One game at a time: A journey through Notre Dame's 2021-22 men’s basketball season

ND Insider
Nov 13, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; The Notre Dame Fighting Irish sing the Notre Dame Alma Mater after defeating the Cal State Northridge Matadors at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

A running game-by-game breakdown of Notre Dame’s 2021-22 men’s basketball season:

Nov 29, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Grey yells from the bench during the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

► Game 6: Nov. 29

Illinois 82, Notre Dame 72

At State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois

Record: 3-3

This had to be among one of the strangest nights in Notre Dame men's basketball history – and it had nothing to do what happened on the court or what the scoreboard said or anything else basketball-related.

It was all about football, specifically, the decision a short time before tip by now former Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly to leave for LSU.

Illinois fans chanted Kelly's name and that of his new school from their spot behind the Irish bench. Notre Dame trailed by as many as 16, but made a late run in an electric atmosphere. It wasn't enough, but it may have been enough to build on.

Maybe.

► Recap:Notre Dame not ready for prime time

Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams knew exactly how to beat Notre Dame when the second half of a Maui Jim Maui Invitational game started. The Aggies then went out and did just that.

► Game 5: Nov. 24

Texas A&M 73, Notre Dame 67

At Michelob Ultra Arena, Mandalay Bay,  Las Vegas

Record: 3-2

Up double digits and rolling in the second half, all Notre Dame had to do was put together a second straight solid 20 minutes like it had done earlier, and man, that charter flight through the night would go by in a snap.

Instead, Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams, who knows a thing or two or three about playing Notre Dame, pulled out an old playbook to fluster the Irish.

Notre Dame never had a chance.

► Game recap:After loss to Texas A&M, Notre Dame has little to show for Vegas trip

► Noie: What happened to Notre Dame in Vegas can't stay in Vegas

► Game 4: Nov. 23

Notre Dame 90, Chaminade 67

At Michelob Ultra Arena, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Record: 3-1

The Division II Silverswords were just in the wrong place at the wrong time in this second night matchup in Las Vegas. Notre Dame played the way a team that is bigger and stronger and just flat-out better should play.

It wasn't expected to be close. It wasn't. Turns out it was all the Irish could really salvage from their trip.

► Game recap: After deflating defeat, Notre Dame gets hot against Division II Chaminade

► Game 3: Nov. 22

Saint Mary's 62, Notre Dame 59

At Michelob Ultra Arena, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Record: 2-1

It was age and experience from the Atlantic Coast Conference against age and experience from the West Coast Conference.

The West Coast won.

In the closing minutes of a close game, it was Saint Mary's that figured out ways to make plays to close this one out. Notre Dame's old guys committed turnovers and couldn't close out on a shooter quick enough to figure a way out. Back to the drawing board at Mandalay Bay.

► Game recap: Late night not a good night for Notre Dame in Las Vegas

►Game 2: Nov. 16

Notre Dame 70, High Point 61

At Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

Record: 2-0

There have been times and games and stretches during his career where it seemed Notre Dame senior power forward Nate Laszewski was so concerned about doing what he was touted to do, what he was supposed to do — make shots — that it affected other parts of his game.

Not anymore.

Notre Dame's Nate Laszewski (14) drives against High Point's Caden Sanchez (35) during the Notre Dame vs. High Point NCAA men's basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.

Laszewski hasn't let an inability to consistently score weigh on his game. Like Tuesday, when he couldn't get many shots to fall (4-for-11 from the field, 2-for-5 from 3), but made a difference in other ways. Like a career high 16 rebounds, including 12 on the defensive end.

► Game recap: Way more interesting than anticipated, but Notre Dame handles High Point in hoops

►Game 1: Nov. 13

Notre Dame 68, CS Northridge 53 

At Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

Record: 1-0

Without the work of graduate student power forward Paul Atkinson, Jr., and freshman guard Blake Wesley, Saturday would've looked a lot like last year with a veteran group of Irish doing just enough to win. Or maybe not even that.

Wesley offered the crowd a lot to like, whether it be the baseline drive and two-hand dunk or ability to show his skills in the open court. He scored a team-high 21 points in 28 minutes. Atkinson was the catalyst in the second half while finishing with 16 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes.

► Game recap: What happened in Notre Dame men's basketball opener against CSUN? Here

► Noie: Raw but rare, Notre Dame freshman Blake Wesley is on fast track to start soon

Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley became the first Irish freshman to go for at least 20 points in his first game since guard Chris Thomas scored 24 in 2000. Wesley opened his career with 21 points in Saturday's win over Cal State Northridge.

► Nov. 5 (Exhibition)

Notre Dame 78, St. Norbert 44

At Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

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. 

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

► Oct. 29, 2021 (Exhibition) 

Notre Dame 87, Nazareth College 37 

At Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

The Irish rolled past Nazareth (New York) College, a Division III team. It wasn’t even that close. In the greater scheme of just about everything, this game means nothing. Maybe less than that. But if you look a little closer, drill down and understand where this program was in March — when it trailed by 50 points in its final game — it was a good place to start for a group that has big plans on going places. 

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

Season preview

► A big-picture look at the 2021-22 season for the Notre Dame men's basketball team

Notre Dame needs a big effort from Yale transfer Paul Atkinson if the Irish are to enjoy a big season.

► Noie: Notre Dame wants to get back to NCAA Tournament, right? Better find an Alpha

Is there an alpha dog type of leader in this group? If so, please stand up if Notre Dame wants to break a four-year drought of no NCAA tournament appearances.

2021-22 ND MEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE 

(Purcell Pavilion home games in all caps, all times eastern) 

OCTOBER 

29: NAZARETH COLLEGE (Exhibition), W 87-37

NOVEMBER 

5: ST. NORBERT COLLEGE (Exhibition), W 78-44

13: CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE, W, 68-52

16: HIGH POINT, W, 70-61 

22: Maui Invitational (Las Vegas) vs. Saint Mary’s (Calif.), L, 62-59 

23-24: Maui Invitational (Las Vegas) vs. Chaminade, W, 90-64 

24: Maui Invitational (Las Vegas) vs. Texas A&M, L, 73-67

29 : ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Illinois, L, 82-72. 

DECEMBER 

3: At Boston College, 6 p.m. 

11: KENTUCKY, 5:15 p.m. 

18: Crossroads Classic vs. Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, 2:30 p.m. 

20: WESTERN MICHIGAN, 8 p.m. 

22: TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI, 1 p.m. 

28: At Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. 

JANUARY 

1: DUKE, 6 p.m. 

5: NORTH CAROLINA, 9 p.m. 

8: At Georgia Tech, 6 p.m. 

12: CLEMSON, 7 p.m. 

15: At Virginia Tech, 6 p.m. 

17: At Howard, TBA 

22: At Louisville, 4 p.m. 

26: N.C. STATE, 9 p.m. 

29: VIRGINIA, 6 p.m. 

FEBRUARY 

2: At Miami (Fla.), 7 p.m. 

5: At N.C. State, 3 p.m. 

9: LOUISVILLE, TBA 

12: At Clemson, 7 p.m. 

16: BOSTON COLLEGE, 7 p.m. 

19: At Wake Forest, 1 p.m. 

22: SYRACUSE, 9 p.m. 

26: GEORGIA TECH, 5 p.m. 

MARCH 

2: At Florida State, 7 p.m. 

5: PITTSBURGH, 8 p.m. 

Roster

No. | Player | Position | Height | Weight | Class | Hometown | High school Previous school (if applicable)

0 | Blake Wesley | Guard | 6-5 | 185 | Freshman | South Bend | Riley

1 | J.R. Konieczny | Guard | 6-6 | 195 | Freshman | South Bend | Saint Joseph

2 | Trey Wertz | Guard | 6-5 | 192 | Charlotte, N.C. | Providence Day School | Santa Clara

3 | Prentiss Hubb | Guard | 6-3 | 176 | Upper Marlboro, Md. | Gonzaga

4 | Alex Wade | Guard | 6-0 | 166 | San Diego | Cathedral Catholic

5 | Cormac Ryan | Guard | 6-5 | 194 | New York | Milton Academy | Stanford

12 | Tony Sanders Jr. | Guard | 6-7 | 209 | Miami | Gulliver Prep

14 | Nate Laszewski | Forward | 6-10 | 235 | Jupiter, Fla. | Northfield Mount Herman

20 | Paul Atkinson Jr. | Forward | 6-9 | 230 | West Palm Beach, Fla. | Westminster Academy | Yale

22 | Elijah Taylor | Forward | 6-8 | 242 | Philadelphia | Imhotep Charter

23 | Dane Goodwin | Guard | 6-6 | 208 | Upper Arlington, Ohio | Upper Arlington

24 | Robby Carmody | Guard | 6-4 | 202 | Mars, Pa. | Mars

25 | Matt Zona | Forward | 6-9 | 240 | Blauvelt, N.Y. | Bergen Catholic (N.J.)

31 | Elijah Morgan | Guard | 6-1 | 169 | New Orleans | Jesuit