Catching up with new Notre Dame men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry
SOUTH BEND — One aspect of the occupation for Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry remains as empty as the walls of his Rolfs Hall office.
He wants to fill it in, but for now, he can’t.
In the six-plus weeks since the program’s 18th head coach was officially introduced — 45 days as of Sunday — Shrewsberry has piled plenty on his plate to stay busy. He’s almost officially completed his staff — two final positions need to be announced, but those are about done. He's crisscrossed the country to evaluate prospects on the recruiting circuit. He's made in-home visits with prospects. He’s hosted several on campus, though he still doesn’t quite know all the short-cuts and must-see sights.
He’s added five players to a roster that carried only four when he arrived. He aims to add a few more. He’s gotten to know former Irish players from different eras. He’s found his favorite go-to spots off campus — Penn Station for lunch, Portillo’s for dinner and McDonald’s on Ironwood every morning where he has, has, has to stop for his daily fix — a Dr. Pepper fountain drink.
There are many days when Shrewsberry leaves his Morris Inn room early in the morning and doesn’t return until late at night. A former Boston Celtics assistant coach, Shrewsberry only recently tuned in to watch two of his former prized pupils — Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — play in a playoff game. For the Celtics, it was their 11th postseason game. For Shrewsberry, it was the first he’s watched.
Q&A with new coach Micah Shrewsberry:What does future hold for Notre Dame men's basketball? Q&A with new coach Micah Shrewsberry
Noie:Micah Shrewsberry and Brad Stevens share an unbreakable basketball bond
He doesn’t have time for the NBA. He hasn’t had time for much else. He’s been on the go here and there and everywhere since that March 30 introductory day. He’s seen and done a lot. What he hasn’t done, what he won’t do for at least until summer school begins on June 12 (and ends July 21) and the bulk of the 2023-24 roster finally is on campus, is what athletic director Jack Swarbrick hired him to do.
Formulate a practice plan. Get on the Rolfs Hall court with a whistle around his neck and ideas bouncing about his head and get with his guys and just go. Watch them shoot and pass and dribble and play. Evaluate. Teach. Do everything that he was brought to campus to do.
No matter how full his days, no matter how exhausted he is at night, Shrewsberry feels there’s still something missing about his job — what he loves to do most. Like many coaches, the 46-year-old Shrewsberry is a creature of habit. Of routine. Of normalcy. Nothing he does today or tomorrow or next week is routine or normal if it doesn’t involve being on the practice floor, returning to the Rolfs conference room to analyze practice film, to build toward the future.
“I’m out of schedule; I’m out of my routine,” Shrewsberry said during a recent 30-minute meeting in his office. “That’s going to help me, being on the court, coaching, meeting with staff and talking about basketball, talking about what we want to do when the guys get here.
“That stuff settles me. It calms me.”
Everything else that has and will happen up to that point, Shrewsberry embraces. If it’s time to recruit, he’ll recruit with endless energy and enthusiasm and optimism because he understands the importance of recruiting. He’ll sit behind that big/barren desk (reluctantly) and tend to administrative matters because, well, he is the men’s basketball boss. He’ll continue to learn what’s where around campus.
He’ll sit on the couch and engage in a casual conversation, but you can tell, he’d rather be coaching.
“I love being on the court; I love teaching; I love practice,” Shrewsberry said, and the change in the tone of his voice underscores the passion. “For me to sit here and plan practice out and what we’re doing and the sequence of how we’re putting things in, I love that part of it.
“I’m not getting a chance to do anything basketball-wise. I’m itching to get back to it. I can’t wait for that time to come. That’s me.”
As the new coach, there's always something
Shrewsberry was surprised that six weeks has passed since his introduction to Notre Dame. In some ways, it feels more like six days. Sometimes, it feels like yesterday. Or the day before.
“That’s how fast everything’s gone,” he said. “There hasn’t been like a free day. It’s what you signed up for.”
Shrewsberry recently buzz-sawed through a 12-day stretch that saw him and his staff host a couple of prospects on official visits. Then he and associate coach Kyle Getter and assistant coach Mike Farrelly went out on the road for a three-day run. Next up, four-straight days of home visits. After a two-day break/escape to see his wife and four children back in State College, Pennsylvania, Shrewsberry flew back to South Bend late Sunday. He then hosted an official visit with a prospective student-athlete on Monday and Tuesday.
Sandwiched in there were five verbal commitments over six days.
This usually is a time in the calendar when Notre Dame men’s basketball goes dark. Not this May. The office in Rolfs is running like it’s the middle of the season.
Noie:Mr. Basketball an honor for Penn's Markus Burton, a win for South Bend-Mishawaka area
Shrewsberry often takes a backseat — in the front seat of the golf cart — as the prospect and his parents are ferried around campus. Usually driving is director of basketball operations Pat Rogers, a Notre Dame graduate, a former team manager and the lone holdover from the previous coaching staff.
“As he’s talking about where we are on campus, or what building is what, I’m listening,” Shrewsberry said. “We stopped (Tuesday) in front of the library and you just have those moments. We all get out and the parents and families are taking pictures and I’m just standing there looking like, yeah, this is neat.”
Next week takes Shrewsberry to Florida for three days and the Atlantic Coast Conference meetings before he hopes to hop over to Chicago. Two of his former players — Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett — are taking part in the NBA draft combine. Shrewsberry wants to reconnect with them and offer whatever help he can in the run-up to the late-June draft. He may not be the Penn State coach anymore, but those still are his guys.
Plenty to do before Shrewsberry's Irish take the court in fall
Since March, home for Shrewsberry has been the Morris Inn. He and his wife, Molly, are still in the process of selling their home in State College and house hunting in Michiana. In the coming weeks, there will be son Braeden’s high school graduation and the family’s move to Indiana. Then, summer school, and, with it, practice. At last.
When August arrives and Shrewsberry has enough practice film to evaluate and knows what pieces fit where and the Irish return home for a couple weeks before the start of the fall semester, Shrewsberry will take a breath, take a break and take a step back. At least, that's the plan.
“I am going to crawl under a rock somewhere and just sleep for like a week,” said Shrewsberry, who shows no signs of a lack of REM. “It probably won’t even be a week. I’m going to take some time and just get away. I’ll need to recharge my batteries before the fall starts.”
Even when he unplugs from the office and unwinds at the Morris every night, Shrewsberry is in full-on dad/coach mode. He’ll FaceTime with his kids. He’ll talk with his wife. He’ll text recruits. He’ll text staff. He’ll think.
In the background on TV plays the late NBA playoff game. Once everything on his agenda has been cleared, Shrewsberry will look up and the game will be deep into the fourth quarter. Or already over.
“The other night, it was like, ‘Oh, the Lakers won, like, I had no idea,’” he said. “Life’s moving really fast.”
As whirlwind as work is, Shrewsberry has yet to wake in the Morris or somewhere on the road recruiting and take a second to remember where he is. Some days, most days, it’s the opposite. He’ll remind himself where he is. Who he is. That makes everything about the last six weeks and the promise of whatever the future holds all worth it.
“I do wake up — and I’ll say it to recruits — and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m the head coach of Notre Dame,’” he said. “Like, that’s pretty cool.”
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.
Coming Monday: An extended question and answer session with Micah Shrewsberry