Men's Basketball: The present is bright, but what about the Irish future?

Tom Noie
ND Insider
South Bend Tribune sports columnist and Notre Dame Insider men's basketball beat writer Tom Noie during a promotional photo shoot at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA

Following is a complete transcript of the Feb. 10 Notre Dame hoops chat held by NDI's Tom Noie.

Tom Noie: Well, it's been a minute since we've done this, but we're back. It's Notre Dame hoops chat time. Just a little bit has changed (OK, a whole lot has changed) since we were last here around these parts in mid-November. You have to have questions. You have to have comments. We're here for you, for however long it takes. To participate, make sure to include your name and hometown. And with that, you know the rest... let's light this chat candle. 

Wayne: I hate to think about next season already, but depending on who is back and the great class coming in, who do you think does come back? 

Tom Noie: Wayne: There's a LOT to like about what next season might look like. How about this - what if EVERYBODY decides to come back? That would include graduate transfer Paul Atkinson if - and that's a big if - the NCAA eventually rules that Ivy League players past and present can get that COVID year back. It was generally assumed that Dane Goodwin, Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz would return for their fifth years. Nate Laszewski was a question mark and Prentiss Hubb was a doubtful. But what if they all decide to run it back. And Blake Wesley realizes he really needs another year. What then? Nobody on the current roster will 100 percent commit to next season, but it is there. 

Tyler B: Another year (though it's been awhile) where ND hoops is showing they can play with the best of the best in the ACC. What can they be doing better to turn on-court success into recruiting success to help everything snowball for the better? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Getting the highest-ranked recruiting class in Mike Brey's tenure is a good place to start. J.J. Starling is generational good. Ven-Allen Lubin might be really good. Dom Campbell can be really good down the line. Now build on it with the right pieces. It wasn't that recruiting took a total backseat the last few years. It was Mike Brey putting all his trust and belief and confidence into this current senior class. He wasn't going to recruit over them, believing that they would deliver. They're delivering. This staff will recruit. 

Tyler B: Are you surprised that Trey Wertz hasn't had a larger/role bigger impact at ND? Do we just always have too high of expectations for transfers? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Trey Wertz was really good at North Carolina State in the second half (which forced Blake Wesley to sit and watch) and helped win the Louisville game. Wertz's arc at Notre Dame is similar to Cormac Ryan. That neither had the benefit prior to the 2020-21 season of playing summer pickup with their veteran teammates (there was no summer program that year) really put him and Ryan behind. It's taken this long for them to figure out where they fit, where their games fit. They're both part of a really crowded perimeter. It's been hard at times, but they've both persevered. Maybe now we're seeing what they truly can do. 

Tyler B: Even when ND is kicking butt in the ACC, there are always naturally skeptics questioning whether its fool's gold or not. How's the feeling around the locker room by comparison -- do the guys truly believe they can go out and win some big games? Felt like the previous Elite Eight teams had true, deep believes in themselves 

Tom Noie: Tyler: There's a belief, a swagger, a confidence that might even border on cockiness, that these guys are just going to get it done. On the court, it's gone from, here we go again when other teams make a run and make it close or take a lead to yeah, they're going to figure it out. The North Carolina State and Louisville games are the most recent examples. Notre Dame would've likely lost those games the last two/three years. But the Irish insist they don't get rattled. They embrace having to figure it out in close games. Like, how's it all going to unfold? Then they go and get another one. It's been a really intriguing group to watch grow and kind of just believe that, yeah, we're pretty good. 

Joe from St. Petersburg: Hi Tom - I understand the short bench and I know you dislike hearing about it. But We all know how this ends. When the tourney comes (ACC and NCAA tourney) it becomes a major issue. I just don't understand how Brey doesn't start at least giving others some run if they want make serious noise. If its just about getting a bid, fine. But if you want to make it to, dare I say, the second weekend - this group will be burnt out before that happens. 

Tom Noie: Joe: I knew this topic was going to be a hot one today. It really shouldn't be. Look at the current minutes played in the ACC. You'd think that with playing only seven guys with Nate Laszewski healthy that Notre Dame would dominate that statistical category. Dane Goodwin the only Irish in the top 10 for minutes played. Goodwin and Wesley the only Irish in the top 25. Mike Brey made it crystal clear from the start of the season - he was going with those seven guys and only those seven guys. Everybody knew that. The guys in the 8-9-10 spots didn't necessarily like it, but they accepted it. Like, OK, this is the way this season is going to go. Mike Brey isn't alone in when it comes to shorter rotations. The fewer, he feels, the better. It leads to the cohesiveness and continuity that Notre Dame has shown the last three league wins. The other guys, they'll have their time. They know it. They accept it. They don't have to like it, but it's working.... 

Tom Noie: ...However this season unfolds, it's not going to be because Matt Zona didn't play more or Tony Sanders didn't play more or J.R. Konieczny didn't play more. It just isn't. Mike Brey believes the Irish are better with the seven in the rotation. 

Eric G: Why do you think that Brey didn’t insert Zona when Atkinson had to go to bench with foul trouble, when ND was having trouble with that small lineup? 

Tom Noie: Eric: His seven are on the floor (or the rotation). Again, if he believed that Matt Zona could help, he'd play. Right now, Notre Dame is best having only those seven guys. 

EricD: Hi Tom, looking at rest of schedule, if ND loses the  Wake Forest and FSU games on the road, do you think they will still have enough juice to make the Big Dance? 

Tom Noie: Eric: Losing those games (and are we really sure Florida State is that formidable at home? It just lost to Pittsburgh) and none other would give Notre Dame a 15-5 league record. Down year or not, 15 wins in the ACC gets you into the NCAA tournament. Book it. 

Mike, Rochester, NY: Any idea whether we might be looking to add another HS recruit to the excellent class coming in next year? 

Tom Noie: Mike: Not likely, mainly because you need to see how the returning player decisions shake out. Are Goodwin-Ryan-Wertz all coming back? Seems to trend that way. What about Laszewski? Heck, what about Hubb? Paul Atkinson? You have three really talented freshmen coming in next season. There's no room. Or need. 

Jim in Charlottesville: How did the Irish simplify the Offense to make it more efficient and effective--cleaner-- as it looks to have become? Should Cormac Ryan hunt shots more than he seems to be doing now?  Do you think Mike Brey makes this harder to do by not incorporating man screens into the Offense? 

Tom Noie: Jim: Great question. More motion, less standing around. Get guys moving and cutting and passing and screening, then rolling. It was really trial and error early. Notre Dame didn't know what it had in Paul Atkinson and how his game would translate in the ACC. It didn't know if Blake Wesley was ready to do what he's done. Once Mike Brey saw it, it was like, OK, now we're doing this...and playing this way....get the ball in Wesley's hands more, get it out of Hubb's and let him be a spot-up guy on occasion. Get Goodwin to his sweet spots. Play screen and roll with Atkinson. Mike Brey mentioned last night that the game offensively has finally slowed down for Cormac Ryan to the point where he believes Ryan has another level to hit offensively. That's something to keep an eye on as we move toward March. 

Morgan McKinley: Tom - I missed these. You might remember me as The Front Line Brey Defender. Because there are idiots across the country and we get to read comments from some of them over the years that Mike’s a horrible coach and should be fired because they have a better coach who will without a doubt do better than he has for the past 20+ years, I’d like to get your take on why this year (obviously Atkinson & Wesley) and 2015 & 16 teams and 2011 (Ben?) and others are successful and others are okay and a few bad seasons?? Of course the top level guys almost never if ever come to ND, and athletically is Blake his best and maybe only elite athlete (besides Pat I can’t think of one but Pat couldn’t slash to the hoop as well) 

Tom Noie: Morgan: A voice of reason! We still need to have that around these parts. Everybody wanted those Elite Eight runs of 2015 and 2016 to be the norm instead of the exception, but they never were going to be that. They just weren't. Let's look at what happened since 2016 and why it happened - the Irish piggy-backed the Elite Eight runs by going 12-6 and getting to the NCAA tournament in 2017 before running into the West Virginia buzzsaw. That's going to happen. Following year, they win Maui but lose their two best players (Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell) for extended time to injuries. Still, they were the 69th team in the 68-team field. They should've gotten in. Next year, they lose the one veteran perimeter guy they couldn't afford to lose to injury (Rex Pflueger) and have to play freshmen who were nowhere near ready. They go 3-15 in the league, but improve their league win total by seven (10-10) the following year. That was a huge bounce-back step... 

Tom Noie: ...But then the pandemic hit and it wiped out any chance of tasting postseason, if it was the NIT. Then last year was a complete wash. Notre Dame was holding on for its collective life during COVID. The Irish weren't living day to day as they were hour to hour. Still, they go 7-11 in the league and no postseason. This year was supposed to be what last year was and what last year could've been but wasn't. Mike Brey waited on this senior core to get it. Now they get it. They weren't that far off but when you're mired in what the Irish have been mired in since 2018-19, it feels like a lifetime. People get impatient, people get mad, people want coaches fired and players shown the door. Notre Dame stayed the course, and here's the payoff. 

Dave from Alpha,NJ: Hi Tom. Thanks for having this hoops chat. Couple questions: any idea on the injury status of Robby Carmody? 

Tom Noie: Dave: Robby Carmody likely will never play for Notre Dame, which is tough. Too many injuries, too much lost time. That train had to leave the station without him. He'll have to decide come spring what he wants out of his remaining seasons of eligibility - stay at Notre Dame and likely never play or transfer to a lower level of competition and get something out of his playing career. He's been a great teammate even during a bad situation. You feel for him, but understand that the Irish just had to keep moving. 

Dave from Alpha,NJ: and do you think Greg Zona will ever get any meaningful playing time down the stretch? 

Tom Noie: Dave: Greg Zona certainly isn't going to get any time, and likely neither will Matt Zona. Not this year. Keep working on his game, keep staying ready and see where that takes him. 

Mark Oliver: Hi Tom, It sure looks like a top 4 seed in the ACC tourney and an NCAA bid are certainly in play for this team. Never would have thought that after the BC game. What do you think the team's ceiling can be this year - possible run to Sweet 16 with a few things and matchups going their way? And do you think at some point Brey needs to get at least a little bit more from players 8 on down? 

Tom Noie: Mark: Great to hear from you again. Hard no on the idea of going deeper on the bench. Mike Brey has mentioned it several times over the last few months - it was going to be those seven guys and only those seven guys. Add an eighth or a ninth, and it disrupts the cohesion and continuity that we've seen from the seven (particularly in the first Louisville game). Mike Brey's not about to sacrifice that just to play more guys. It's seven and that's it. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. 

Ronbo: What affect will Notre Dame’s conference opponents have in their chances of making the tourney? Do you realize that the six home and homes they have in the conference are against the bottom six teams in the standings. They play none of the top 9 more than once 

Tom Noie: Ronbo: Notre Dame can only play the schedule that the league hands it. Like, they can't say, oh, let's shuffle out repeaters against Clemson and Boston College and Georgia Tech for Virginia and Wake and Duke. Just like it can only play an ACC schedule. It can't say, yeah, let's move to the Big Ten or the Big 12 and play some of those teams. The league is what it is. Down? Sure, but you win 13-14-15 games in the ACC no matter the year, you're an NCAA tournament team. What will separate Notre Dame from some of its league colleagues is its non-league schedule. It went out of league play and played people. That's going to be a big boost in about four weeks when a certain Sunday of selection surfaces. 

Ronbo: Which of the academic seniors will be back next year? Is there anyway they could pull an extra year out of the hat for Atkinson? I love him and his hand and foot work around the hoop offensively . 

Tom Noie: Ronbo: Asked and answered earlier, but it wouldn't be too far fetched that every single one of the seniors (and Atkinson depending on the NCAA) has a decision to make. Maybe some return. Maybe all return. Stay tuned. 

Howard, Gainesville, VA: You may have answered this at one point but … how did Jaden Ivey get away from Brey? 

Tom Noie: Howard: You new around these parts? Matt Painter was the first to offer Jaden Ivey at a time when Notre Dame wasn't in position to offer at that point. That stayed with Ivey. The more Brey talked with Ivey, a player he's seen basically grow up on campus, the more he got the impression that Ivey wanted to get out of the shadow of the Golden Dome, where both of his parents were athletes, and set out on his own. Sometimes, you get a kid like that. You look at his hometown and say, well, why would he NOT go to Notre Dame? All the while, the kid is looking at it and wondering what else is out there in the world outside of Saint Joseph County? What it would be like to make a name for himself somewhere different than where his mother and father made theirs. Sometimes, you get a kid in Demetrius Jackson and know that he has no desire to go anywhere but Notre Dame. Sometimes you get a kid like Ivey and realize, yeah, he wants to see what's outside the Notre Dame bubble. Brey really had zero shot. 

Christian, Chicago IL: Tom, I am shocked more teams don’t press ND. Our ball handling under pressure is a real liability and we have escaped a few times with a lucky plays late in games (Virginia). Brey is rather casual on this topic but I am concerned we might blow a must win down the stretch here. Interested to hear your thoughts and hopefully I am overreacting… 

Tom Noie: Christian: It's reached a point in league games of late where you just know the press and the traps and freneticism (is that even a word???) is coming from the opponent. Notre Dame still cannot figure it out to the point where it's not adventure, though there was a sign of hope last night against Louisville when it moved Dane Goodwin closer into the backcourt to be a pressure release guy. He's their best foul shooter, so he should always be involved in any press break. It's still an adventure. Like, buckle up, here it comes. 

joe from the south side: At the beginning of each of Mike Brey's, post-game, press conferences, you ask the first question.  Is that due to seniority, talent, money, looks or some combination thereof?  Part 2.  The reporters' questions are inaudible in that situation and the listener is left to try to piece together info. based on Brey's response.  Any chance you guys could get closer to the mike or ask Brey to repeat the question? 

Tom Noie: When you've been on the beat for 24 years, it's an unwritten rule that you have the option of asking the first question. You just do. When they're on the road, I'm often the only local media guy there, so it's kind of up to me to get everything going. Happens also in football where I defer to the football guys who've been around the program longer. But no, it has nothing to do with money (I'll take more of it) or definitely not looks. The quiet mike thing is an in-house Notre Dame issues. Coaches and players want to get out of there ASAP. Not going to make them repeat questions. 

joe from the south side: Tom, Your thoughts on Wesley leaving for the NBA?  My observation is that he is a year or two away. 1. His build is too slight.  He is wearing down after a few dozen college games.  Imagine playing 80 or 90 in the pros.  He needs more muscle.  2. While he exhibits athleticism and some wiggle in his hips, I don't find him to be explosive.  You can make 2 star guys from Pitt or BC look bad.  Those kinds of players do not exist in the NBA.  3. Lastly, I thought the Duke game was a litmus test.  That is as close to NBA level talent, top to bottom, as you will see in the ACC.  Bad night for him, but also a talent level he couldn't solve.  I think he needs at least one more year in school, in which case he may explode like Ivey did at Purdue.  Right now, he is G League for a year or two.  Your thoughts? 

Tom Noie: This is all we need to know when it comes to Blake Wesley and the chances of his going to the NBA after this season. Does Blake Wesley have the talent right now to GO to the NBA. Yes. Given that league's penchant for drafting solely on potential, he'd fit the profile of what that league looks for and wants. But here comes the rub. Does Blake Wesley have the talent right now to STAY in the NBA? No. Just watch the last few games. There are obvious holes in his game, and in his shooting percentages that need work. He needs work. So he can go one of two ways - leave after this season and run the risk of being out of the league in three years if he doesn't go to the right team with the right coach at the right time, or come back and be good enough to follow the Jaden Ivey track. Do that, and Wesley has a chance to do what you really have to do - get to that second NBA contract. That's where the payoff is. Just getting there is enough for some, but he's talented enough to do more than that. 

Tony: Tom, if we do not make the big dance. Do you think Coach Brey will be back? I don’t think Slo would come back fora one year gamble. Do you think Blake is ready for the NBA like the agents think? I think if he comes back and gets stronger it would benefit him. Thanks, go Irish! 

Tom Noie: Tony: Mike Brey has a contract at Notre Dame that runs through 2024-25. I expect him to fulfill that obligation. After 2024-25, it's anybody's guess. And no, no player today is truly ready for the NBA, which mentioned earlier drafts almost entirely on potential. They don't want to miss on the next possible can't-miss prospect. Thing is, if they swing and miss and guys who should stay in school, well, there's always another guy coming down the college pipeline. It's an easy solve for them - grab a guy and if he hits, awesome. If he doesn't, thanks for the chance, but who's next? 

Tony: Any news on the 2023 recruiting? Brey has to have another solid class. 

Tom Noie: Tony: No, and it's too early for that. No, seriously. Notre Dame is in on a couple known juniors in Xavier Booker (Indianapolis Cathedral) and Aden Holloway (La Lumiere), but there's so much that still needs to shake out for Notre Dame to really zero in on what it needs. What will this current sophomore class do after this season? Can J.R. Konieczny take a big step this summer? How ready are Ven-Allen Lubin and Dom Campbell? There's also a variable that's allowed a lot of schools to take a different approach to recruiting. yeah, you have a tight wish list of main guys, but you also have the ever-evolving transfer portal, which can help teams like Notre Dame that like to get old and stay old to do just that. It's an area that will be more of a factor as we move forward, to the point where Notre Dame may spend more time mining the portal than traditional recruiting. 

joe from the south side: Tom, Honestly, I thought this team was dead following the Las Vegas trip and the disasters against the Big 10 and BC.  Aside from Wesley in the starting lineup, what have you observed, what can you point to where the light went on for this team? 

Tom Noie: Joe: There was just too much there for them not to be good. Or, be way better than what they were, especially early. Even in Vegas, and to an extent the Boston College game, Mike Brey wasn't sure what he had. He knew he wanted to ride that seven-man rotation, but didn't really know if he could. Maybe he'd have to go eight, nine, deep. Maybe he'd have to get those sophomores ready. The defensive principles that Anthony Solomon had preached since summer weren't all that evident. They kept drilling it and drilling it and getting those seven guys confident. More Wesley with the ball. Less of Hubb having to handle all the heavy lifting. That worked. Atkinson understanding what was expected of him in league play. That worked. Laszewski not thinking so much about being the scoring power forward and being more of the ringleader defensively who would rebound and rotate and guard guys. That worked. It was kind of like the perfect storm. You could see it brewing. It was only a matter of whether it would hit. It's hit. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I am writing this before the LOUIS game.  ND has a legit chance of 14 or 15 regular season league games.  I know the ACC is the whipping boy of the day by the gurus and pundits, but C'MON.  15 wins in a Power 5 conference.  There should be no question they are in the Tourney.  I see places where MICH is in.  That is a .500 team in conference and outside of the conference.  Where do you feel ND fits in?  To me, they look like Top 30, maybe a 7 or 8 seed, but not 11 or 12 and just barely hanging in there. 

Tom Noie: Joe: You can drive yourself bananas wondering and worrying about where Notre Dame fits TODAY. i about fell off my couch when the ACC Network actually quoted Joe Lunardi during the North Carolina State game last week when he said he had Notre Dame among his last four teams in but ONLY if it beats North Carolina State. Wait, it was Feb. 5 for crying out loud. The Irish have seven league games left - four at home, three on the road. Win your home games, steal one more on the road and get to 15-5. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Couple of roster questions.  ND has 12 on scholarship.  Let's assume Atkinson, Hubb and Laz are gone.  That is 9.  What will they do with Carmody?  Seems like he will never hoop for ND.  Can he go to an academic scholarship or just graduate and move on?  That may be 8.  Any inkling Zona, Sanders or Taylor are unhappy?  Next years bigs may push the incumbents for playing time.  Wesley may go, who knows?  My guess is ND might be down to 8 scholarship guys or even less.  With only 3 coming in, he might be short on bodies.  Any chance they are reaching out to Braeden Moore?  I know they kicked the tires before and he committed to Rutgers.  But he decommitted over 3 months ago and he is still out there.  So the questions are what do you think about roster movement when the season ends and are they involved with anyone else for next year? 

Tom Noie: Joe: Roster management is coming this offseason is ways we don't realize. Not only for Notre Dame, but every college basketball team. The transfer portal has changed the dynamic of keeping your roster intact from one season to the next. Mike Brey knows it. Mike Brey gets it. Only the guys whose time had run out here last year (Nik Djogo, Juwan Durham) left but Brey said it then that he knows that's going to be an exception rather than the rule. Somebody's going to go, somebody may arrive. The portal being the portal, they're always going to keep an eye out for next year. But as of now, too hard to say because we don't know what the roster is even going to possibly look like. That's a spring exercise. A big one. The Irish will figure it out. 

Lee from Lancaster: Hi Tom, I know that you're not a women's basketball fan.  However, will you at least admit the ND women's team with freshmen Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron along with Maya Dodson is at least somewhat fun to watch? 

Tom Noie: Admitted. 

Greg, Las Vegas: A lot of talk about Brey and this potentially being his last year if the Irish do not make the tournament.  How do you reconcile this with the incoming class with huge potential, Wesley staying at least another year, plus past success.  I see Coach Brey as someone who is enjoying what he does, adjusting to new staff that seems to show progress, strong recruiting for 2023.  Seems ending the run now would leave a few chips on the table.  I get this senior class has not met expectations, but there are many others that have exceeded expectations. 

Tom Noie: Greg: They talking among the slot machines and craps table on the Strip? There's no talk of that from the snow and cold of South Bend. Mike Brey's not going anywhere no matter how the rest of this season shakes out. Bet on it. And put $20 on 20 black for me. Or red. lol 

Caleb from Charlotte: Hi Tom, Paul Atkinson is a talented basketball player that is a very effective scorer in the low post.  However, he doesn't seem to be able to consistently hit the mid-range jump shot.  He also seems to struggle a little bit against the bigger post players.  Do you think his game will be effective in the NBA? 

Tom Noie: Caleb: Don't know and don't care. Why should we? Paul Atkinson's going to have an undergraduate degree from Yale and a Master's from Notre Dame. He'll play somewhere professionally and make some good money for a few years, then have those degrees to fall back on. You learn this when you cover Notre Dame hoops - it's not just about the NBA, and sometimes it's not about the NBA at all. Paul Atkinson is a really good college basketball player who's been exactly what the staff hoped he'd be this season, especially of late when he finally figured out how to be effective in the ACC. Don't think the NBA was ever mentioned when he was being recruited. And that's totally cool. 

Greg, Las Vegas: Bench beyond the chosen 7…are they really not strong enough to provide 2-3 minute breathers?  Seems like a missed opportunity to develop game time experience.  Are the balling out in practice and Brey’s trusts his historically short bench…or is the talent gap that large, even from a team that was 500 at best these last few years? 

Tom Noie: Greg: Doesn't matter. Like, doesn't matter at all. Mike Brey made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was going with the main seven and the main seven. That was it. The guys on the back end don't have to like it, but they have accepted it. Get better, grow your games and be one of the guys in the mix next season. It has less than zero with not being able to play or not being good enough to play. It's where this program is - with an experienced seven who have it figured out. Ride them. 

Bruce, Centralia, IL: Hello Tom, We thought Konieczny was the impact guy in this class. Instead, he has barely played, and Wesley is one of the best freshmen in the country. Two questions: (1) is defense the issue with Konieczny?; and (2) would you expect him to be in the rotation next year? Thanks for doing this. 

Tom Noie: Bruce: Whoa, wait, what? No, J.R. Konieczny was a really good high school player, but at no time did anyone around South Bend or around Notre Dame (and I'm one of the few to be around both) think that he had the higher upside as a freshman than Blake Wesley. Wesley can do things on the court, make that did things, on the court last year that Konieczny didn't do. Konieczny scored a lot of points just shooting up over the top of 5-11 defenders. Wesley attacked the rim, found guys off the dribble. His game was 10 times more college ready as a freshman than Konieczny, who has the chance to be really good next season. But that's next season. Why not now? He considers himself a guard even though he's probably closer to 6-7. If he's a guard, whose minutes would he take this year? Notre Dame's got enough guards right now. 

Caleb from Charlotte: Hi Tom, when Nate L. sustained the injury and left the game and Paul A. got into foul trouble, Coach Brey chose to play with a small lineup rather than put Matt Zona into the game for a couple of minutes.  Does Coach Brey trust Matt Zona or Elijah Taylor enough to play them for a couple of minutes? 

Tom Noie: Caleb: Nowhere near to the point where he trusts the main seven guys in the rotation. And Elijah Taylor, honestly, he can't be trusted at all at this point. He's academically ineligible, so we won't see him until the fall. 

Lee from Lancaster: Tom, Jaden Ivey would look good in the blue and gold.  Was he not interested in coming to ND or did ND not bother to recruit him?  Also, with 5 seconds left in the NCAA finals and ND down by 1 with the ball, who takes the final shot, Wesley of Hubb? 

Tom Noie: Lee; Bit of both with Ivey, which was asked an answered earlier. As for the second part, there's no question. It's Prentiss Hubb. In November and December, it would've been and was Wesley, but as we saw Wednesday against Louisville, when Notre Dame needs it from Hubb in the clutch, he delivers. He may drive you completely nuts for the first 37 minutes, but then drops the dagger. Yeah, they're going to Hubb, though personally, give me Wesley with the ball near halfcourt, go one-four flat with maybe a ball screen and tell him to attack. Don't settle, which is what he tends to do. When he's attacking, he's tough to stop. 

Dan: Who is coming back next year? 

Tom Noie: Hopefully, me for Year No. 25. lol 

Jim in Charlottesville: Glad to see the improved Notre Dame Defense!  The Irish Guards seem to me to dominate rebounding on the defensive end.  Do you have numbers that show this? 

Tom Noie: Jim: The rebounding numbers were a little skewed for Wednesday's game against Louisville without Nate Laszewski, who averages 7.0. Dane Goodwin is at 5.0, Blake Wesley 3.4, Hubb 2.7, Ryan 4.6 and Wertz 2.0. They knew that without Laszewski, it had to be a collective effort. Atkinson grabbed 15, but when it's a team thing, with the guards getting on the glass, it's so much more effective. Still, it would be nice to have Laszewski back sooner than later. 

Matt from Fairfax, VA: Hey Tom, it's about time you had one of these chats! Thanks! The Irish are rolling, but it's never too soon to look toward the future. Any word on if Atkinson could be eligible to return next season? When will that be sorted out? And if eligible, would he want to return? Finally, care to predict who from the long-time core will return next season and who will be ready to move on? 

Tom Noie: Matt; A popular topic today that's been asked and answered a couple times today. The possibility of Atkinson returning is intriguing. Nobody has given any indication on anything definite, saying it's something that will be sorted out when the season ends. I wouldn't be surprised if a bulk of the guys return. That could include Laszewski and even Hubb. Would be interesting. 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Hi Tom, great and timely work as always covering the Irish beat. Though things are certainly trending in a most positive direction this season after another gritty win last night, I want to ask a question as it relates to the 2022-23 campaign. Yes, it's very encouraging that Brey is bringing in a Top 20 ranked class but here's a cold, uncomfortable fact. If a number of the seniors elect to bypass the chance to return next year, it's hard to envision a scenario whereby ND doesn't suffer a huge drop off and falls right back into total mediocrity. As of now, do you have any inkling as to whom among Goodwin, Hubb, Nate, Ryan and Trey might be contemplating a return to South Bend? Lose three or more of those guys and it's time to turn out the lights because the party will probably be over! 

Tom Noie: Jim: Whoa, the glass ain't half empty with you, it's broken and spilled all over the kitchen table. Turn out the lights? Seriously. Just the opposite. The party might just now be getting started. House a rockin, don't bother knockin. 

Dave from West Covina, California: Hi Tom:  I really enjoy your articles out here in Southern California!  Why do you think Notre Dame does not go 2 for 1 when the half is winding down?  I continuously see them get the ball with about 45 seconds and the seconds melt away but they could have two possessions in those 45 seconds? 

Tom Noie: Dave: I got into writing at such an early age because I was told there'd be no math. The college shot clock is 30 seconds. That's a lot of work to do in a short time to get two possessions, no?😀 

Victor K.: Tom, we enjoy your coverage here in Salem. What is it that makes Anthony Solomon such an effective defensive coach? 

Tom Noie: Victor: Come to town and spend five seconds around Anthony Solomon and you'd understand. You'd be ready and willing to run through a wall for the guy so as not to disappoint him. It's the perfect storm of a new coach with a new voice and new ideas with a team that was so starved to be better. They've maybe even exceeded expectations when it comes to defense. The Irish have held each of their last six league opponents to 65 or fewer points. That's never happened for them in ACC play. Cormac Ryan said it best the other day when we talked defense. He admitted that, yeah, having Slo and Antoni Wyche (zone) preach playing defense has been needed, but if the Irish didn't collectively take pride in defending, of guarding their guys and staying true to that, it wasn't going to work. It's worked. 

Ryan mars pa: What do you think about this team so far go Irish can’t wait to watch the Irish play against Georgia Tech soon 

Tom Noie: Ryan: Notre Dame's on a nice little run right now where the Irish have won 13 of 15 with those two losses over the last 55 days. It's all right there in front of them. Just keep competing and believing and just maybe.... 

IrishHoopsFan: Who is your favorite clown? 

Tom Noie: Bozo, is that you again? Remember what we talked about when using the computer?😀 

Ed,Greensboro: Tom, great to have you and the chats back! Where in the world would we be without Atkinson? He has been spectacular. 

Tom Noie: Ed: Probably where the program was the last couple seasons. He just gets it. He's an old guy who knows that he's not the most physically imposing guy out there but that doesn't meant that he can't influence games. He shoots a ridiculously high percentage. He competed his backside off against Louisville. There have been times this year when you look at Dane Goodwin and think, team most valuable player. Same with Blake Wesley. At times, Nate Laszewski was trending that way with what he was doing for a stretch. Second half of last night's game, I started thinking that of Atkinson. Guy just gets it. 

Victor K.: Also, Tom, what are your top three ND basketball halftime shows? If the list does not have Red Panda at number-one, you will have invalidated yourself. 

Tom Noie: Victor feeling frisky today? No doubt, Red Panda is the halftime GOAT, but honestly, if your world travels have ever taken you overseas and you've been to Beijing to see a performance of the Beijing circus (no, really), they make Red Panda look like she's riding a tricycle and using paper plates. But I digress. It's 1. Red Panda, 2. Jesse White Tumblers (if you know, you know) and 3. The professional Simon Sez guy. Let's see you beat that troika. 

Jason: Is a 7(now 6) man rotation smart or sustainable? Every year Breys teams look worn down. Is there really no one else on the bench that could play 5-10 minutes? I remember when J Grant and Pat C were sitting on in the bench and those guys both ended up in the nba 

Tom Noie: Jason: For this group, it's both smart and sustainable. As long as all seven are healthy. Smart in that those seven think like one. You lose a lot of that, which results in too many empty possessions or missed defensive assignments with a Matt Zona or a Tony Sanders or a J.R. Konieczny, even for a few minutes. Those are chances that Mike Brey doesn't want to take. And the whole worn down narrative is sooooooooo stale. Look at the ACC league leaders for minutes. Notre Dame has one guy (Dane Goodwin) in the Top 10. Only two (Blake Wesley) in the Top 25. There's your tired legs for you. 

Danny: Love the content Tom! Quick question, what ever happened to the gold jersey? I know you brought up the gold (mustard) uniforms a few weeks ago. Is it the players who decide which uniforms to wear, or do those jerseys not even exist anymore? 

Tom Noie: Danny: Mustard gold uniform references will get you in good with the chat host every single time. It's the players who decide what uniform to wear, but I also think the mustard golds were retired. They went through a run there with several alternative unis - black, gold, green - but have not gone that route. The mustard golds scream 2015. I'd make those permanent. But that's just me. The black and green also were sharp. 

Ed,Greensboro: Tom , looks like Brey’s staff shakeup is producing great results.Have the players indicated to you that they are happy as well? 

Tom Noie: Ed: not really, they're not the kind of guys who are going to go down that road, but it was obvious that they needed to be pushed/taken in a direction that the previous staff couldn't tap. This staff has tapped into it. Maybe some of it was just a matter of time, but they've been pushed in ways they weren't in the past. 

Chris, DC: How will the Irish defend PJ Hall on Saturday?   Do you think the 3 PT shooting eilll 

Tom Noie: Chris: Just like guys like Dereon Seabron and Tequarvion Smith were defended. Don't think anyone at Notre Dame is going to lose sleep worrying how to defend P.J. Hall. He's a good player. The Irish have seen their share of good players. Just dig in and defend. 

Jeff - Fort Wayne: I was at the game last night, and if it wasn’t for the student section, the place could pass as a library. You can see Coach Brey almost begging the crowd to make noise, and it wasn’t until the very end that there was any energy in the building. How does this get fixed? 

Tom Noie: Jeff: That's a question that has been asked since I started covering Notre Dame hoops in 1998. It's a fair-weather fan base (students included) who can be counted on for maybe one or two games a year. They like to complain when it's going bad, and find reasons to stay away when things turn. Here's the thing - they've moaned and moaned and moaned about wanting a better product on the court for the last three years. Now they have it. Where they at? 

Dan: First time poster, but have followed Men’s basketball for 40 years. I think it’s time to shelved the Wesley to the NBA talk. In my opinion he is a couple years away, at least. 

Tom Noie: Dan: Good to have you here. Here's the thing with Blake Wesley - he has the skills right now to GET to the NBA, but without at least another year where he can work on said skills, he doesn't have enough in the toolbox to STAY in the NBA. He's going to have to decide - is it enough for him to be the first one-and-done at Notre Dame who gets to the NBA for a cup of coffee (which is what it will be) or does he want to take the steps needed (another year) to be a career pro? It's up to him to decide. 

GoIrish!: Are any games confirmed for the 2022-23 season? 

Tom Noie: Notre Dame will play a 20-game league schedule, participate in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge and start a home-and-home in Milwaukee next season with Marquette. The third and final game in the Kentucky series may not be played for mutually-decided on reasons. 

Phil: Brey's strategy to run seven (and now basically six) guys deep just about this whole season has obviously been contentious among many fans (although in fairness, it's gotten the club wins). Given that Goodwin and others may be coming back, is there a chance guys like Zona/Sanders/Elijah Taylor might transfer to get playing time elsewhere (especially with the high-quality recruits coming in)? Or will the culture/the ND degree outweigh their lack of involvement? 

Tom Noie: Phil: Welcome to college basketball 2022-23 and beyond. Odds are, somebody's going into the transfer portal after this year. They just are. When the transfer rules were relaxed to eliminate the sit-out season, it became the Wild West. Mike Brey understands that. Guys want to play. When they don't see playing time, they hit the reset button. But again, Notre Dame guys have seen the bigger picture and get it. Though there are some who haven't - I see you Matt Ryan. Sometimes, it's best if guys go (D.J. Harvey). Sometimes, it's not. Matt Ryan being the poster child for that. He stays, he's maybe the   career leader in program history for 3s. 

Adam: Hi Tom - You mentioned in an earlier question the idea of Blake realizing he could really use another year at the NCAA level before making the jump. I absolutely think it'd benefit him to come back for one more year, but do you have any sense of the likelihood of that happening? Wouldn't blame him one bit if he decides to go - gotta get that NBA money where you can - but as an ND fan fingers crossed he takes one more year. Thanks! 

Tom Noie: Adam: That's a slippery slope, to "get that NBA money while you can." No, no, no. You gotta be good enough and driven enough and focused enough to get to that second NBA contract. That's where the real money is. If it's all about the money, then yeah, Blake Wesley leaves in the spring. But if it's about being a PRO, like being a 10-year guy, he works on his game and is an even better/more finished product in 2023-24. Right? 

Zach S: How much stock do you take in that horrid Duke game last week? Do you think we can realistically get them in the ACC tourney if matched up? That felt like an outlier game, but Duke notably does defend the 3 really well. Maybe it’s just a bad matchup? Curious what your thoughts are. Go Irish! 

Tom Noie: Zach: Good point, but here's also a key factor - the Irish basically wet their pants when they ran out of the locker room and saw a full house and those Duke uniforms and K and the ESPN cameras on. Like, that was big-time college basketball and this Notre Dame group has never played in a big-time college basketball atmosphere. Remember, it beat Duke last year at Cameron Indoor with no fans in the stands. It was an adjustment. Notre Dame wanted it perhaps too much. They were tight and couldn't function. A rematch with Duke on a neutral court? Might be a different story. Would be nice to find out, right? 

Justin, Ft Wayne: You going to be at anymore away games and the ACC tournament? 

Tom Noie: Justin: Fingers crossed that we can get to the ACC Tournament. Travel these days are tricky, for myriad reasons. I miss it, but in other ways, I don't. But if there's any year to be in Brooklyn, this might be the one. Especially since there just could be more basketball to come the following week. 

Chris in New York: Tom how do you feel about NCAA chances given the lack of Quad 1 wins and overall awfulness if ACC.  What do they need to do to be called on March 13th 

Tom Noie: Chris: Notre Dame is 10-3 in the league with seven ACC games remaining - four at home, three on the road. Hold serve at home, steal a sixth league road win and Selection Sunday takes care of itself if Notre Dame finishes 15-5 in the league. 

Jason: How would you describe Dane Goodwins game? He seems to be well rounded with no elite skills but good at everything. What past nd player would you compare him to or maybe he’s a combination of 2 players? 

Tom Noie: Jason: Steve Vasturia on Line One. 

Tim from Evanston: Did something specific happen after the bad loss to BC and/or the crossroads loss to Indiana to help turn things around?  Was there a players only meeting or something similar where the seniors finally stepped up and took accountability?  Feels like the team's confidence and play started to evolve and improve after that stretch.  They've shown flashes of this potential in previous seasons but how have they been able to sustain this level over the last 15 games or so of their current hot streak? 

Tom Noie: Tim: Great stuff. Don't think anything had to be said after the Boston College game where Notre Dame never led, trailed by 23 and lost by  16 to the team picked to finish last in the league. It was more a collective decision that this #$%@ stops and it stops right now. Time to wake up and get serious about defending and figuring out who they could be. That was the end of a really brutal stretch where Texas A&M took its collective heart in Vegas the previous week before the high-intensity atmosphere/loss to Illinois, which is really good. Indiana? Notre Dame was more encouraged than deflated after that one. The Irish played well in that road atmosphere (and it was a road game) against a high-level opponent. They were closer than what many of us believed. It was just a matter of those seven guys collectively clicking. And you can't underestimate/value how much confidence matters. Once they were able to string some league wins/road wins together, that confidence was like a rocket. 

John R.: We’ve all heard the hype around Wesley being a potential lottery pick. If he gets word at the end of the year from his advisors that he will be a lottery pick, how does Brey (and should Brey) bring him back? While we fans obviously want him back, I couldn’t fault the kid for going to the NBA. Of course he could always benefit from more coaching before making the jump, it just seems like a lottery pick is too much to pass up. Do you think we are in real danger of him not coming back? 

Tom Noie: John: Sure, because when it comes to decision time, Blake Wesley will have to decide what he wants. Is it enough for him to be a lottery pick, because if it is, it's over. Mike Brey will shake his hand and thank him for the year and wish him well. But does he want to truly be an NBA player? Look, he won't develop in that league, especially if he goes to a bad team, the way he'd develop at Notre Dame. He just won't. Is he mature enough to work through all that at that level? One more year gives him a lot more to take with him to the league to where he's not only a lottery pick, he's a pro. There's a massive difference. 

Tim from Evanston: Tom - feels like Wesley has gotten a number of critical baskets for ND this year where he simply drove to the hoop and used his superior athleticism to score (just ask Louisville both times we played them).  ND doesn't typically have guys with this kind of physical ability but perhaps from what I read about the upcoming recruiting classes, more are on the way.  Who is the last ND player that you can remember who could call his own number and go one on one like that for a big bucket when it was needed? 

Tom Noie: Tim: Jerian Grant on Line One as well. Bonzie Colson too. There have been a few, but few with the overall mix of athleticism and stones. 

South Bend Bob: Mr Noie:  No questions,  sir; just a thank you for your terrific work and dedication to local journalism. 

Tom Noie: My man! As they say, say it louder for the people in the back! 😀 

joe from the south side: Tom, Buzz showed that the press can kill ND, so that is no surprise.  The other way to beat them is to do what Duke did.  Unfortunately, only 5 or 6 teams in the country have that kind of talent makeup to play DEF the way Coach K did.  Brey can use Atkinson to receive the inbound pass off the press, since no Big DEF is ever going to play that far from the basket, Paul will be open.  You bring the inbounder, say Hubb, toward Atkinson for a pass and Hubb can rub off his defender on the Atkinson screen. 

Tom Noie: Joe: Call the Notre Dame men's basketball offices. Tell them I told you to...they've listen. Maybe. 

Russell: Who comes back next year? Wesley 50/50 at best. Assume Cormac Ryan comes back, but who else (of the core rotation guys now)? 

Tom Noie: Russell: Asked an answered. Scroll through to find the info. You won't regret it. 

Xavier: What do you think about Solomon being the coach in waiting assuming Brey continues to keep things on track? 

Tom Noie: Xavier: Don't see it. Anthony Solomon is a good man who is of tremendous value, but it's a tough sell to say that he's the head coach in waiting at Notre Dame when he's a career 24-88 as a head coach. Some guys are better off as assistants and I think Slo more than fits that bill. I do know that one reason he left after the 2015-16 season was that he believed that he should've been given more of a look as a head coach elsewhere. But it was hard for Mike Brey to convince schools A, B and C to give Slo a serious look when he's 24-88. At this stage of his coaching career, Slo's more of a sage than a sergeant, That's OK. He's exactly what this program needed this season. E-X-A-C-T-L-Y. It's no coincidence that the Irish are where they are with Slo back on the staff. 

Mike - Newark, DE: Hey Tom - walk me back from thinking about this team (if Wesley returns) as a top 10-15 team... Wesley and Starling plus an assortment of fifth year guys that clearly can go out and win a ton of ACC games... only real weakness to me would be in the middle if Atkinson has to move on (as well as Nate being a question mark for 22-23). Feels like they'd have real staying power in the national discussion next year in this scenario 

Tom Noie: Mike: This, times 10. The bulk of the core comes back, one of the other freshmen (Ven-Allen Lubin) hits big early and the transfer portal works its magic, and you've got the makings of something sustainable in South Bend. 

Adam: Love ND in all sports, great season so far far.  My son and I don’t miss a game, I’m just shocked at the lack of fan support at home games?  What is the issue?  That place looked empty last night? 

Tom Noie: Adam: It was bad. I get the pandemic and get that classwork may have been a conflict, but if you can fill it for Duke, you can fill it for any other game. And should fill it. Fans (and you know who you are) whined incessantly the last three years about the state of the program. Now the program's on firm footing, and it's a collective shrug. Facts. 

Tyler: Tom, I’m curious what your relationship (if any) is like with Coach Brey outside of basketball season? Occasional text, yearly July dinner, anything? If so, would you say he's about as authentic as he appears to be nationally to those who don't know him as well as you guys that do? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: You'll have to wait for the book to learn about that. 😀 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, thanks so much for your great work covering ND hoops. Despite their notable efforts so far, I sense that the Irish aren't getting much respect on a national level and are being somewhat dismissed by the supposed experts whose job it is to project the Big Dance field. I hate to think of it, but in your opinion, is there any way that ND could finish in top three of the ACC regular-season standings and yet still get aced out of earning a NCAA postseason berth? I don't why but I've got a funny feeling about this possibility. 

Tom Noie: Jim: None, zero, zlich, nada, and any other word you might want to use. Notre Dame is 10-3 in the league. It has four home games left. Win those four and get to 14 wins, steal one more road win. Finish 15-5 and it's over. Mike Brey is Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year and the Irish are back in the tournament. 

Robert from Mishawaka: Thank you for having these chats, and Go Irish! 

Tom Noie: Another one.....say it louder for those in the back my man! 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Lunardi has OKLA has one of the last teams in.  They have THREE league wins.  ALL three were against teams under .500 in the league.  I believe they are 1-7 in their last 8.  OKLA is hanging its hat on two wins two months ago.  Ignore Lunardi.  There are much better options. 

Tom Noie: Joe: I would counsel any college basketball fan to ignore EVERYBODY when it turns to NCAA talk. Only 68 teams will get in, but between now and Selection Sunday, there will be at least 200 that people say are in or deserve to be in. It's dizzying, and even downright dopey. Just keep winning, and Selection Sunday takes care of itself. 

Tyler: Tom, you might of already covered (I always read the full transcript after the chat), but in the eyes of those within the program and those that cover this program closely, what specifically makes this season a great one and not a bust? I’m a little more realistic than most ND hoops fans with expectations and I’d argue we are getting to that territory of this season already being a success (pending an NCAA bid). Given how short the majority of this team has fell with expectations, just to finish in the top 4 of the ACC in year 4 and to finally earn a bid to be given a chance at the whole thing is a successful season in my eyes- even if an early round exit (sigh, I know). What say you? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: The greatness bar was forever raised by the 2014-15 team. The Irish went 32-6. They went 14-4 in the league. They were a top four seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. They won said tournament by beating Duke and North Carolina on consecutive nights in the city where the league was formed. It nearly got to a Final Four. It maxed everything out. That's greatness. Anything less than that and the season's really good. Though I have a different view of greatness. Great seasons are when you can just kind of hang on and enjoy the ride. That certainly was 2015. That also was 2011 with what that team did (NCAA stagger aside). This one has a chance to be great in a sense if the Irish continue doing what they're doing. Getting to the NCAA usually would be enough, but there's something different about this group. We might soon see it. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  You know you raised an interesting point.  Brey can probably recruit 10-15 kids out of the Top 100.  The rest are just never getting into ND.  If you go the portal route, not only do you "stay old", but you at least get a known commodity academically.  You think ND should/will place more of an emphasis on transfers going forward?  If they do, it kind of goes against how the school has positioned itself, reputation-wise. 

Tom Noie: Joe: Yes, yes, yes, but only for absolutely the right fits. Notre Dame never is going to get guys just to get guys (as evidence by never maxing out the allotted scholarships, which is also by design). But that's where college basketball is headed. Either play the game or you won't be in the game. And 10-15 of the Top 100 is way too generous. It's more like 5-10 with a "realistic" shot at MAYBE one or two kids a year. But hey. you still better win in the ACC. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Wouldn't be a chat without the mention of Djogo.  BTW, both he and Chris D. are doing quite well with ND's AAA team.   Djogo is the 2nd leading scorer and Dougherty basically averages a double-double.  All that for a team with ONE conference win.  Who is next in the conversation?  DJ Harvey? LOL 

Tom Noie: Joe: Both (really all three) doing stuff at their respective schools (D.J. Harvey is at Detroit-Mercy) at a level where their games really belong. Doesn't make them bad guys. Just not ACC-caliber guys. 

Tom, Gary, Indiana: I have really enjoyed watching Blake Wesley play, and I believe, pump some life into the program. How do you think his performance helped Brey get J.J. Starling? Future recruits? 

Tom Noie: Tom: Honestly, it didn't. J.J. Starling signed with Notre Dame three days before Blake Wesley ever played a game in an Irish uniform. Now, the thought of pairing with Wesley was intriguing for Starling, but one thing you learn when you're around this program for 24 years, Notre Dame guys are different. In so many ways. Basketball is important but not end-all-be-all important. J.J. Starling looked hard at Notre Dame because he wanted to be different. Wanted to blaze his own trail. Same for future recruits. They want to play high level hoops and compete in the ACC and all that, but they want more - want the all-encompassing of what a Notre Dame education can provide. 

Tyler: Tom, let’s “pretend” (because we can do that) this entire group returns next year after getting a taste (using Brey lingo) of the tournament but getting bounced after game 1. Where would see his "Mahomes" fitting into the rotation next year? I couldn’t imagine a 5th year guy with as many miles on his tires (and having a great 21-22 ACC season) would be accepting of a rotating bench role with JJ Starling getting 28+ minutes. Would Hubb be understanding to pass the torch? Sure. But accepting? No way. Nor would Brey do that to him or put him in that position. Nor should he. So I guess my question is 1) if they ALL (except Paul) return, where do you see Hubb fitting in that rotation? And 2) fair to say out of ALL of this core, Hubb would/should be least likely to return because of Starling, and well.. it’s just time? Agree? 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Conventional wisdom would agree, but then again, since we are pretending...The more I've seen J.J. Starling play, the more I can see that it's not out of the realm of possibility that Prentiss Hubb might - stress might - return. In his current role at La Lumiere, J.J. Starling is not the true "point guard." he often plays off the ball and allows Jeremy Fears (Michigan State signee) and/or Aden Holloway to handle point guard duties. Then there are times where when Starling needs to be Starling, he can be Starling. Hubb has been the ultimate team guy this season, which has gone unnoticed. What would he want out of next year? A main role? Yeah, probably not. A team role? Hmmmmm. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I'll give you the book on the 3 recruits.  Starling starts from Day 1.  More advanced than Wesley was at the same time in their careers.  JJS has NBA written all over him.  If Wesley and Dane stay, you might average 50 points a game from those 3 spots.  No kidding.  Ven-Allen will likely be the best athlete on the team.  Explosive.  A motor that just does not quit.  In some ways reminds one of Ryan H. when he transferred.  The first time I saw RH play at ND, I thought, "My Lord, we don't get those kinds of basketball athletes here."  Ven-Allen is in that category, though a little undersized.  That said, he is rough around the edges.  He definitely needs polish.  If he works with Hump for a few years, he is going to be hard to handle.  Finally, my favorite is Dom C.  Love this guy's skill set.  Would need to see what his body looks like before making an assessment, but easy to play with.  Dirty work kind of teammate.  Trivia question----He reminds me of the "Malverne Mountain".  Who am I referring to? 

Tom Noie: Joe: Good stuff, and agree. Have seen/talked with J.J. Starling plenty to see that he's next. Never heard of your Mountain guy and too swamped with questions to cheat with Google. 

Matt: If Hubb and Goodwin both come back next year (along with Wertz and Ryan), where does JJ Starling fit in the rotation? He has to play given his talent, but how much? Who sacrifices minutes? Love the idea of Hubb tutoring both Wesley and Starling for another year, but guard is getting crowded (no to mention JR). 

Tom Noie: Matt; Regardless of who's back or who's not, J.J. Starling is a starter/main guy from the minute he steps on campus until his career ends. It's as sure of a thing as sure things are. 

Tyler: Tom, wouldn’t be a party without a crowd question. I’m not saying I’m interested in the Big 10 (but really I am) or suggesting even holding to that to be a future possibility for ND (won't happen). My question is, do you think the crowds would be better if ND was in the Big 10? Just overall attendance. I mean, give me Northwestern + Penn State + Minnesota over GT + NCST + BC any day of the week. It will never happen but you get what I’m saying. Agree? Heck, you would get the same Duke crowd that you would for Michigan. Same North Carolina (non xmas break) crowd that you would for Indiana. Same (non covid) crowd for a good Syracuse and good Louisville that you would for Purdue or Michigan State. My only concern would be the 60/40 split or even losing the building to Indiana or Purdue LOL. 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Agree. The Midwest crowd just isn't as invested in teams from the southeast, and that even includes Louisville. Scale of one to 10, last night was a 6.5 Maybe. 

Tim from Evanston: You tweeted a pic of the empty arena last night and Tory Jackson commented as well.  Why do you think there is lack of support for this team in the form of crowd size?  Also, do you think Brey really enjoys going to the dining halls and lecture halls handing out tickets and throwing t shirts to students.  Coach K, Boeheim would never do that stuff and they are his closest peers in the ACC. 

Tom Noie: Tim: Full disclosure, that picture was snapped about one minute before tip. So many fans/students/lackeys were so fed up the previous three seasons that they can't possibly stoop to the level of crawling back to root for them now. That would be admitting that they were wrong. And that the program again is good and worth watching. Sometimes I wonder if "fan" is short for "dope." And now, Brey can't like having to scour the dining and lecture halls to drum up interest, but hey, he got this program into it. Time for him to get it out, right? 

Tyler: Tom, who’s the one guy on this team that if they don’t “elevate” their game over the course of this season or next (if they return), and they just remain the same would you be most disappointed in as far as like gosh, I thought we could of gotten more out of him? Mine is Cormac Ryan. IF he remains the same as he has this year and remains the same next year. I wasn’t expecting an all-league offensive guy but gosh, I was expecting more than only just 1 or 2 all-league type nights in a few seasons. Even Nate or Hubb can inconsistently give you those. Cormac can consistently defend though so he does check that box. 

Tom Noie: Tyler: Good call. You know what direction I'm going to go? How about Blake Wesley. Say he is one-and-done guy. Say he believes he's ready to go to the NBA. Let's see him do what another ACC guy did when he was a freshman who was really good during the bulk of the season, but took it to another level while on his NBA drive late. I'm referring to Jayson Tatum. I remember watching him earlier in the 2016-17 season, then seeing him again in the ACC tournament in Brooklyn. Specifically, the ACC title game against Notre Dame, a game Notre Dame should've won. I watched Tatum that night and thought, wow, best player in the draft. Franchise-like guy. Just couldn't be defended. Why not watch Wesley do that the last six weeks of the season? Just go on a run that says, yeah, I'm a pro and here's why... 

Joe: Not to beat the rotation topic into the ground, but what did Brey see in Tony Sanders that had him play minutes at Michigan St. last year in the opener, but hardly gets on the court this year? Would love to see him used like Austin Torres for a few minutes of burst and hustle plays 

Tom Noie: Joe: Nothing any of those guys did last year held any water/carryover to this season. They didn't have a summer to figure it out. They barely knew where all the buildings were on campus. Zona and Sanders and to an extent Taylor really are only freshmen this year and they're playing roles like freshmen play. He's not an answer now. Not even close. Next year? We'll see. 

Todd in Charlotte: Tom: When you mentioned Djogo, I remembered he transferred out to Northeastern. Forgot that he's teammates with Chris Doherty. Both of them are having solid seasons! Sometimes players find greener pastures. Good for them. 

Tom Noie: Todd: Greener pastures in fields not as fertile as the Atlantic Coast Conference can be beneficial. In the case of both, it is. 

Joey from Highland: I have thoroughly enjoyed the spacing they’re playing with and the pace helps them limit possessions for the opponents. I still think they’re better shooters than they’ve shown, namely Ryan and Wertz. I can’t believe how good of a basketball player Goodwin has become. I know they pick on him defensively, but he competes and has come a long way on that end. 

Tom Noie: Old guys getting old. See what happens? You see that, hey, they actually can play. 

Jon, PA: Hi Tom. Can you think of a time when the first place acc team was not ranked? 

Tom Noie: Jon: Yes. Couple weeks ago when Miami (Fla.) was in first place and Duke was the lone ACC team ranked. In fairness, the national rankings are released every Monday, so Notre Dame was not in first place at that time. It's the ACC is down narrative that's hurting the league. Hard to bust through that now. 

Brendan, TN: Tom, what do you think is the long term expectation for Coach Solomon and Coach Wyche? They seem to get the credit with making our defense better, and I'm all for it. Is one of them Coach in waiting for when Brey's contract is up? Do you expect them to look elsewhere after this season? Would love any insight you have into the dynamic with Brey and his staff. 

Tom Noie: Brendan: Anthony Solomon returned for a third stint at Notre Dame to work one more time with Mike Brey. Antoni Wyche is a Notre Dame graduate in his first season back at his alma mater. He's still learning about life at this level. Slo's not going anywhere that Mike Brey's not going. Let's give it a year or two. 

Mike,New Jersey: Hey Tom, The three point shooting hasn't been stellar at all in this last stretch of games. I look at it as a positive that the Irish are still winning these games with Great defense and toughness.  Your thoughts? Have to think the 3 ball will come back around eventually for these guys. 

Tom Noie: Mike: Great point. Kind of shoots down the "All they do is shoot 3s" complaints from the whine and wheeze crowd. It's a weapon, but it doesn't  have to be THE weapon. 

Lee from Lancaster: Tom, do you think the fact that the Irish will likely make the tournament this year will impact the decision to leave or come back to ND for a final year for players like Hubb, Goodwin, and Nate L. ? 

Tom Noie: Lee: Can see it swing both ways with those guys. Part of them might think, we accomplished our goal and got Notre Dame back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017. We're done. Part of them also might think, we did it once and it felt phenomenal, let's see if we can do more, and then decide to come back. 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, since you cover both Irish hoops and football, would you say that the cases of Paul Atkinson and Jack Coan are analogous? Both arrived with high expectations and legitimate pressure and though each had some hiccup moments, no one can deny that these two athletes have delivered in a mighty big way. Without them, it's a daunting thought to imagine how their respective teams would have fared without them. Would you agree that Brian Kelly and Mike Brey are thanking their lucky stars that the grad transfer portal was at their disposal and that Atkinson and Coan ended up making all the difference in the world? 

Tom Noie: Jim: Brian Kelly is too busy making dance videos at LSU and Mike Brey is trolling the dining halls to recruit students. They haven't stopped to think. 

JDub, Ft. Wayne: Different perspective on the Duke game.  The officials let them play and I am fine with that.  Very physical game underneath the basket.  Usually in that scenario, the bigger, more physical team is probably going to win and that team was clearly Duke.  I think it also underscored why the game was so low scoring.  My opinion is ND did not stand a chance against Duke with the game called that way.  When the officials do call a game that way and it does not favor ND, do you think Mike Brey should do more lobbying during the game to try and change that narrative to give his team a better chance?  He did not appear to that night and I know he is not usually a 'talk to the officials' kind of guy, but can a coach affect the game that way? 

Tom Noie: JDub: Interesting. I get what you'd like to see out of Brey at that point, but that game got sideways so early, I'm sure he already was thinking how to hold it all together when they got on the flight the next day to South Florida. He was already working on his flush-it speech before that game ended. He's turned the page in that one early. And don't be mistaken, Brey's good getting after the officials when it's warranted. Seen it plenty. 

Joey from Highland: also, with the quantity of timeouts and the tv timeouts, they’re rested anyways.  Depth is overrated.  7 skilled guys is better than 9 minute wasters. 

Tom Noie: Joey: Will never get this notion of everybody has to play. Ice cream all around. And the whole, yeah, get a guy two or three minutes here or there. It takes you a minute to get your wind, another to settle in and another to figure out what's what. By then, you're back out. Enough of the nonsense of playing guys just to play them. 

Joe, Chicago: How does ND match up with Wake - they seem to be the only two non-Duke teams in the league to be trending in the right direction 

Tom Noie: Joe: Wake Forest's going to be a massive problem with a lot of old guys and skilled guys and guys that believe it's their time. Can't wait for that one. 

Brendan, TN: Last night post game I heard Brey said when Louisville made their run and they called timeout, there was no strategy, just a sense of they'd been there before and let's figure it out. I don't ever see a whiteboard and marker in his hands, so are you ever close enough to the huddles to share anything about what those conversations are really like? Who's talking? Who's directing? Who's yelling? 

Tom Noie: Brendan: Ha! We're way upstairs for home games so the seats that once were press row can remain unused. Whoops, did I say that? Brey's huddles usually operate where he gives a few beats to the guys to discuss amongst themselves while he meets with his assistants to plan a direction. Then he'll step in and say what needs to be said. But like he said Wednesday, he just doesn't want to screw them up. Sometimes, good coaching is saying/doing less. Not more. 

Lee from Lancaster: Tom , what team in the ACC is considered ND's primary rival?  Possibly, Duke?   Is there a game that will generate the buzz that a ND-Clemson game will in football? 

Tom Noie: Lee: Thought a little on that this week. I'd say if I had to guess, it would be Louisville. To have a rival, you have to have good games, and games against Duke has been too one-sided. Plus, you mention to anyone from Duke that Notre Dame is a rival in basketball and they may laugh you out of the league. yeah, they have rivals in basketball, but Notre  Dame isn't one of them. Outside of Louisville, don't know if Notre Dame really has one. That's life in Indiana as a member of the ACC. 

JDub, Ft. Wayne: Since the question was asked about Anthony Solomon being the next coach, and I know Brey still has several years left on his contract, have you thought about who might be on a short list to succeed Mike Brey? 

Tom Noie: JDub: No, because nobody really knows. Us media dopes spent years and years and years trotting out the who's-next list for Notre Dame football when it came time for Brian Kelly to leave. If he ever would leave. Even before the 2021 season, Marcus Freeman was on less than zero percent of media radar. You don't know what the situation is until it arises. When it does, I'll have a better idea of what direction the search might go. 

Caleb from Charlotte: From a historical perspective, which of these is the greatest accomplishment in ND basketball history, 1.) ending USCL's 88 game winning streak, or 2.) making the final four in 1978? 

Tom Noie: Caleb: When's the last time they played a highlight clip of that 1978 Final Four run? The final seconds of the UCLA game are replayed every January. Not even close. It's the UCLA game. 

Jake: Tom, does this team give you 2015-2016 vibes? Guard that can get to the basket, dj vs Blake, shotmaker Beachem vs Dane, and post guy that can get you a bucket ZA vs Paul. This team lacks the offensive versatility that Steve and Bonzie brought, but I think makes up for it on the defensive end with better on ball defense and team rebounding. 

Tom Noie: Jake: Great call. That 2015-16 team lost early in non-conference to...Monmouth. I figured leaving Disney that night that there was no way that team would get back to an Elite Eight. Then, 11-7 in the league and a late run and there they were. 

WoofCookies from LaPaz: Tom, any idea why Matt Ryan didn't hang on?  He seems to be doing well in the D League...lack of patience, or just the way it works in college ball...Thanks, WOOF 

Tom Noie: Woof: He fell victim to two things that will crush any collegiate career - insecurity and impatience. Ryan wanted to be a starter, but saw all the buzz about D.J. Harvey coming in and didn't even wait around. Harvey was in, Ryan was out. He never was in the shape he needed to be. If he'd taken that seriously, and was secure in his skills, he would've torched the 3-point records. All of them. He would've gotten so many open looks and opportunities that his right arm may have fallen off late in one season. Right there, just dropped. Instead, he bounced from Vanderbilt to Chattanooga. What might have been... 

Justin, Ft Wayne: Have you talked to any of the incoming freshman besides JJ? Just wondering if you did and what they had to say about ND 

Tom Noie: Justin: Unless they're local like J.J. where you can go over and spend some face-to-face time and see them play, it's a waste of time. They just recycle the same old recruiting quotes they've used for months. Better to get them on campus when you can see them first-hand. 

John from Naperville: Tom, thanks for getting these going again. Love em, and appreciate the time you take out of your day to talk ND hoops. Was Elijah Taylor ever really going to be a piece for this team? He put together some nice minutes vs Illinois, then got hurt, and obviously ran into some academic issues. Is he still around the team, traveling, practicing etc? A lot of really good examples of those who had missteps within the ND program that have bounced back, hope he stays the course. 

Tom Noie: John: If there was anyone who had an outside chance at being the eighth guy, it was Elijah Taylor. But it was always something that was holding him back. He got sick and missed time, then he got hurt and missed time then he didn't get it done in the classroom and was gone for the spring semester. He's still around the team for practices and home games. But again, a guy whose collegiate career hasn't even gotten close to getting off the ground. A total blank slate/mystery heading into 2022-23. 

Justin, Ft Wayne: Do you have a personal opinion of the teams ceiling this year? Curious to what you think it would be. 

Tom Noie: Justin: Sweet 16? Seriously, though, it's so difficult to say what this team might do in postseason until the bracket comes out. Oh, they also have to get there as well. 

Mickey, NY, NY: Great to see a chat going. A few questions: if MB is going to play 7 because they work well together what is the cause of the offense being stagnant for large stretches (I’m not talking missing shots, talking looking completely out of synch).  2) With the recruiting class coming in and the 2 freshman how do you think MB handles that next year? To get top recruits they will want to play immediately and a lot. Is that another impediment to attracting top classes with multiple top players? 3) When are you in NY so I can buy you a drink and a meal for all the grief I give you on Twitter?  I really do like you, Tom!  I promise. 

Tom Noie: Mickey: We're back and maybe better than ever. Great to hear from you. Give the defense some of the credit. This ain't the CYO league they're playing against out there. We'll worry about next year in the summer. Plenty of time for that. Checks to see where ACC tournament is this year. Brooklyn? Answer to question No. 3 is ... next month. 😀 

Szn TicketGuys: Tom any idea why we don’t see JR get in the mix more for PT seems like we could use one more guys off the bench? 

Tom Noie: Not this year. Mike Brey was very clear with J.R. Konieczny on that one from the start. He sees Konieczny with the same collegiate career arc as Tim Abromaitis. Going to take longer to get there, but once he gets there, he's going to be good. 

Wadelite: Tom, if ND has an open Scholarship in the spring, which I believe they will, can you see them offering Ryan Mabrey? His family has certainly been winners at ND and he would help facilitate a lalumiere pipeline. There will be many open scholarships 22-23, so put him on the 5 year plan. 

Tom Noie: We'll be fighting Mabrey fatigue by then. Notre Dame definitely knows where he is, but his name has seldom come up. 

Matt from Campus: Can you tell us about how/if the committee weighs head-to-head matchups?  Four other ACC teams on bubble watch (I know there's still a ton of season left) but we've beat 3 out of the 4 of them (Miami, UNC, Virginia) and still have to play Wake.  How much do they take those wins into account on the bubble?  I guess I am still upset about Syracuse getting into the tournament in 2017-2018 when we didn't because I felt that we had very similar resumes AND we beat them in the Carrier Dome. 

Tom Noie: Matt: Hard to say exactly what the committee will take into account. How much will the deafening chatter of the ACC hurt Notre Dame? It might, but its resume might be too good to ignore. Just keep winning and it will solve any issues. 

joe from the south side: Tom, Slo and Brey are basically the same age.  Slo is not in the picture.  Wyche's resume does not have the heft.  Hump is the best option, but, with no head coaching experience, that's a tough hire.  I would look at someone in their 40s, HC in a lower league, successful, and some ties to ND.  And no, not Marty I.  Danny Hurley or Kevin Willard come to mind. 

Tom Noie: Joe: Wait, Ryan Humphrey not having any previous head coaching experience is a tough hire? Marcus Freeman and Niele Ivey would like a word. Hump would be a really good option. 

Joey from Highland: FYI, a 3 seed (in Kentucky’s bracket) after winning the acc tourney in Greensboro and beating Duke and Carolina twice still irks me to no end. Can you say hosed???? 

Tom Noie: 

PortND: Tom great stuff as always.  I'm of the opinion that ND is in first place right now BECAUSE of the BC loss, I actually see it as a benefit as it was a come to jesus moment for the veterans on the team.  Any insight into what happened after that loss or if there was a "come to Jesus meeting" 

Tom Noie: Port: Nothing really needed to be said, except this $#^& stops now. It was a team still trying to figure it out. All that game did was force them to figure it out faster. 

Cole: Tom, what are your thoughts going into Clemson on Saturday with only 6 guys… Is it a must win game? And how do you see it playing out? 

Tom Noie: Cole: Clemson will be on the back end of three games in five days. North Carolina on Tuesday, Duke on Thursday, Notre Dame on Saturday. The way this team has played on the road in the league this year, I'd be surprised if it doesn't get league road win No. 6. Clemson's not good. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  "Workin' on mysteries without any clues."  First time I saw Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band was at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena as the opening act for Kiss.  Let's just say the fan bases didn't mix.  Brief aside, now back to hoops. 

Tom Noie: Great story. Night Moves was my entry point into music, so it holds a special place. It started it all. Thanks, Bob. 

JDub, Ft. Wayne: I don't know that much needs to be said about it, but Dane Goodwin yelling back at Mike Brey during a timeout at NC State.  What I read about it I was really impressed with the way Mike Brey handled it: he was happy to see the emotion out of Dane.  I think he turned a potential negative into a positive.  Your thoughts on what happened and do you have any more insight into what happened and why? 

Tom Noie: JDub: Mike Brey barked at Dane Goodwin to rebound better and Dane barked back. Only took four years for him to show that kind of emotion. Think Dane is beyond a boiling point for not getting some calls he should get as a main guy. Not the first time that's happened. Brey's had his moments with Troy Murphy and Kyle McAlarney and Ben Hansbrough. He looks at it as, if I'm going to dish it out, I have to take it. Goodwin apologized afterward on the team bus, and Brey laughed it off. Said it's all good. 

Matt from Campus: Does Dane Goodwin still have a chance at ACC Player of the Year?  Who do you think the favorite is right now? 

Tom Noie: Matt: Absolutely, especially if the Irish finish in the top three. We were asked to submit by one member of the ACC media our top three choices earlier this week. Mine were 1. Alondes Williams (Wake Forest), 2. Dane Goodwin (Notre Dame) and 3. Armando Bacot (North Carolina). Williams might be the first player in conference history to lead the ACC in scoring and assists. He does that, and Wake Forest finishes in top four, it's over. 

Brad: Sometimes players find greener pastures with different coaches not just different conferences.  Brey was never going to lift Doherty up after he left in the summer of his freshman year.  I know Doherty personally and 2 coaches on the ND staff told him he should’ve been playing more for the ND team back in 2019 when he decided to leave…. 

Tom Noie: Brad: Good stuff, but a little revisionist history going on there. Chris Doherty left Notre Dame because he didn't want to be at Notre Dame. His mother drove out from New England and picked up and took him home without the staff even knowing about it. Big red flag there. He could never get over being that far away from home, so it's no surprise that he landed at Northeastern. He had no concept of college basketball in 2018-19....he wasn't going to play. Good kid in a tough situation out here. Better situation for him back home. 

Joey from Highland: Would you give your honest opinion on Coach K? Do you think he gets preferential treatment? I personally am not a fan of the guy and I’m glad he is retiring. 

Tom Noie: You do everything he has in the game and won at the level he's won, you wouldn't expect the same? Of course you would. Let's see Jon Scheyer get a similar whistle next season. Probably not happening. 

Pat H. Springfield Illinois: Can you comment on team’s resiliency in context of playing four games in eight days, being on the road, missing time in the classroom etc. Also if you can, what is latest on Nic Diogo, Juwan Durham and Chris Daugherty? Keep up your fine work. It’s always appreciated 

Tom Noie: Pat: Just a situation of old guys handling their business like old guys. Play a game, win or lose, it's on to the next one. They actually like playing as much on the road as they do at home, which is what I'm writing about for Saturday. Nik Djogo and Chris Doherty are each at Northeastern. Djogo is averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.7 minutes. He's shooting .447 from the field, .441 from 3 and .820 from the free throw line. He's played in 20 games with 19 starts. Doherty is averaging 11 points and 9.2 rebounds with 1.3 assists in 30.9 minutes. He's shooting .566 from the field and .756 from the foul line. He's started all 22 games he's played. Juwan Durham is playing for Prienai CBet in Lithuania. He's averaging 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 25.2 minutes. He's shooting .619 percent from the floor, .737 from the foul line. 

Brendan, TN: Wesley's been out at closing time in the last two games, which I think has been the right call given some of his turnovers. What is your sense of how he handles that? 

Tom Noie: Brendan: You hope it eats at him, but he's been on the bench because he's not been able to take care of the ball at critical times. North Carolina State and Louisville, one of the other two guards that would normally sit - Cormac Ryan, Trey Wertz - has been better. So Brey's gone with the old guys to close it out. Brey has praised Wesley for being coachable, so it's another coachable/teaching moment. Handle your business, and you'll play those crunch time minutes. 

Wadelite: Wesley was settling too much on taking treys. It was sort of like when Jordan Cornette had so many open treys. It wasn't by accident. 

Tom Noie: Wesley has to be beyond falling into that trap. Everyone around the program, and even those outside of it, has continuously counseled him to drive it, drive it, drive it. Then that opens everything else up for him. 

Mark Oliver: Tom, Quick follow up question if the chat is still going. Do Zona, Sanders, J.R. etc. understand the situation with not playing this year and are they OK with it? Will they stay and be usable contributors next year and beyond? Thanks. 

Tom Noie: Mark: Absolutely. I don't think they're sitting there in Game No. 24 last night thinking, man, I hope I get some run tonight. There have been conversations with each where they all know the score. Mike Brey said it before this season ever started - he's going to play seven guys and only seven guys. It's up to the others to handle it with understanding and maturity and stay ready in case they're needed. There's no rule, unwritten or otherwise, that says they have to play. This is big boy college basketball. Handle it like an man. Beyond this year, that's another discussion. But for now, this is the rotation. Be a team guy and not a me guy. 

Mickey, NY, NY: ive been seeing more midrange jumpers from the team lately. Do you know if that is something the team is consciously doing since their M.O. has been behind the arc? What player leaving after the season (other than Atkinson with 2 great degrees) would be a surprise?  And finally, any food allergies we should avoid next month?? 

Tom Noie: Just a case where you want to give the defense more to worry about. Used to be that you guard Notre Dame, you run them off the line and they have trouble creating offense. Not so now with so many guys who can find something in the mid-range. Having Atkinson there kind of opens up best of both worlds. They can shoot the 3 or dump into him for open looks. Dane Goodwin leaving next year would be a surprise. Really, that troika of Goodwin, Ryan and Wertz, all of whom seem like they're locks as five-year guys. 

Lee from Lancaster: What would you consider to be the most difficult game remaining on the regular season schedule for the Irish to win? 

Tom Noie: Lee; Wake Forest, and it might not be close. They've got that "it" about them this year. If there is a second, it's Syracuse. Notre Dame should handle its business in the other games, including at Florida State. If Pittsburgh can go in there and win, which it did last night, there's no reason Notre Dame can't. 

Tom Noie: That's going to do it for today. Solid effort for our first time back around since November. We'll be back, probably in two weeks on Feb. 24 for another chat. If you have a question or comment that cannot wait, drop me a note at 

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