Chat Transcript: What exactly does this season have in store for Notre Dame?

Tom Noie
ND Insider
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey talks with reporters including John Fineran and Tom Noie during men's basketball media day Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.

Tom Noie: The leaves are falling left and right off the trees. Snow's in the forecast for Friday around these parts. That can only mean that it truly is college basketball season. Notre Dame opens Saturday at home against Cal State Northridge. The Irish are the last of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 15 teams to start the season, but that was by design. Enough with all that - let's talk hoops. Make sure you include your name and hometown with your question or comment. And with that, you know the rest - let's light this NDI chat candle. Let's go! 

Jon: Is Hub going to pass the ball? 

Tom Noie: Jon: Great to hear from you, but a question...are you new around here? Prentiss HUBB led the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists last season at 5.85 per game. In his three seasons as the lead guard, Hubb has 445 assists. That's an average of 148 per year. he gets 148 more this season, he'll finish his collegiate career with 593, which would be fourth in school history behind only Chris Thomas, Tory Jackson and Jerian Grant. That's some pretty good point guard company. So to answer your question, yes, I think he will pass the ball this season. A lot. Just as he's done the previous three seasons. 

Kling: What's the ceiling for this team? 

Tom Noie: Kling: Too early to tell. As we start, the baseline  is double-digit league wins, a top half finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016-17. Let's see how the first month unfolds. Can Notre Dame do something in the Maui Invitational? What will it look like in non-league games against Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana before Christmas? IF they show enough signs of being really good, then that ceiling shifts. How about a Top Six finish in the league? How about an NCAA tournament win or two. We're getting ahead ourselves on everything because this core group never has shown that it can do either. But the potential is there. Time to tap into it. 

Tony: Tom, why do you think it took Coach Brey so long to realize a staff changed was needed? I hope it helps on the court as much as it is in recruiting. Now they can go after the 2023 players. 

Tom Noie: Tony: Because when you compile a coaching staff of Notre Dame graduates (Ryan Ayers, Ryan Humphrey) and someone who's been by your side since you arrived at Notre Dame (rod Balanis), you really want it all to work. You're maybe more patient with the process than you otherwise would be. This was the staff that was in place when Notre Dame went to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17. Then it went sideways. If you're Brey, you want it to work. Loyalty is big with him and he was maybe too loyal before making any changes. He realized before last season started that changes needed to be made. He made them. A lot of them. I didn't think he had THAT in him, to go to that extreme. But this staff has re-energized everything around the program. It's almost an entirely different outfit. That allows for optimism instead of the same-old, same-old. 

Trevor B from Punta Gorda Fl: First, I just gotta say I appreciate your coverage of ND basketball fan. Always enjoy reading your articles and these chats you bring to the fan base. I have two questions for you. First one may be a bit premature but since you’ve seen him live and in person I was wondering how far along you believe Blake Wesley is compared to some of the former Irish you’ve seen. Thanks! 

Tom Noie: Trevor: Great to hear from you....send some of that Florida sun up this way. Blake Wesley's waaaaay further along than I would've thought. Watching him a ton in high school, I thought it would take time to shape his game into what Mike Brey likes to do. Wesley had to do a lot in high school. How would that translate? Would it? It has. He's gotten serious about not being only a scorer. He's a basketball player. There haven't been many freshmen (maybe going back to Tory Jackson) who are this ready this early. He's going to play. A lot. Early. 

Trevor B from Punta Gorda Fl: Second question. Do you believe there’s a good chance Blake breaks into the starting 5? 

Tom Noie: Trevor: Only a matter of time. Mike Brey has a core starting five right now, but has never been shy about shaking that up. Wesley's a main guy regardless. He's going to play heavy minutes. Heavy doesn't mean 32+ but it does mean that he's firmly in the rotation. To stay. To play. 

Trevor B from Punta Gorda Fl: what player are you looking forward to seeing the most this season and why? 

Tom Noie: Trevor: I want to see how former Yale power forward Paul Atkinson, Jr.'s game translates to the ACC. He's going to face bigger and better competition. How will he respond? It's one thing to do it in the Ivy League, and Atkinson did it quite well during his three seasons. If he can do it as well in the ACC, that just opens everything up for everyone else. 

Trevor B from Punta Gorda Fl: What line up do you believe will prove to be most productive?

Tom Noie: Trevor: All of it is going to depend on how well this team can and will guard. If they really are bought into defense, and can do it consistently over 40 minutes, the four-around-one lineup (four guards with one big) might be Notre Dame's best lineup with guard Dane Goodwin as the second big. He can play around the rim. He can rebound. That's a smaller but a quicker yet also probably better lineup than playing two bigs. It just seems like  the Irish have another gear when they can get to four-around-one. 

Tyler from Michiana: Tom, I read on a recruiting site that the consistent message from Brey & staff to Ven-Allen Lubin during his recruitment was that he’d have “an immediate role in starting.” If this is true, that leads me to believe that the staff is expecting to lose 2 guards next year (Hubb + Wertz or Goodwin) because Starling, Ryan, Wesley are all but locks to start in 2022-23. Too soon to say that we can just bury Sanders in his 3rd year or a 2nd year Konieczny for that SF/PF hybrid role that I’m assuming Brey sees Lubin in. Opinion? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Great to hear from. That Ven-Allen Lubin at 6-foot-8, 220 -pounds, might be in line to challenge for a starting spot doesn't necessarily mean the Irish might lose two guards - it means there's opportunity along the front line. Paul Atkinson, Jr., will be out of eligibility. He won't be back. Nate Laszewski? Not sure. If he leaves, those are your two frontcourt starters. You need to replace power forwards with power forwards. Next season is a HUGE guessing game. Six of the seven guys who graduate in the spring could conceivably return. Dane Goodwin already has expressed an interest in playing a fifth year so he can get his Master's. You'd think Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz would want a fifth year as well. 

Tom Noie: If you shoot the coaching staff with truth serum, then ask them about the 2022-23 lineup, I think they'd want to have a lineup of J.J. Starling and  Blake Wesley in the backcourt. Ryan or Goodwin as the third guard. If Lubin is that advanced, maybe he earns a spot on the front line. The fifth starter? How about J.R. Konieczny, who might be closer to 6-8 by then as a sort of a hybrid role of forward/guard? Gotta keep developing the back end of the rotation in Elijah Taylor and Tony Sanders, Jr., and Matt Zona. You also can explore the transfer portal. Maybe they get another guy like Paul Atkinson, Jr. A lot of options and not a lot of answers. For now. 

Tyler from Michiana: Tom, not that you’d share if you knew exactly but what’s your best guess about Laszewski going into 2022-23? I’d imagine his professional future regardless of his season this year is international basketball. That’s not going anywhere. Do you see Nate as a 5 year guy? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Nate's a hard guy to get a read on in that he doesn't share a lot of his feelings. He's really quiet. Ask him about next season and he'll say he'll think about it at the end of the season. It's hard to say if he'd want a fifth year. Maybe. Maybe not. There are guys who would jump at the chance, and then there are guys like former Irish forward Carleton Scott who believe that when their time is up, it's up and it's on to the next basketball challenge. 

Tyler from Michiana: Tom, I know this is a question you’ve addressed before but I’m just curious on what you think the thought process behind the cost of these tickets is? Attendance will be down this winter because of the ongoing health concerns. That’s understandable. But for Notre Dame to rather have a half empty arena at the expense of not selling those tickets for half the cost just makes no sense from both an economic standpoint (what’s money to ND anyway) and a fan/player experience. Everybody all around benefits from a sold out arena. Players, fans, and most importantly the university. Winning of course is the cure all but still… 

Tom Noie: Tyler: What IS the cost of a ticket to a Notre Dame men's basketball game? Tiered like football? Though it would be hard to justify paying $100 for games against Kentucky and Duke. I get where the athletic department is coming from - it has to make up for last year's loss of revenue, but it also needs to understand the market. Notre Dame men's basketball tickets isn't anywhere close to Notre Dame football tickets. 

Tyler from Michiana: Tom, with the Crossroads ending at the conclusion of this season, what game do you see in 2022-23 being the neutral site game or the “marque” game that replaces it? Any rumblings? My prediction is a true road game at Marquette with the return game in South Bend in 2023. What do you think? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Thank God the Crossroads is ending with this last installment of Notre Dame playing Indiana in Indianapolis at whatever Bankers Life Fieldhouse is called these days. It's run its course. Notre Dame and Marquette announced in 2019 that it would renew its rivalry beginning with a game at Fiserv Forum  in the 2022-23 season. It's a home and home, which means Marquette comes to South Bend in 2023-24. No Crossroads opens the Irish to explore different games against different teams. Maybe Villanova. Maybe DePaul. Maybe UCLA. Maybe Georgetown. Mike Brey mentioned Wednesday he's also talked with Indiana coach Mike Woodson about rekindling that series, only home and homes instead of neutral sites. So there's that. 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Good morning Tom. Thanks so much for all your fine work when it comes to ND hoops. Heck, your football stuff is pretty darn good too. My question is a fairly straight forward one. Do you foresee any way that Brey returns as ND coach in 2022-23 if the Irish fail to make the Big Dance? If not, does he leave on his own or does AD Jack give him a gentle nudge out the door? Or could he conceivably stay on if the Irish show modest improvement this year and given that he's bringing in a very solid recruiting class next fall? Does this truly amount to a do-or-die season for the coach? 

Tom Noie: Jim: Thanks for the note and the kind words. Having the overlap of football and basketball keeps me hopping, but it sure beats the alternative, so no complaint there. I really don't see this as a make-or-break season for Mike Brey in terms of the way Jack Swarbrick sees it. He often looks at a program - hoops, football, hockey - you name the sport - a little differently than just wins or losses. Are the coaches reaching the student-athletes? Are the student-athletes responding to the coaching staff? What's the overall vibe around the practice facility? I get the sense in my conversations with Jack Swarbrick that a whole lot has to go wrong with any given program for him to believe a coaching change is necessary. And if the previous four years weren't make-or-break years, why would the fifth be? No, I think Mike Brey is the coach of this program until at least the end of the 2024-25 season when his contract expires. Then what? New coach? Contract extension? Think all that works itself the next few years. 

Zach: How do you think the recent recruiting class (getting 3 4-star players) impacts the likelihood of any 5th year guys next season (Laszewski, Goodwin, Wertz, Ryan, etc) 

Tom Noie: Zach: It really doesn't. If all six of the guys who have eligibility remaining want to return, I think Mike Brey will give them that chance. It's a little different situation than bringing back Nik Djogo or Juwan Durham this season for a SIXTH year. Brey is pretty up front with his guys in that after five years, it's just time to move on. After four? Don't think he's escorting any of those guys out the door at Rolfs if they say, hey, Coach, I'd like to come back. 

Jeff from Schererville, IN: Tom, I’m wondering if you saw Kentucky-Duke and if so what your impressions were of that game and its participants. It looks like the WV transfer is a beast on the glass for UK and that’s been a problem for ND, and as for Duke, Banchero was what we thought he’d be but Keels looked like a hidden gem. Their games against ND are a month or more away, but what are some things ND might be able to do or should do against each in order to give themselves the best chance to win? Thanks and keep up your great work. 

Tom Noie: Jeff: Trevor Keels is going to be a problem in the league, not just for Notre Dame. He's really good. Notre Dame just needs to be Notre Dame - remember when Jahlil Okafor was the latest big with the tremendous upside like Banchero is today. Notre Dame beat Duke twice that season, including in the ACC tournament semifinals. So just do what the Irish do. It really is about them and not so much about the other teams. It's good to get a team like Kentucky early before the Wildcats figure it out. I also saw where John Calipari played only seven guys. Mike Brey's not the only one....lol 

Rockaway Mike: Do you think Notre Dame will be better at handling the full court press this season?? Last year they mostly dumped the ball in the corner and hoped for the best. On the flip side; with a defensive minded, deeper and more athletic lineup, do you expect Notre Dame to utilize and be more of a  full court/trapping defence?? I think that would surprise everyone!! Thanks Tom. 

Tom Noie: Mike: They can't be any worse than last season, right? I still think of that second half at Syracuse and shudder. So does Mike Brey. Don't think you're going to see these guys running all over the floor and throwing traps and double teams here and there and everywhere. At least, not yet. Let's perfect halfcourt defense and key in on gang rebounding before branching out. Small steps with this group, but the small steps have been good. Let's see them translate. 

Mark Metzler - Rochester, NY: Tom, great to be back! How deep will this team play once we get to ACC play? 8-9 guys? 

Tom Noie: Mark: Ha! Good one. I kid, I kid. There will be nights - a lot of them really and against the elite teams - when this rotation won't go beyond seven. It's the starting five of Hubb, Ryan, Goodwin, Laszewski and Atkinson and Wertz and Wesley off the bench. Now, there might be chances for say, Elijah Taylor as the eighth man against a physical team or J.R. Konieczny against a perimeter team. But not on a regular basis. 

Tyler from Michiana: Tom, I’m curious about the relationships you have with the 2018 class. Hindered given the current health circumstances of course, but I’m curious if you plan to remain in touch with any of these guys after 2022 (or 2023) or see a certain relationship that you feel that door would always be open? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: It's been hard to get to know these guys, like, really know them as I have with so many classes/teams/guys in the past. I've asked more than once about doing something with Robby Carmody and all that he's been through. It's never gone any further than that. As for the future, I feel comfortable contacting just about anyone (there are a few exceptions, lol) that's played in this program during my 24 years on the beat if I need to reach out. Ninety-nine point nine times, guys get back to me. 

Aidan: How much will Wesley contribute this year and when it’s all said and done can he rank up there with some of the great players Brey has had in the past decade (Grant, Pat, DJ, etc.) 

Tom Noie: Aidan: Whooooooaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh. I get the excitement around Wesley, and rightfully so, but let's see him get through his freshman year   where the struggles are real, especially the next few months when the games are coming quickly and finals lurk and more games and the spring semester. That said, the tools are there for Wesley to be really good. I'm not going into greatness territory. Not before he's played a game. 

Clint from Winnipeg: Which of the returning players has surprised you the most in terms of his improvement? 

Tom Noie: Clint: Too early to tell. Notre Dame has played two exhibition games, both of which got out of hand really early. After that, it's just a pickup game and hard to really say, whoa, haven't seen that. Like, Trey Wertz hit five 3s and played with great pace in the second exhibition, but he missed the first exhibition with an ankle injury. Can he do that for more than one game? It's kind of like that across the board. There's a lot to like from the two exhibitions, but it really doesn't matter - right now. Let's see it for a week or two or three and then you're like, yeah, this guy or that guy has gotten better. And here's why. 

The man: record projection for regular season and acc play? and also maybe an acc tournament projection as well as march  madness? very early but would be fun to think about 

Tom Noie: My man....need to see more from these guys to really have a handle. Let's go with 20-plus overall wins and 10-plus league wins. Top half of the ACC and an NCAA tournament seed of some sort. After missing out on the last four years, even if the Irish have to go to the play-in game, they'll take it. 

Jacob: What big games do you think we win this year, including the maui tournament? 

Tom Noie: Jacob: Let's go with Kentucky at home. North Carolina at home. Virginia at home, then the Irish do what the Irish historically have done and steal a few on the road. Illinois will be difficult. Indiana at neutral site will be difficult. That's OK - as long as this group competes and isn't down double digits by the second media timeout. 

Rick, Iowa City, IA: Hey Tom! Long time fan here and excited for 2021-22. Feels like this group can finally bring home a second weekend NCAA Tournament appearance. Do you think we'll see a different defensive identity with Slo back in the mix? Go Irish! 

Tom Noie: Rick: If the first six weeks are any indication, defense will take on a whole new priority with this group. Everything they do in practice starts with defense. That's a step in the right direction. Now build on it. This won't be a lockdown outfit, but they shouldn't be anywhere near the sieve-like team they were last year when they didn't stop anybody. 

Ryan mars pa: Tom what do you think about this year’s team i think it will be good with hubb nate Atkinson wertz Goodwin Zona and everyone else I’m hoping they make the tournament go Irish 

Tom Noie: Ryan: A lot to like, but a lot to be determined. There's so much age and experience back and new guys added to the mix, but this group never has done it over the long haul. That has to change to keep from being the same old Irish. 

Rick, Iowa City, IA: That time of year baby!!! Let's just get a few wins in "Maui" and take it from there! On a scale from 1-10, what's your confidence meter at in terms of this group reaching the NCAA Tournament? I'm at a 7! 

Tom Noie: Rick....I'll go 7.5 with good undercarriage and sauce....oooops....thought we were doing pizza. Nah, I'll still go 7.5 with ability to bump to an 8 between now and the first of the year. 

Robert from Michiana: What have been your impressions of Elijah Taylor in practice and the two exhibitions? 

Tom Noie: Robert: At 6-foot-8, 242, he certainly looks the part of a guy that's usually on the other teams in the ACC. He had seven rebounds in 12 minutes the first time out, then tallied one of the strangest stat lines I've ever seen with four fouls in seven minutes. Baby steps with Taylor. Remember, he didn't play at all last year after offseason ankle surgery. There's a lot there, though we might not see much of it this season. And that's OK. It will be a process with him. 

Robert from Michiana: We have seen what coach Solomon brings back to the program. What in your opinion will coach Wyche bring? 

Tom Noie: Robert: An edge. A hunger. A drive. An accountability level that former Irish coach Ryan Ayers never really secured with the guys. And he can recruit. Antoni Wyche was the lead assistant in getting Ven-Allen Lubin. He's been the ultimate grinder assistant at Siena and Lehigh. Expect more of the same - in the best of ways - now that he's back at his alma mater. 

Jerrick: we winning maui??? i wanna see a shirtless brey!! 

Tom Noie: Jerrick: Can college basketball handle Maui Mike? Shirtless and running down the Strip with the tournament championship? Just beat Saint Mary's and worry about the next game. For now. 

Clint from Winnipeg: How many wins over last season do you think upgrading the defense to an "average" level can bring? 

Tom Noie: Clint: Looking at last season's results and off the top of my melon, I can remember five games where if Notre Dame just defended even a little, it would've won - home against Ohio State, at North Carolina (one-point loss), at Georgia Tech (one-point loss), at Syracuse (Irish were up 20 in second half) and at Boston College (defense was optional). That flips an 11-15 record to 16-10. Those games now have to go Notre Dame's way. 

Joey from Highland: Hey Tom, miss me?  I was at both exhibitions and I noticed the ball movement seems way more crisp this year. Hubb seems to be more confident in the other guys too. I was surprised Taylor was ahead of Zona, Zona seems to crash the boards like a mad man. Your thoughts? 

Tom Noie: Joey: Always miss a chance to talk hoops with you man. The ball does move better, in part because the Irish had a chance to practice and play together for the summer. That wasn't an option the previous offseason because of the pandemic, and it showed last year. Think Zona and Taylor are both back-end-of-the-rotation guys until they get a little more seasoning. Zona HAD to play at times last year. That won't be the case this year. Not with this group. 

Dick from Detroit: Is Mike Brey really Ted Lasso in disguise? 

Tom Noie: Sigh....hard pass. 

Chris , DC: Tom,   How big of a year can Laszewski have with the addition of Atkinson?   Thanks 

Tom Noie: Chris: Laszewski first has to stop dribbling his way into issues that have no way out. There have been times in the exhibition where he has an open 3 on the wing or the corner, gives a pump fake, then dribbles toward the basket. He's shut off and now the good look he had is no look and it's a scramble. Laszewski has to keep it simple - see ball, shoot ball. I loved his game in the second exhibition where scoring points wasn't there, so he just went out and grabbed 15 rebounds. That's a big step when guys realize, OK, the offense might not be there tonight, so how can I impact games in other ways? 

Joey from Highland: I watched the ACC Championship game on YouTube. That team was soooo good. Take me back! 

Tom Noie: Joey: I could watch that one possession during Notre Dame's second half run where all five guys touched the ball from five different areas of the floor before Steve Vasturia sticks the 3. The look on the face of Roy Williams that night in Greensboro Coliseum was like, how do I stop THAT???? 

Joey from Highland: I am a Jay Bilas fan but he’s a Duke alum. Not sure he should be doing their games.  Thoughts? 

Tom Noie: He's fine....except when he gets on his Duke-colored soap box. But he's better than the alternative, and honestly, ESPN took a step back when Bill Raftery jumped to FOX. 

Justin, Ft Wayne: Tom, you have any games your really looking forward too? 

Tom Noie: Justin: Honestly, all of them, because it's a journey to see how this team is going to do what it needs to do to get to the end, which is the NCAA tournament. I'm not one of those guys who's like, yeah, wake me in February when everything matters. The joy is in the journey. Who are these Irish going to be? Let's find out. 

Mike from Rochester, NY: Tom, Juwan Durham never evolved into the inside force I think we all expected. Why was that and what does Paul Atkinson bring that should give us hope for a stronger inside game? 

Tom Noie: Mike: It's easy to say now, I know, but I never looked at Juwan Durham and thought, whoa, he's going to be an issue for teams during his career. He was tall. He blocked a few shots. But he was who he was, and what he was. Limited athlete, limited scorer. Limited guy. Good guy, but not someone that was going to influence games. Atkinson's a different cat, in so many good ways. That he's 23 shouldn't be ignored. He just plays basketball. Doesn't look like he's out there sorting through his options as Durham seemed to do. Just play. Let it flow. 

Greg from New Jersey: Thanks for doing these chats Tom!  Anything specific we should watch for relating to the improved defense?  Of course, effort and technique need to improve, but have you seen or heard anything regarding specific strategies/philosophy?  Pack-line principles or more aggressive ball-pressure/deny?  Ice, switch or hedge ball screens?  Anxious to see the new focus on defense so curious to see what Coach Slo has planned and what to look for to see if the players are executing....Go Irish! 

Tom Noie: Greg: Good to hear from you. This should help you with what to watch for - https://tinyurl.com/3ex93b68. Wrote about that topic last week. They'll be better. Can't be any worse than last year, right? 

Matt from Campus: You've discussed the schedule a bit already, but what would you say is successful outcome in the non-conference portion for this team?  My thoughts of "successful" are win all the games you are supposed to, go 2-1 in Vegas, and take 2 of 3 of IU, Illinois, and Kentucky.  Is that too high of a bar? 

Tom Noie: Matt: Good stuff, and good to hear from you. I'll go with Meatloaf - two out of three, ain't bad - to address your question. Right on with winning all the non-league games you're supposed to win. No slip-ups allowed. Same with going 2-1 in Vegas, no matter who you play. I'd say getting two of the three out of Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana might be too much to ask - at least right now. The Illinois game will be the first time that this core will be in that type of road atmosphere against a really good team. How are they going to respond? Yeah, you want to win, but it's more important to play well. Not fall into early double-digit hole and then you spend the rest of the night trying to dig out of it. Kentucky? Win a big game at home. That's a must. But then we get to Indiana, which really is a road game. It's not a neutral site....it's all cream and crimson down there. But you get the experience in the Illinois and Indiana games to prepare for what's coming in the ACC. Let's see how it plays out. 

Tyler from Michiana: Thank you for your time in answering all these questions. I say this with all respect to the young man. I think he’s a great kid & I think despite what happens with his progression in the program, he’ll spend his four/five years here & get his degree like your typical “Notre Dame man.” I believe he’s of that character as a student athlete. Great fit. But basketball wise, his game to me is just meh. I’m just not impressed. I think if he gets it figured out, it’ll be in year three or four like a Cooley or a Geben but even his ceiling feels lower than those guys. Zona is a low floor, low ceiling kinda guy IMO. Maybe he was recruited that way as depth as a “project” but I’d prefer to take a transfer reserve big with a higher floor & years of college experience. What’s your closest comp for Matt Zona? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Good points. Fair points. I did a live Zoom on Wednesday and compared Matt Zona to a combination of Jack Cooley and John Mooney in terms of where he is in the early stages of his career. When Cooley and to an extent Mooney were young, there was zero indication that they would go on to have the college careers that they had. Nobody saw them coming, especially when they were underclassmen. I'd put Zona in that category. Give him time to grow his game and see what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe something, but he's a long way off to being a rotational piece to this basketball puzzle. I'd look hard at the transfer portal in the offseason for a big with experience who could help. 

Tom: I want to see focus and consistency from this season's team. Think ND can play with some urgency this year and get off to a good start? 

Tom Noie: Tom: If not now, then when? Seems like I've typed that sentence in chats or emails now for the last few years. Honestly, I'm tired of waiting to see something - to see anything - from this core. Like, let's go already, right? They haven't gone to the NCAA tournament, but believe they can go to the NCAA tournament. OK, so how do they handle that? Wilt under pressure? Embrace it and thrive? Can't wait to find out. 

Matt from Campus: Very bummed that the Duke and UNC games are over the school's Christmas break.  Seems like those big name games are the only time we get better draws in the student section, not to mention it will be Coach K's last visit.  Could a positive year rejuvenate the student body's interest in the team?  I've been frustrated by the lack of attendance the last three years, but understand it some because we are a football school and some because the team has not been very good.  What was the student section like in the back to back elite 8 years?  Much better, somewhat better? 

Tom Noie: Matt: You're new around here, right? I've had a weird relationship with the student body and with the fan base in general. For so many years, this fan base seemingly was stuck in the 1970s and 1980s of college basketball independence. Where were the Adrian Dantleys and Davis Rivers of the Irish hoops world? Different time there, people. The student section? Fair weather on a good day. Yeah, they'll show up and show out for Duke and Carolina, but you can't just be there for the big games. The student body gonna student body like they always have. Even during the Elite Eight years, the fan experience at Purcell Pavilion was middle of the ACC road on a good day. The student body/local fans and I aren't just going to get along very well.....lol 

Maggie, Oak Park: Not a question. Just wanted to say that I couldn't agree with you more that this core group really has not stepped up to show something in any way. 

Tom Noie: Maggie: Thanks, which is why I have to couch everything when people ask about the excitement level of the season and the potential of this team. It would be one thing if this core had previously won 11, 12, 13 games in the ACC one year or played in the NIT. That's stuff you can build on. But to not have ever done it (NCAA) and then to HAVE to do it this year, that's a really big step. Do they realize it? Do they know how hard it really is? There's no margin for error with this group, or this season. They have to go and do something that they've never done. Do they have it in them? I don't know, because, well, they've never shown it. Ever. 

Tom Noie: That will do it for today's chat. Many thanks for all who dropped in for a few minutes. We'll circle back and have another one in a few weeks. Maybe the week after Notre Dame opens Atlantic Coast Conference play Dec. 3 at Boston College. Stay tuned! 

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