Notre Dame secures its next head men's basketball coach in Penn State's Micah Shrewsberry
An Indiana guy is going home.
Micah Shrewsberry is going home to the state where he was born and the state where he went to high school and to college. Home to the state where he spent seven years as an assistant coach at two respected college basketball schools — Butler and Purdue. Home to where he first became a head coach at the age of 28 when he also became the first full-time head coach in the history of the IU South Bend men’s program.
Home to be the 18th head coach at the University of Notre Dame and the first black head coach in program history after the previous two seasons of seasoning at Penn State, where he helped guide the Nittany Lions to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.
Penn State went 23-14 overall, 10-10 in the Big Ten this season, which ended late Saturday night in Des Moines, Iowa with a loss to No. 2 seed Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The No. 10 seed Nittany Lions returned to State College, Pa., just before 6 a.m. Sunday.
News of Shrewsberry's hiring broke just after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. CBS Sports.com was the first to report. Sources confirmed to the Tribune that both sides were finalizing a seven-year contract.
It seems everyone at Notre Dame and Penn State has been Shrewsberry Watch ever since. On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Shrewsberry might have a decision within the next 24 to 36 hours.
A decision was reached Wednesday, according to Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com.
He’s now coming home to coach college basketball. It all seems to fit. When Brey announced in late January (62 days ago on Thursday) that last season would be his last after 23 years at Notre Dame, Shrewsberry’s name was one of the first to appear on many “who’s next?” lists. It all seemed so natural, so easy. An Indiana kid coaching college basketball in Indiana.
Notre Dame is expected to officially introduce the 46-year-old Shrewsberry next week. It reportedly vetted in one way or another 75 different coaches — both head coaches and assistants, in college and professional basketball — before targeting Shrewberry.
Shrewsberry recently was quoted as saying, “nobody wanted me a few years ago.” That wasn’t entirely true. He was considered one of the hot, young assistants in the game for years. Even when he went off to the NBA with one of his mentors, Brad Stevens, Shrewsberry seemed destined to return to be a head coach in college.
This month, it seemed everybody wanted him. A coaching vacancy opened, and it likely had Shrewsberry’s name next to it. Notre Dame. Georgetown. Providence. Texas Tech There would’ve been others this spring for the 1999 graduate of Hanover College.
Notre Dame is Shrewsberry’s 10th stop on his coaching career climb. He previously served as an assistant coach at Wabash, DePauw, Butler, Purdue (twice) and with the Celtics. He’s coached on teams that have played in six NCAA tournaments, two Final Fours and five NBA playoffs, including two Eastern Conference finals.
If it all works out, this could be his last stop.
Shrewsberry’s hiring by athletic director Jack Swarbrick gives Notre Dame three black head coaches in its three most visible sports — football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball. All were hired by Swarbrick, whose current contract runs through the 2024-25 season.
Terms of Shrewsberry’s deal weren’t immediately available.
An Indianapolis native, Shrewsberry has worked toward this ever since those early two seasons at IUSB, where he was chosen as one of 170 applicants for the job. He was one of 25 to interview by phone, then made two trips to Michiana to interview for the position. He stayed only two seasons, going a combined 15-48, but learning a lot about coaching basketball, an education continued beyond St. Joseph County.
He was different then, professionally and personally., Back when he was starting something at IUSB, he and his Molly, had only a son. Now, they have four children. Two play basketball at State College Area High School. Their oldest, Braeden, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, was signed to play at Penn State beginning in the fall. Another son, Nick, spent his freshman season on junior varsity.
Shrewsberry learned under Stevens, first back at Butler, then with the Boston Celtics, where he spent six seasons. He returned to college to work with Matt Painter at Purdue before getting the Penn State job. He’s known for his basketball acumen, able to think on the fly and come up with an offensive set or a defensive stop that might just win a game.
Penn State didn’t wow many with its overall numbers this season. The Nittany Lions finished seventh in the Big Ten in offense (72.3 ppg), eighth in defense (68.4), 11th in field goal percentage defense (.430), ninth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.333), 13th in rebounding (32.6) and 14th – last – in steals (4.37). His two Penn State teams finished tied for 10th and tied for ninth in the league.
Still, Shrewsberry won at a place where winning is hard. Penn State was a team that maxed out what it had when it had to do it. The Nittany Lions went on a late-season run, winning eight of 10 to get to the Big Ten tournament championship game and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Had Shrewsberry stayed at Penn State, it was obvious he was building something special at another school known mainly for football. His 17 Big Ten wins were the most in a two-year span of any coach in school history. His 2022 recruiting class was ranked as high as 30th nationally, the best ranking ever for Penn State basketball recruiting. His 2023 class already included one consensus Top 100 player (Corey Booth). He was establishing a pipeline from his hometown of Indianapolis. He was getting kids. He was changing the culture. He was winning.
Shrewsberry now will be asked to do the same at Notre Dame, which is coming off a disastrous season in every imaginable way. The Irish finished 11-21 overall, 3-17 and 14th place – second to last – in the ACC. Notre Dame never won consecutive games after opening the season with five straight wins. The roster as we know it, is a mess. It consists of five players – four returning and one incoming freshman in Mishawaka Penn High School senior and Mr. Basketball candidate Markus Burton. Rebuilding what was as recently as 2016 an Elite Eight outfit is going to take time. It's going to take work. It’s going to take patience and a plan.
Shrewsberry is the man with that plan. This is his program now. His vision. His direction.
And he’s home.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.