Men's Basketball: No shortage of discussion topics in middle of summer

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

Thomas Noie: Happy summer everyone! We made through those dog/dark days of January and February and, if you live around these here parts. March and April and May. But we're here, so what better time to talk some Notre Dame men's basketball. There's no shortage of topics to discuss today - from last week's NBA draft, to the news that broke Wednesday of assistant coach Ryan Humphrey leaving for another coaching position (more details on that coming). To join today's discussion with a question or comment, make sure to include your name (no aliases, please) and hometown. With that, let's light this Notre Dame men's basketball summer chat.

Steve Duff: I’m curious about how you think Blake Wesley will do in the NBA. Also is playing for Pop a good or a bad thing for his development? Thanks Tom!

Thomas Noie: Steve: The first one-and-done in Notre Dame men's basketball history, former Irish guard Blake Wesley was taken in the first round (No. 25 overall) by San Antonio in last week's draft ( At first, the thought was he'd probably have his rookie season to ease into NBA life, maybe spend some time with the Spurs' G League team in Austin, see some time here and there. San Antonio then traded guard Dejounte Murray to  Atlanta, which opens a window of opportunity for Wesley. The Spurs seem to be headed toward full rebuild mode, which means, play the kids, which means, Wesley might see significant minutes. Normally, warm and cuddly Gregg Popovich has no use for rookies. Now, though, he seems to have embraced going young, which means Wesley has a chance. No matter how it shakes out, Wesley will be a way better pro in two, three years as his game develops. He needs time. If the Spurs give him that, he could be special.

Linas fr. Orange Cty, CA (Rex Pfluger territory): Hey Tom, Happy Summer :) So I feel a Matt Zona breakout coming this year. Jack Cooley, Martinas Geben and John Mooney had similar profiles and really broke out around junior years. Are you allowed to attend/observe informal summer workouts for ND players? Have you heard any scuttlebutt from Brey or others about Zona's off season or upcoming season's prospects? Thank you

Thomas Noie: Linas: I can hear you now all the way from Orange County - "WE WANT ZONA!!!" Better keep that chant handy. Matt Zona might - stress MIGHT - find a spot in the rotation this season as the third big man behind Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin, who apparently is better than advertised to date in summer workouts. Matt Zona would be the first big off the bench if needed - it's going to be a heavy dose of perimeter guys this season, so the backup bigs (Matt Zona, Dom Campbell) might be squeezed for minutes. The Irish have been back on campus for about three weeks. We usually get to see a practice toward the end of summer school. That's where we can see how everything's starting to shake out...

Thomas Noie: ..Early returns? There are eight Irish currently rotating through the white (starter's) jerseys in practices and scrimmage situations. You can pen (not pencil) in Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski and Cormac Ryan as starters. There might be a lot of nights where those three never leave the floor. Freshmen Ven-Allen Lubin and J.J. Starling have also been in starter's jerseys a lot. When they go blue, Marcus Hammond (Niagara grad transfer) and Trey Wertz get run with the white jerseys. Sometimes, Matt Zona will slide into the mix. That's how Mike Brey will go for the rest of those summer. Right now, it's those eight.

Jim in Charlottesville: Hi Tom. The Irish seemed to try hard to sign a portal Big. What’s your take on that they didn’t?  Anything NIL about it? What do you see for Matt Zona this season? He’s not earned any meaningful minutes thus far, yet several of Mike Brey’s bigs have come of age later in eligibility.

Thomas Noie: Jim: It's still early, but it looks like Matt Zona is the leader in the clubhouse for most popular/asked about offseason guy. Look below (or above) to see some early thoughts on Zona, who's getting closer to the rotation but not all the way there yet. Why isn't he? And why didn't Notre Dame sign a big man out of the portal? Everything changed when Nate Laszewski decided to return for his super senior season. The thinking was that Laszewski might be ready for his next basketball challenge. That he was done with college. When he decided to give it another run, it changed the urgency (really, erased it) to find a big. Laszewski's going to play a lot. Ven-Allen Lubin is going to play a lot, to the point where an All-ACC freshman team spot might be realistic. Add those two bigs, Matt Zona and Dom Campbell as ready reserves and a stacked perimeter and getting a transfer big was not going to happen. Sign a transfer big and he's going to play. A lot. That would've pinched other players in terms of minutes.

Mike: Tom, do you know if Coach Brey put out any more 2023 offers the past 2 recruiting weekends? Has 10 offers out and he needs at least 4, not the greatest odds.

Thomas Noie: Mike: Does he? Need four? The early thinking might be that if Notre Dame can land Xavier Booker and T.J. Power, that might be enough for the 2023 class. Mike Brey would be ecstatic with those two, and would probably be done. Then, he'd turn his attention to a guard (local kid Markus Burton from Penn is someone that the staff is liking more and more, so keep an eye on him). That probably would be it in terms of high school seniors. With the portal being the portal, the Irish would look hard at veteran transfers. Notre Dame may eventually get to a four-man class, but it will be a combination of high school seniors, transfers and maybe a grad transfer.

Tony: Tom, if JR, JJ, Matt, Tony, Dom, and V-A are the only returns. How many recruits and transfers do you see the staff bring in?

Thomas Noie: Tony: Whoa, that's a lot of first names/initials there. Have to take a minute and figure them all Probably answered your question with the last question - it would be difficult from a management standpoint to go any deeper than four. Remember when that freshman class with Hubb/Goodwin/Laszewski came in? Yeah, it was ranked as high as the Top 15 in the country, but that was a five-man class. That was way too big. Too many guys to try and keep happy. It kind of played itself out when Robby Carmody got hurt and Chris Doherty transferred. That saved some minutes migraines for Mike Brey. Five freshmen? Too many. The transfer portal will solve that - sign a couple of traditional recruits, then hit the portal and get old and stay old. There also is a chance - a very slim one at that, but a chance - that Cormac Ryan returns for another year. Ryan does have that option, but given the arc of his career, especially as last season ended, this likely will be it for him at Notre Dame. He has pro aspirations.

Nick from Goshen (formerly South Bend): Tom hope summer is off to a good start for you.  I’m going to guess this will be a reoccurring topic, but what are ND’s realistic chances of landing Xavier Booker?  Blake getting drafted seemingly helps their chances, but I just have a bad feeling ( a Hunter Dickinson feeling) about this one.  Thoughts ?

Thomas Noie: Nick: If Notre Dame doesn't land Xavier Booker, it won't be from a lack of effort. Almost from the day he returned for his third stint on Mike Brey's staff, associate head coach Anthony Solomon has made Booker his top priority. If there's an open gym, Slo's there. Cathedral playing for a state championship? Slo's there. He's also at the Top 100 camp in Orlando this week to watch Booker. The thinking now (and it's still kind of early, though Booker already has made an official to Notre Dame) is that it should come down to Notre Dame and Michigan State. Indiana will be there. Duke, too. But it could/should be Michigan State and Notre Dame...

Thomas Noie: ...That Blake Wesley became the first one-and-done in Notre Dame history (and a first-round pick on top of that) can do nothing but help the chances of landing Booker. Mike Brey has a new go-to recruiting pitch. He'll mention how Big Ten guys like Keegan Murray and Johnny Davis and Jaden Ivey all were NBA lottery picks, but they were TWO YEAR college guys. Brey will then say, my guy, Blake Wesley, was a one-and-done and still went in the first round, so come to Notre Dame, play one year and I'll get you to the league. Will it work? Stay tuned...

Bob from chicago: It is hard to see ND as any kind of serious ACC or NCAA threat with zero post presence. Unless Zona or Campbell can be that guy ?  What do you think ?

Thomas Noie: Bob: Understood, but you do know that the game has changed - gone are the days where you plant a seven-footer in the lane leave him there. It's all perimeter and stretch fours and bigs who can step out and shoot it. I like Notre Dame's chances in that regard. The Irish won't have someone they can throw it to like they did with Paul Atkinson, but try and guard that perimeter. Watch them pull a big away from the basket with Nate Laszewski stepping out and shooting shots that he passed up last year. Nate's not going to be the post-up guy. Ven-Allen Lubin might not be the post-up guy. But let's see teams try to match that perimeter. An interior presence might be a problem, but the potential of that perimeter? Scary. Notre Dame will find a way to compensate. Just watch.

Victor K. From Salem: where does JR Konieczny fit into next season’s Irish team…or does he?

Thomas Noie: Victor: It was a looooooong learning year for former South Bend Saint Joseph standout J.R. Konieczny. He played in only seven games with totals of 11 points and one rebound in 22 minutes. That was often his stat line for three quarters in high school, but this ain't the Northern Indiana Conference any more. It's going to be really difficult for Konieczny to crack the rotation this season. At 6-foot-6, and maybe now closer to 6-7, Konieczny considers himself a guard, but Notre Dame has a whole bunch of really good guards. With Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, Trey Wertz, Marcus Hammond and J.J. Starling, it's easy to do the math - before the Irish even play a real game, or hold a fall practice, Konieczny is the sixth guard in a group that went only five deep last season. Notre Dame loses Prentiss Hubb and Blake Wesley, but adds a veteran (Hammond) and a McDonald's All-American (Starling). It might be best for Konieczny to take a redshirt season in 2022-23 and stay patient with the process.

Mike S: Hey Tom, has Carmody played at all this summer, and if so,  any chance he can crack the rotation this year? Thanks!

Thomas Noie: Mike: Robby Carmody returned for his super senior season, though he really has like nine years of eligibility remaining (not really, but you get the point). There was a thought that he would earn his degree and just walk away from a game that has been so cruel to him from a health standpoint since he arrived. Carmody returned for another year and still is striving to get back to full health. It's been hard. He could get back to 200 percent health and he'd be at a similar crossroads as J.R. Konieczny. Notre Dame is loaded on the perimeter. Carmody can still be an asset as a team/bench/locker room guy who preaches Brey's gospel. He still believes and at this point, for him, that's half the battle.

joe from the south side: Tom,  What was the impetus behind Carmody's decision to stay on?  I think he knows he will never contribute, on the court, in any way for the program.  Is it graduate school?  His brother?

Thomas Noie: Joe: Asked and answered. Look at the previous question/comment. He just wants to prove that he can still play. It may not ever materialize, but Carmody just doesn't want to let it go. You know what Red said about hope in Shawshank....

joe from the south side: Tom,  How do you think the minutes will play out for the guards?  I assume JJS has to start.  You don't recruit him to "wait his turn."  Goodwin is the leading returning leading scorer.  He plays.  Ryan showed at the end of last season he has to be on the court.  Has to.  And Marcus H didn't transfer to get splinters in the butt.  Looks to me like last year's Miami team.  4 out, 1 big, and just try to outscore the opposition, since that team won't get any OFF REBs, and won't be able to defend the opposition's interior post play.  Looks like Nate L. gets to do all of the grunt work, with Big Zone or a freshman as the backup there, and Wertz as the 5th Guard.  How do you see it?

Thomas Noie: Joe: Didn't you kind of answer your own question? LOL. Ryan and Goodwin will be 40-minute guys. Seriously. They're never coming out of the game. Laszewski as well. Forty minutes on a lot of nights. Starling's a starter. Blake Wesley played 30 minutes a game. Starling might be better than Wesley. And you're right - grad transfers under Mike Brey don't come to Notre Dame to be bit players. Hammond's going to play a lot. Trey Wertz is going to play a lot. It's a big dose of four around one...

Thomas Noie: ...As for the interior, I must have missed this - was Paul Atkinson, Jr., the second coming of Dikembe Mutombo? Shaq? Atkinson was just what this team needed last year, but he wasn't THAT much of a game-changing presence. Nate Laszewski was that team's most important player in terms of defense. That will continue this year. And every early indication is that Ven-Allen Lubin will be able to hold up and do the heavy lifting left behind by Zona. There's a reason Notre Dame didn't land a transfer big.

joe from the south side: Tom, Brey has 12 on scholarship, since he whiffed on 3 pitches looking for an experienced Forward.  That said, 6 of those 12 are gone.  Nate, Robby, Trey, Dane, Marcus, and likely Cormac.  Thrown in a disgruntled transfer from the 2 Juniors and he may have 7 or 8 slots to fill.  How likely is he to fill those slots and is that any way to run a basketball program based on "get old and stay old"?  Also, if this is the new reality of college BBL, is Brey, at 63, up for the challenge?  It certainly impacted the decisions of Jay Wright, Muffet, etc..........If they make the NCAA Tourney, and they certainly have enough talent and experience to do that, is it time for him to walk away?

Thomas Noie: Joe: That's a lot of words to spend on....NEXT SEASON!!! LOL. Seriously? Let's see how 2022-23 unfolds before we start wringing our hands about what may or may not happen a full year from now. I'm sure there's a plan. That staff isn't going to wake up a year from now and be like, whoa, where did everybody go? Enjoy the ride this year, then worry about what's coming next. Sound good? Please? 😃

Ray: Hi Tom.  What's the chance that Brey will sign a big man from the portal?  Brey needs to replace Atkinson unless he thinks Lubin can give us good minutes in the paint.  Besides avoiding injuries IMO this is the key to the upcoming season.  We have a good team coming back but without someone giving us good minutes in the paint we will get manhandled.  If we can compete in the paint against the better ACC teams we will have a good/great season.

Thomas Noie: Ray: Chances? Less than zero. I might go dig up some of our NDI chats from last summer. Think a lot of the same verbiage was used in wondering/worrying about Paul Atkinson. How is someone who played in the Ivy League going to fare in the big, bad rough and tumble Atlantic Coast Conference? He's going to get manhandled!!! It all turned out all right. And those wondering/worrying about interior defense, man, let's give Nate Laszewski at least a little credit. He was a key guy to get back because of what he does on defense. That often went overlooked last season.

Mark Oliver: Hi Tom, Looking forward to this latest chat, but honestly I wish your stay in Omaha had been several days and a few Irish wins longer. Anyway, couple quick things. I'm with you for sure on the not so enthusiastic reaction to seeing Sparty again in the Challenge. I wish we had faced attractive opponents like Wisky and Michigan by now, particularly since ND is by far the closest ACC team geographically to almost all these Big 10 stalwarts and has had football relationships with them as well. I get that the Challenge appears geared to the marquee matchups for Duke, Carolina, UVA, but why isn't there more variety? And second, is there any upside in your mind to Blake's departure for the NBA as far as this year's team goes. Would have been great to have him back, but I also get the vibe that the returnees and new additions can develop a nice chemistry without the presence and possible distractions of a year-long NBA audition. Am I on the right mindset on this? Thanks Tom as always for your insight.

Thomas Noie: Mark: You got me all worked up at Sparty and Challenge. Ooof. How and why they concoct the matchups that they do is beyond baffling. Notre Dame has been in the Atlantic Coast Conference for 10 years. It will be Michigan State three times, Illinois three times, Iowa twice and once each for Maryland and Ohio State. That's it. I love Tom Izzo, but man, change it up...

Thomas Noie: ...As for Blake Wesley, he just had to go to the NBA. It was just time. It was best for all involved. Yeah, it would've been sweet to see Blake Wesley and J.J. Starling in the same backcourt, but at what price? Wesley might've improved his stock, but what would it have done to the team dynamic? Might've been hard to chase the team goal when everyone would've known your individual goal (see Ivey, Jaden). Everything about this season for Wesley was too pure that you couldn't duplicate it. He wasn't thinking one and done in November - he was just trying to get in the starting lineup. Then it all took off. Notre Dame is going to miss Blake Wesley, but Notre Dame might be better this season. That's nobody's fault. Like Bruce Hornsby once crooned, that's just the way it is.

Zach P: Given Blake Wesley’s selection by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA draft, what are the chances he returns to ND for a second run? On a serious note, does this make ND a more attractive landing spot for more one and done type players? And how are the three freshmen looking in summer practice?

Thomas Noie: Zach: Don't hold your breath on Wesley returning to Notre Dame...think that door is Really, though, it closed the minute he announced. He was going all-in to chase that and he did. He's a first-round pick. It's a great story, and a great story moving forward for the program. It opens the door for a J.J. Starling this season, maybe Xavier Booker next season. Like, you CAN go to Notre Dame and still be a one-and-done. In this basketball day and age, that's a pretty good gig...

Thomas Noie: ...As for the freshmen, we'll get to see them for ourselves later in July. But Starling and Lubin have been maybe even better than advertised with their court senses. Dom Campbell is coming along, but his path toward playing time/meaningful minutes might be a little longer. And that's OK.

Todd Waynesville, NC: Can’t help but believe the two months Nate spent In “NBA” training will make him leaps and bounds better than he has been. (And he has been a solid player). Thoughts on that premise. Has the coaching staff said anything to that thought? Excited for the 22-23 season. I think it has the makings of a great season.

Thomas Noie: Todd: Early returns are that this is a different Nate Laszewski than we've seen. There's a lot of layers to that. Part of it was working out in Las Vegas for two months. Part of it also is that there's a different dynamic. There's no more Prentiss Hubb. There's no more Paul Atkinson. He's got to be more of a leader (without Hubb) and more of an interior presence (without Atkinson). Just the natural progression/maturation of a college basketball player. He could've decided to chase a two-way or gone to Europe. He believes there's more for him - and for Notre Dame - to do.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Hi Tom, thanks for your time and by the way, splendid work on the baseball front. Some may say this is heresy but is it possible that if JJ Starling turns out to be as dynamic as expected, he could greatly minimize the loss of Blake Wesley to the point where the Irish won't be all that diminished by the departure of the latter? In other words, does Starling have the overall game to pick up the slack left by Wesley's exit so that the Irish backcourt suffers no appreciable drop-off?

Thomas Noie: Jim: Thanks for the kind words on the baseball front. It was fascinating to get to know and then watch Link Jarrett up close through June. You could say Notre Dame baseball was better because of this and because of that, but any conversation starts and ends with one person - Link Jarrett. The guy can absolutely lead. He will be missed...

Thomas Noie: ...Back to basketball, J.J. Starling can and should absolutely step into the shoes left behind by Blake Wesley. We're talking about a Top 15 national recruit, a five-star prospect and a McDonald's All-American. From that standpoint, he was better than Blake Wesley. Will that translate to a breakout one-and-done season? Not necessarily. Blake and J.J. are different kind of players. Wesley wanted to get downhill, get in the open court and get to the basket. Starling's more of a bigger picture guy. What does the team need from him in this game? In this half? Wesley was really, really good in his one season. Starling can be really, really good next season. Can't wait to watch him.

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Hi Tom what is up with the ACC/Big Ten challenge schedule in which ND is playing Mich St again?? If ND keeps playing the same 4 or 5 teams over and over the challenge will become a stale event just like the Crossroads Classic has been the past few years. Will there be a return trip by Georgia in the 23-24 season? Also you mentioned to keep an eye on Markus Burton from Penn HS. Do you think he can play at the Power 5 level?? I seen he had a really good weekend down in Indy at a Indiana HS classic tourney especially against Cathedral and Xavier Booker.

Thomas Noie: Mark: It's like the leagues forget about the ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups on the agenda. Then, while the decision-makers are walking out the door, they're reminded that, hey, we need to get the pairings complete. Somebody says, what did we do three years ago? Four years ago? Let's just scratch off whatever that year was and scribble 2022. Let's go with it. Nothing against Michigan State, but Notre Dame has done that dance. Let's hear some different music, see some different moves. You're so right - stale's a great word. There's no thought or creativity. As for the Georgia game, that's a neutral-site game at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. It's part of a doubleheader, so it's a one-time thing. No return game. But a cool day of hoops in place of the Crossroads. And an easy flight from SBN, so there's that.

Jim in Charlottesville: Hello again, Tom. While Mike Brey’s Assistants keep low profiles (e.g. not available to media, seldom mentioned in game day planning, post game recount, and recruiting), they hugely contribute to individual player development.  Ryan Humphrey boosted Jack Cooley Martinus Geben, and Paul Atkinson, Jr. How important is it that Brey hire acBigs Coach to succeed him??

Thomas Noie: Jim: The replacement for Ryan Humphrey, who will leave the program soon for another opportunity, doesn't necessarily need to have a  background coaching bigs. Doing those jobs - coaching bigs, coaching perimeter - is pretty interchangeable. Coaching basketball is coaching basketball. It's more important that the new AC bring a similar passion and personality to all aspects of the job as Hump did. He will be missed, but when someone leaves, in any position in any profession, it offers you a chance to get better. Notre Dame has that chance.

Guest: what does the outlook look like for robby carmody this season? Any chance he plays?

Thomas Noie: Can Robby Carmody take it a step further this season after last year? That would be a positive for him. It's next to impossible to expect that he can be a rotation player. He basically hasn't played major minutes in what, four years? Five? You lose track. Just give him the hope that he can continue to work his way back, and see where it all ends up.

Ryan Mars pa: tom how has  the team looked so far i am interested in watching starling lubin Hammond and Campbell when season starts go Irish

Thomas Noie: Ryan: So, in other words, all the new guys grab your interest, right? LOL. Early returns have been nothing but positive with all four. Starling and Lubin are as advertised, so too is Hammond, a veteran/experienced/confident guard who can score it and get to the rim. Campbell? We'll see. The practice we're scheduled to see in July will offer a better indication. Last year, we watched Blake Wesley for that one day and it was apparent, like, whoa, that kid's different. Special. I hope to feel that again this time around with a couple of the new guys.

Mike in Pittsburgh: Tom, any chance Blake Wesley comes back for his sophomore year?  (I kidd, I kidd).  What are your thoughts on Tony Sanders?  Is there a role for him on this team?  Defend and rebound are his keys to minutes but he seems to be a guy (they have had them in the past) that is okay at everything but not great at anything.

Thomas Noie: Mike: Wait, Blake Wesley's gone? As in, not coming back? WHen did this happen? Does Mike Brey know about it??? LOLOLOL. Tony Sanders may be heading into his junior year, but he remains the proverbial blank slate. I don't know where or how he may fit, mainly because he's played behind veteran guys the first two years and likely will do the same this season. Defending and rebounding may be keys to his minutes, but if you can't prove you can do something on the offensive end, it's going to be difficult to find you some minutes. That's where the Irish are with Sanders. Give him credit - he just works. No public gripes. No complaints. No disrupting the locker room. It's almost fitting that Sanders and Matt Zona are so close. They're like the same player - keep working, keep progressing and see where it all takes them. At the end of the day, it's important to both that they get their degrees. Basketball is a bonus.

PortND: Any info on where Hump is going to end up and any big man Coach options you've heard of?

Thomas Noie: Port: It's way too early on AC options, though I will say Notre Dame won't be looking exclusively at a "big man" coach. Does he know the game? Can he mesh with the fabric (sorry, had to say it) with the current staff? How  does he do as a recruiter? Player development? The next AC is not expected to have Notre Dame ties. Mike Brey will take next month to consider all options.

PortND: Seems many thought Carmody would have moved on, how's his health?  I certainly don't see how he has a role on this team.

Thomas Noie: That he's still at Notre Dame tells you all you need to know about his health. He still believes he can contribute in some way, shape or form to the success of the program. That might not be in minutes played. He's a high character guy that can be an example to guys who get down on themselves.

PortND: Last one for me, I have to think JR is just too talented to not somehow carve out a role with this team.  In my opinion I could see him jumping someone like Wertz who really needs to step up.

Thomas Noie: Port: Probably wishful thinking there, but we'll see how it plays out. That Konieczny is not expected to spend summer session in a white (starter's) jersey is kind of the proverbial writing on the wall as to what the expectation for him is this season. He's stuck behind a veteran, deep, talented perimeter. He'd have to make the push of pushes to scramble into the rotation.

Clint from Winnipeg: What do you see as the fit and role of Marcus Hammond this season? Does he take playing time away from JJ Starling? How much would they be on the floor together?

Thomas Noie: Clint: Does somebody take playing time away from a five-star, Top 15 McDonald's All-American? Uh.....Yeah, that answer is a hard no. No, Marcus Hammond isn't taking minutes from J.J. Starling. Marcus is a really good, talented, experienced, veteran guard who will be a really good addition. But, it's J.J. STARLING. Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin will be 40-minute guys. Starling will play a lot. Then how does it fill in around that? Hammond will play. Trey Wertz will play. How those minutes will be dispersed will remain to be seen. So will how many minutes the guards will play together. What's best for this team? Is it playing four around one? Playing two bigs? That will be determined in November and December.

PortND: I lied, not my last question.....................reports have been Lubin being better than advertised, any idea what sort of size he's at???  When recruited thought more of a wing but spunds like he's more of a big for ND.

Thomas Noie: Port: Those who would and should be in the know have Ven-Allen Lubin at 6-9 and 210 pounds. That Notre Dame didn't add a grad transfer or traditional transfer big is an indication of how important Lubin is to the plan. He's going to get a really big chance, maybe really early.

Jeff from Schererville, IN: Hi Tom and thanks for having this summer chat.  So you're saying the Michigan St-ND ACC-Big Ten Challenge game might be renamed the Xavier Booker Classic?  In all seriousness, I'm wondering if you can expound upon your tweet showing disappointment in having that matchup this year other than we've seen that movie before back in 2014 at ND and a couple other times in East Lansing.  As a season ticket holder and ND hoops fan, I wouldn't mind seeing someone new like a Wisconsin or Maryland (though it still doesn't feel right they're in the Big Ten) or a school I'll mention later, but this is a marquee non-conf home game we don't often get, and I'm not sure any other team besides IU, Purdue or Michigan would generate the same energy in the building as Sparty, even if it's a repeat of a previous matchup.

Thomas Noie: Jeff: Simple. Notre Dame has done the Michigan State dance. It's the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but it feels more like a conference game between two schools that aren't conference colleagues. Even Mike Brey sighed when he learned that it's Michigan State yet again. What's wrong with a rematch with Rutgers after what those teams did in the  First Four. Now that the Crossroads Classic has ceased (praise the Lord), think a home game against Purdue would've moved the meter? Or a visit from Wisconsin for the first time since 1968? Part of the attraction of playing in the ACC/Big Ten from a Notre Dame perspective was running though a host of schools close to campus that would pique interest. But playing Michigan State for a third time in the challenge, and a fourth overall, has a been-there/done-that feel. Let's try something else. It's not that hard. And Notre Dame fans should be beyond being glad about a non-league opponent generating energy in their own building. But that's a rant for another day...😃

Jack: Hey Tom - Are the main non-conference games all set? I think you tweeted that there are three yet to be announced - Is it expected that those will be "bye" games at home against low RPI teams, or could one or two be a major opponent?

Thomas Noie: Jack: You must have my tweet confused with someone else...don't think I'd ever count down the number of non-con games remaining...ugh. LOL. By my count, and again, it's late June and I'm still trying to get clear of baseball mode and Omaha and everything CWS, Notre Dame has non-league games set against Georgia (neutral), St. Bonaventure (neutral), Marquette (home) and Michigan State (home). Given the ACC slate, where the repeat opponents will be Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest, they're pretty much done in terms of power. The other home buy games will fill out November and early December, but even that comes with a wrinkle. ACC teams are scheduled to play three league games in December.

joe from the south side: Tom, With the 4 Guard, 1 Big lineup that looks to be the bread and butter for this year's squad, I thought, who would be the perfect big to complement the 4 guards.  My pick.  Ty Nash.  Unselfish, athletic, can guard the opposing big, rebounds, and averaged, AVERAGED 2.6 APG as a Point Center.  In the Big East.  You could use him handling the ball at the top of the key and basically empty the paint for drivers and slashers.  Your thoughts?

Thomas Noie: There was nobody better - or more underappreciated - than my man T-Nash. He was really good. The ultimate lunch pail/dirty work guy. Never needed touches. Never demanded the ball. Just found a way to operate around the four perimeter guys. He could play/thrive in 2010-11. He could do it in 2022-23. There's a reason he's still playing professionally after all these years. He's a true pro.

Paul: Are Georgia and Michigan State it for "promising" nonconference games?  Any other rumors?

Thomas Noie: "Promising?" That's a new term for....what? Notre Dame also is playing Marquette at home and St. Bonaventure at UBS Arena on Long Island on Black Friday.

JDub, Ft. Wayne: I would like your thoughts on Ryan Humphrey's departure.  Last time we talked you mentioned there was little chance of staff turnover, so I would assume you are surprised by this?  How much do you think it hurts recruiting in that Humphrey seemed to relate well with the recruits?

Thomas Noie: JDub: It was stunning to learn that Ryan Humphrey is leaving for another coaching opportunity (more on that when it's finalized). Staffs just don't turn over at this time of year. That's like having a high school team lose its head coach this week (which actually happened to a South bend school, but I digress) Hump's the definition of a Notre Dame man. He went to Notre Dame. He coached at Notre Dame. He lived Notre Dame. But there comes a time when you have to see what else is out there if you want to max out your coaching potential. It's a big loss, but only if Mike Brey doesn't add someone who will also do the job and do it well. In terms of relating to recruits, don't forget about Antoni Wyche, who played at and graduated from Notre Dame. Hump's leaving, but that staff is still pretty strong.

Paul, here in the Bend: Got a few minutes to kill before golf, it's been a great season for that here!  Georgia, Michigan State in the I missing anyone?  Any rumors?  I know Mike will want to have 10 wins going into ACC if possible.

Thomas Noie: Paul: Hope you got out early. It's already close to 90 here in the Bend. Marquette and St. Bonaventure as well in terms of non-league. Getting to 10 wins before league play starts might be a stretch in that league play will start with three Atlantic Coast Conference games in December. And don't forget, this team had only six overall wins before Jan. 1 - and last season turned out OK. 😃

Matt from North Dakota: Hey Tom, I understand you probably can’t get into a ton of info but I was shocked by the timing of Coach Humphrey’s departure. Any ideas where Coach Brey looks?

Thomas Noie: Matt: Still relatively early - he only made his plans known Wednesday, but Mike Brey did say that he'll look beyond his circle of former Notre Dame players for the hire and won't be rushed to make a decision. It will be intriguing/interesting to see where he goes. With Humphrey, Antoni Wyche and Anthony Solomon, you had a staff of three really strong personalities. Three Alphas. Who joins that group? Can't wait to see.

Robb, Colorado: Hey Tom, Surprised to see Humphrey leaving at this point. Any intel on that?

Thomas Noie: Robb: Stunned at the timing but not all that surprising. Stick around long enough in this profession and you realize that everybody eventually leaves - coaches, players, writers, bosses, administrators. Everybody does it.

Todd: Any idea on who the other two teams are in Atlanta? I am about 2.5 hours driving time from ATL and will definitely make that trip. Also, when will the ACC game schedule come out? Got to mark my calendar for all those I can attend. Great to be a ND fan in ACC country!!!!

Thomas Noie: Todd: It will be Georgia Tech against an opponent TBD in the other game of the doubleheader at State Farm Arena on Dec. 18. Notre Dame will play Georgia that day, then remain in the Atlanta area to play a league game against Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion on Dec. 21. The Atlantic Coast Conference schedule usually comes out a week or two after Labor Day. Repeat opponents will be Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest...start making plans!

Guest: Tom, if you had to pick the best player from the Brey era… and also your favorite. Not necessarily the same guy but if it is cool.

IMO I’d go Murphy as best and T Jackson as favorite

Thomas Noie: I'll go only the best player, and not favorite, because I can't play favorites. I just can't. Have to treat them all equally, but there was something different being able to cover guys like Ryan Humphrey, David Graves, Matt Carroll, Chris Thomas, Pat Connaughton, Tory Jackson, John Mooney, Bonzie Colson and Ben Hansbrough just to name a few. Best? That's easy. Nobody better  than Troy Murphy. He was a future pro the minute he walked in the door. He was good, he was goofy, he was Murph.

Matt from North Dakota: Tom, curious as to when the ACC releases the conference schedule? Late July right? Also, when is the next time the Irish can go on a foreign tour?

Thomas Noie: Matt: Schedule usually drops sometime after Labor Day. It gets later and later each year. Notre Dame is overdue for a foreign tour - that might be in the cards for next season. Veteran teams don't need/seek foreign tours. Gotta wait until they're young and the extra games/practices will have a pay off. No reason for these guys who are going to log heavy minutes as it is to spend any additional time on the court.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, who do you see having a more successful career in the pros, Atlkinson or Hubb? Also, since you've been covering ND, which former Irish player did you think would make a real impact in the NBA but wasn't able to do so?

Thomas Noie: Jim: Good question, but hard answer. There really might not be one. It's hard, because neither Paul Atkinson or Prentiss Hubb will play in the NBA. So then it comes down to, what are they looking for in their professional careers? How good are their situations in Europe? Do they still love the game when the game becomes the life? Atkinson has a degree from Yale and a graduate degree from Notre Dame. Is he still hungry to play? There's just so many factors. A lot of times, the love fades, and guys decide, yeah, it might be time to do something else. I can see both sticking it out, or both saying, yeah, next chapter time. It's so hard to say. How's that for a middle of the road answer?😃

PortND: That size from Lubin says alot about why the urgency once Laz decided to return wasn't there to bring a big into the program.  Been a long time since we've had a bouncy 6'9" athlete on the team.

Thomas Noie: Port: Ven-Allen Lubin is going to play and play a lot. Right away. Watch.

joe from the south side: Tom,  As unexciting as ND MSU is in the ACC/Big10 challenge, could you imagine if they sent ND to Lincoln, NEB or State College?  YUCK!

Thomas Noie: Joe: That's bottom-feeder stuff reserved for the Pittsburghs and Clemsons and Boston Colleges of the Atlantic Coast Conference. There's so many good Big Ten road trips beckoning that make so much more sense - Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, even Purdue and Indiana become options now that the Crossroads is done. You get sent to Lincoln or State College, that's an indictment of your program. Let's hope Notre Dame never gets there.

Jeff from Schererville, IN: Thanks for the additional explanation.  I do think the powers that be try to create evenly-matched games based on how they think teams will be ranked in the preseason while at the same time trying to alternate home and road games for teams year by year.  This year I know there's a Nike event in Oregon Thanksgiving weekend that features Duke and Purdue in one bracket and Mich St and UNC in another, so they probably didn't want to schedule those teams to play each other less than a week after they might play in another event. They wouldn't match up Duke and Mich St to play in the ACC-Big Ten thing the same year they play in the Champions Classic either, and the same goes for when Ohio St plays UNC in the CBS Sports Classic.  We chatheads can do better but it might be harder than it looks.  The fact ND gets a marquee team even if it's a repeat I think speaks to ND's ability and watchability and overall interest level nationwide.

Thomas Noie: Here's an easy flix/flip - send Michigan State to Florida State and move Purdue to Notre Dame. See, it's not that hard! 😃

Clint from Winnipeg: Have the new basketball facilities had a positive impact on recruiting? Or is it more a case of no longer having the old facilities being a drag on recruiting?

Thomas Noie: Clint: Little of both. Notre Dame's a place where prospects want the full campus experience. They're as impressed with a conversation they may have with a business professor as they are with the stand-alone practice facility. So it's just a piece of the entire puzzle. But it does help. When Paul Atkinson walked into Rolfs Hall for the first time, he couldn't believe it. Like, the training table food, he could eat anytime? He could make a smoothie after a late-night workout? He was blown away. Same holds true now with Marcus Hammond. He couldn't believe how ACC teams live after four seasons at Niagara. It blew him away. Covering an ACC team, you have a tendency to take that stuff for granted, like, that's just how it is at that level. But a level or two down, they'd crawl across campus to have what Notre Dame has.

Jeff from Schererville, IN: I would've been ok with MSU-FSU and Purdue-ND for sure!

Thomas Noie: Get Jim Phillips on the phone now! Kevin Warren as well. We can fix this!😃

joe from the south side: Tom, I get that Lincoln and State College are reserved for the low end squads.  But, I think it's also indicative of the apathy that has set in among the 2 leagues as to genuinely trying to generate some excitement.  To me, it looks like they are just going thru the motions for these matchups.  Which is why I would put nothing past them since care and concern went out the window a long time ago.

Thomas Noie: Joe: Understood, but at the same time, it's television's fault going for the must-see matchups. The country's still fully invested in football, be it the NFL or college or the upcoming conference championship games or the impending bowl announcements. It doesn't matter what the matchups are, the casual fan isn't suddenly dropping his football fix for hoops. And from an ACC perspective, there's only so many Big Ten schools (not many) that move the meter at Duke or Carolina. So it limits matchups. That's what you get when you have TV pulling all the strings. They do just go through the motions.

Paul R: Any concern about JR, Zona, Sanders leaving for more playing time after this year? Or wait and see how this season goes before we worry about 2023 roster construction

Thomas Noie: Paul: Given today's transfer portal world, there's always a concern (often on a daily basis) if somebody from your roster or somebody from somebody else's roster is in the portal. It's just the way of the free agency world that's college basketball. Don't like your situation? Leave. Don't want to work harder? Leave. Not saying anybody is unhappy on the current roster (it's way too early for that), but that's the game today. Get out and get somewhere else. Here's the thing, though. If this rotation remains status quo, there won't be enough minutes for Zona or Sanders or Konieczny. There just won't be. Will they want to stick it out and see if it changes next year? I think so, but you never really know. That's portal life of college basketball 2022.

Matt from St. Louis: Thoughts on scheduling the Georgia game? Feels a bit like the Crossroads Classic in that it is a "neutral site" game for quadrant purposes but basically a road game so I thought it was odd. As for the Big 10/ACC challenge, I'm sure Purdue wouldn't mind your quick fix either considering they played Florida State last year!

Thomas Noie: Matt: Like it, especially since there's no more slog of a drive (usually in dicey weather) down 31 to watch Notre Dame play what essentially was a road game in a "neutral" site game. Don't think the clamor for Georgia basketball in downtown ATL comes close. It would be odd if it was a one-off weekend game, but Notre Dame is scheduled to play at Georgia Tech days later, so why not get a few days in a big city, play in an NBA arena, turn the page and get focused for a league game all before Christmas break? Looks good on paper. Let's see what Dec. 18 brings...😃

Tom from Gary: With Prentiss Hubb graduated, who do you think will be the point guard/primary ball handler for this season?

Thomas Noie: Tom: Great question. The ball goes into the hands of Cormac Ryan given what he did and how he played at the end of the year. Like, we really didn't know he had THAT in him. That was Ben Hansbrough-esque the way he just kind of drove that program. Like, he wasn't going to let them lose. They almost got to the Sweet 16. He'll be the main handler/facilitator, but there will be others. J.J. Starling was supposed to be that guy, but the more I watched Starling last year at La Lumiere, the more I realized he's more than just a point guard. He can play off it, move and cut and get it back, then make a decision. Marcus Hammond might be a problem in the open court. Like Prentiss Hubb, he's a lefty, but unlike P-Hubb, he's built closer to a football player. He has the physicality to get to the rim more, and be more productive. Trey Wertz is sneaky productive as a handler as well. But the ball first goes to Ryan.

Taylor - Elkhart: Tom, I believe ND hosted a center from Harvard a month ago. I apologize I can’t remember his name, but do you recall? If so, chances he could join as a grad transfer?

Thomas Noie: Taylor: Michael Wang, who was hurt a lot at Penn and had an official at Notre Dame. It never got beyond that. Wang returned to his national team in China instead of doing the grad transfer stuff. Might work out better in the end for Notre Dame. Wang comes to Notre Dame, he would've needed heavy minutes, maybe at the expense of Ven-Allen Lubin.

Tom from South Bend: I thought Humphrey was headed to Long Island, but they just announced Rod Strickland as their new coach.

Thomas Noie: Good one. No.😃

Mike in Wisconsin: Five-man recruiting classes are common in college basketball and other coaches manage them fine. Given how you and others who watch these guys in practice have evaluated the returning reserve players, combined with the loss of Laszewski, Goodwin, Ryan, Wertz, and Hammond, it would seem foolish to arbitrarily place a limit of two on the next recruiting class.

Thomas Noie: Mike: Ah yes, the proverbial "other coaches." Yep, because it works with program A, B and C it should work for Notre Dame. Sure. Arbitrarily? Does a conversation with the head coach who outlined how he views what the 2023 recruiting class count? Or does that fall into the other coaches category? Asking for a foolish friend. 😕

Mike from Mount Holly: In my opinion, one of the many traits about that great 2015 team was its ability to put 2 super-quick athletes (Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant) at the top of their 2-3 zone. It was a difference maker! It looks like we may be able to approach that level with this year's roster, too...though it sure would be nice to have a Zach Auguste-type waiting in the paint to erase anything that got through... :)

Thomas Noie: Mike: Can we get Pat Connaughton back for another year too? Steve Vasturia? A lot of that was Jerian Grant, who was an All-American, kind of just orchestrating everything. Have ZA in the back line was good as well, so was being able to call on a relatively unknown freshman named Bonzie Colson. Still the gold standard team in program history. And yeah, that includes 1978. Sorry Digger.

p.rose: I think Wertz has the potential to shine this year.  He got into his own head too much last year, but had some pretty great assists and was reliable as a ball handler. I'm predicting he'll surprise fans with his productivity.

Thomas Noie: That would be huge. If Blake Wesley had come back, Trey Wertz likely wouldn't have. But now along comes Marcus Hammond. Wertz's body language often isn't the best. He showed flashes, but too often drifted. Like, he was just kind of there. Did hit a big shot in San Diego. Now build off it.

joe from the south side: Tom,  I'll take Pat C. off of that team any day.  Heart of a lion, didn't know what "quit" meant, freak of an athlete, ice in his veins, etc, etc. etc.....What always amazed me about him is he was this skinny white boy, who kind of looked like he just woke up in time for the game, and at the end of the game 15-16 points, hit big shots and 8 or 9 rebounds against Duke or NC's front court.  That guy was a coach's dream.

Thomas Noie: Joe: The best. Leader. Senior. Captain. Doubt him and he'd make you regret it.

PortND: Crystal ball time, this ND team a sweet 16 unit?

Thomas Noie: In June...why not? Let's go.😃

Mike from Mount Holly: I remember watching that Kentucky tourney game  and thinking to myself (at the end) "That's as close as we're ever going to get to going all the way. ND just doesn't get a team like THAT". How much fun would it be if this year's team, with the remaining members of that top-15 freshman class and the influx of new blood, could make a run like that?? I get goose bumps just thinking about it.......

Thomas Noie: Still the best team I've covered, and not even close. Remember thinking, holy cow, they're going to the Final Four. And if they had, they would've won the national championship. Easy to say now, but you could sense it with that team. You could see it. Even today, it's hard for Irish fans to look back at how that season ended. But I often look back on it and remember what it was like in Greensboro that weekend, then the weekend in Pittsburgh, then Cleveland, and the ride home the next day. As a beat guy, all you ask for is a good ride of a season. That one was better than any. Ever.

Mike in Wisconsin: Sure, sure Tom. At no point did I say that everything that works at other programs will work at ND, so you can dispense with that strawman. Why precisely again would a four or five-man class put the roster outside an optimal level of scholarship players? Am I correct that your previously stated position was that you have too many players competing for minutes? Was that sarcasm?

Thomas Noie: Mike: Read more, post less. Have a great day.

joe from the south side: Tom, If I am not mistaken, Pat C. was one of Mike Crotty's guys.  Can you speak to Crotty's relationship with Brey, and if I am not mistaken, one or two of the guys Brey is currently recruiting, also play for Middlesex Magic.  I think Dom C came from there as well.  Can you expand on that?

Thomas Noie: Joe: Michael Crotty is the head coach of the Middlesex magic AAU program in Massachusetts. He coached Pat Connaughton. He coached Cormac Ryan. He coached Dom Campbell. He's as good as they come. Just gets it. Has been around the game his whole life. Doesn't so much coach kids in the game of basketball as he does the game of life. Gets them to see the bigger picture, not just what happens in the gym. Anytime Notre Dame gets a Middlesex Magic kid, and I get a chance to talk hoops with Michael Crotty is a good day.

Mike in Wisconsin: I mean, how could anyone question Brey's roster management, particularly over recent history? Certainly no keen-eyed beat reporters ever broached that subject...

Thomas Noie: If you know, you know...if you don't, well you're Mike from Wisconsin. Read closer. Post less. It  really does work.

Dan - Chicago: I had in my mind that Hammond would be the 5th starter, but from this chat I am sensing that spot might go to Lubin.  It is close?

Thomas Noie: Dan: Absolutely, It's not even June - not for another 10 hours. That starting lineup isn't in pen. It all depends on what the staff feels is the best way to move forward. Do they want to play two bigs? Ven-Allen Lubin starts. Do they want to go four around one? If that's the case, maybe Trey Wertz gets the first chance at a starting job. Then Marcus Hammond. Or vice versa. Marcus Hammond is going to play. A lot. Grad transfers usually aren't part-time guys. I'm anxious to see them in person and see who can do what, who can bring what. It's going to be interesting.

John from Naperville: With Ryan, Goodwin, Wertz, Hammond and potentially Starling leaving after this year, where does this put the backcourt starting in 2023. Ryan will technically have another year. Will Wertz? The staff doesn't seem to be actively targeting guards outside Burton and Jackson. Grad Transfers? What am I missing?

Thomas Noie: John: Cormac Ryan technically has another year, one that he probably (likely) won't use. Trey Wertz has only this season remaining. As mentioned earlier (and apparently ignored by upper midwest readers), Mike Brey may only go two deep in the 2023 recruiting class (Xavier Booker, T.J. Power) and use the remaining grants for a guard (Markus Burton) and then grad transfers/traditional transfers and see what they can get out of the returning guys.

Matt from St. Louis: 2024 Big 10/ACC matchup of ND vs UCLA??

Thomas Noie: Matt: Post of the day. Well played. We should just shut it down right now, but we press on. That was awesome! And yes, please, sign us up for Notre Dame and UCLA in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Every. Single. Year.👍

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Damn, Tom Noie the marathon man. Just got in from a lengthy power walk to find that you're still at it. I mean talk about logging some heavy minutes! Ok, I'm still game. If ND is to have another rewarding and redeeming season like the past one, what are the absolute keys that must happen? Can you pick out three or four critical elements that definitely need to take place?

Thomas Noie: Jim: I've moved from the home office to the patio with the sun beating down on an 89-degree day, but we're not stopping now. Three keys (1) The Big Three (Goodwin, Laszewski, Ryan) max out their college careers with career best years. (2) J.J. Starling is as good as advertised and plays in a way that allows everyone to forget (just a little bit) about Blake Wesley (3) Notre Dame continues its Road Dawg mentality in ACC play and picks off six or seven league wins away from Purcell Pavilion. Bonus - Marcus Hammond or Ven-Allen Lubin have a wow type of Blake Wesley season.

Bob from chicago: Ok Tom.  I get where we might be tough to guard, but teams with bigs like Illinois and Purdue were impossible for us to stop and defensive rebounding is a huge problem.  The trade three for two is not a winning proposition against good teams.

Thomas Noie: Bob: True, but if I had a dime for every season where defensive rebounding/bench depth was an issue, I'd be the Notre Dame men's basketball beat writer. Oh, wait....This is a different type of team with guys who can get to the basket and also finish. It's not chuck it from deep and trade twos for those threes. Marcus Hammond, drive and kick. J.J. Starling, drive and kick. Cormac Ryan, drive and kick. All three will finish better than Prentiss Hubb. Let's see how it plays out.

Jeff from Schererville, IN: Haha I think Kevin Warren might be busy today planning for a future USC or UCLA at Notre Dame ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup.

Thomas Noie: Stunning.\

Todd: Or what about a ND-USC football/basketball doubleheader in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving Break?????

Thomas Noie: Where do I sign up? Can't make those reservations quick enough.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, really enjoying this extended ride. One more from me. I've always wondered if it's really in Brey to bring the hammer down on a player if, for whatever reason, he deserves it. I mean, can the loosest and one of the most personable coaches in America really crack the whip if necessary? It's just near impossible for me to envision Brey playing the bad cop role. I would have loved to have played for a guy like him, but can you give me any insight into moments where he has really gotten after some guys? I know he must have done it but it's really hard for me to envision that side of him. Have you seen   any examples of him being really hardnosed?

Thomas Noie: Jim: Yeah, don't get sucked into the whole Loosest Coach in America narrative with him. It makes for a nice national storyline, but Mike Brey can be the bad cop when needed. He needed to three times last season - after the Boston College game, after the great escape at Howard and heading into the NCAA tournament after the disappearing act against Virginia Tech. He basically threw everyone out of practice in the days leading to the Kentucky game. He told them after Howard that they all could up and transfer if they wanted. Ditto for after the ACCT. Don't let the looseness fool you. When Mike Brey wants to light somebody up, they're getting lit up. He just does it away from the cameras. But it definitely happens, a lot more often than anyone would ever imagine.

Jake: Do you think that having a better collection of guards more adept at getting to the rim will push the PPG average closer to or near 80 for the season? My thinking was that we should average more free throws (unless we get treated like football isn't fully in the ACC haha), along with presumably having 4 established collegiate scorers starting around a 5-star. Feel like maybe 80 or a number in the high 70's points could be like the 10 3-pointers stat from last year. I know that ND isn't known for their blazing tempo, but maybe the efficiency from 2-point range could bring the PPG up a bit. Also maybe scoring more than 43 against Duke could be helpful.

Thomas Noie: Jake: Good stuff. Notre Dame averaged 72.8 ppg last season, and the core of the returners all are a year older and a year wiser. So they should be better. The next guys are as skilled/talented as Blake Wesley. Think they can find eight more points a game. Maybe if they play a heavy dose of four around one, they play quicker. But you're right, they'll always be treated as the step-child of the ACC. No calls for you! Kidding (not kidding)

Wadelite from Long Beach: Tom, realized you addressed this already: but it seems you are saying that Carmody might be enough of a factor for spot minutes in a 4 around one offense that Brey may pitch the Abromaitis sophomore redshirt to JR. Also, why I can see Zona being some what effective versus mid major teams he will be eaten up versus major conference big men. Brey will then go down to 7 guys or throw some occasional crumbs to Carmody or Sanders or JR if he is active. A not ready for prime time big man is much more exposed than a wing bench guy.

Thomas Noie: Wade: It's going to be really, really difficult for Robby Carmody to get his health in a position where he can play. And even then, he's so far removed from everything. Those eight are going to be those eight, unless somebody comes from nowhere and claims a spot. A lot of what Notre Dame looked like last year, it will look like this year. Subtract Atkinson and Hubb and add Starling, Lubin and Hammond.

Mike in Pittsburgh: Tom - This is Mike from Pittsburgh, not to be confused with Mike from Wisconsin.  Where would you slate ND in the hierarchy of the ACC this year.  Clearly think Carolina is #1.  Duke will be up there because they are well, Duke.  But I think this ND team can be every bit as competitive for a 3/4 spot as anyone else.  Louisville will be down, not all that excited about Syracuse.  UVA maybe? Who am I missing?

Thomas Noie: Oh, yeah, North Carolina is the clear-cut favorite. Duke will be No. 2 because it's Duke. Miami will be good. Virginia Tech will be good. Virginia will be penciled into one of the top five spots because it's Virginia. Florida State will get the benefit of the doubt that last year was an outlier. I'd say Notre Dame would be slotted in a 6-7-8 spot, which is fine.

Thomas Noie: Think that will do it for today. We passed the six-hour mark with relative ease. Solid effort. We'll try and sneak one more chat in before that certain sport on campus gets going in early August. Stay tuned to Twitter (@tnoieNDI) for exact date and time later in July. Thanks to all who participated. Have a great holiday weekend!

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.