Chat Transcript: A whole lot of Notre Dame men's basketball ground to cover, even in summer
Tom Noie: We start today's session with a question from Twitter. This from Matt Riley of Granger, Indiana - What are the chances that at least two of the freshmen play significant time this year, I assume J.J. Starling will play but will either big man play?
Tom Noie: Matt: There's a good chance depending what direction Mike Brey wants to go to start the season that two freshmen may be in the starting lineup. At the least, there will be one freshman in the starting five. If Brey wants to go the tradition two-bigs route, look for power forward Ven-Allen Lubin to be next to graduate student Nate Laszewski on the front line. He's that good. Maybe not that ready, but Lubin's going to be a key guy. So will former McDonald's All-American J.J. Starling. He's going to push Trey Wertz hard for the third starting guard spot alongside Dane Goodwin and Cormac Ryan. Starling might not open the season as a starter, but he'll be in a similar situation as Blake Wesley was last season - only a matter of time before he is a starter. If Brey scraps two bigs in favor of a four-around-one starting lineup, Starling likely slides into that fourth guard spot. So Starling and Lubin will play and play a lot. Dom Campbell? Wait and see. Maybe he's needed. Maybe he slow-plays his minutes this year.
Sean,Greensboro: Tom, looking forward to another great season of your insights. Now that I have buttered you up, please help me understand and get excited about our new assistant coach Hamlet, I am underwhelmed . Thanks.
Tom Noie: Sean: That would be Hamlet Tibbs, who is atop Mike Brey's wish list to replace Ryan Humphrey, who left in July for a similar job (but a lot more $$$) at Oklahoma. Tibbs has not been officially hired, but likely will be the guy when the human resources process over on campus is complete. He's exactly who Brey wants - a young up-and-coming assistant who has a whole lot of experience (specifically at the mid-major level). Why? Coaches like that know everybody - AAU teams, assistants and maybe most importantly, players. That's important when it comes to the transfer portal - who does Notre Dame target? Not guys looking to make lateral moves from one Power Six conference to another, but mid-major guys looking to make the jump up in competition. Mid-major assistants know those guys and that knowledge will come in handy.
I know nothing about Hamlet Tibbs. If he is indeed the guy, I'd like to see him on the practice floor, how he relates to players, his voice, his confidence, before deciding if it's a good fit. Stay tuned.
George from El Segundo.: Hi Tom, hope you and yours remain safe and well. How about a John Mooney update? How is he doing in Japan and has his NBA dream sailed over the horizon?
Tom Noie: George: All is good in every regard on this end. John Mooney recently completed his first season in Japan (Chiba) after playing his first season as a professional in Australia. In addition to racking up some serious airline miles, Mooney's also delivered on the court. He averaged 14.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 29.5 minutes for Chiba, which finished 35-10 and fourth place in its division. Mooney shot 59.5 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from 3 and 67.6 percent from the foul line. He's heading back to Chiba for another season in 2022-23. His NBA dream (derailed by the pandemic when there was no Portsmouth Invitational or combine for him to show his skills, likely has sailed. Mooney's making good money (mid-six figures) in Japan, which is too much to risk trying to catch on with an NBA team in summer league or camp. He goes that route and doesn't make it, it's hard to find a quality spot overseas. He's definitely one of the more underappreciated guys to come through the program.
joe from the south side: Tom, Seems like Brey has pretty much struck out on MOST, NOT ALL, of his top 2023 recruits, (Holloway, Ames, Estrella, Booker, Rice, Rechsteiner, Zayden High (who is not coming to ND). How worried should we be? Any of thiis attributable to Hump going to Oklahoma?
Tom Noie: Joe: Here's where the lines between fact and fiction tend to blur, at least from a public perception. You just mentioned seven guys that you believe Notre Dame has "struck out" with, and that's OK. I get it. But from what I've learned, Notre Dame's A wish list had two distinct names - Xavier Booker and T.J. Power - and one general need-to-get - at least one guard, maybe two. That's it. That's the list. Mike Brey wanted Booker. Didn't get him. He wants Power (might get him, but not all that confident). He wanted a guard, and got a local one last week in Markus Burton, who was recruited by Ryan Humphrey. He might be in the market for another guard. That's it in terms of high school kids. The rest of the roster, Brey plans to fill out through the transfer portal. Maybe he snags a late-rising prep senior that no one sees coming. Lesson to be learned? Don't believe everything (sometimes, anything) you hear in recruiting.😀
joe from the south side: Tom, Question Part 2. Brey likes to run an unstructured offense for large periods of time, which is somewhat predicated on understanding what your teammates are likely to do and where they are likely to be. That's fine with all of his senior leadership in 22-23. However, and this goes back to his recruiting, if he only gets 2 recruits for next year, and then goes to the portal, that lack of familiarity, that lack of cohesion, could mean another big dropoff in 23-24. How do you see it?
Tom Noie: I see it as, let's worry about 22-23 first, right? I get the concern, but that's a long way away. And if J.J. Starling returns for 23-24, those concerns are lessened a whole lot. Yes, 2023-24 will be interesting in terms of getting old and staying and getting a group of guys to learn to play together, but that just means the coaching staff will have to deliver. And a foreign tour should would help, wouldn't it?
Zach P: Based on what you’ve seen and heard from summer practice, and assuming everyone stays healthy—over or under 25 wins this coming season, and a top 4 ACC finish?
Tom Noie: Zach: I'll go one-for-two on those predictions. Notre Dame has only won 25 or more games five times during Mike Brey's tenure. The last time that happened was 2016-17. Twenty-five wins this season might be a little too ambitious. Top four finish? There's North Carolina and everybody else, and yes, I throw Duke into that with Mike K riding off into the retirement sunset. There's no reason to think that Notre Dame cannot be in that second tier with Duke and Virginia Tech and Virginia and Florida State. Virginia and Florida State were sub-par last season. Notre Dame finished second last year and might be better this season. The Irish are fifth at worst entering 2022-23.
Dave: Is Markus Burton potentially starting next year assuming JJ Starling leaves?
Tom Noie: Dave: I'd say no, unless he undergoes a complete body transformation between now and November 2023. Markus Burton was someone you had to get in your own backyard given what he did as a junior, but when you meet him face-to-face, it feels like he's 14 years old. He's small. He's so young and doesn't look like he's ever seen the business end of a weight room in his life. Blake Wesley was ready as a freshman. J.J. Starling will be ready as a freshman. Markus Burton might need a little more time to get there, but given his performance arc to date, he can get there.
Tom Noie: An interesting aside given the poll just posted about the Notre Dame schedule - Kentucky bailed on the third game of its series with Notre Dame this season (the teams have said they would revisit for 2023-24 but that's probably not happening). Word is John Calipari has had enough of losing to Notre Dame in December (has happened the last two years), but Cal green-lighted a game in Spokane against Gonzaga as part of his non-league schedule. That means Kentucky would rather play a non-league game in Eastern Washington than play Notre Dame at say, Madison Square Garden. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Uh....no.
p.rose, st. paul: What did you see from Trey Wertz this summer, and do you expect to see him in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season?
Tom Noie: P. Rose: Honestly, not nearly enough. We media creatures saw one practice this summer (the last one) where the Irish were barely on the floor for an hour before Cormac Ryan hobbled off with an ankle injury after landing on someone's foot under the basket during five on five. Word from the inside is that Wertz was more aggressive this summer than at any point in his career. That's a start. He spent a lot of time in a white (starter's) jersey and could open the season in the top five. He's a good third guard who's steady with the ball, someone who usually makes the right play/read. But the Irish could use more from him. He had a tendency to disappear for too long of stretches last season, where he was just zero factor in games. Wertz's best game still is his first game (he went for 27 points and five assists in the Crossroads Classic game against Purdue in 2020). He was ridiculous that day, just kind of playing with an edge that said, yeah, I'm gonna give you buckets. Then he did. Why hasn't he done that more?
Linas from Aliso Viejo, CA: Hi Tom, Now that the summer workouts are over, when is Coach Brey allowed to host his first "official" practice? Until then, do the players get together for informal workouts and games?
Tom Noie: Linas: Used to be that the first "official" practice was the second weekend of October. No teams could start until that weekend, which is when many held their versions of the old Midnight Madness to kick off the year. Now, teams can start "officially" earlier in October, but they're already doing work in small groups once the fall semester starts. Think Mike Brey's official unofficial team meeting is usually around Labor Day once everyone is back and settled into the routine of classes. From the time they get back to campus in a couple weeks until mid-October, it's captains' practices and conditioning sessions organized by the team's leaders.
Billy Mc: Tom, Love these chats…keep up the great work. Any truth to the rumor that Nate Laszewski has incorporated some post moves into his repertoire? Would be great to have four guards working around Nate if he was even a bit of a low post threat.
Tom Noie: Billy: Don't believe the rumors? They're rumors for a reason! No, seriously, Nate Laszewski always has dabbled with some low-post stuff even before this season, but he'll still be most valuable by shooting the ball. Sounds easy, I know, but there were so many times over the past seasons when Laszewski had an open shot, but decided to move it instead of shoot it. It was nice to see Laszewski in last month's open workout get the ball and not overthink it. He shot it, and led the team in shot attempts over the course of the 12 summer workouts. He's too good a shooter to not hunt his stuff more than usual. He can be really good when he doesn't overthink it - catch it, shoot it, score it. A few post moves may also be included. Maybe.
Pat H. Springfield Illinois: From your observations and that of others, I get the impression this could be a team with “deep depth.” Is this an accurate analysis? Thanks for hosting these chats. Always enlightening
Tom Noie: Pat: Don't believe the hype. Seems we go through this same depth dance every offseason, and when October and November roll around, guess what happens? Everyone who believed that this is the year they see more depth get all worked up when they don't. So we'll say it now - get off that depth train. Now! During the summer, Mike Brey routinely rotated only seven players through the white (starter's jerseys). It was the old guys (Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski, Trey Wertz), it was an experienced new guy (Niagara transfer Marcus Hammond) and it was two new guys (freshmen Ven-Allen Lubin and J.J. Starling). That's it. Matt Zona might've been in a white jersey for a possession or two, but Mike Brey plans on going forward with his core seven. Zona would be eight. Dom Campbell or J.R. Konieczny might be eight. He's not going deep with depth this year. Just not happening.
Rockaway Mike: Do you think Cormac should have made the ACC All Defensive Team last year? It seemed like he took a charge every game and usually locked up the guard he was matched up against. Been hearing a lot about the offensive skills of the Freshman and the kid from Niagara; but can they play defense in that ACC? Gonna need a lot of active hands with no defensive stopper guarding the rim. Thanks for the chat.
Tom Noie: Mike: I voted Nate Laszewski for the all-defensive team in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. Just felt he was so much more important from a guarding/charge-taking/rebounding aspect. Everything the Irish did defensively (and they did a lot) was predicated on having Laszewski in there. That's an overlooked reason why it was so important for him to return. He just kind of settled everything. That's not to say Cormac Ryan wasn't good. He was. There might not have been 10 better players in the country in the NCAA Tournament. He just kind of drove Notre Dame to those two wins...
As for defense, Notre Dame finished last season ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring defense (66.9 ppg.), third in field goal percentage defense (.426 percent) and second in three-point field goal percentage (.296) in league games. That's a big reason why it went 15-5 in league play. And they can do it again. Paul Atkinson was a key piece to that puzzle, but he still was only 6-foot-9 (maybe even closer to 6-7). It wasn't like he was the human eraser on that back line. It was a collective commitment to guard and a buy-in from everyone defensively that allowed Notre Dame to do what it did last season. Expect more of the same this year. Marcus Hammond is quicker/craftier than Prentiss Hubb. Ven-Allen Lubin is longer than Atkinson. The Irish did on defense last year. They can do it again this year. The pieces are definitely there.
Guest: Who do you think is top 7 if you had to pick them today
Tom Noie: Easy. Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski, Trey Wertz, Marcus Hammond, Ven-Allen Lubin and J.J. Starling are the core seven. Everyone else? Keep working.
joe from the south side: Tom, Recent news in the ND FB program shows concern over prized committed recruits flipping to another program. Two part question. I assume the flipping and the money angle to get recruits to your school happens in BBL as well. Ask Book Richardson, Chuck Person, etc......How big of a hinderance to ND BBL is NIL and the money that can now be funneled to athletes, particularly untraceable cash payments? That is to say, can ND even compete in this new environment? Part 2 is does being a part of the ACC help ND BBL? Does it really help to offset the money issue discussed above?
Tom Noie: Joe: It's not an official Notre Dame hoops chat until a Joe from the South Side two-parter, and here we are! LOL. Wait, untraceable cash payments to recruits is part of college basketball? Really? Yeah, NIL isn't going to regulate that part of recruiting anytime soon, which is why some verbal commitments don't hold. It's not as big of a hinderance to Notre Dame men's basketball as other schools. Kids commit to Notre Dame for more than basketball - there are six guys on the roster getting graduate degrees this season. Where else does THAT happen? Notre Dame has long recruited out of a different talent pool than the bluebloods. NIL doesn't change that...
Part 2? Absolutely, being in the ACC helps. Kids want to play in the best leagues, and the ACC is annually among the best. That, and getting a degree from Notre Dame will offset the "other" side of recruiting. Has for years. Guys that have come to Notre Dame and flourished in the program have done so because they wanted more out of college than a cash grab or easy route to the NBA.
Dennis Huyvaert: Hello Tom, I was wondering how far down in the rotation JR looks to be? Any chance he sees any meaningful minutes this season?
Tom Noie: Dennis: If everything about the rotation holds this season, it might be best for J.R. Konieczny to look long and hard at a redshirt season (like Tim Abromaitis did as a sophomore). Konieczny played a total of seven games with 11 points and one rebound in 22 minutes last season when he was jammed up behind a veteran/experienced perimeter. Guess what? He's jammed up again behind a veteran/experienced perimeter. Cormac Ryan is going to play a lot. So is Dane Goodwin. And Trey Wertz. Marcus Hammond didn't transfer in from Niagara not to play a lot. J.J. Starling's playing. That's five guards right there. Konieczny still is considered a guard. It's hard to get to six on a given night. Konieczny is on a foreign tour of Spain with the former East Coast All-Stars right now. That's to get him the game experience he might not get this season. He has to be patient. It may eventually happen for him at Notre Dame, just not this season.
Terry from KC: What's your take on the Markus Burton commitment?
Tom Noie: Terry: Markus Burton was a gotta-get guy. Now, don't misunderstand. He's not someone this program had to get in relation to Xavier Booker (who committed the next day) or T.J. Power who's now No. 1 on the Irish wish list. But when you have a guard who averages 27.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.2 steals to earn Northern Indiana Conference most valuable player as a junior basically in your own backyard, you find a way to get him. Maybe he continues his current arc and develops into an high-level ACC guard. Maybe he's just OK. But you bet on him being really good and invest in him. If he continues on his current path, bigger schools would've found their way to Penn High School. Can't let him get away. Get him, coach him, develop him.
Mike: Tom, why doesn’t coach Brey put out more offers? That way if he loses a few recruits he has other recruits to go after. Also seems to offer way to late?
Tom Noie: Mike: This is where the lines between Notre Dame FOOTBALL recruiting and Notre Dame MEN'S BASKETBALL recruiting seem to blur to the point where some fans don't seem to understand that they're different sports, different philosophies. That may be the approach for football, but not hoops. Mentioned earlier in the chat that Notre Dame has maybe four, five guys on its wish list. It's the way it works. Concentrate on a core group of guys you believe you can get instead of looking here and there and everywhere for players. Markus Burton was offered only after the staff saw him play well against better competition - he hung 35 on Xavier Booker in June, which kind of sealed it. Offer early or late doesn't much matter. The key guys know long before an offer where they stand.
Kevin, IL: What is best thing about covering the team all these years & how much does nov/dec scheduling really impact our recruiting? Thx
Tom Noie: Kevin: Why, free food for media in the arena dining rooms of course! No, I kid. It's everything that goes into covering a team from start to finish - the travel, the stories, the games, the travel, the wins, the losses, the travel, the journey. Like last season - who would've said this was a team that would win 15 league games and two NCAA tournament games after it lost to Illinois and Boston College that first week of December? Answer? Nobody. But you just hold on and see where the ride takes you. That's the best part of the job - the ride.
As for November and December impacting Notre Dame recruiting, it really doesn't. Like, at all.
Toledojohnny from Georgia: Hello Tom - If JJ Starling is as advertised and written about, do you think he and Dane could work well together? It looks as though Dane loves to slide around for good position and if JJ can find him, we just might have a powerful duo on our hands.
Tom Noie: TJ: Here's a snapshot of a sequence from the open practice we saw last month that tells you all you need to know about J.J. Starling. He was handling up top with Dane Goodwin on the right wing. As Starling drove and collapsed the defense, Goodwin floated to an open spot. Starling's drive was choked off, but he knew Goodwin was there and tossed a left-handed pass over his head to Goodwin, who stuck the open 3. Freshmen don't usually make reads like that. Starling made it look so effortless. He can handle, but he can also play off the ball when Cormac Ryan has it. Starling's really good. He just gets it.
PortND: What did you take from the open practice that surprised you or you didn’t know about the roster?
Tom Noie: Port: It was a small sample size - practice ran for about an hour and was more like a session from late February than mid-July. If I had to pick one high point, it would be that freshman power forward Ven-Allen Lubin can contribute sooner than later. A close second? Marcus Hammond could be an athletic upgrade from Prentiss Hubb.
Pat from Connecticut: Hi Tom, we have good guard play but how do you see us competing against the top teams without a go to big guy?
Tom Noie: Pat: With even more of a collective commitment to defend and gang rebound. It's not like they're going to step on the floor against North Carolina or Virginia Tech or Florida State and realize, hey, we're not all that big as those guys. They're rolling the dice that shooting and smarts will offset the lack of size.
Connor Mansfield: What is the most likely starting five?
Tom Noie: Connor: If Notre Dame played tonight, the starting five would be Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin and Trey Wertz at guard and Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin up front. There's a chance that J.J. Starling snags the starting spot Wertz currently has sooner than later. He's too good to come off the bench.
Ryan mars pa: What do you think about the team coming in to the upcoming season?
Tom Noie: Ryan: Good, veteran, experienced team with some really good freshmen and the desire to take this a step further than last year. There's no reason not to expect a top-five finish in the ACC and trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. All the pieces are there, my man. Let's go!😃
Steve: When does the home/home series with Georgetown start?
Tom Noie: Steve: Never. Notre Dame and Georgetown had agreed in principal a couple seasons ago to a home-and-home series, but then the Hoyas bailed. That was BEFORE Patrick Ewing led them to an 0-19 finish last year. Notre Dame turned its attention to Marquette and that series starts this year in Purcell Pavilion.
Bob from Chicago: Thanks for the chat, Tom. It seems to me we are incredibly vulnerable to teams with dominant big men - even more than last season. Cockburn from Illinois, Duke’s big guys, etc. The strategy of making more threes than the other team can make twos won’t work in tournament games. What do you think about our lack of interior defense and no post threat?
Tom Noie: Bob: Not sure I agree with the whole "make more threes than the other guys" than it is play smarter, be more experienced and be hard to guard with a variety of small lineups and the occasional big look. Let's see how Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin work before figuring out how this is going to work. Paul Atkinson was really good, but I don't know if teams game-planned long into winter nights trying to figure out how to get to the rim against him.
joe from the south side: Tom, I'll circle back to your answer about recruiting. What are you telling Power to get him to come. "I have Markus Burton, a kid no one evaluates in the Top 300. I am looking for another recruit, and the ones I really wanted are gone. Then, I am going to the portal to fill out the rest of the slots." Do you think that sells anyone of any caliber on playing for Brey?
Tom Noie: Joe: What is Mike Brey telling T.J. Power? He's telling him that Nate Laszewski is gone after this year, and that you can step in and play major minutes with major chances to be an All-ACC caliber player as a freshman. He's telling him that he can go the Pat Connaughton route and also play baseball. He's telling him that Notre Dame just had its first one-and-done in program history, and that dream is now worth having. He's telling him that he can play in the ACC. I don't know how many recruits are asking about OTHER recruits. It's part of the conversation, but probably way, way, way down the list. They're asking about where THEY fit, what THEY can do. Prospects who can play at the ACC level probably think, shoot, I don't care who's there, with me, they're going to be good. Is T.J. Power looking at Markus Burton and wondering, who's that? Not likely.
John: Tom, how deep do you think the rotation will be and will JR and Zona be part of the group?
Tom Noie: John: The rotation's likely going to go seven deep (Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski, Trey Wertz, Marcus Hammond, Ven-Allen Lubin, J.J. Starling) with Matt Zona the eighth man and either Dom Campbell or J.R. Konieczny the ninth man.
joe from the south side: Tom, General agreement on your assessment of the ACC, though I believe Duke is closer to NC than the rest of the conference. Not only tons of talent but I am banking on Coach K's wisdom and the fact that he didn't turn over the keys to the Cadillac to someone with no driver's license. UVA will likely finish third. Bennett has a program, not a team. You are spot on with FSU and VTECH. I think Mike Young does a nice job and Hamilton won't suffer that many injuries two years in a row. ND fits in here along with Miami. They return just about everyone from last year's Elite 8 squad. You can keep the rest of the conference. Clemson only cares about FB. Pastner has been a bust in Atlanta. Huge questions about LOU and Payne. SYR looks like a has been type program. Wake caught lightening in a bottle. Pitt and BC are, well, Pitt and BC.
Tom Noie: Preach: That's the Atlantic Coast Conference in a nutshell. Yes, Duke is talented and SHOULD be good, but it will be interesting to see what post-K life is like for them. K's no longer on the bench, so Duke's not going to get the handful of calls it used to get when he was staring through officials. That mattered. I'd be more concerned with Virginia Tech than Virginia. Can't agree more with you about the rest, especially Syracuse. This is another year where you just slot the Orange in the 8-9-10-11 neighborhood. How Boeheim's not under more pressure to turn the keys over to Gerry McNamara is staggering.
John: Is JR or Zona a transfer risk if they don’t see significant minutes?
Tom Noie: John: Absolutely, especially in this day and age where if you don't play a lot early, just hit the reset button and start over. Think Matt Zona is at Notre Dame for more than just playing time. He wants the degree. It will be interesting to see how J.R. Konieczny handles another year on the outside of the rotation looking in. It's easy to leave. It's tougher to stick it out and believe it will happen.
Todd: Tom -- Is it me, or does there seem to be a really, really, positive vibe in the program right now? From what I have been reading, watching interviews, etc. I just get a feeling that this group is going to have an "edge" to them. Nowhere near as talented as the ACC tourney title, Elite Eight team, but I just get something different from this group --- especially from Mike Brey -- who I think is a top 10 college basketball coach.
Tom Noie: Todd: I wrote a column off the open practice that opined how this team should be better than last year. That doesn't mean they're going 16-4 or 17-3 in the ACC, but they're older, more experienced, arguably more talented and are primed to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. They've tasted what it's like in the NCAA Tournament - the adrenaline rush, the attention, the everything. They want more. They can do more. They should do more.
Trevor: Hey Tom! Always gotta say thanks for all the coverage you bring to Irish basketball. Who is your X factor for this upcoming season? And what do you believe the floor/ceiling is for this team is.
Tom Noie: Trevor: I'm rolling with Marcus Hammond, who averaged 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 34 minutes last season for Niagara. He also got to the foul line 130 times. The guy he's stepping in for, Prentiss Hubb, shot 60 free throws last season. Hammond's stronger/sturdier than Hubb. A lot of what he did last year was just go and get something for himself - what's it going to be like to give up the ball now and know that you're going to get it back, or know that you don't have to shoulder all the heavy lifting. A lot of the leadership/scoring will fall on the Big Three - Ryan, Goodwin, Laszewski - to where Hammond can just kind of play. Be a piece. Not THE piece.
Steve: Any news about updated uniforms? Feels like they’ve been wearing the same design for at least 5 years.
Tom Noie: Steve; Every year Notre Dame fails to bring back the legendary Mustard Gold is a failure. Those are/were the best. The seniors usually have the strongest say in terms of uniforms. I don't see this year's group straying too far from what they've worn in the past.
Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Hi Tom, really enjoyed seeing you on the IB Nation podcast recently. Good stuff. Based upon what I've been reading lately, it seems as if there's at least somewhat of a chance that Starling could be a one-and-done. In your opinion, is that truly a realistic possibility? And if there's any question about his viability at the NBA level, he needs to stay unlike Blake Wesley who I believe might have jumped the gun. No one who objectively watched Wesley last season could come to the conclusion that he was anywhere near a finished product or NBA-ready. Potential wise yes but developmentally, no way. Thanks.
Tom Noie: Jim: It's realistic in that nobody saw Blake Wesley going the one-and-done route last season. No, he wasn't developmentally ready, but who really is in that league? They draft almost solely on potential, and if you stay three, four years, there has to be something wrong with your game. Should Wesley have stayed? He was a first-round pick and will make more money than he's ever seen, so it worked out for him. As for Starling, it all depends on what he wants. Does he embrace the entire college experience? Is he patient with the process? What type of season does he have? Does he have that one moment like Wesley and his shot against Kentucky that kind of slingshots him into the NBA stratosphere? All worth watching.
joe from the south side: Tom, Let me say this about Burton, and I don't know him from Adam. I would think arriving at his press conference and sitting at the table, 40 minutes early, was a sign of enthusiasm. Putting the ND hat on in 15-20 seconds was another good sign. That kid wanted to play at ND, and he wanted to play for Brey. Will he develop into an ACC level guard? Who knows? Physically, he has a long way to go. But if I read that kid's heart and desire correctly, you HAVE TO take him. As someone who has coached a kid or two, those types of kids are highly coachable and they can positively affect their teammates. You always always take that kind of player.
Tom Noie: Joe: From what I've seen of Markus to date, he's a worker, and he's driven, and, oh, by the way, he was waiting on ONE SCHOOL to show even the slightest interest in him. When it did, it was over. He wants to be at Notre Dame, which means he's going to be a guy who's going to do whatever's asked, accept whatever role and follow whatever timetable gets him to where he wants to go. That can't be discounted in today's college basketball world of one-and-dones and immediate eligibility transfers and everything else. Markus Burton isn't the most important recruit for Notre Dame from a pure talent standpoint. From everything else? Maybe.
Mike from PA: Tom - Pat Connaughton just signed another contract with the Bucks. The guy is making a ton of money and good for him. As you think back to that magical 2015 basketball squad, how surprised (or not surprised) are you that Pat is the one who made it big time in the NBA? No disrespect to him (I thought he might play baseball), but I thought guys like Grant, Jackson, Colson, and maybe even Auguste had higher NBA pedigree. Boy was I wrong.
Tom Noie: Mike: Awesome question. Might be best out of the day. It's easy to look at Pat Connaughton and the NBA player he's become and say, yeah, we saw that coming. But if you know Pat, and know that he's driven to prove people wrong, it's totally believable that he is where he is. He could've taken the easy way out and chased baseball, but he wanted to prove he could be a basketball player in the ACC, then helped win a tournament championship. And made himself NBA worthy of a second round pick. Parlayed that into a hell of a career that secured his financial future. He was going to make it, because he believed in himself...
Not to say the other guys didn't, but each of them had flaws that they never could overcome. Jerian Grant never could make an open shot. Demetrius Jackson never really could be a downhill/attacking/consistent point guard and Bonzie Colson's window closed when he broke his foot a second time his senior year. That first break never happens, he's maybe the ACC player of the year and a first round pick. But the NBA window for guys is open for only so long, and once it closes, man, it's hard to ever pry that sucker back open. That's what makes what Connaughton has done even more impressive. He was like, I'm here and I belong and I'm staying. And he has. Couldn't happen to a better guy. In every regard.
Mike from PA: Tom - Impossible question for you to answer, but I will ask anyway. Who has a bigger impact as a freshman, JJ Starling this year, or Blake Wesley last year?
Tom Noie: Mike: Not as impossible as you might think - the answer is Blake Wesley. J.J. Starling has it relatively easy compared to what Wesley had to work with walking in the door. This program wasn't supposed to do anything. No NCAA tournaments in four years, a local kid who wasn't highly-recruited but was highly-motivated to do something. A team that didn't really know how to win. Wesley figured it out and helped Notre Dame go 15-5 and nearly win the ACC regular season. They won two NCAA games for the first time since 2016. They believed. There were times when Wesley was the best player on the floor, let alone the program. He parlayed that to being the first one-and-done in Irish history. Don't know if Notre Dame does all it does last year without Wesley. This team is seasoned, and even hungrier. A better situation for Starling to step into than what Wesley faced.
Tom, Gary IN: Do you think Notre Dame will join the Big Ten in all sports or remain as is? If the Irish switch to the Big Ten how will it affect men's basketball?
Tom Noie: Tom: That's the $100 million question, isn't it? And it has nothing to do with men's basketball. If Notre Dame can maintain annual access to the College Football Playoff, and whatever that looks like, it will remain independent. If the only way into the CFP is through conference affiliation, and the most attractive conference is the Big Ten, then the Big Ten it is. That might actually help basketball from a fan standpoint, not so much recruiting. Outside of a handful of ACC teams - Duke, Carolina, Louisville, maybe Syracuse - nobody around Northern Indiana really cares about ACC basketball. That changes if Notre Dame is in the Big Ten.
Brendan: Jack S. always has a "Short List" of coaching replacements. If Brey has a great year and calls it quits- who is on it? Any chance of Chris Quinn or is he focused on an NBA HC job?
Tom Noie: Brendan: Believe Notre Dame would like a Black head coach to replace Mike Brey. That might be Ryan Humphrey. it might be someone no one sees coming. Chris Quinn had a chance to come back to the program as an assistant (and likely coach in waiting) but believes he's more of an NBA guy. Still, he would get a phone call when that day comes, and it's coming closer and closer with each passing year.
Steve: Tom, I thought about asking you about the rotation for the 13th time, but instead I’ll ask which conference would be most beneficial for ND basketball. B1G or ACC?
Tom Noie: Steve: Whatever conference offers the biggest financial payout from football....lol. Seriously. From a fan standpoint, obviously the Big Ten. From a national standpoint, it's still hard to beat the ACC. It really is.
joe from the south side: Tom, I respect your answer about Power. All true. But you know as well as I that these kids want to win too. Remember Cole Anthony? That is exactly what he said. "I want to go to the Final 4." If you are a one-and-done guy, and Power might be, why would you want to hit cleanup for the Cubs, when you can play for the Dodgers? And to that point, Duke and Kansas (I believe) are involved with him. Look, I hope I am wrong and that Power is an "ND" type of guy.
Tom Noie: Joe: This just in - EVERYBODY wants to go to the Final Four, and believe then can do that at schools A, B, C and D and so on....Every single one of them.
Wadelite: Tom, let's stop beating around the bush. The transfer portal with immediate eligibility has made it much easier on Brey. Yeah, we really wanted Booker or Estrella, but no worries we are bringing in this guy who averaged 10 and 6 as a sophomore at Central Connecticut State.
Tom Noie: But can he shoot the 3?😃
Matt from St. Louis: I know the last chat was the day of the huge UCLA and USC to the Big 10 announcement. This is down the road and a huge hypothetical, but IF Notre Dame ended up in the Big 10 in the future, who are your top teams that you would want them to be playing twice a year during the conference slate? The few venues you would be eager to visit?
Tom Noie: Matt: Good stuff, but you're going to make me do something here I try to avoid doing at all cost - math. Big sigh....here it goes. If Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, figure at least one other team would have to join as well to give the league 18 teams. That means league games vs. 17 teams, which leaves three repeat opponents to get to 20. So.....the three repeat opponents for Notre Dame should it ever join the Big Ten would be.....drum roll.....UCLA, Indiana and Michigan State. Did I do that right?😃
Mickey, New York: I hope your summer is going well and you are using copious amounts of sunblock. See you at UBS Arena in Nov? The last few years it seems the team has lacked an alpha (in the sense of a vocal leader and someone who could take the team on their back when needed). Is there someone (Ryan?) who has the personality and talent to do that and will the team to a win?
Tom Noie: Mickey: This became Cormac Ryan's team late last season. He looked a lot like Ben Hansbrough driving the Irish through Rutgers and Alabama and almost Texas Tech. He's the Alpha, and can be even more so this season because he's actually done it. There was nobody at the start of last season because, let's be honest, nobody really had done it.
joe from the south side: Tom, Dior Johnson is a top 40-50 kid by any measure. How soon does he go to a Final 4 with Jeff Capel?
Tom Noie: CBI count?
joe from the south side: Tom, Really? You think Ames went to KST to win a natty?
Tom Noie: Who?
Steve: Assuming the contract $ would be the same and not getting into the financial side of things, do you thinking ND signing with Nike and dumping Under Armour would help with recruiting?
Tom Noie: Steve: Not sure, because I don't know if that's even on the radar of Notre Dame recruits (certainly not as much as playing in a Final Four.) LOL. Don't think any recruit ever said they were going to Notre Dame because it's an Under Armour school. Personal preference? I'm wearing Nike every time.
joe from the south side: Tom, Let me put you on the spot. I read most ND articles from all of the various sites--in all sports. In your opinion, which of your colleagues/competitors would you say does a good job of reporting? If you had to read somebody else's work covering ND, who would it be and why?
Tom Noie: Joe: Man, that's a zero-win situation. Like naming my top five players during my time on the beat. Somebody's getting left out, and somebody's going to be salty. So I'll take the middle of the road approach and say I try to read as much as I can from anyone/everyone on the beat. If you're any good, and I try to be, you have to do it. Read everybody. Learn something, and be better tomorrow than you were today.
Mick: Indeed! We've secured a commitment from Yale before. Now onto the Crimson and Tigers! By 2030, we should make it Brown and Dartmouth!
Tom Noie: Penn and Columbia look around and wonder, what about us????
Mick: Do any of the 90s and early 2000s guys ever come to SB for practices or to talk to Brey?
Tom Noie: All the time...and 1970s, 80s and 90s as well...he made it a point when he arrived a lifetime ago to reconnect guys with the program after it wandered through the college basketball wilderness as an independent for a decade.
joe from the south side: Tom, Dai Dai Ames was a Top 60PG from Chicago who was one of the first PGs ND went after. I think Mick is making the same point as me, and doing it very well. It is too much feast or famine with recruiting.
Tom Noie: True, but name a program where fans DON'T feel it's feast or famine in recruiting. Even if Notre Dame operated like Duke or Carolina or Kentucky, you'd be like, they offered this guy or that guy and didn't get him. What's going on? Notre Dame operates within the parameters of the university and recruits guys it actually feels it can get. There's an expectation there that this program should be more than it is - in every phase. That's simply not going to happen.
Wadelite: Based on a solid belief Carmody and Ryan will not be at ND next season, there will be no one on the roster next season with just one year of eligibility Have to believe Brey will bring in at least 2 graduate transfers for 23-24?
Tom Noie: You'd think that would be the case. We'll see,
Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, I hit send too quickly. I'll try again. In your opinion, who will the Irish miss more from an overall influence and impact standpoint, Prentiss Hubb or Paul Atkinson? To me that would seem a very hard choice.
Tom Noie: Paul Atkinson. He gave them something inside that Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin likely will not. What Hubb did others can do this season. If I had to choose who Notre Dame would miss most this season, I'd naturally go with...Blake Wesley.
Mick: Most transfers, grad transfers or otherwise, do not light it up for their next schools. Brey went after some of the most highly-sought transfers over the last few years: Tre Mitchell, Kevin Marfo, Jordan Bruner, EJ Anosike, Justin Pierce, et al. They either underwhelmed or did nothing at their next stops. I would rather take a chance on an 18 year-old senior in the no. 150-300 range and see if he develops rather than a 23 year-old who is what he is after four years of college basketball at the low or mid level. For example, in this years class, Riley Allenspach. Has the genes, grades, is 6'10"/6'11" and played well this summer.
Tom Noie: Thanks Mr. Allenspach!😃
MJ: Thanks for the chat. I can't see Wertz as a starter. Too many brain farts like the steal and subsequent intentional foul that changed the momentum of the Texas Tech game.
Tom Noie: MJ: Understood. I think it's more a fifth-year loyalty kind of thing. OK, you wear the white (starter's) jersey in spring and summer because you're a main guy. But as time goes on, it should become clear that J.J. Starling is a better player and earns the right to start. Of course, if Trey Wertz does everything asked of him and elevates his game to the required level, then there's a decision that needs to be made. Just get the feeling that Notre Dame is better with Starling in a main role and Wertz as the complementary piece. Doesn't mean he's not a main guy, just not a starting guy.
Clint from Winnipeg: How does Notre Dame come up with its walk-ons? On-campus tryouts? Recommendations from trusted coaches? Tom Noie's suggestions?
Tom Noie: Clint: Usually tryouts near fall camp or from previous tryouts where there's a name somewhere for that stuff....but never, ever any suggestions from that dope Tom Noie. He knows nothing...😃
joe from the south side: Tom, 5 hours of conversation and no mention of Sanders. So, that recruiting class consisted of a transfer, a JR who maybe an 8th man, and a JR who might be the 10th man. Sounds like the 2023 class all over again.
Tom Noie: Or, he might be the next Jack Cooley/Martinas Geben who waits for his chance and then....viola! That's recruiting - you just don't know. If that's a Tony Sanders question, that means one for Robby Carmody can't be far behind.....come on....help me fill out that square on my Irish chat BINGO card!
joe from the south side: Tom, Alex Wade? Might as well go A to Z.
Tom Noie: CHECK!😃
Buck from Kokomo: Need to look at Flory Bidunga from Kokomo. AzState, Auburn, Wake and Creighton have apparently already offered. He's only 80 miles South!
Tom Noie: Buck: Think also that Flory Bidunga needs to look at Notre Dame. If there's mutual interest, then there's something there. Highly doubt he's not at least on the Notre Dame radar, right?
Clint from Winnipeg: Hey, I think a story on Robby Carmody -- his mindset at this point -- actually would be kind of interesting.
Tom Noie: Clint: Absolutely. Times 10. I've had a standing offer to speak with Robby Carmody each of the last three years but that request was denied/reshuffled, etc. I'll certainly try again in the fall. He has a story worth telling, even if that story doesn't include playing time. Good kid, awful run of injuries.
joe from the south side: Tom, With all of the "benefits" associated with NIL and D1 BBL, and the free agency created within the transfer portal, would you considering entering the portal, and how would you describe your game to interested coaches?
Tom Noie: Would never enter the portal - you have what you have and you make it work however you can. My game? Easy - a dime a dozen for a 5-11 guard with a decent shot and hops who can occasionally get to the rim. Once hung 27 points on former Irish swingman Keith Kurowski in a church-league game. DMs not open.
Mick: In fairness, Kurowski left his knees on the floor Louisville and Xavier, or somewhere.
Tom Noie: Still can ball...😃
Mick: Oh, I don't doubt that he can still ball. He had the Jersey Pro-Am record for points in a quarter back in the day, the same league in which Troy Murphy later played, who was also a man among boys. Keith Kurowski was a top talent, but like Carmody, his body failed him. John Wallace called Kurowski one of the best guys he played with back then.
Tom Noie: Amen....covered him during my early days at the Tribune...weird to then play pickup with him for a few years many years later.
MJ: I was thrilled when Brey brought back Solomon last year. Why wouldn't he be mentioned as Brey's successor? Have you noticed the job that Martin Ingelsby has done at Delaware?
Tom Noie: Slo's a career 24-88 as a head coach. Some guys are better/best as assistant coaches and he certainly is one of them. Notre Dame doesn't do what it did last season without Anthony Solomon. He may have been the real MVP....#nojoke