northridge, which finished 9-13 last season.

It was announced Thursday that the Irish home game will tip at noon. In football, No. 8 Notre Dame visits Virginia in a game that remains TBD — likely either a 3:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. start.

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI

►NOTRE DAME 78, ST. NORBERT 44 

At Purcell Pavilion 

ST. NORBERT (44): Evan Glaser 1-4 0-0 2; Carson Talbert 2-7 2-2 6; Michael Payant 4-9 0-0 9; Carter Gebler 1-3 0-0 2; Ben Jelacic 2-8 0-0 5; Jack Pettit 2-3 0-2 4; Nick Smoldt 2-6 0-0 4; DeAndre Jones 2-5 0-0 2; Garrett Grzesk 1-2 0-0 2; Josh Nicklaus 1-2 0-0 2; Jamison Nickolai 0-1 2-2 2; Aidan Harrington 0-0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 18 6-8 44. 

NOTRE DAME (78): Nate Laszewski 2 2-2 6; Paul Atkinson Jr. 7-8 1-1 15; Prentiss Hubb 5-9 14; Cormac Ryan 3-12 0-0 8; Dane Goodwin 4-6 1-2 13; Blake Wesley 1-9 0-2 3; J.R. Konieczny 1 0-0 2; Tony Sanders Jr. 0-2 0-0 0; Matt Zona 1-1 0-0 2; Elijah Morgan 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 29 4-7 78. 

Halftime score: Notre Dame 39, St. Norbert 22. 

Field goal shooting: St. Norbert 18-for-56 (32.1 percent); Notre Dame 23-for-69 (43.8). 3-point field goals: St. Norbert 2-of-15 (Payant, Jelacic); Notre Dame 16-for-39 (Wertz 5, Hubb 4, Goodwin 4, Ryan 2, Wesley). Rebounds: St. Norbert 33 (Payant 6); Notre Dame 45 (Laszewski 15). Assists: St. Norbert 7 (Bolwerk 5); Notre Dame 22 (Hubb 4, Atkinson 4, Wesley 4). 

Total fouls (fouled out): St. Norbert 10 (none); Notre Dame 9 (none). Turnovers: St. Norbert 15; Note Dame 11. Officials: Bert Smith, Matt Potter, Justin Porterfield. 

Attendance: 5,231