Grab a seat and something to eat, this might take you some time to chew on

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

Whew...that was exhausting. And exhilarating.

Following is a transcript of our latest Notre Dame men's basketball chat. It runs over 14,000 words and lasted over six hours. Have a read. Might be a while.

Tom Noie: There's snow on the ground, Christmas music on the radio and winter weather advisors in and around Northern Indiana, which can only mean....it's college basketball season. There's already been a lot to digest when it comes to Notre Dame, which has played (and won) three games the first seven days of the season following Wednesday's win over Southern Indiana. There should be no shortage of topics to discuss over the next few hours. To join in today's discussion, be sure to include your name and hometown. You know the drill...let's light this chat candle... 

Go Irish: Tom, is the basketball in your profile picture spinning on your finger or just sitting there motionless. Thanks, Tom Noie: THIS is how we're tipping off today? OK, I'll play along...of course the ball is spinning. Ask my former Tribune colleague/photog wizard Michael Caterina. I found a ball in the back area of the arena, started spinning it on my finger and he started shooting. Easiest photo shoot ever...we were in and out of there in like 10 minutes. Also have other photos palming the ball as well. Guy could play a little bit in his day. Still can... 

Dave Hodges: Will we see Robbie Carmody on the Floor at all this year? Tom Noie: Dave: Robby Carmody played the final 1:24 of Wednesday's game against Southern Indiana. It may not seem like much, but for him, that was a big step. Injuries have taken everything he could've been as a college basketball player. His body just betrayed him. It happens. He's wanted/needed to remain a part of the program in whatever role he could play. Says a lot about him. He won't have the career he envisioned on the court, but off the floor, an All-American for all the right reasons. 

Dave Hodges: Who’s minutes do you see going down once the transfer kid is ready? Tom Noie: Transfer kid? Come on, Dave. That would be Niagara transfer guard Marcus Hammond, who's been out with a strained MCL in his right knee since the start of the season. He originally was expected to return for Friday's home game against Lipscomb, but that has been pushed back a bit. Maybe Tuesday against Bowling Green. How the minutes are distributed once Hammond returns will be an interesting balancing/juggling act for Mike Brey. Pump him full of truth serum and he probably figured Hammond would jump back into the starting lineup. Trey Wertz had something to say about that. Hammond will be the sixth man. He played 34.0 minutes a game last year at Niagara. He won't play 34 a game for the foreseeable future.... Tom Noie: ...Notre Dame currently has four guards all averaging at least 32.6 minutes. COrmac Ryan is at 32.6, Trey Wertz is at 34.2, J.J. Starling 34.3 and Dane Goodwin 37.2. Figure shave about five minutes a game off each to get Hammond to 20. Another five from Nate Laszewski (36.9) and two from Ven-Allen Lubin to get him close to 27 minutes a game. A lot of that depends on how the knee responds. If Hammond is good from the get-go, it will be a nice problem for Brey to figure out. Once Hammond is healthy, he's going to play. A lot. 

Mark from Rochester, NY: Tom, what changed this year so far on defense vs last year that you are seeing? Tom Noie: Mark: Good question. First couple of games, Notre Dame looked like a team that had spent way too much time this summer concentrating on playing what Mike Brey says is the "right way" of sharing the ball and taking care of it. Did they even do any defensive work in June and July? The Irish defensive numbers were brutal two games in. Notre Dame ranked last in the Atlantic Coast Conference for points per game (78.5) and field goal percentage (.485). They had the indifferent to defense look that so many previous Brey teams had - like, eh, we'll guard you, but we really want to outscore you. That almost bit them against Radford. Didn't cut quite as deep against Youngstown State before they were really good Wednesday against Southern Indiana.... Tom Noie: ...For as much concern that the defensive cause the first two games, it really has been pretty good. Last year, Notre Dame allowed 74.3 ppg., .443 percent from the field, .366 percent from 3 and were outrebounded by (-3.3). Three games in, Notre Dame is allowing 75.7 ppg. (still too high), while allowing teams to shoot .461 percent from the  field (gotta be better) and .349 percent from 3 while posting a (+3.7) rebounding advantage. As long as the guards continue to gang rebound, that can offset going with a perimeter-heavy lineup. Defensively, Notre Dame was good last year - a continued work in progress three games in this year. 

Jake from small town WA: Wertz has to stay in the starting lineup at this point right? Tom Noie: Jake: Heck, yeah. Trey Wertz isn't coming out of the starting lineup anytime soon when Marcus Hammond returns from his knee injury. Mike Brey talked with Wertz when Hammond went down, basically saying to him, look, we've got a key guy down, there's no reason why you can't become a key guy for us. You're starting - so take the starting spot and don't give it up. Make it yours. Wertz has done that and then some. He's scored double figures the first three games (never done that here) and is averaging 17.7 ppg., 2.7 rpg., 3.3 apg.... Tom Noie: ...Wertz is shooting .633 percent from the field, .444 percent from 3 and .875 percent from the foul line. He's also drawn comparisons from Brey in post-game pressers to guards like Martin Ingelsby and Chris Quinn - guys who just played with a pace and a poise about them that allowed the head coach to breathe just a little easier in games. Trey Wertz has been an revelation the first week. Nobody saw this coming, except for maybe Trey Wertz. 

Guest: Mike from Fresno: Two simple questions: how tall is Lubin. I have seen 6’7", 6’8", 6" Tom Noie: Mike: Freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin is listed at 6-foot-8 and I would say he's every bit of that. His look is a little deceiving. He doesn't have that look of a true Atlantic Coast Conference power forward until you see him up close and personal. Then, he's every bit of 6-8. He's long and lanky and crazy athletic. Great thing about him is he's not shy. He knows how to play, whether making a high-low entry pass to Nate Laszewski for a layup or finishing at the rim. He might take the occasional quick 3, but that will come with a better understanding of where to optimize his skills within the system. 

Guest: Why not go big and allow the freshman Dom to be a bully. Why does he only play 7 Tom Noie: Are you new around here? Seriously. We saw the result of Mike Brey extending the rotation past six early against Southern Indiana and it wasn't pretty. It was tough to watch. The guys who can play, who should play are playing. This isn't Little League where everybody HAS to play, and then we all get ice cream afterward. Dom Campbell is going to be a factor for this basketball team - but that's down the line. It's best that he gets a few minutes here and there. The rotation's at six because the head coach most trusts those six. Don't like it? Be better in practice so Coach has to play me. That hasn't happened. 

Dan - Chicago: My question is two words:  Matt Ryan? Tom Noie: Dan: Yeah, no kidding...back as the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts after being benched, right? I kid, I kid. Not THAT Matt Ryan, but the former Irish swingman now getting minutes/carving out a role for himself in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. Good for him, but honestly, I'd have been surprised had he not gotten a look from someone somewhere along the line. Matt Ryan may be among the best five, six, seven pure shooters to ever pass through this program. Guys like Ryan and Kyle McAlarney and Matt Carroll and David Graves and Colin Falls, every time they rose up, you figured it was going in. They were that good.... Tom Noie: ...Matt Ryan is the ultimate what-could-have-been story for Notre Dame men's basketball. Right there with what happens if Chris Thomas' knees don't crumble his final two years and if Bonzie Colson doesn't break his foot his senior year. If Ryan would've stayed at Notre Dame, he'd have been the program's all-time leading 3-point shooter. Look at the teams he bailed on because he was worried about D.J. Harvey taking his minutes (seriously). Matt Ryan would've gotten so many shots his right arm would've fallen off. Instead, he panic-transferred. He got to the league, sure, but his college career wasn't all that great. It might've been had he stayed at Notre Dame. 

Matt: How big of 2024 class do you see Coach Brey bringing in? Do you think playing only 6 in the rotation hurts his recruiting? Tom Noie: Matt: The old two-parter. We do have to couch this by saying that nobody has any idea what the roster might look like in today's transfer-portal world. Guys may leave. Guys may go early for the NBA. Say it stays relatively intact. You would have nine guys at different stages of their college careers. They probably need three in the Class of 2024 to get to 12, but how do you go about getting those three? A true high school big (James Brown?), a guard, then maybe the portal. Playing six has ZERO impact on recruiting. Every kid any ACC program recruits believes they're good enough to play right away. Some can. Some can't. And remember - guys are going to Notre Dame for more than just the basketball experience. It's the total campus experience. That matters. 

DJ Burigsay/Castro Valley, CA

  1. Has Tony Sanders game progressed enough for him to be part of the rotation? 
  1. Which big sees more time this year, Campbell or Zona? 

Thanks Tom! Tom Noie: DJ: Good stuff. Honest answer - I have zero idea what Tony Sanders can do, because he hasn't been able to show it. He suffered an ankle injury late in preseason and has been in street clothes for the exhibition and three regular season games. That's put him so far behind that he might be able to offer something late December. Maybe. But what does he do well? You better have something if you're going to crack that perimeter rotation. I don't know what that is, other than maybe being a good locker room guy. As for the bigs, it will be a rotation of Campbell, then Zona. Zona, then Campbell. Steal a minute or two in the first half, steal a minute or two in the second. We saw that last night, and saw that both have some ways to go before they can be counted on. Campbell has a higher upside than Zona. It was disappointing to see Zona get his chance, then get exposed defensively the way he was. It was like he wasn't ready to  play. 

Steve: Any timetable on Marcus Hammond ? Tom Noie: Asked and answered earlier, my man. Notre Dame hoping to see what he could give them Tuesday against Bowling Green. 

Bill from Lexington: A win is a win but have you ever seen a worse 2nd half offensive performance? Tom Noie: Disclaimer - this is a football question in relation to Saturday's game against Navy in Baltimore, when Notre Dame's offense check out early. No, Bill, never seen anything like it. No adjustment. No creativity. No nothing. Woof! On to Boston College.! 

Edward: Early, but the trend of ND having one of the worst defenses among the top 100 teams in the nation continues Tom Noie: Edward: Banging that old defensive drum, huh? Not specific to your question, but everyone in general - do people conveniently ignore what Notre Dame did defensively last season because it doesn't fit the narrative? Why is that? Last year did happen. In Atlantic Coast Conference play, Notre Dame finished fourth in the league in scoring defense (66.9 ppg.), third in field goal percentage defense (.426) and second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.296). It got back to the NCAA tournament in part because it defended. It went from 203rd nationally in adjusted defense at KenPom.com in 2020-21 to 69 last season. So, yeah, this team can defend good enough to win. This season's defensive issues have already been discussed. Notre Dame is at 137 in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom. That's got to be better. They know it. 

Guest: When will Marcus Hammond be able to play? Does Mike Brey attend to play Campbell as maybe 8th man. Tom Noie: Marcus Hammond could be available as soon as Tuesday for Bowling Green. Dom Campbell can be the eighth man this year - but a distant eighth man. Once Hammond gets healthy, this is a seven-man rotation moving forward. Campbell will be a contributor down the line. Not that he's been bad, but everybody's timetable is different. J.J. Starling was going to play as a freshman, and he's playing as a freshman. Same for Ven-Allen Lubin. Campbell may have to wait for his clock to start. That's OK. 

Isaac: What are the chances we see Campbell get meaningful playing time this season if everyone were to stay healthy? Tom Noie: Slim, similar to J.R. Konieczy last season who played 22 minutes over seven games. 

Isaac: Is Brey done with the 2023 class? Or are they actively pursuing anyone that you know of? Tom Noie: Isaac: Notre Dame signed three guards during the early period in Markus Burton (MIshawaka), Brady Dunlap (Studio City, California) and Parker Friedrichsen (Bixby, Oklahoma). They're done - for now, but have the option to add a high school senior if the right one surfaces. Better bet - they nab somebody out of the transfer portal in spring. Other than that, it's on to 2024. 

Eric G: It seems the offense will be fine, What do you think can and will be done on defense? Isn’t that usually influenced by Brey’s assistants? Tom Noie: Eric: A little attention to detail and an increased care factor would be good places to start. Associate head coach Anthony Solomon returned for his third stint a year ago and was charged with changing the defensive habits. Notre Dame got to the NCAA tournament in large part because of what it was able to do defensively. This year, it was as if they forgot everything they were taught. Truth be told, Notre Dame was better defensively in the first half of the Southern Indiana game, but there's still work that needs to be done. It shows that Prentiss Hubb and Paul Atkinson and Blake Wesley were really good defenders. Like, they got in a stance and guarded. That hasn't always happened this season for whatever reason. Brey was asked about it this week and said it's a work in progress - still teaching guys how to guard. Understanding that you have to guard. They can and should and will be better. Solomon will make sure of it. He takes that end of the floor personally. If he's not happy, Brey's not happy. 

Linas from Orange County, CA: Hey Tom! Love reading your column. So got to see the Radford game and ... where was the defense?? Many of the same guys back with coach Soloman, so what's the deal? The defensive improvement was a big reason (perhaps the biggest) for the Irish heading back to the tournament. Now, Radford played out of their minds on offense but there were an awful lots of unconstested layup and offensive rebounds. No need to panic in early November right? Tom Noie: No panic, my man. Just gotta reinforce some of the principles that may have gotten lost in the they're such a gifted offensive group that plays the right way shuffle over the summer. So much attention was paid by Brey on the other end of the floor, that I remember walking out of those summer/preseason practices thinking, what about the defense? We saw the shortcomings and the lack of attention to detail against Radford. They were better for a bit against Southern Indiana. They have to be better moving forward. Can't afford that step back. 

Frank from Illinois: Year in and year out the so called lifetime Irish basketball fans have the same complaints. Why does Brey play a short rotation, and we need a big man. They won't be happy until there's three 7 footers, and there's a 10 player rotation. I don't understand why they just can't embrace what Brey does for this program, and realize where the program was before him. Tom Noie: Frank: Because fan is apparent short for clown.  There's a segment of people who follow Notre Dame men's basketball that aren't happy unless they're unhappy. The coach doesn't do this. These guys don't play. The schedule stinks. Fire everybody. If you took a long look at how the program is run (with the mandate from the university), you'd be stunned to see the success that Notre Dame has had in not one, but two of the tougher conferences in the country. But it's not the 1970s, and that bums people out. So they whine. 

Robert from Mishawaka: Do the complainers just look at the name on the front of the jersey(Radford, Youngstown St) and expect a blowout? Maybe look at the transfer portal kids that are new to those programs and understand they can play also. Tom Noie: Whiners. Transfer portal has changed everything about college basketball. Instead of playing against untested freshmen and sophomores, you're playing against 20-, 21-, 22-year-old guys who've been around the block. That matters. Not to fans. Nope. Whiners. Complainers. 

Tim from Mishawaka: Heard from some fans complaining that ND shouldn't be playing teams like Radford and Youngstown State. I think it will prepare them for ACC games, as these teams are projected to win their conferences. Your thoughts? Tom Noie: Tim: They need to get a clue. They really do. College basketball has changed, but to many who follow Notre Dame, they're still in the 1970s. Play UCLA. Play DePaul. Recruit kids who now go to Duke and North Carolina. 

Guest: Tom love your work. Lifetime NDMBB fan, I am still waiting for that second final four appearance. Tom Noie: Me too. I've seen a lot and done a lot in 25 years on the beat, but never been to a men's Final Four. May never. That's OK... 

Guest: Tom not sure what happened. My question is why Mike Brey insist on such a short bench. Do you have any idea can a D1 program get to the final four with the increase of games and travel with such a short bench? Tom Noie: Shorter the bench = fewer the headaches of keeping everyone happy. Like mentioned earlier, this isn't Little League when everyone has to play x number of minutes. And if Notre Dame doesn't go to a Final Four, it won't be because of short bench. 

anthony: tom,can we assume marcus hammond will return sooner rather than later given Brey only used 6 players in games 1 and 2?  also so much for your november 5,2022 article on hammond..you remember?  a few of your wild quotes:  1.  if hammond were stock BUY some!  2.  buy it FAST!..3.  gobble it up!  4.  IT'S BLUE CHIP!..hours after you wrote that article,guess what?  marcus hammond out with a knee injury..the curse of tom noie strikes again!!!  HAD YOU WAITED TO PURCHASE HAMMOND STOCK YOU COULD OF BOUGHT IT PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR!!!.. i also believe a healthy marcus hammond is REAL good..his 2 games last year vs. big time programs,marcus was the best player on the court..thanks for consideration,anthony Tom Noie: Anthony: Marcus Hammond may be one of the best players on the roster. Maybe, they best. That's not coming just from me. Buy it. You won't be disappointed. Curse? Yeah, sure, the two biggest media curses - my writing and mentioning how Player X has been perfect from the foul line this season. Or Pitcher B is throwing a no-hitter.😃 

Robert from Mishawaka: Recently I read where Irish United was launched in an effort to support Notre Dame athletes NIL opportunities, in particular the universities basketball players. They're a third party that's in no way affiliated with the university. Is that because they don't or can't be affiliated with NIL deals? Tom Noie: Robert: True Irish United will help facilitate various NIL deals with Notre Dame men's basketball players, deals that align with the vision of the university. Just another avenue offered to players to maximize their time as college athletes. 

Victor K.: Tom, reports of my demise are premature. That said…in these first three games, what previous ND point guard has J.J. reminded you of most. I realize the comparison game is always a bit unfair, but just from the traits, composure, etc., who does he remind you of? Also, talk to Brey about a game in Salem on Peacock! Tom Noie: Vic's back! Hope you've steered clear of the bypass today - a wise, sage told me to stay off the bypass at any cost. But I digress. J.J. Starling is a unique talent. He's done stuff the last two games where you sit up from your seat way up high on press row and go, whoa. Haven't seen that...I'd say he's a hybrid of really good guards that have come through the program - a little Jerian Grant, a little Ben Hansbrough, some Blake Wesley. Best part of it is, Starling has IT, whatever IT might be. We've seen snapshots the last two games. Still a guy figuring it out as to how to best fit his game within a team of old guys (like yourself). 😃 

Guest: Where do you see ND finishing in the ACC? Tom Noie: I had Notre Dame third in my preseason poll behind only North Carolina and Virginia (sorry, Duke, you fourth). Still way too early to move that slot just yet. Three games in, we still don't know what we don't know about the Atlantic Coast Conference, and about Notre Dame. 

Taylor: Tom, I feel as though an important element to this team is having a player who can consistently turn the corner on a pick-n-roll or one-on-one and finish at the rim. So far, I don’t see a player who can do that. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Marcus Hammond play - can he bring this “drive and finish at the rim” mentality? That and rebounding are my biggest concerns. Thanks! Tom Noie: Taylor: You watching closely, or were you thrown off by the ACC Network (knuckleheads) pre-empting the first half of the Southern Indiana game to show....volleyball? Trey Wertz has turned the corner and gotten to the rim. J.J. Starling had one drive last night where the defender was even with him, but he shifted into another gear and was by him for a layup. Marcus Hammond (I see you Anthony!) may be the best of the bunch at doing that. 

Jake from small town WA: Any chance Sanders also ends up redshirting? Tom Noie: Jake: Can't see it happening. Not saying it won't, but his game (I think) is similar to J.R. Konieczy, who is redshirting and Brady Dunlap, who's coming in next season. Don't know if there's a push to have a third guy on that same track. 

Jake from small town WA: Brey likes to stay old. Nexts years team doesnt seem to fit the bill. Any chance Ryan comes back since he sat out AND has Covid year? Tom Noie: Jake: You learn never to say never in this business of covering college basketball, because once you insist something won't happen, it happens. So, yeah, there's a chance that Cormac Ryan returns for a sixth year, but if he has the kind of year that he's expected to have - and the kind of year that HE expects Notre Dame to have, Ryan would probably feel he's done enough at this level and it's time to chase the next basketball challenge. 

Mike, nyona lake.: Watching the So. Ind game right now. Any idea why N.D. comes out flat in all three games this year in second half. Was 21 point lead and now with six min. gone in half only 8 point lead. Mike, nyona lake.: Again, watching the So.IN. game. What is it that makes people think this year would be any different then the last four. Still  slow, nothing in the lane, no defense, Tom Noie: Mike: Maybe they've been hanging around Marcus Freeman and the Irish football team too long post-Navy. I kid, I kid. Notre Dame was good to open the second half against Southern Indiana, then kind of put it on cruise control. That happens - third game in seven days, a fourth in 48 hours, a game that they had control from the jump, human nature is to easy off the accelerator and say, we've got this. Southern Indiana kept coming - especially big man Jacob Polakovich (love to snag him out of the portal) and it became kind of/sort of a game, but really, not really. Notre Dame led for 39:43, and most of that by double figures. 

Jake from small town WA: Seems like Brey doesn’t utilize redshirting as much as a coach with a short rotation should. What’s the point of playing Cambpell for 25 minutes all year? I’d rather save the year. Tom Noie: How many coaches actually redshirt? That's not all that common, especially for players who believe they're not five-year guys. You can never have too many bigs for insurance, =especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It's not about logging x amount of minutes, it's about maximizing whatever opportunities you get, something that didn't happen in the back end of the rotation against Southern Indiana. 

Alan from Whiteland, Indiana: Tom, when Marcus Hammond returns, do you expect him to be inserted in the starting lineup or come off the bench initially? Thank you for answering my question. Tom Noie: Alan: Nobody prying Trey Wertz out of the starting lineup. Before Hammond got hurt, he was a starter. Wertz has more than played his way into that role. Hammond has to embrace that sixth-man role and run with it for now. Let's see where it goes. 

Alan from Whiteland, Indiana: Tom, Notre Dame is off to a solid 3-0 start. My biggest takeaway so far is the solid to spectacular play of Nate Laszewski. In your opinion, what are the one or two things you have seen with this team that are improvements over last season. Thank you for answering my question. Tom Noie: Alan: I wouldn't classfy the 3-0 start as solid. They've been shaky at times, but stable. That would be my first takeaway - when the going got tough against Radford and Youngstown State, Notre Dame responded like an old team. Just kept doing what they do. Same goes for Nate Laszewski, who I didn't expect to be this good (consistent). Trey Wertz has been a revelation with finding a whole new gear for his game. It's still so early to see how  it all translates from last season. We need more time. 

Guest: Hi Tom. I’m jacked for the season. Do you know how the season is scheduled outside of the ACC games? I’m asking because Brey mentioned it recently I think post Radford, that they deliberately scheduled certain teams to help with the at large selection criteria. Is that done annually? Has it been a greater factor more recently? And, sticking with the same topic, what are the 2-3 worst NCAA snubs in the Brey era? Thanks for the show Tom Noie: Jacked? Love the enthusiasm my guest, but pace yourself. It's a long season. Notre Dame scheduled up during the non-league home portion of its schedules - not bottom-feeders from mid-major/one-bid leagues but teams that are more middle of the road who have a chance to have success in their respective leagues. Notre Dame didn't want to get caught in a Wake Forest situation of last year, where the Demon Deacons won 13 league games but didn't get into the NCAA tournament because of a brutal non-league schedule. So these games against Radford and Youngstown State and Friday against Lipscomb, which has a win over Belmont, were scheduled with a purpose - challenge the Irish, but not overchallenge them, and then have a chance for them to be good resume games come March.... Tom Noie: ...Worst snub? Have to be in 2018 when Notre Dame was No. 69. Syracuse was No. 68 but snagged the last spot - even though Notre Dame beat Syracuse that season. Can't get any worse/closer than that. 

Greg from Las Vegas: Tom- Glad to have the chat back and college basketball starting up again.  Hoping to hear your thoughts on 3 things. Greg from Las Vegas: Can you imagine if Nate Laszewski didn’t return this year?  Ouch.  Would be sitting with 2 losses vs. Quadrant 4 opponents!  Two questions for you- Is not having new Guard Hammond playing in these games and gel with his new teammates going to be a problem for the season?  How in the world is this team going to rebound in the ACC?  UNC game?  Yikes! Tom Noie: Greg: If Nate Laszewski chose not to return, Notre Dame would've made sure to get a transfer big out of the portal. It will be a concern how to reincorporate Marcus Hammond back into the rotation. Don't we ask that North Carolina rebounding question every year? 😃 

Steve Duff: This team is obviously going to score on probably just about everyone - all in the top 6 can get buckets. My question is, can they guard enough to win when the offense isn’t humming? Coach Solomon was brought back to help in this area and I’m wondering what they will change up to hopefully improve. Thanks for taking the question Tom and keep doing your thing! Tom Noie: Steve: They can be and should be and will be better defensively - or face the wrath of Slo if they aren't. They'll guard. They have to. They know that. 

Tom, from Gary: I like this group in the opening games. Big Nate and Wertz have come out on fire, while Starling and Lubin are getting comfortable with the college game. When is Markus Hammond expected to join the lineup, and how do you think it will affect Coach Brey's tight rotation and team flow? Tom Noie: Tom: Marcus Hammond could be back as early as next week. He becomes the sixth man in the  rotation and a key guy. He'll need a game or two to get back into the flow - Nov. 30 and Michigan State is closing quickly. 

Ben: Tom, if I write an op-ed concerning the lack of fans and more importantly students at these games, will you amplify? What a joke it’s been this season already. Tom Noie: Ben: Absolutely. It's a joke. Have a Notre Dame student clapping back on Twitter trying to explain this and that and the other on why lack of students. Makes no sense. It's not hard to find your way to Purcell for two hours. There's ALWAYS an excuse. It's because of this and because of that - was told that the weather was an issue. You know what they say about excuses...😃 

Joe, New Lenox: The answer is probably a little bit of both, but were the Youngstown St and Radford games more about nd being sloppy or were those a pair of solid, veteran laden teams that can win their league? Looking across the college basketball landscape, those types of experienced mid-major teams have taken down a ton of power league teams so far this season Tom Noie: Joe: It's a case of those teams being WAAAAAAAAAAY different today than they used to be. Five years, 10 years, 15 years ago, Notre Dame wins those games easily by double digits. Now, look at the rosters of Radford and Youngstown State and Southern Indiana. Radofrd had six transfers. Youngstown State had seven. Southern Indiana had eight. Instead of playing freshmen and sophomores who are wide-eyed to playing big-boy basketball at an ACC school in their third or fourth career game, you have guys who have been there, and aren't afraid to step on the floor. The game has changed - thank the portal for that. Teams can get good and get old overnight. Mike Brey said it earlier this week - they schedule a team in a specific non-league slot, thinking it's an easy win and then that team adds this guy and that guy and gets old and before you know it, you're down three to Radford at home with 2:10 to play. 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Hi Tom, looking forward to seeing what the Irish can deliver this season. Based upon what you've seen so far, do you have  real and legitimate concerns about ND's interior defense and the team's ability to stay viable when it comes to rebounding? Also, have you been at all surprised by the great starts that Nate L. and Trey Wertz  have fashioned. Tom Noie: Jim: The interior defense is the proverbial work in progress. Once Ven-Allen Lubin gets up to speed, it should be fine. Never saw THIS coming from Nate Laszewski or Trey Wertz. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Hello Tom. Thanks as always for the chats! In the little time I've been able to watch Lubin play, he has looked good to fairly good, but last night his block looked effortless - and so we were all able to see what you've been teasing us with regarding Lubin and it showed in that defensive effort. I want more....Will we see Lubin sub for Laz or will they play together? Laz is looking very good and so that could limit Lubins PT? Tom Noie: TJ: Ven-Allen Lubin's coming. Remember, had he not taken two elbows to the face in a week, he would've been a starter. He was really good in preseason. Think he's just now getting his basketball sea legs back while learning to play with the mask. As well as Laszewski has played, 36.9 minutes a night might be a bit too much. He's going to need some help (rest) in there eventually. 

Illinois Fool: Glad to see Carmody play last night. When he went down under the basket, everybody on the bench seemed worried but the smile on Robby's face when he got up said it all. Best of luck to him. Your take? Tom Noie: IF: He's worked hard to get back to where he is. All the credit to him and to the guys around him. 

Charles from South Bend: How surprised were you to see Campbell hit the floor so early last night? More matchup based than him being ready to see minutes? Just a comment, but it was great seeing Carmody in there at the end! Sort of scary seeing someone land on him and had those same thoughts rush through my head. Rooting for him as a person! Tom Noie: Charles: Not really a surprise to see Campbell - those scrap minutes are going to either Matt Zona or Dom Campbell. Against Youngstown State, it was Zona. So last night, it was Campbell. If Laszewski continues to play the way he's played and Lubin continues to improve, it's hard to get to a third big. It just is. 

Joe, New Lenox: Not breaking news, but I think Atkinson is sorely missed this year as a guy who can get points on the block with his back to the basket. Could Lubin’s game evolve to that through the season? Tom Noie: Joe: I'd push back with the sorely missed take. We're three games in, and Notre Dame hasn't been totally whole for any of the three. Let's wait to see until Notre Dame is closer to a finished rotation product. As the main low-post option last year, Paul Atkinson averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting .587 percent from the field, .750 from the foul line. As the main low-post option this year, Nate Laszewski is averaging 20.0 points and 10.7 rebounds a game. He's shooting .621 percent from the field and .826 from the line. 

Justin, Ft. Wayne: Thoughts on how Trey Wertz has looked so far this year? He’s exceeded any expectation I’ve had for him so far this year. Tom Noie: Justin: Nobody thought Trey Wertz had this in him - 17.7 points per game, .622 shooting from the field. Yep, nobody saw this coming from Trey Wertz. Except Trey Wertz. 

joe from the south side: Tom, Firing away with a 2-parter.  While I haven't had the chance to watch much BBL, staistically, the Irish are downright putrid in the Assist/TO ratio, clocking in at a dead nuts 1 to 1.  To what do you attribute this lackluster showing?  Rust?  One new starter? Ven? Especially since this is against the softer part of the schedule.  Part 2.  Makes you appreciate how well the much-maligned PHUBB understood, "Go to class and don't turnover the ball."  Thoughts? Tom Noie: Joe:" Nailed it, as usual. NAILED it. I asked Brey about that last week. We heard so much talk in preseason about how this team plays the right way. We didn't go a media session without Brey mentioning, hey, we had 19 assists to three turnovers today. Or we had 18 assists to four turnovers. Love the way we share it. he'd say. Where's that been? Those assist and assist/turnover ratios stink. Degree of difficulty passes were an issue the first two games. The first half of Wednesday looked a little more Irish like. Brey has said they've had to grind out possessions more - get to the foul line - more than moving it and sharing it against teams that have gotten up and into them more. They need to get back to those nights of 20-plus assists and single digit turnovers. It's been un-Irish like to date. 

Illinois Fool: Is it by design that ND always starts its offense by going away from Goodwin? Seems like they forget about him way too often. Tom Noie: IF: It's not going AWAY from Dane Goodwin as it is going TO Nate Laszewski. They did it two years ago getting Juwan Durham an early touch. Did it last year with Paul Atkinson. Doing it now with Laszewski. Get something in the post, get the defense to flatten out and then get the guards going. And who's the one guy who gets something on seemingly every out of bounds under? Goodwin. That's not by accident. 

Jake: As great of an improvement as we have seen from Trey Wertz, Do you think he will continue to be our primary ball handler for the rest of the season, or are we waiting for Starling to seize that role? Tom Noie: Jake: That may eventually be J.J. Starling's role - eventually being a year from now if he's still around - but that's not really his game, to be the dominant handler. He can play that role, but he's more of a combo guard. He's secure in his game to where he doesn't have to have it. I watched him play a ton at La Lumiere and it was often Jeremy Fears (Michigan State) or Adan Holloway (Auburn) as primary handlers. Is Starling a point guard or a combo guard? He's a basketball player. That's more important. 

Patrick - NYC: First ever comment/question, longtime Tom Note fan. Bullish on our start, especially with how Nate and Trey have stepped their games up. Have watched Brey's teams for far too long to complain about the short rotation but is there a concern that Zona, as a junior, isn't further along? He looks lost out there and we could use a few solid minutes a game down the line. Also, are we officially the road team in the Gotham Classic? Trying to figure out where our bench is and where the ND section is. Tom Noie: Patrick: Who's that Tom Note guy? Any relation to that SBT hack? LOL They'll move forward with Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin. Anyone wants to step in and show they deserve minutes is welcome. I'll try and find out  if Notre Dame is designated home/visitor's team next week...drop me a note at tnoie@sbtinfo.com 

Bryce Indianapolis: Is allowing these low/mid-major teams to hang around a cause of concern, or just a typical Mike Brey team starting slow? I know we are winning, but I’m not sure how this lineup will carry over into ACC play with Laszewski at the 5 and no real depth at that position. Tom Noie: Bryce: have you see what's happened in college basketball the first week? Florida State goes 0-3. Louisville goes 0-3. Boston College loses at home to Maine. Colgate shreds Syracuse. We're past the point of looking at mid-majors as programs collecting checks for guarantee games against power-conference teams. This is college basketball today. 

Joe Gregory: Toughest teams the Irish faces this year? Tom Noie: No particular order - Michigan State, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech. Let's run with those first. Maybe Miami (Fla.). Maybe. 

Charles from South Bend: Would you agree Starling has some early season/career jitters going on? I know Wesley was a bit of a mixed bag early, but I expected maybe a little more control over his body. He is going to get better each day it seems. Tom Noie: Charles: Absolutely, 1,000 percent. He said it himself - he was in his own head in the opener and it showed. Settled in Sunday and it showed. Then it's a case of him maybe thinking, yeah, I've got this figured out and then has a night where it looks like he doesn't. And that's OK. He'll be fine. Like with Wesley, there's so much there to work with. 

Clint from Winnipeg: In what areas will we see Ven-Allen Lubin's game improve over the course of this season? He certainly looks like he'll be a valuable contributor as a freshman. Tom Noie: CLint: When he figured out that he's better served down low around the bucket for a rebound, low-post touch, follow dunk than lurking out beyond the 3-point arc, where he often finds himself now. They've got enough shooters and not enough bigs. Get that body down there and flex some muscle. He's got a body type that Notre Dame usually sees from other teams in the ACC. 

Guest: I would have loved to see Dom get a another shot at the big last night. He did a much better job than Zona and is much more of a dog. Hope he gets more minutes.  It was the perfect matchup to test it out. His time will come. Tom Noie: You said it best with your last sentence - his time will come. It won't happen as quickly as it's happening for Starling and Lubin, but there's a lot to like and a lot to work with when it comes to Campbell. Trust the process (ducks) 

Matt from St. Louis: Getting wayyy ahead of myself, but does this Notre Dame team have more than 1 loss when they head to UNC January 7th? More a question on the strength of schedule than the team performance. If they can split Michigan St and Marquette at home, the rest of their schedule until then looks very very weak. Wish they had a few better nonconference opponents scheduled. Tom Noie: Matt: You're so right - you're too far ahead of yourself. One of the cardinal rules in this business, in addition to never fight a land war in Asia (movie reference, let's see if anyone gets it) is to never, ever, ever start counting up wins and plotting records by this date or that date. That's when you get bit. The schedule was done with the thought that teams like Marquette and Georgia, not picked to finish well in their leagues, would snag a conference upset or two, which would help the Notre Dame resume. I do think that Michigan State and Marquette - given what's happened to the ACC to date - are almost must-wins. Feels like we're heading down the same ACC stinks road as we did last year, which almost cost Notre Dame a bid. Might be in play again. Watch. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I don't want to belabor the DEF discussion, but I'll add this and then drop it.  Teaching Super Seniors to play DEF smells of a culture problem that starts at the top with Brey.  Granted that is not what he teaches.  But is is also not what he recruits.  It's not what he penalizes for not performing.  His moment of truth statement was when he said we just need to shoot 60%, if they shoot 50%.  Part 2 is Wesley had a great talent for anticipating passes and stepping into the passing lane.  That talent is lacking in this crew.  Maybe JJS just needs some more games under his belt, but the seniors don't have that skill. Tom Noie: Joe: It's not what he penalizes for not performing? Uh....Matt Zona would like a word. If you saw his lack of defensive awareness last night, you'd know. Wesley embraced defending. J.J. Starling's got to be better there. So does Trey Wertz. So does everybody. It's in there. As long as Solomon is around, not offering something on the defensive end is non-negotiable. 

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Tom, after his impressive finish to last season, it was thought that Cormac Ryan had taken his game to a new level and was primed to be a real go-to guy. But thus far this season, we haven't seen that sort of high-end play and performance. I realize it's early but is it fair to wonder if Ryan can ever be a consistent standout that can take over a game when needed? Tom Noie: Jim: It is. I've wondered it here and there through the first three games. Like, the guy we saw in Dayton and San Diego in March, where is he? We haven't seen him yet. It's something that bears watching. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I read a quote from Izzo awhile back.  He said there is no way to keep 13 guys happy.  He felt the right number is 10 or 11.  I think he's right, especially with the portal.  Now, you are alomst guaranteed to have 1 or 2 kids leave every year. Tom Noie: Joe: Can you say that louder for the people in the back? The people who just absolutely refuse to see that more guys = more problems. The way people have reacted to playing a short rotation of seven, six, guys, you'd think Notre Dame decided to play some possessions this season with three guys on the court against five. Give me a core of seven guys that I have absolute trust in than adding two more guys who I have no idea what they're going to do. It's not hard to figure  out. Tight rotations work. Get past the numbers. Please. 

Guest: Hi Tom. Ray from Southern California.   After three games it appears that Notre Dame once again will have a good offensive team.  We are currently ranked #16 in Pomeroy's offensive efficiency ranking. It also appears once again we will struggle on defense.  Pomeroy has us ranked #137 in defensive efficiency.  In the last 10 years 86% of the teams that made the Sweet 16 have finished in the top 50 in defensive efficiency.  Brey has only had one team ever finish in the top 50.  In your opinion can Notre Dame make some progress on the defensive side of the ball?  In my opinion the fate of this years team will depend on it as it appears we will get killed underneath by top 25 teams and we should have a good idea after we play Michigan State. Tom Noie: Ray: Good stuff. Yes, Notre Dame can improve on the defensive end of the floor because it was almost as if the Irish weren't really trying on that end the first two games. The numbers reflect that lack of effort. Last night in the first half, they were better and the numbers reflected that as well.  Michigan State's a good early test, but it's not a reflection in any way what the rest of the season is going to be. If Hammond were 100 percent (he won't be) and Lubin didn't have the two early hits to the face and the Irish were whole, then, yes, Michigan State is a good barometer. But the Irish we see on Nov. 30 may not look or play or respond like the Irish of Jan. 30. 

Guest: Hi Tom Ray from Southern California.  Is there any realistic chance that Ryan will return to Notre Dame next season as he still has one year left of eligibility?  We are all expecting him to have a good season and it would figure he will be leaving.  I'm curious if he has been asked this question and if there's any hope that it might become a reality.  Regarding this season in your opinion what's the chances Notre Dame can make the second week of the tournament?  We came so close last year as we had a 3 point lead with less than five minutes left against Texas Tech. Tom Noie: Ray: Was asked this earlier in the chat - and the answer remains the same. There's always a chance, but if Cormac has the kind of year that he believes he'll have and the Irish have the kind of year that he believes they will, there will be no reason to return for a sixth year. It's not something that's been discussed, because you're not going to get the honest answer. That's an end-of-the-year hurdle you cross in February/March. As much as I loved San Diego, that memory of being so close against Texas Tech still stings. The Irish were headed to San Francisco for a rematch with Duke. If there was one team it wanted a second crack at last year, it was Duke. 

Clint from Winnipeg: What has been behind the transformation of Nate Laszewski this season? Gone is the passivity and willingness to settle for an outside shot. It seems like he attacks the rim so much more. Is it as simple as Mike Brey telling that's what is needed without Paul Atkinson around? Tom Noie: Clint: It's as simple as a guy listening to the feedback he was given from the decision-makers at the next level and deciding, OK, if I'm going back to school (which he really, truly, honestly didn't want to do) he was going to make it worth his while. It may still not be enough to keep him in the NBA, but Laszewski decided that if he's going to play a fifth year, might as well max it out. Be the guy as Brey talked to him about. Play fearlessly. Play aggressive. Don't take any $#%^@. Go do it. He's doing it. 

Steve: Do you happen to know the price ND paid to opponents for any of the home "buy" games this season? Tom Noie: Usually low six figures is the going rate... 

Steve: It seems ND is content on remaining independent in football and staying in the ACC for basketball and most other sports for the time being. Should I give up my dream of seeing ND join the B1G? Tom Noie: Steve: Back to the old never-say-never adage but until Notre Dame is denied an avenue into the College Football Playoff, there's no reason to join the Big Ten. And keep in mind - SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will be a HUGE champion of keeping Notre Dame independent. Last thing Sankey wants is to push Notre Dame to join a league - and then joining the Big Ten. It would strengthen a league he doesn't want to strengthen. So yeah, it looks like for now, it's Independence for Notre Dame. 

Tim from Chicago: Thanks for another season of chats, Tom.  I'm late to the chat today but don't believe I've seen the question asked yet as to why J.R. Konieczy redshirted this season.  He played garbage time last year, why not redshirt your freshman season instead?  Also, I believe he played for a USA team overseas over the past summer, and he still isn't ready?  What's up, something doesn't feel right. Tom Noie: Tim: Cease with any conspiracy theories. There are none. The redshirt was a mutual decision between Brey and Konieczny. It also has to be HIS decision. He could say, yeah, no, I think of myself as a four-year guy (hello, Carleton Scott) and I don't want to be on the five-year plan. He didn't redshirt last year, in part, because he believed he could play,. Then when he didn't, it was easier for him to see a path - right now, he'd be the sixth guard - SIXTH - in the rotation. With all old guys ahead of him. It would be another year of minimal minutes. Or redshirt, work on your game and be a three-year starter. Seems like a pretty good deal, right? He went overseas on a foreign tour - nothing USA Basketball related. And he's the first one to say, yeah, I'm not ready. He's like a baby deer trying to figure out how to stand/walk. He'll be a key guy for three years. Patience. 

Guest: Ray from Southern California.  Tom regarding the whining comment.  Yes there are some fans like this but there are fans like this for every team. Some people are just miserable and need to complain.  There are some fans who rightfully bring up that Brey does not have a good record in the dance.  He has been our coach for over two decades and has only made  the second weekend of the tournament three times.   That's not a good record and claiming that its an approvement over the 90's is not a legit answer.  Comparing the 90's to today is like comparing the Digger years to today.  Neither are comparable.  Nobody is expecting Notre Dame to make the Final Four but we definitely should have made the Sweet 16 at least three more times under Brey. Tom Noie: RY: That's the beauty of college basketball - just when you think your team SHOULD do this or do that, it doesn't. It's not easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Just look where Notre Dame basketball was in the 1990s - it was a wasteland. Few coaches would've done what Brey has done. That includes Digger. And I've told him as much. 

Tim from Chicago: If you are an NBA scout, do you think Nate Laz has a spot in the league? Tom Noie: Tim: If he continues to shoot 50 percent from 3 and produce double doubles for points and rebounds the way he does, then yes. As a starter or 10-year veteran or main bench guy? Probably not. But if he finds the perfect situation, he might stick. 

Clint from Winnipeg: Putting aside the lack of student support, what has the support been like from the "locals"? The whole place seemed fairly empty last night. Tom Noie: Just as embarrassing. But when I say that, it's just the salty beat writer being the salty beat writer. Home atmosphere for men's basketball? Right there in bottom third of the Atlantic Coast Conference with Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Boston College. 

Wadelite: Tom, once healthy what type of effect do you see Hammond defensively? Imo him and Lubin becoming acclimated are keys to improved defense. FWIW the big guy Polakovich I believe was a HS teammate of Marcus Bingham who ND recruited. This is his 5th year in college, so it seems unlikely he has another season to play but it's hard to keep track. There is some interesting potential transfer portal options in the ivy league who might want to reclaim the season they lost. Princeton and Harvard in particular. Tom Noie: Wade: i wondered that this week and asked Mike Brey about it. He said Hammond is more offensive-minded than defense, but his length and quickness could help. And if you're an Ivy big looking for a transfer home, dial up Mike Brey. Paul Atkinson did and that turned out pretty well. 

Chris: Tom,  Do you think Ven Allen can put up numbers like Bonnie did his freshman year? Tom Noie: Bonzie, right? Freshman year, Bonzie Colson averaged 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.1 minutes. Ven-Allen Lubin is at 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. So I'll go with, heck, yes! 

Pat from Bordentown, NJ: Hi Tom - watching the game last night (well, the second half, thanks ACCN), it looked like the rims were awfully tight.  If we are reliant on an outside game and outside shooting, why such tight rims? Tom Noie: Pat: That's one of the arena maintenance crew! I'll ask them. But yeah, those rims do seem a little tight. 

Wadelite: I'm sorry I have to say it. Prentiss Hubb committed  less turnovers last season because he handled the ball less. Wesley became the defacto point guard with mixed results, but at least he was not over dribbling like Hubb. Those ill advised step back treys that we saw for Hubb's first 3 seasons and at times last season will not be missed. He had a few clutch late game plays because he had a ton of opportunities Tom Noie: Mahomes! IYKYK 😃 

Wadelite: I like having 3-4 guys who can handle the ball as opposed to 1 or 2. This should be a very enjoyable team to watch once Hammond is healthy and Lubin is acclimated. I also suspect Big Dom might have an opportunity to help later in the season. Tom Noie: True...always have to stay engaged. You never know when it might turn for you. Just when you think it won't, it does. 

Wadelite: Imo Starling is not one and done. He knows he needs next season to prove himself as the lead guard on offense. Burton will receive some minutes to take the pressure off him. Tom Noie: Wade: Who really is a one and done? Was Blake Wesley? No, but it turned out to be the right decision. J.J. Starling could probably use another year of college, but if guys believe they're ready, they go. We'll see how that transpires moving forward. 

Griff- St. George, Utah: I'll echo what Greg from Vegas stated. Not only would the Irish have lost to their first two opponents, there's a good chance USI would have beat us last night. Nate's presence in the FH made the difference in last night's game. Also, I was impressed with USI's team, this being their first season in D1. Looks like the Eagles will win the OVC, although are ineligible for the NCAAs. The Irish need a lot of work to be ready for the ACC wars. Tom Noie: It will be interesting to see this team whole. And healthy. No face masks... 

Gavin U: He Tom, I think that dude clapping back at you on twitter about a lack of student attendance is completely valid. I've been to every mens basketball game this season, but you cant be out here begging students to go to games when we're playing sub-par competition and not even playing that well. Tom Noie: Wrong...times 10. It's the old competition argument which holds zero water. Who cares who Notre Dame plays? You go to see J.J. Starling. You go to see Ven-Allen Lubin. For years, back in the 2000s, all I heard from the students/fans to defend them not showing up was the "sub-par competition" argument. Want us to show up, they'd say. Play better teams. Like, that was all it would take? Better teams? OK, then. Fast-forward to the end of that home-crowd stinks-out-loud argument. Notre Dame scheduled a non-conference home game against Gonzaga. Name opponent. Ranked team. Guess what? Didn't sell out. Empty seats in student section. That was enough of that. Same here. When I was in school, I didn't go to University of Dayton games based on who they were playing - that was a bonus. I was going to watch guys I went to class with, who I saw in the dining halls, who I played pickup with in the rec center. 

GoIrishftr: Tom - huge fan of your work. Gotta say not a huge fan of arguing with students on Twitter about showing up to games. Unfortunately students at Notre Dame have better things to do with their Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons than watch Mike Brey trot out the same mundane 6 man rotation twice a week. No student at ND is going to want to go to all the games - they'll pick a handful to go to. Why go watch Youngstown State and SIU during exams week when they can watch Virginia Tech and UNC in February? Cut 'em some slack - they'll show up for the big games. Tom Noie: Psst...let you in on a little secret - they DON'T show for the big games. Never have. And come on. I'm a student and I'm not going to games because....of a six-man rotation? Please 

Wadelite: Have to agree. These are not the OOC tomato cans we have seen in the past. Lipscomb and Bowling Green have talent and older players. St. Bonaventure lost a lot of guys who decided to play a 5th year elsewhere. A lot of these mid major teams are just as good as Georgia or Louisville who are both down this season. Tom Noie: Preach! 

Will K: Hey Tom, different question for you. If you had to pick an all-time Brey starting 5, who you got? In Brey fashion, I’ll give you two guys off the bench too. Tom Noie: Will: Not doing it. Can't do it. Tried to do that in the past and guys left off those lists undoubtedly get salty about it and I hear about it. Better to keep everyone grouped the same. Maybe in a private moment, I'd reveal my top 10. Now? Not worth the hassle. 

Kevrey: Is it possible ND could have 5 or even 6 double figure scorers this season? I believe the highest scoring Brey team was Harangody frosh team. Tom Noie: Kevrey: That team in 2006-07 featured five double-figure scorers and averaged 81 points per game. This team should have at least five double-figure guys. Remember, Marcus Hammond averaged 18 a game last year and hasn't played yet. 

Mr. Maui (Duncan Hall): Hey Tom, long time fan, first time commenter. Are you impressed with how much contact Nate Laszewski has been willing to take this season so far? My memory might be bad, but I just remember him being a little scared of contact near the cup in the past. Love to see that dog in him. I'm also disappointed in the student turnout, i've been to all three games this season and the energy in the Purcell Palace just feels dead. I think this team deserves better Tom Noie: Maui: We dopes in the media are supposed to remain impartial and unmoved by what we see on the court, right? But I admit, a couple of us nearly fell out of our seats Sunday when Nate Laszewski drove to the basket and dunked with his left hand in traffic. Like, we've never seen that before. He's bigger. He's stronger. He's more determined. And you're so right about the atmosphere. It's awful. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Tom - why does a team like FSU keep 19 players on a roster? It seems expensive and impossible to keep everyone happy. They always seem to have a couple of "over 7.0' 3 star players as well... It's close so I go see the ND basketball (men and women) there, but something always seems off. Tom Noie: TJ: Personal preference when it comes to the coach. That. and it being a public university has something to do with it. It does. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  You can't punish the starters for not playing DEF because you don't trust your bench enough to play them anyway.  The starters know that.  Carmody?  Wade? Sanders?  They aren't getting in when it counts.  Period.  7 guys, 30 minutes each.  Some get a little more, some a little less.  As to Big Zone, on his best night he gets 4 or 5 minutes.  And that's when they play GTECH at home and they are up by 30 at the last TV timeout, with about 2,000 fans in the building.  Getting 2 minutes vs 4 minutes isn't sending a message.  He just doesn't have the skills to contribute. Tom Noie: Wait, punishment? Seriously. Brey's never been a punisher - he believes in being a confidence giver. Two thousand fans in the building? That's every night. 

Tim from Chicago: Tom - what road trip are you personally looking forward to the most this season?  Is there a specific host campus, city, arena etc that you enjoy most? Tom Noie: Tim: Any trip to Tobacco Road (i.e. the Triangle) I can make in winter is a winner all the way around. What's the best arena? The ones that care about basketball, opponent, weather, everything else aside. 

Steve: How could they possibly get more locals at the games? Sell beer? Lower ticket prices? More hokey half time shenanigans? I suspect the best answer would be to have a nationally ranked top 10 team that played good opponents. But assuming that doesn't happen, what can they really do? I agree - the attendance is pitiful. Tom Noie: Steve: That's for Notre Dame to figure out. But go to one of these games, and it's a clown show. From the TV timeout entertainment to the crowd participation, it's hard to sit through. 

Jake: Not to harp on the attendance issue but should Notre Dame just bite the bullet and start serving alcohol? We have seen declining attendance in football and basketball. Not trying to challenge the classiness of Notre Dame, but if we can do it for Garth not sure why we can't do it for FB and hoops :) Tom Noie: Jake: Nah, I'm not ready to advocate that. but you can't tell me you can't find 7,000 people who want to watch basketball. Not saying a sellout, just saying a better representation of knowledgeable fans. This is Indiana after all, right? 

Steve: Thanks, Tom. I am a local and I do attend the games. You are right - hard to sit through. Do you know WHY the school refuses to sell alcohol? Maybe a dram shop thing? I'm not saying it's the magic bullet and that Purcell would sell out if they served liquor, but it would not hurt attendance. Tom Noie: Steve: Might have to do with having to hire more people - to serve it, to monitor it - that it isn't worth the overall hassle. That, and a perception that the University doesn't want - Oh, people just go to basketball games to drink  beer. But I'd love a home atmosphere that had a little more of an edge. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Heck of a chat this time around, Tom. Well done and thanks! Tom Noie: We're not done yet! Let's go! 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: I wonder at times if the fans "love to hate" Notre Dame Men's Basketball or "hate to love" Notre Dame Men's basketball? Tom Noie: It's a little of both. Sometimes, they're not happy unless they're unhappy. Then, they're unhappy that they have to be happy. AmIright? 

Tim from Chicago: Tom, a few years ago in one of your chats you told a story about how Pat Connaughton was one of the strongest leaders that you had ever witnessed at ND, both on and off the court.  Wondering if Laz, Goodwin, etc. rank up there with Pat given they are now in their fifth years at ND? Tom Noie: Tim: Going to be a while - if ever - until somebody comes anywhere close to being the type of leader that Pat Connaughton was - right guy, right place, right time, right group. Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin are more on the quiet side. Not all that animated. Like, let me do my work and we'll get it done. Cormac Ryan is a little more demonstrative when it comes to leadership. Pat didn't take any #@$%$ and backed it all up with the way he played. One of a kind. 

Steve: I've asked before, but I'll ask again, Tom. Do you know if this coaching staff ever even remotely considers recruiting players in Europe? I know it's not something they invest any significant time in, but do they do anything at all? Watch videos, track European players that similar programs might be approaching? Or is it 100% off the ND recruiting radar? Tom Noie: Steve: Two-hundred percent off the radar. They 'll keep the proverbial open mind, but unless the prospect shows over-the-top interest in Notre Dame and everything it entails, the staff just doesn't want to set aside that time and effort and distance for someone they may or may not get. 

big papi, west coast: tom terrific. love seeing you go back and forth on twitter with the students - gotta let them know! you have mentioned a few times that if Lubin didn't take shots to the face he would've started...also if hammond was healthy he would've started. so what would the actual radford starting lineup have looked like? who comes off the bench? also, does this team have the potential to be a top 2 shooting team of the brey era? Tom Noie: My man! Good to hear from you. Not arguing with the students, but man, they gotta know - represent. Don't give me this excuse or that excuse. We're talking 2,500 students for hoops. Find them. The starting lineup would've been Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin and Marcus Hammond at the guards and Nate Laszewski and Ven-Allen Lubin at the forwards. In theory. Lubin getting hurt kind of pushed Brey closer toward four around one. Then Hammond was hurt. Starling and Wertz likely would've started the season as the sixth and seventh men. Remember, Blake Wesley opened last year on the bench as well. Let's see how the shots/percentages fare once league play starts. 

Illinois Fool: Why are there so many different starting times for the games? Is the ACC Network the culprit? Tom Noie: IF: Boom. Why did the Radford game start at 8? Why did Southern Indiana? ACC Network dictates that. If that's the case, you'd think they could find a way to actually show an entire game. Doesn't matter if it's volleyball or men's soccer or hockey or softball or whatever. The ACC means basketball. Find a way to maximize your money maker. Not that hard. 

Justin, Ft. Wayne: Will you be in New York for ND vs St. Bonaventure? Tom Noie: Justin: To be determined. I was ticketed to go to Los Angeles for football, but losses to Marshall and Stanford kind of put the kibosh on that. Waiting to see if I can flip that ticket to LAX to head to LGA (airport code talk) and watch some hoops. If not, a holiday weekend with the fam always a good fall-back option! 

Jim from Mishawaka: I read the staff watched Flory Bidunga, the 6-9 center from Congo who attends Kokomo HS. He's only been in the US since 2021. I was pleasantly surprised when I read this. I would have thought there'd be academic issues because of his short time in the US. Tom Noie: Jim: Yes, they've watched, but how serious it gets remains to be determined. Think one of the guys in his circle was just hired as an ops guy at Cincinnati. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: I agree with Big Papi... its now a difficult decision for Brey to make regarding Hammond and and Lubin since the starters are doing nicely. I mean who would have thunk that Dane Goodwin would be the lowest ppg of the starting 5 on these last 3 games? But again, a nice problem to have. It was mentioned earlier that Brey could shave 5 minutes off of the top 5 (or so) to fit Hammond and Lubin in... Tom Noie: Lubin's at 21.2 minutes, so he's already in. Would be more to get Hammond some minutes. Again, it's probably going to take him time to get up to speed. But eventually, once he's healthy, he's got to play. 

Wadelite: I personally think if needed and healthy that Tony Sanders could help this season. Brey even noted how well he knows the system. He can move his feet well and is a decent shooter. In his frosh season he played out of control which led to charges. Having him around had to factor in JR going the Abro soph redshirt route. Both Sanders and Zona have the 5th year option. Sanders could possibly play some real minutes next season. As far as Zona he seems over matched. Does not have enough power or shooting ability to make up for limited foot speed. He is not going to be a Geben final season revelation. Brey needs another big for next season via the portal. Tom Noie: Wade: The expectation bar for that junior class is pretty low. Sorry, but it just is. Not much there. Not much shown to date, either. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Oh...and I got The Princess Bride reference. Wallace Shawn to Cary Elwes while holding Robin Wright at knife point. Tom Noie: TJ: My man! Solid effort. And you're right. Classic scene. Gets me every time. 

Wadelite: In terms of 2024 recruits Brown has to be the #1 priority. It would be great to pull that off ala Starling. The wing Kneuppel from Wisconsin looks like Brey player and he's not a tooth pick. Hopefully he wants to play somewhere that involves scoring as opposed to being on a team that plays 55-49 games. Tom Noie: Wade: James Brown is at the top of the list. Nobody's higher...or maybe more needed. 

Justin, Ft. Wayne: I’ve heard a lot of Lubin being compared to Bonzie talk. What’s your initial impression on that? Bonzie was one hell of a player and if Lubin can turn out like him.. Sign me up! Tom Noie: Justin: Bonzie wasn't BONZIE #@%$^^&# COLSON right away. It took a while to kind of see that he was a unique talent and that he would figure it out. Lubin looks like guys on the other ACC teams usually look. There's a lot there. He's got a great/immediate feel that maybe the staff didn't immediately tap into with Bonzie. But he was an unicorn. Haven't seen someone like him since. 

Paul, here in the Bend: The whole weak attendance thing is my hobby horse.  58yo and been going for 50.  The university bears much of the blame for sanitizing the atmosphere.  I get on the refs loudly a couple times, and an usher works his way in my direction.  They even have an announcement at game beginning they will toss you if you get rowdy.  We have zero atmosphere, and the university and the parking situation are big reasons why. Tom Noie: Paul: Good stuff. And keep yelling. Keep cheering. Keep caring! Oh, and keep reading (shameless plug). 

Wadelite: I actually thought a Dom Campbell to Bonzie comparison is more applicable. Lubin is more like the forwards we often saw at Louisville or UNC, example Isaiah Hicks. Tom Noie: Bonzie really has no comparison. He was a 6-4/6-5 guy with crazy long arms and an ability to figure out a way to put the ball in the basket. I saw his first picture - with thick black glasses - and thought, THIS GUY??? Two years later, you're like, yep. That guy. 

Steve: LOL. Parking is NOT the problem for ND basketball. It's free and not far to walk. Plus, if you are a pro you park at Bulla and come and go with no traffic at all. Probably the easiest parking situation in D1 hoops. Am I wrong, Tom? Tom Noie: Steve: I'm there too early and leave too late to get caught in the parking crunch, but when the weather turns bad and there's a hockey game around the same time and some of the spots eliminated because of snow, parking get to be Thunderdome with my phone lighting up with all kinds of irate fans. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Bonzie had an incredible wingspan. He could reach around 2 power forwards and throw the ball underhanded off the backboard and in. You would be sitting there asking yourself..."how did he just...where did that come from.. wait, what?" 😂 Tom Noie: Truth! Unicorn 

Paul, here in the Bend: Oh, and another thing....they don't show ANY controversial replays.  They are afraid someone might boo someone.  The folks at home get to see it four or five times.  But not the folks who pay the bills. Paul, here in the Bend: Really, pay for season tickets and have to take a shuttle in the dead of winter to attend? Tom Noie: This isn't just a student issue or a regular Joe fan issue or a university issue. It's a system-wide failure to promote and produce a product that for so many years (1970s) people took for granted. It will always be full because it always used to be full. Times changed, and Notre Dame never really did. Again, it's system wide. EVERYTHING. Not just the students or the fans. It's everybody. 

Andrew from Plymouth: Cost and atmosphere are the simple answers for the attendance issues.  Women's basketball figured it out by making it affordable to go as a family.  I've complained about hockey not reducing their cost and having a youth ticket for awhile now.  They haven't gone with a youth price like women's basketball has but they appear to have lowered the overall ticket cost.  It's obviously more complex than this but making it more affordable to take your kids would help put butts in seats.  I'm not sure creating a raucous atmosphere like some of the blue blood programs have is a real possibility here, unfortunately. Tom Noie: Nobody expects raucous for men's basketball - at the end of the day, it is, after all, still Notre Dame. But a dozen students and a couple thousand fans for a Sunday afternoon game is embarrassing. It just is. And everybody involved has to own it. Enough with the but, but, but, but, but....just own it. It is what it is and what it always will be. Average. At best. And that's not good enough for a program that deserves better for a school that strives for better. 

Andrew from Plymouth: Yeah, the lack of student attendance has always befuddled me. Tom Noie: But, but, but....🙄 

Justin, Ft. Wayne: According to the UND ticket website, ND vs Michigan St. looks close to a sellout. Can probably expect a lot of green in the building (Michigan St. green that is). Tom Noie: Justin: Oh, yeah, heard from a guy I never hear from in the summer to ask when Notre Dame men's basketball single-season tickets go on sale. Oh, and he's a Michigan State guy. 

Paul, here in the Bend: Amen.  Brey has carved out a niche (in two excellent conferences) that makes it tough for some of the best teams in the country to beat us.  But it ain't a national championship.  Like all those football championships....oh wait Tom Noie: And it's ain't 1976, either, which is what too many still don't understand. 

Paul, here in the Bend: OK done with my bitter rant.  Except for wondering why most of your stuff is behind a paywall now😋 Tom Noie: Untrue...maybe one football column a week goes behind the paywall. Hoops ever gets good, that will as well. But you get plenty still for free. 

ToledoJohnny from Georgia: That's one more reason why I give Brey big props for hanging in. He could have probably left at different times in his career for brighter lights in the old Big East, B10, ACC or a Kansas - type environment...but he stayed around, visited the dorms, handed out tickets, took off his shirt in Hawaii(I think), and kept the spirit going... Other prominent coaches like and respect Mike Brey... Tom Noie: TJ: Notre Dame men's basketball is way closer to Wake Forest or Boston College than Duke or Carolina, but wins at a clip closer to Duke and Carolina than Wake and Boston College. Do fans understand that? 

Paul, here in the Bend: Amen again Toledo.  Ask the folks down in Tobacco Road if they think Brey is a good coach.... ToledoJohnny from Georgia: Truthfully, who wouldn't want to have a "Beer with Brey"? Tom Noie: Me...we see enough of each other through the season as it is. Spring comes, we go our separate ways for a few months. That's by design. 😃 

Jim from Misahwaka: What ideas do you have to increase attendance? Tom Noie: It's obvious - play more than six guys!😃 

Guest: Ray from Southern California -Regarding Brey leaving for brighter lights?  Besides the rumored Maryland job years ago was there one top 20 program that would have hired him?  Top programs rate their coaches on how they perform in March.  Like I previously mentioned Brey does not have a good tournament record and I would be very surprised if any top program would have ever considered hiring him. Tom Noie: Ray: You keep beating the drum about Mike Brey not having a "good tournament record." Say it's the summer of 2000 all over again and Matt Doherty has hopped the UNC charter plane to return to Chapel Hill. Notre Dame needs its third coach in three years. If I said to you that your program, which hadn't been to an NCAA tournament in 11 years, would get a coach that would go to three Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, be a semi-regular in the NCAA tournament, win an ACCT championship by beating Duke and Carolina in Greensboro on consecutive nights and resurrect a once-proud program while establishing a successful identity in the Big East and the ACC and become the winningest coach in school history, tell me you're not signing up for that in a heartbeat. You are. You know you are. 

Steve: Tom, maybe it is a societal problem? If people can't walk from the Bulla lot (which now extends RIGHT next to The Gug) to the north door of Purcell (3 minute walk?) then maybe Americans just don't want to go to games when they have 60 inch 4K TVs at home? Tom Noie: Totally agree with that. There was a certain someone that should've been at Wednesday's game who wasn't. Would rather stay home. 

Paul, here in the Bend: Wait till Brey leaves.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  See if you like what the team looks like two years hence.😩 Tom Noie: Kind of like Brian Kelly. What, too soon?😃 

Paul, here in the Bend: Maybe they stop televising everything.  Friday is only on ESPN+.  Maybe a few more peeps will venture out.  But I doubt it.  Gotta run.  Thanks for doing these. Tom Noie: Swing by any time my man! 

Guest: Matt from North Dakota: Tom, I think this team can be a really good zone team. I like what Brey said post game last night about having Ven in the middle. I’m assuming zone plays more of a factor come conference time? Tom Noie: Matt: Not until they can collectively be better defensively. Brey mentioned post-game Southern Indiana that Notre Dame played exactly zero possessions of zone defense with its core rotation guys. Brey admitted that he made a mistake in going to zone too early in games against Radford and Youngstown State - yeah, it changed the rhythm of the game but it also let the Irish off the hook in terms of guarding. Loved that answer. Use zone to change it up, but still hold those guys to a standard to get in a stance and guard. 

Guest: You been doing this now for a couple hours and only 1 mention of Goodwin. He’s avg 14 points a Game 5-6 rebounds, a couple assists. Keep his profile low. He thrived on it last year until teams made him ND’s number 1 man to stop. Tom Noie: Solid, steady. A known commodity, but let's see him close the season strong. He was ground down by being a main guy last year. Push past it second time around and be a factor in March. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Brey will be appreciated more in the rear view mirror.  To do what he did early on in his career, with completely outdated resources, was nothing short of phenomenal.  Sure, we all want greater success in the post season, but this guy's hands are tied.  Rather than look at wins and losses, look at how his guys view the program as thier family.  Look at his graduation rate.  This guy never has kids in trouble.  You will see what a job he did after he leaves.  Hopefully, they can catch lightening in a bottle when they replace him. Tom Noie: So true, but also a really big ask. 

Guest: Ray from Southern California - If you told me and every ND fan that I know that Brey would deliver everything you mentioned in two decades we would all pass.  Three sweet 16's and zero final fours in two plus decades is a deal breaker.   Brey has been a great representative for Notre Dame and has been a great leader for our athletes. His results on the court have been good but nowhere hear great.  Unfortunately the regular season no longer matters in college hoops.  I watch every Notre Dame hoops game but I'm a rare fan.  Most fans don't really start watching every game until March and Brey has underperformed in March. Tom Noie: Ray: From where I sit, it's not even 1 p.m. in California. Go home. You're drunk. You'd pass on everything. Yeah, sure. That's about as silly as silly gets. Tom Noie: That seems like a good go-home-you've-had-enough question/comment to end on - we'll leave laughing. Thanks to everyone who participated in today's marathon - unofficially the longest Notre Dame hoops chat we've ever had - nearly six and a half hours. Let's do it again next month - I might still be laughing from Ray's last comment. Take care and have a great weekend!