What does future hold for Notre Dame men's basketball? Q&A with new coach Micah Shrewsberry

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry has been a man on the move since his official introduction at Purcell Pavilion on March 30. He's been on the road recruiting. He's hosted prospects on campus. He's hired a staff. He's added to the roster. He returned to State College, Pennsylvania for a few days here and there to see his family as they finish the school year and prepare to move.

This past Wednesday he sat down for his first extensive interview with South Bend Tribune columnist and Notre Dame men's basketball beat writer Tom Noie. Following are highlights of last week’s 30-minute session with Shrewsberry in his Rolfs Hall office. Questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity. 

Noie:Catching up with new Notre Dame men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry

SBT: What has hotel life been like? 

SHREWSBERRY: The Morris Inn has the nicest people on Earth. I wake up in the morning, I shower, I leave. I'll eat somewhere. I’ll go back and go to sleep. That's my life right now. They treat you like home. They treat you like family. Those are my people right now. 

Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry hasn't had the time to decorate his office in Rolfs Hall during his first six weeks on the job.

SBT: What are your go-to spots off campus? 

SHREWSBERRY: I am as basic a person as possible. I go to McDonald's right over here on Ironwood and get a Dr. Pepper every morning. Sometimes, Speedway. Other than that, it's not much. I get excited about Penn Station. I'm not like, 'man, I need to get a nice steak here.' Nah. I'm OK with Portillo's. 

That's kind of who I am. I stick with the same thing. If I can go to the same restaurant and get the same thing five days in a row, I like it. Why change and do something different? I know it's good. I don't have a spot. I'm sure I'll find one. 

South Bend feels like New York City to me right now. 

Being at Notre Dame, being the head coach at Notre Dame, at times still doesn't seem real for Micah Shrewsberry.

SBT: Has it sunk in, that you’re here, in this building, doing this job? 

SHREWSBERRY: Not really. Kind of, but not really. Going around campus is the best when we have recruits here. Sometimes, I sit up front or I have to sit close to (director of basketball operations) Pat Rogers. As Pat's talking about where we are on campus or what building is what, I've got to listen. 

I don't talk a lot on our visits and our campus tours because I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm still trying to learn. Pat answers a lot of questions for us, for the staff who's all new and for recruits as we're going around. 

We stopped (Tuesday) in front of the library and you just have those moments. We're driving by and we all get out and the parents and families are taking pictures and I'm just standing there looking like, yeah, this is pretty neat. 

Former Penn State and La Lumiere School power forward Kebba Njie is one of five players Micah Shrewsberry has added to the Notre Dame roster ahead of the 2023-24 season.

SBT: The current roster is at nine scholarship players. Can you get to 12 by the start of the fall semester? 

SHREWSBERRY: I think so. I hope so. We just need enough players where we can do some stuff five-on-five. If not, that's OK. It helps that I've just done this at Penn State. It doesn't help me as a coach, physically, that I'm going non-stop again but also, I don't stress out over little things. 

Some guys would lose their minds. Like, we only have nine players and they're stressing everyone on the staff out. It will happen eventually. If a guy's not here at the start of the summer school period, so be it. We'll be OK. Those are things that are like, yeah, man, if they're not here for a week or two but they’re here for the next six weeks, he'll be OK. We're not playing any games at the end of July. We're trying to get better; we're trying to grow our team. 

If somebody's not here or not here for the full summer, we'll manage. As long as we get him here by the start of school, that's all the time we need. 

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SBT: How important is it to land a veteran point guard from the transfer portal? Is that atop the priority list? 

SHREWSBERRY: I think so. If you look at our group, I love our young guys. They're going to be really good. Markus Burton is a fantastic talent. If we could have somebody that's older just to help settle those young guys, that would be something that would be helpful for us. If not, hey, go play, man. That's what everyone wants to do anyway is go play. 

That puts a little more onus on me to help them more, to get them organized, to get them where they need to be, what they need to do and who they need to do it. 

There are going to be bumps in the road. Let them grow through it. If we can have somebody older to help stabilize those guys, that would be helpful. Hopefully, it's there. 

Will Indiana eventually find its way back to the Notre Dame men's basketball schedule?

SBT: Playing the likes of DePaul and Indiana and UCLA every so often has been important to the fan base. What are your thoughts on how to structure future non-conference schedules? 

SHREWSBERRY: This year, I haven't done much with it at all. I didn't even know we were playing Marquette (on the road in December) until a few weeks ago. It's the last thing on my mind. 

In the future, I'll get a better feel for the challenges that we face — here's where our multi-team event is. Here's what our Atlantic Coast Conference schedule is and then you can start piecing some different things together. 

I want to get some more ideas about those rivalries and doing some fun things. Like, I think it's so cool that the Notre Dame women are playing South Carolina (in Paris). I want our guys to experience things like that. And they should. Like, we're Notre Dame.  

We could play wherever and people know who we are. Let's get involved in some of those events. 

SBT: How do you strike a scheduling balance of non-league “buy” games and marquee non-league matchups? 

SHREWSBERRY: You've got to have teams that are built for it. You've got to have teams that are ready for it. We'll get to that. You don't want to do it at the detriment of making the NCAA tournament, too. 

People want to play everybody. If somebody hits you on Twitter, they want to play every rivalry the entire time. I don't know if that's beneficial for us to play 30 games against all high-major opponents. There will be time for that. Like, OK, let's do this this year, then play a home-and-home with this team and map it out the right way. 

I want to challenge us, but I want to be smart about challenging us to make sure that we're putting ourselves in position to get to the NCAA tournament every year. 

Summer will give Notre Dame men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry a chance - however brief - to slow down before the 2023-24 school year starts.

SBT: What does the rest of the offseason look like for you? 

SHREWSBERRY: It's going to pick back up here pretty soon. As soon as the dead period ends, there's so many kids that want to visit campus, and our guys are going to be here, which is helpful. 

We want kids to come visit when our guys are here. I want them to be around those guys, spend time with them. Those are our biggest selling points, the guys that they're going to be able to play with, those guys in the locker room. 

That's going to take a lot of my time. June — visits, summer school, workouts, open periods out on the road. 

Those June and July periods are going to be busy. At the same time, I've got a family to move. We’re still looking for a house. We're selling our house in State College. There's still a lot of stuff going on at the home front that I've got to get taken care of. 

My wife has been an absolute star of just handling things. That's a big part — get them here, make sure they're OK, make sure they're taken care of. 

Former Penn State assistant coach Mike Farrelly was one of four staff members to follow Micah Shrewsberry from State College to South Bend.

SBT: How do you build the continuity within your coaching staff? 

SHREWSBERRY: (Associate head coach) Kyle Getter and I have never worked together. One of the hardest things at Penn State is none of those guys had never worked for me before, so I had to coach everybody. Now, having some familiarity with my staff, I've got to coach him up on what he needs to do. 

(Assistant coach) Mike Farrelly can help with that. (Development and recruiting coordinator) Grady Eifert and (assistant to the head coach) Tre Whitted can help with that. That takes a little more off my plate, but it's still new for him. Making sure he's OK and he knows what we're doing and the philosophies of what we're doing. 

A lot of teaching, a lot of recruiting happening in June and July until we can get there. 

SBT: What feedback have you received from former Notre Dame players? 

SHREWSBERRY: A bunch. I've heard from so many players from so many eras. As I'm recruiting, I talk about that. I talk about the Notre Dame family.  

Having different guys from different eras reach out has been great. I see Demetrius Jackson a lot because he’s in town. I texted Pat Connaughton, 'Hey, I'm in Milwaukee recruiting.' He’s like, 'come grab a coffee.' I was like, 'I don't have time, but the next time, I will.' He's like, 'all right, I'll see you when I'm on campus.' 

Jerian Grant, John Paxson. They’ve been awesome. 

SBT: What does it mean to have so many former guys reach out? 

SHREWSBERRY: That helps drive me because I'm doing this for them. This is their program. I want to make sure they're proud of what we're doing, they're excited about what we're doing, they're fired up. 

I'm trying to make those guys proud. Recently, John Paxson was like, 'hey man, I'm seeing the recruiting week that you guys just had. Like, keep it going. We're so happy and excited for you.' That stuff fires me up. That's pretty cool. 

SBT: Who’s your interior decorator? (Note: Shrewsberry’s office still looks like nobody works there). 

SHREWSBERRY: (Laughs) That's a great question. I don’t have anything up. I don't have time. Some of this stuff (on the floor and tables) I brought. Coach Farrelly drove out from State College and I was like, can you stop by my house and my kids can throw some stuff in your car and bring it? Some of these things, I was like, we've got to get it here and get it up. 

Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry wants his current - and future - players to see that he has coached Jaylen Brown with the Boston Celtics.

SBT: What is the significance of displaying the framed jerseys of Boston Celtics standouts Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the framed photo of the 2017 Eastern Conference all-star team (Shrewsberry served as an assistant coach) and your Final Four rings from Butler? 

SHREWSBERRY: There's no bigger selling point than me coaching NBA All-Stars, right? I’m standing there behind Kyrie Irving, in front of Paul George and next to Carmelo Anthony. LeBron James and Giannis (Antetokounmpo) are there. My Final Four rings sitting here. That drives us. This is where we're trying to go, this what we're trying to get to. 

I said to Kyle Getter, 'I want you to display your Final Four rings.' He was in it in 2011 at VCU. He's got a (2019) national championship ring from Virginia. I don't care if they're in our league, put that out there for everyone to see. When guys come in here and recruits come in here, like, this is our goal. We want them to see our goal. 

SBT: Why? 

SHREWSBERRY: I say it all the time in recruiting. Like, knock on wood, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I've lived a good life. I want to win a national championship. That's my goal. That's all I've got left, right? I’ve coached in the Final Four. I’ve coached All-NBA guys. I’ve coached in an NBA All-Star game. I've done a bunch of things. I've hit a bunch of my goals. I'm OK. 

Now, it's just about our players. I want them to hit their goals. I want them to experience the same things that I've experienced because of so much joy that I had. I want them to have that and know what that feels like. 

That's why I'll put these pictures up. That’s why I have them around. This should be your goal. I'm a kid from Jeffersonville, Indiana, a Division III basketball player. Look what this game has done for me. I want you to have that same experience. 

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