Chat Transcript: Covering plenty of ground with first chat of the Micah Shrewsberry era

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Thomas Noie:Everything about the Notre Dame men's basketball program - the head coach, the staff, the roster, the optimism - carries that new-car look and feel and smell. Inhale....smells good doesn't it? Smells a lot better than where we last left off back in the winter of the Irish discontent where everything about the program had gone as stale as week-old sushi. It was time for a total reboot and reboot Notre Dame did with new coach Micah Shrewsberry and a new direction. Where it's all headed nobody knows for sure, but it will be fun to find out. To join today's chat, make sure you include your name and hometown with your question or comment. There should be plenty to discuss - and we'll be here as long as it takes. You know the drill - let's light this chat candle... 

Robert: Of the returning players, which one will be a positive surprise in 2023? 

Thomas Noie: Never thought that this player's name would be the first to be mentioned in the first Notre Dame men's basketball chat in the Micah Shrewsberry, but let's go with senior power forward Matt Zona. The reasons are multiple - he's the lone returning big with Atlantic Coast Conference experience, so they're going to need something from someone with some experience on the front line. Zona should get the first opportunity based on how he ended last season. In that first-round ACC tournament game against Virginia Tech, Zona was really good. Shockingly good. Yeah, I get it that there was zero pressure/expectation on him on a team going nowhere, but he looked good in going for nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 17 minutes. Like, why didn't we see more of that (more of him) last season? This team as it's currently constructed is so young. It could really use an old guy or two to step forward. Why not Zona? 😃 

Ray: Hi Tom.  We currently have 9 scholarship players for next season and we obviously need at least 3 more.  I'm sure Shrewsberry is not writing off next season as a rebuilding year and would like to have a realistic shot of making the tournament.  In order to do this he needs to sign via the portal 2-3 more players who can start immediately.  Are we close to signing anyone?  What are you hearing?  Its important for the players and the students to have a good season next year.  With a new coach there will be excitment for the students and hopefully they will start showing up in big numbers but to keep them coming they will have to be a winning team. Thomas Noie: That was one of the must-ask questions for me last week when I sat down for 30 minutes - OK, 31 to be exact - with Micah Shrewsberry. I asked him if Notre Dame could get its roster to 12 by the start of the fall semester (He's not as concerned about getting everyone on campus for summer school, which starts June 12 as he is the start of the fall semester). Shrewsberry said he "thinks" they can get to 12, which leaves it open to interpretation. He wasn't rock-solid confident that, no question, they're getting to 12. He also couched his answer by saying if they have to go with nine, they'll go with nine. Hitting the transfer portal for three more players (preferably with power-conference experience) is the easy answer, but look at what Notre Dame has done in the transfer portal since it became the TRANSFER PORTAL. Two graduate transfers (Paul Atkinson, Marcus Hammond), a transfer from Northwestern (Julian Roper) and a transfer from Penn State who played for Shrewsberry (Kebba Njie). That's it. 

If you're banking on Notre Dame simply picking up a player or two or three from the portal in the next few weeks/months, don't be surprised if that doesn't happen. There are plenty of players in the portal now. Ask yourself - why hasn't it happened already? Shrewsberry has said that he won't mine the portal for the quick one-year fix. This is a long-term rebuild. It's going to take time, and that time may not happen next season. 

Pete J.: Who are the next targets to fill out the roster for the upcoming season? Thomas Noie: See the above answer. Right now, there's nobody you point to in the portal and say, yep, that's a Notre Dame guy. That it hasn't happened yet might be a sign that there's no real fit. Do they find one? I don't know. 

Matt from Aldie, VA: Hey Tom, thanks for doing this. Two-parter here: (1) What's the real story of what happened with Brey and South Florida? You and others thought it was a done deal. I guess Brey did too? Ultimately pretty embarrassing for him, though he'll probably be good as an NBA assistant. (2) From your limited experience with Coach Shrews and his staff, how will this team differ from a typical Brey-coached team? And what are reasonable expectations for year one? BONUS: How do you see the rotation to start? Thomas Noie: Whew, there's a lot there. Grab a seat and something to drink. This might take a while.  First, Mike Brey was pretty confident that he would be the next head coach at USF. He'd already started assembling a staff (and had his successor in place after he coached three more years and parachuted out, but that's a story for a different chat). He'd already made contacts throughout college basketball to rebuild the USF roster through the portal. Those in the know at Notre Dame were of the understanding that he'd been offered the job, he'd taken the job and he would be introduced the following Wednesday. Everything was in place - and then everything fell apart, in part because Brey didn't realize the language in his Notre Dame contract that termed his buyout/separation agreement null IF he accepted another college coaching position. Brey didn't use an agent in either his agreement with Notre Dame or with USF. He did it himself, which was a mistake. 

Once Brey realized he's leave millions of dollars (and it is millions) on the table by taking the USF job, he had to walk away from the USF job. The explanation that Brey and athletic director Michael Kelly couldn't reach an agreement wasn't exactly true. As for Notre Dame men's basketball under Shrewsberry, how will this team differ? I can't answer that until I can see Shrewsberry run a practice. What does he emphasize? How does it run? What assistants tutor what positions? What does he have to work with? The roster as it stands now isn't anywhere ACC-ready. How does that change in the coming months? Does it? There's so much that's still incomplete when it comes to the on-court product that anything would be a guess. 

Rick from ohio: Haven’t heard anything on Lubin. Do you think he could return to Irish? Thomas Noie: Ven-Allen Lubin, like his freshman colleagues Dom Campbell and J.J. Starling, jumped into the transfer portal at season's end. The loss of all three was expected. They made a pact near the end of the season they came in together and if they were going to leave, they were going to leave together. Campbell went to Howard (shoutout to Rod Balanis) while Starling quickly headed home to Syracuse. Lubin's recruitment/transfer has been more low-key. Until it's done, there's always that chance, but again, why wait until May to say, yeah, Notre Dame doesn't seem that bad after all. Think I'll come back. I'd expect Lubin to wind up at Vanderbilt. 

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom have you heard who ND might possibly be playing in the ACC/SEC challenge this upcoming season? Also on Monday the IHSAA did away with the one and the bonus on FT's and going the the NBA rule. Men's college hoops needs to go to quarters and do the same plus advance the ball on a time out to mid court under 2 minutes but I don't think this would ever fly due to there would be 1 less media time out per half. Thomas Noie: The Atlantic Coast Conference/Southeastern Challenge starts in 2023-24. It replaces the old ACC/Big Ten Challenge which (thankfully) ended last year. The SEC has 14 schools - the ACC has 15, which means one ACC school will sit out. In the previous ACC/Big Ten agreement, schools with new head coaches often were given the option on whether it wanted to compete or sit. Notre Dame might have that option, though there are other ACC schools (Syracuse, Georgia Tech) with new head coaches. Based on Notre Dame's roster, and its expected low-place (11th-15th) in the ACC, I don't see Notre Dame getting a "marquee" SEC matchup. No Kentucky. No Tennessee. No Alabama. Notre Dame isn't ready for that yet. Ole Miss, South Carolina is more likely. Matchups for the old ACC/Big Ten were usually announced in June. 

As for quarters, no, no, no, a thousand times no. Halves are just fine for the men's college game. There's no flow when you're playing 10-minute quarters, where so many women's teams labor through those 10 minutes scoring four, five, six points. When it comes to men's basketball playing halves, it's like toying with the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament - DON'T TOUCH IT! EVER! 😃 

Mike,: Tom, any news on who the 3rd assistant coach is going to be? Where did coach Solomon end up at? Thomas Noie: Nothing official - because you know how sloooooooooowly Notre Dame moves on such matters. Micah Shrewsberry mentioned last week during our chat that there are two additional positions still remaining to be filled - but that they also have been filled. One of those will go to Brian Snow, though his official title remains to be determined. Snow worked for Shrewsberry at Penn State and has been basically on the job at Notre Dame since Shrewsberry arrived. Shrewsberry also said the third assistant has been hired, they're just going through the human resources process. I'd expect word of that be official soon. No word on where former Irish associate head coach Anthony Solomon landed - or will land. Don't know if there's any urgency for him to land another job. He had hoped to be in the mix for the Notre Dame head coaching position. That never got off the ground. 

Tony,: Do you think the roster is finished for this year? Or do you know of a few portal transfers Coach Shrews is still after? Maybe V-A returns? Thomas Noie: No way can the roster be done as we sit here on a sunny May 17 afternoon in Northern Indiana, can it? Notre Dame has nine scholarship players. It has four players (Matt Zona, Tony Sanders, Kebba Njie and Julian Roper), none of whom have ever been full-time starters/main guys. The roster is still way thin on experience. Micah Shrewsberry is confident they might get to as many as 12. We'll have to see how that happens. If you have a candle lit for Ven-Allen Lubin, blow it out. Lubin likely knew Notre Dame was going to get Booth and Njie, which led him to the portal. Nothing about the PF situation has changed to where he would decide, you know what, I want to come back. Booth and Njie and known guys for Shrewsberry. Lubin's not. That matters. 

Pat H. Springfield Illinois: Does anyone have an inside track to be a starter or are all positions up for grabs? What do you expect the non-conference schedule to look like? Thanks for hosting this Thomas Noie: Everything is up for grabs - to the point where nobody has any idea what this may eventually look like. I don't know. Micah Shrewsberry probably doesn't know. His staff doesn't know. The players don't even know. It goes back to something I wrote last week on NDI about Shrewsberry - he hasn't had the chance to do the one task he was brought to campus to do - coach. The roster had three returning guys when he took the job in late March. He won't hold a practice until the week of June 12. If Notre Dame can't get to 10 or 11 or 12 scholarship players, it would be safe to say Markus Burton then slides into the role of starting point guard. He's the only true handler/facilitator/creator on the roster. Shrewsberry would prefer to find a veteran point guard to alleviate that expectation. We'll see if that happens. 

As for the non-conference schedule, look for it be as vanilla/bland as bland gets. Shrewsberry has a long-term vision for what he wants to do with the non-league schedule, but he also said you have to have a team that's good enough to match those high hopes. For 2023-24, Notre Dame has a return game at Marquette in December and will participate in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center with Auburn, Oklahoma State and Saint Bonaventure in its MTE (multi-team event). Maybe an ACC/SEC game, Other than that, expect a lot of guarantee home games. This team needs confidence. It needs experience. It needs wins. The marquee non-leagues are coming - just not this season. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Now that the Brey era is officially, and mercifully, over, what player(s) best exemplifies Brey's philosophy as a BBL coach and/or best exemplifies how Brey represented Notre Dame?  I would go with a Colin Falls type for Part 1.  Brey loved him some skinny white shooters.  Part 2 goes to Pat C.  A champion on and off the court. You? Thomas Noie: Sorry for the delay in answering Joe - Every time I'm reminded of last year, I have to take a lap or two around the house and take deep breaths. I'll go with three players - Bonzie Colson, Pat Connaughton and Luke Harangody. Brey was at his best - as was this program - when he got the under-the-radar recruits who had some dawg in them. Guys whose games and personalities just permeated throughout the roster. I'd throw Tory Jackson in there as well. When Notre Dame had those guys, you knew it would win. It had a chance. Against anyone. They far exceeded any expectation of them when they arrived, to the point where they were the heartbeat of the program. When Brey stopped finding those guys, it was over. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  So far, I don't feel hiring Micah has a "knock it out of the park" vibe.  Since you had the lengthy sit down with him, what's your read?  Can he get the program to where it should be? Thomas Noie: Too early to tell. As I mentioned at the start of the chat, everything about the program still has that new car vibe. But what happens when the check engine light pops on when you take it out on the Toll Road? What happens when something starts to rattle? When the cigarette lighter doesn't work (IYKYK). Right now, the vibe is all feel-good, but how does the vibe change when/if we see this current roster on the practice floor next month and realize they're still two, three, maybe four guys short? We won't really know about Shrewsberry or about this program in two, three years. It's going to take time. Shrewsberry believes he can get there. 

It didn't matter who took this job, it was going to take at least three seasons to truly know what the new guy could do. How will his teams hold up in close road games? Can they make Purcell Pavilion a tough place to play again? What about recruiting? Can he get guys that he's not supposed to get? What will the culture be like? There are so many unknowns, so many variables that go into whether or not a new coach hits. We may find out a lot about Shrewsberry this season, though there may be a lot we won't know. It's the ultimate process. It will be fascinating to find out. 

Dennis Huyvaert: Hi Tom , any chance Tony Sanders gets minutes this season? Thomas Noie: With only nine scholarship players on the roster as May passes its midpoint, there's a chance that EVEYBODY gets minutes this year. Sanders included. He's been a back end of the rotation guy since he's been here, but now everyone who was in front of him was gone. Maybe now he gets a legit chance. He knew that it mattered little what he did or didn't do - the old guys ahead of him were always going to be the old guys ahead of him. You do have to admire that Tony Sanders is still at Notre Dame for the right reasons - he wants his degree. We have no idea if he can actually play, because there's been no evidence. Maybe he can. Maybe he can't. But I think we'll find out - something that didn't happen the first three years. 

Bob from chicago: great interview with Coach.   I noticed he wants to get to a roster of 12.   Do you have a list of portal guys he is pursuing ?   Seems like we need some wings in addition to a veteran PG ? Thomas Noie: There is no true "list" of portal guys because the wants and needs of those guys are so unknown. You figure that Brandon Newman from Purdue would be a fit at Notre Dame - relatively local, probably knows Shrewsberry, graduate student. He lands at Western Kentucky. Same goes for Jordan Dingle - a veteran point guard with tremendous ability. He went to Penn, so education is obviously paramount. He winds up at St. John's to play for Rick Pitino. The portal's funny that way. As is Notre Dame's history with it. Don't count on the portal as much as some other fans of other programs would count on it. But a veteran point has to be an absolute must moving forward. Really, any position with high-level experience - Notre Dame can use you. Now. 

Mike, New Jersey: Hey Tom, are the Irish ever going to bring back a TBT team? So many great players playing overseas to build a roster with. I would love to see these guys hoops on national television in the summer. Thomas Noie: Preach my man! I've been on the guys who would be in charge of it for years to put a roster together. It's so hard for them. Who would play? Take guys like Bonzie Colson, Jack Cooley, John Mooney, Jerian Grant. Maybe a T.J. Gibbs. As of today, all of them are still involved in their respective leagues in Europe. Those schedules are crazy long. I think those guys come back for six weeks, eight tops, before they have to return to Europe. The window for them to compete/decompress is insanely small. There also have been issues with their pro teams not allowing them to participate in TBT so close to their pro seasons starting. You need guys who are done with pro ball, but there are only so many Demetrius Jacksons or Rex Pfluegers around. Too few to fill out a roster than could compete for a championship - and I've been told the only way Notre Dame fields a TBT team is if it has a legit shot to win it. You can't win it without the Colsons or Grants or Mooneys. 

ed,greensboro,nc: Tom, Our new coach seems to be like Marcus Freeman.A relentless recruiter who will sell Notre Dame rather than complain about restrictions restrictions(i.e.academics.) A breath of fresh air after Brey. Thoughts? Thomas Noie: Totally agree. Micah Shrewsberry gets it in that he knows he's got to recruit, recruit, recruit to get this program back to where it was in 2015-16 and beyond. He crisscrossed the country during the May period. Like, South Carolina one day, Arizona the next. He recruits in ways that Mike Brey rarely did - or, in the end, wanted to. Brey will be the first to admit that he didn't allocate the necessary energy to recruiting. Shrewsberry has that juice. 

Chris: Tom: Great coverage! Do you think the Irish are looking to fill just 2 of their 4 remaining scholarships for this fall -- maybe a veteran point and a veteran big -- and hope they land those guys during the summer? Also, do you see Zona and Sanders as five-year players? Thanks! Thomas Noie: Micah Shrewsberry mentioned last week during our chat that he'd like to get to 12 scholarship players. That means three more. A veteran handler (or two) is at the top of that list. Shrewsberry isn't as concerned about getting them on campus in time for summer school as he is about getting them on campus before the start of the fall semester. If they don't get them until July or early August, he's good with that. Just as long as he gets them. As for Zona and Sanders, a lot of what happens this season will determine whether they're back. They play a lot, they show a lot, they matter a lot, maybe they're back. Then again, the portal being the portal, maybe they say, hey, I've got my degree, I just want to go somewhere where I'm going to play and play a lot. Or they're ready for a change of scenery. That's OK too. It happens. 

Jim in Charlottesville VA: Hi Tom. Glad to have this Chat going!  Do you foresee the import of ND Men’s Basketball improving from one being “difficult to explain” (pace Cormac Ryan) to one enthusiastically  embraced, supported, and reported? Thomas Noie: Great to hear from you, but I read your question three different times. Once, out loud. And have to say, I'm thoroughly confused. Little help as to what you're trying to say? Thanks my man! 

Mickey, New York: Anything new since the last chat??? Thomas Noie: Checks NDI.....Notre Dame bows out early in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, just misses out on the NCAA tournament, quiet offseason....nope. Nothing new to see here....You? 😄 

Mickey, New York: When you look at the players we are now recruiting vs what was here, what do you see as the difference in player type? And it seems these players are highly rated but weren’t in on ND before. Is it just the change of style that opens the doors to these players? The coaching style? Both? Thomas Noie: Ah, NOW we get serious. I see. Too early to tell with recruiting. The guys Notre Dame landed this year were all former Penn State guys, so how much did it really take to get them to look at Notre Dame other than the head coach? No, we won't know if there's a difference or if Micah Shrewsberry can recruit until there's a four-star - a high four-star - who picks Notre Dame and isn't supposed to pick Notre Dame. Mike Brey recruited his share of star guys - he just couldn't land them. And it would be hard for me to say that coaching style matters in a way it didn't before because I've never seen Micah Shrewsberry coach, at least this group. There weren't many coaches in the country who gave his players ultimate freedom than Mike Brey. 

Doc from NJ: I was surprised Ven Allen Lubin didn’t give Coach Shrewsberry much of a chance to recruit him to stay. Any insight on his decision to leave? Thomas Noie: As mentioned earlier in the chat, the three freshmen off last year's team - Dom Campbell, J.J. Starling and Lubin kind of all decided that it was all for one and one for all when last year finally ended. They were all either going to come back together or leave together. They chose to leave. I'd disagree that Ven-Allen never gave Micah Shrewsberry a chance. He gave the new coach more of a chance than the other two who skated almost five minutes after the season ended. Lubin did meet with Shrewsberry before jumping into the portal. Of the three, he was going to be hardest to keep - long way from home, never seen snow, and the head coach who basically handed him a starting job was no longer around. That Lubin jumped to the portal was expected. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Clearly, JJ Starling was never injured and had mentally transferred long before he actually did.  He was close to being the first person into the portal and out of it as well.  Not a conincidence.  Two parts.  Were the signs evident to you that JJS was already moving on?  Not attending class, moved out of his living quarters....?  Next, college sports free agency is here to stay.  Since ND is reluctant to take any old transfer and is at least trying to recruit student/athletes, how big of a disadvantage relative is this and do you think Shrew can overcome it? Thomas Noie: I had a similar concern late in the year when the knee issue mysteriously appeared, then was told by someone who knows that Starling had knee issues from time to time during his time at La Lumiere - and that he often played through them. He was tougher than many thought. I think if Jim Boeheim was still the coach at Syracuse, J.J. Starling takes a little more time to decide his future. There's a history between Starling and Adrian Autry. When Autry got the job - long after Starling knew the guy he wanted to play for (Mike Brey) wasn't going to be back, a transfer made too much sense. Brey practically pushed him to explore the portal. It was so difficult to clearly see that Starling "was already moving on" because his game was such a mess with his shot. He barely/rarely showed anything last year where you were like, whoa, that was something. 

That the transfer portal is not the end-all-be-all cure to what ails Notre Dame men's basketball (able bodies, experience) is a big red flag. Micah Shrewsberry will have to build it in a different way - and the rebuild is going to take time. This roster isn't ready to win now. It might not be ready to win next year. If the portal isn't an option (it's not) recruiting becomes that much more important. You have to make sure you hit on EVERYBODY. And even then, somebody's going to leave. It goes back to my thesis that the Notre Dame job is a really difficult job. We're seeing truth in that. We'll continue to see truth in that. 

TJ 1997: Outside of wins and losses, what do you anticipate will be the most glaring difference in “culture” between Coach Shrewsberry’s program and Coach Brey’s? Thomas Noie: Awesome question. Maybe one of the best of the day, and possibly unanswerable as we sit in here the middle of May. Right now, it would have to be a connection between the old guys and the young guys, the experienced guys and the inexperienced guys. That was missing the last couple years (even in 2021-22 when Notre Dame went 15-5 in the ACC). There seemed a divide that existed within the roster. We really saw it last year. If Shrewsberry can get guys to care, get guys to all pull in the same direction no matter their class rank or minutes per game, that would be a good start. But a heck of a question. Going to think on that one for a while... 

Ryan mars pa: Tom what do you think about Micah Shrewsberry coming to coach the Irish and will we get anymore players to play for him GO IRISH Thomas Noie: Mike Brey was the right coach at the right time for the right program. Twenty-three years later, is Micah Shrewsberry the same? We'll see. Notre Dame needs at least two, maybe three more players for this season. 

San Diego Miguel: Seth Towns feels like a good name to go after, do you agree? Old, experienced, probably still looking to play at Power Level even though he hasnt played much in the past 5 seasons lol. Just 1 year guy that would fit what we need, thoughts? Thomas Noie: Probably not. Now, if we could look into a crystal basketball and have it tell us that Seth Towns will stay healthy and could give this program 18-20 minutes a game over the course of four months, I'd say yes, go get him. Plug him in and play him for one year. But his career has been seriously curbed by injuries. You don't know if you're going to get one year or one week out of him. How does a 26-year-old handle that? How does a 26-year-old relate to teammates who are 18, 19, 20-years-old? There's nobody anywhere close to his age on the current roster. So many unknowns. Too many to seriously consider. Move on with the young guys. 

Jake: Tom, any chance Shrewsberry plans to do a PowerPoint presentation to the team about how to play defense and rebound? Thomas Noie: Think those are already in his coaching DNA. 

joe from the south side: Tom, I selected Burton as the breakout player.  First, it looks like he is the starting PG.  And only PG.  Next, if you look at him on film and the HS stats, no situation was too big for him.  As Brey would say, "He performed when the lights were brightest."  Seems to me he plays with a fearlessness.   Finally, HE STAYED.  Parker and Dunlap fled.  But he stayed.  He wants to play for ND and Shrew.  I know the leap from HS to the ACC is ginormous.  But, he at least has the stars lining up for a chance to succeed. Thomas Noie: I've seen a lot of Markus Burton. I also know that the Atlantic Coast Conference isn't the Northern Indiana Conference. That's a concern. Markus is so small right now. He's not ACC ready - though he may have to be ACC ready. I'd like for him to at least have a safety net under him. Now, the question is, can he be more like former NIC standout Blake Wesley as a freshman and not like former NIC standout J.R. Koniecnzy as a freshman? If Burton is more Wesley like in terms of being an assassin (in the best of terms) Notre Dame has something. If he needs time to grow and get stronger, what was expected to be a long year already gets longer - if he's the only handler. 

Ed Zagorski, Irving TX: Tom, I know it will take time for Micah to build his roster.  From what you know of him, when he does get a full roster (a couple of years from now), do you expect that he will run as tight a rotation as Brey did or will he be more open to a running a deeper rotation?  Also, do you expect more of an emphasis on recruiting stronger (like Atkinson) and bigger players than Brey’s last few years? Thomas Noie: TBD. Look at what Micah Shrewsberry did in his two seasons at Penn State. In 2021-22, a team that finished 14-17 overall, 7-13 in the Big Ten, he had nine guys average at least 10 minutes a game. Six played at least 22 minutes a game. Eight different guys started. Four started at least 20 games. Last year, 2022-23, Penn State finished 23-14, 101-10 in the Big Ten. Eight different guys played at least 10 minutes a game, five played at least 21. Eight players started at least one game, five started at least 26. How does that compare to Brey last year? Seven guys played at least 17.5 minutes a game, six logged at least 25.4. Seven players started at least one game while five started at least 22. Shrewsberry goes a little deeper and the minutes might be spread around a little more, but it's still about 8.5 guys. Still too early to tell about recruiting - though the guys Notre Dame got this month all look like guys Brey would recruit. Let's see how/where Shrewsberry zigs when people expect a zag. 

Joe, Chicago: Do you have a definitive list of the final three candidates for the job and what set Shrewsberry apart at the end? Thomas Noie: It was Micah Shrewsberry, Matt Langel and Devin DeVries with other coaches (Greg McDermott, Chris Holtmann) on the periphery. Jack Swarbrick was drawn to Shrewsberry given his Indianapolis background and his work with Brad Stevens. He was at the top of the list when this job opened Jan. 20 and was still there when it closed March 20. He was always the guy. Or close to the guy. 

Joe, Chicago: Were you surprised at the amount of $$$ ND committed to basketball with the new contract and buyout from Penn State? Does that changes your opinion of how the University may be committed to basketball moving forward? Thomas Noie: Stunned. Didn't think Notre Dame would ever go north of $3 million on salary for a men's basketball coach. When Mike Brey signed his first contract in 2000, he was making $500,000 a year. Times change, though. It remains to be seen if Notre Dame does. Yes, it went where it had to go to get a new coach, but will it go to places it has to go (transfer portal) to keep up with the rest of college basketball? That it landed Shrewsberry and has given him more staff as resources is a start, but there's a long way to go for this program to be what others believe it can be. I don't know if it ever gets to an elite level, but at least now, it has the ability to continue the climb. It didn't before. 

Joey from Indiana: Is JR Konieczny ever going to play or is he just an afterthought at this point?  I assume he didn’t enter the portal because he was told he would be a main guy? I thought once Starling left, he wouldn’t be far behind. 

Thomas Noie: In fairness, J.R. Koniecnzy's college clock really starts now. He wasn't going to play as a true freshman, not with Blake Wesley on the roster and the veteran perimeter. He sat out last season because again, the veteran perimeter necessitated that he sit. Now, we'll see. I will push back on any notion that Micah Shrewsberry, who has never seen JRK play, told him he'd be a main guy. He may have said that JRK will have every opportunity to be a main rotation guy, but he's not making any declarative statements in that regard. It would be pretty silly for JRK to leave - we don't know, and he doesn't know if he can even play. What program would be like, yeah, come here and play. We'll see this year. Konieczny has had two full years to refine his game. There better be a there there. 

Joe, Chicago: I know the practice facility is relatively new, but did Shrewsberry have any ideas of other upgrades or modernizing to the program? Thomas Noie: We didn't dive that deeply in our chat - 30 minutes goes awfully quick when there's so much ground to cover. We'll find out as we move forward what he thinks needs a tweak here or there. Everything about the program could use a power wash to some extent. 

Clint from Winnipeg: Perhaps out of necessity, it's difficult not to notice how much harder Shrewsberry works on the recruiting trail. Will that be what ultimately delivers long-term success for ND? Was recruiting the undoing of Brey? Thomas Noie: Micah Shrewsberry might recruit at a level that nobody around Notre Dame men's basketball has ever seen, but if he doesn't consistently win a lot of games in the Atlantic Coast Conference or get to the NCAA tournament, what does it matter? You have to recruit. You have to manage your roster. You have to schedule smartly. You have to figure out the rhythm to everything. Then you have to win. THAT will deliver long-term success. You can recruit like your hair is on fire, but if you can't win, what's it all mean? Thomas Noie: As for the undoing of the Mike Brey era, recruiting played a part of it, but only a small part. It was all-encompassing. Like putting too much faith in a senior class that didn't deserve it. Like recruiting. Like what if Bonzie Colson doesn't roll his ankle in 2017 and Notre Dame wins the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament twice in three years? Like what if the pandemic doesn't wipe out March 2020 and Notre Dame goes to the post season (NIT) but rides that experience into a successful 2021-22 instead of playing the insane schedule thinking the season would never get off the ground. Like what if it beats Texas Tech and gets to the Sweet 16 last year? Like what if Ven-Allen Lubin and Marcus Hammond are healthy at the start of last season. There were so many factors that led to last season's Dumpster fire. In the end, Mike Brey was right - everything is so fragile. Brey and Notre Dame walked that tightrope for so long, but when it goes bad, it REALLY goes bad. 

San Mike Diego: Nate L, Trey Wertz, Dane Goodwin, Cormac Ryan --> Burton, Booth, Njie, Roper... is that the biggest turnaround in terms of athleticism in ND history? Not talking baskteball just purely an athletic standpoint Thomas Noie: Probably not. You're talking about an unathletic group (last year) to an OK athletic group (this year). Now, if they all run and jump and compete like we've never seen, then we'll reassess. But I don't know if any of the ACC elites look at Notre Dame's roster as it currently is constructed and wonders, whoa, how are we going to deal with these guys? Notre Dame has come a long way in that department from last year, but there's still a long way to go. 

Clint from Winnipeg: I know you have seen Markus Burton play in person. What's your sense on how close he is to being ready for the ACC? I realize we may not have choice in how soon he plays. Thomas Noie: Honestly, he's not. He's just not. It would've been easier had Ryan and Starling returned or that there would be two veteran guards/handlers ahead of him to where Burton could be the ideal third guard. Kind of like the Eric Atkins situation in 2010-11 when he was the change-up guard with Ben Hansbrough handling all the heavy lifting. Look, Markus Burton may be a revelation next season. There's also a chance that he's not ready. The ACC is a massive leap. Burton might eventually make it and all will be well, but I'd feel a lot better (and I'm sure Micah Shrewsberry would as well) if there was an experienced handler in front of him to show him the way. 

Patrick in NYC: Tom, thanks for putting this together and getting us through such a tough season last year! Brey's teams had an identity for better and worse: ball movement, older players who developed, outscoring rather than emphasis on D. What would be the trademarks of a Shrews-coached team and how soon do you think we'll see that? Thomas Noie: I know you come here for answers, but the most popular one from me, at least now, is I don't know. I know that's not what you want to hear, but I don't know what the trademarks might be or will be for a Micah Shrewsberry team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In the Big Ten, his Penn State teams would grind you, because that's a grinder league. We know that grind doesn't always work in the ACC. You better score. You better get up and down and back in transition. You better have athleticism on the front line. You better have really good guards. You better be old. Notre Dame has absolutely none or very little of that. We may see some of that this season, some more next and then by Year Three, it's an NCAA tournament team. Maybe. 

Patrick in NYC: Tom, the admin surprised some of us old alums, in a good way, who worry about our commitment to men's basketball by grabbing a highly-regarded coach like Shrewsberry. As he gets ready to build his program here are there areas where we need to see greater commitment or support from the higher ups to help Shrewsberry make this a top flight basketball program? Thomas Noie: It would be more behind-the-scenes stuff that we're not privy to. Enough of the, well, this is how we do it because that's how we've always done it to, let's think outside the box in terms of fan participation or game management or whatever it might be. Step into Purcell Pavilion and it's still like stepping into the 1990s and 1980s. Liven the place up a little. And please, please, please, do away with having to stop the game for one reason or another because of a scorer's table error. That's so small-timey, but it still happens. 

Justin Ft. Wayne: Hey Tom. The past couple weeks Shrewsberry has sent out a lot of offers. You think there was anything with limiting the recruiting restrictions that has allowed to go after so many kids? He’s sent out more offers the past couple weeks than Brey did in years. Thomas Noie: I think if we go back to this time last year, or the year before that, we can dust off a question that asks the same thing. Think we go through it every spring - hey, Notre Dame is offering way more guys. Is there a change in recruiting philosophy? Then in the fall, it's like, uh, who are they signing? Anyone? I don't get a sense that Notre Dame has green-lit recruiting to be any different than in the past. Notre Dame remains a place that's not for everyone. You have to want to be there. That's not going to change, because that place isn't. Ever. 

Mike, New Jersey: Is it going to be strange seeing Cormac Ryan in Tarheel Blue? I think people that don't pay attention to Notre Dame Basketball are going to be surprised how big of an addition he is for UNC. Thomas Noie: Three of four years ago, it would be beyond bizarre. Same goes for J.J. Starling in the orange of Syracuse. But I digress. Totally agree that the casual Notre Dame fan (of which there are too many), will see Cormac Ryan and what he does at Carolina and be like, wait, what? He has a chance, playing in that program with the guys that he has around him, to have an all-league type of season. Truth telling time - based on what he did in the 2021-22 NCAA tournament, and the way he talked a good game last year (regular-season champions, Final Four capable), I picked him to be first team All-ACC in preseason. Shows you what I know. But if he bottles his potential (a poor man's Kirk Hinrich), first team all-league next year might not be so far-fetched. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I'll add one more portal guy and how "ya never know".  Michael O'Connell was Stanford's starting PG.  I believe he just completed his SOPH year.  He is originally from Long Island, but played BBL at Blair Academy in NJ.  ND reached out.  and offered.  You couldn't script a better fit.  He chose NCST. Thomas Noie: Exactly, When he hit the portal, I texted a guy also on the Notre Dame men's basketball beat and said, there's the guy to go get. The portal's funny like that. Just when you think this guy and that guy would be perfect fits for Notre Dame, they're not. Which makes recruiting all the more critical, but to what point if guys will leave like they left this year. See? Fragile. 

Paul from SB: And what about Cormac Ryan? Did he simply not want to go through the pain of a rebuild? He would have been given the keys to the bus had he stayed. Do you know if he met with Shrews? Thomas Noie: Cormac Ryan had, had, had to go. Had to. No way do you want to return to this program after the tire fire that was last season. You can't. And, honestly, why would you if you're Cormac Ryan? You have your undergrad degree from Notre Dame. You have a Master's. You have only one item on your list - make a deep run in the NCAA tournament and get as many eyes on you as possible to help you in your basketball life after college. Would this team check any of those boxes for Ryan? Doesn't matter if he met with Shrewsberry. The quicker that he - the quicker that everyone - could leave last season behind, the better. Ryan will be better off for it in the long run. Watch. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  What kind of a guarantee did Jenkins and Swarbrick give Micah?  By that I mean, Micah has been around BBL at every level.  He knew taking over at ND was first and foremost putting out a dumpster fire.  He also knows to replenish the roster properly is going to take 3 to 4 years, easily.  Do you think that's the window ND guaranteed him?  You know, you have 4-5 years to pull this together, knowing full well ND is not going to relent on their transfer policy.  I think back to Shrew's comment that "the portal is a 1 year quick fix and he's not going that route." Thomas Noie: Hard to see Father Jenkins offering any sort of a "guarantee." Think it was more along the lines of, you're our No. 1 choice. We're going to compensate you quite handsomely. You'll get a chance to return to a state that you hold dear to your heart. I like Micah Shrewsberry. I believe he has a chance to do some special things at Notre Dame. But he's only been a college head coach for two years. It's not like they went out and convinced Jay Wright to come and take the job. They got a coach, a really good coach, who might one day be a great coach. And the Shrewsberry transfer portal comment the day of his introductory roll out tells you all you need to know about how Notre Dame will rely on the transfer portal (Hint: not much). 

joe from the south side: Tom,  I'll give you two culture changes that will take place.  One, no guaranteed playing time just because you are old.  Shrew doesn't owe anybody anything right now.  Two, accountability.  You don't play D, you don't rebound, you sit the bench.  I don't think Brey liked to discipline players or even ride them hard.  That changed with Shrew's hire. Thomas Noie: Don't let your view of Brey cloud your judgement. Brey could MF guys with the best of them. He just rarely let us see that side. But it was there. 

Tim from Chicago: Hi Tom, thanks for bringing back the chat.  With Brey having been the coach for the past 20+ years, I feel like he also maintained good relations with former players who were supportive of the program and created a sense of family among those guys.  With the hire of a new regime, does losing that connection with the recent past matter at all to the program in today's era of college basketball? Thomas Noie: It matters. It matters a whole lot, and it matters to Micah Shrewsberry. I asked him last week about how many former players had reached out. A lot. Here's what he said when I asked why that was important - "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." Matt Doherty didn't have time to connect with former guys in his only year. Part of him maybe didn't really want to. Mike Brey made it a priority, Micah Shrewsberry will as well. 

Matt from St. Louis: What did you think about Cormac Ryan choosing UNC? How much of an impact do you think he will have for them? Thomas Noie: Totally understandable. Last year was likely his most miserable, frustrating year ever of college basketball. Why come back to that and all those feelings of failure? Start fresh. I mentioned it earlier - Cormac Ryan has a chance to be an all-league guy at North Carolina. He's going to play alongside Armando Bacot and RJ Davis - he never did that at Notre Dame, not even with Blake Wesley, who wasn't BLAKE WESLEY for long stretches of his only season. 

Justin Ft. Wayne: Tom, I need your biggest, boldest prediction for the upcoming season. Let me hear it. Thomas Noie: Notre Dame wins at least one game away from home. Not much, but not nothing after this group went a combined 0-13 away from home last year. To go 0-10 on the road in league play - the first time in school history Notre Dame went winless in league play (Big East, ACC) away from home was a stat that slid under the radar of everything else that was awful last year. So let's go out on a limb and say Irish get at least one win away from South Bend air space. 

Tim from Chicago: Mike Brey became a dinosaur, he didn't evolve with the changing landscape of college basketball.  Lazy on the recruiting trail, suspect assistant coaching staff, not playing underclassmen (not playing Dom Campbell a few minutes consistently per game last season was criminal).  I'm appreciative of what he did for the program, but all ND fans should be rejoicing right now.  Shrews has accomplished a ton in just his first few months in South Bend.  Also, South Florida should be thankful that the deal with Brey didn't work out, nobody goes to Florida at the end of their careers in order to bust their butts.  I'm excited for your upcoming coverage and stories on the new era of ND basketball, this is going to be a lot fun, thanks for taking us on this journey with you. Thomas Noie: True, on almost all of it. I'd push back a bit on the Dom Campbell criminal comment. Campbell might have wanted to get into some semblance of high-major college basketball shape to earn those minutes. But it was time for everything else to end. The Mike Brey experience. The Anthony Solomon defensive guru nonsense. Really, everything about the roster. A fellow beat guy and I were sooooooooo wanting to have every single player jump into the portal so that EVERYTHING about the program would be new and it would be starting over from scratch and rebuilding this from the ground up. Let's see where all of this goes. With Micah Shrewsberry. With his staff. With his recruiting. With this program. It's time. 

Matt Studer, Bowling Green, Ohio: What kind of season do you expect from JR Koniecnzy this year? Thomas Noie: One that shows everyone that he took that last two years seriously and got serious about his game so that said game reflects that. He has a chance to be a key rotation guy. Maybe start. Play more than he's played since he was a senior in high school. But if he steps out on the practice floor for the first time next month, the staff cannot look at him and say, what's he been doing for the last two years? Konieczny knew he wasn't going to play much (really, at all) as a freshman. He knew he was going to sit out last season. He planned to be a main guy in 2023-24. Well, 2023-24 is here, let's see what you've got. 

Joe, Chicago: Brey was famous for going around to the dorms and mingling with the students. Obviously, attendance has been brutal the last few years, does Shrewsberry have the type of personality that would engage in students in a similar manner and does his local ties garner any additional SB fan interest? Thomas Noie: Please, please, please, do not let/ask/expect Micah Shrewsberry to mirror that desperate attempt to drum up student interest. Don't send him to the dorms. Don't let him stand on the tables in South Dining Hall and stump for fans. Let fans be curious enough and hungry enough and care enough that they want to find out about this Notre Dame men's basketball program on their own. We've talked so much about how/if Micah Shrewsberry is on the clock in terms of turning this program into a winner. Same is absolutely true for the fan base - you grew tired of Mike Brey and his program and everything about it that you stopped coming. Stopped caring. No more excuses. Time to deliver and give the new guy a new interest. We've wondered the last few hours whether Shrewsberry has it in him. Does the fan base, the student body have it in THEM? Let's see it. 

Chad , Toledo: How long does Notre Dame give Shrewsberry if ND has 3 straight losing seasons ?Sorry to be negative but this Notre Dame gig is not easy like Brey has always stated!!ACC n home court nothing like the Digger era;Academics and Football first!!! Thomas Noie: You're not negative - you're absolutely right. This gig is not easy. It's really hard. It depends on what those three-straight losing seasons look like. Notre Dame went 3-17 in the ACC last season. Does it go 4-16 next year, then 5-15, then 9-11? Or does it stay relatively linear - 4-16, 5-15, 6-14? Is this team improving or just overwhelmed? Can it compete on the road? Can it hold serve at home. The good thing is that last year's team did NONE of any of that. You knew it was losing the minute it stepped on the floor. This team could well struggle the next three years, but within that struggle, if we see progress, at least there's something that wasn't there last season - hope. 

Jim Tal Valley Center, CA: Hi Tom, truly enjoy your work. Thank you. Did you see any sense of regret, remorse or even guilt on the part of Brey in regard to the dire straits that he was leaving the program in? I'm not saying that he was totally at fault, but the fact remains that much of the disaster that became the roster could be laid at his doorstep. I just don't see how he couldn't feel badly or responsible for what was left behind in his wake. And along that line, do you think Brey got somewhat of a pass and wasn't taken that much to task for the highly dubious status of the team when he departed? Thomas Noie: I think he does, and I think in time, he'll admit that if he saw how all of this was going to unfold, maybe he'd have done something differently. Just walked away in January or left after the end of the 2021-22 season. In the end, he was holding on to something that wasn't there. That he checked out mentally in January trickled down to the rest of the program. He'd fallen so out of touch that I don't think he realized nearly everyone would leave as soon as they left. Think he figured the freshmen would at least wait until a new coach was hired. They were the first to leave. There will be a time, after some reflection, when he admits, yeah, I really burned that thing to the ground. That's on me. 

San Mike Diego: Do you still see yourself staying in touch w/ Brey or did you guys not have that type of relationship? Thomas Noie: You work with somebody for 23 years, through all those wins and losses and ups and downs and everything else, and that doesn't just go away. I'd be surprised if we went our separate ways. The relationship will change - probably for the better - moving forward. Nothing about how I covered him was personal - it was the job. I think he understands that. Respects it even. 

SB Jimbo: Did Shrewsberry get any concessions from ND during the hiring process? I'm thinking in terms of 1-time (to fill out the roster) or ongoing lower academic concessions, higher NIL payouts (not sure that's the right word), or anything else that put Brey's teams at a disadvantage vs other schools. Thanks. Thomas Noie: When Micah Shrewsberry was introduced on March 30, we media dopes were like, can't wait to see what this roster is going to look like in a month. Surely, given its state at that point, the administration gave him a whole lot of leeway to go the quick-fix route and get as many guys as he needed to get. Now we sit here seven weeks later and he's gotten Julian Roper out of Northwestern and Kebba Njie who he had at Penn State. That's it. That also might be it. Shrewsberry also said that day on the floor of Purcell Pavilion that he doesn't believe in quick fixes, and wouldn't rely on them to build out the roster. Maybe he didn't get any concessions. Maybe he's truly married to the long game in this and believes that his way will prove the best way. He'll make sure of it in recruiting. With Brey, when you don't get a portal break AND you don't recruit, you're doomed. He was. 

john from naperville: Tom- thanks for the chat. You wrote after Brey decided to step down, why Notre Dame would be such a tough place to land a big time coach. Then comes Shrewsberry. Obviously the admin made a big time financial commitment, but what else do you think brought him to ND outside of being from Indiana? Thomas Noie: Thanks for the question. I'm not going to knock you and not knocking Micah Shrewsberry, but he's been a college coach for two years. Now, his resume is off-the-charts impressive, but it's a little early to say he's a big-time coach. He's a coach with big-time potential who believes in this program, knows what this state means when it comes to basketball and wants to be here. That matters. The job is still the job. It's a hard job, for reasons we've discussed and already seen. 

Justin Ft. Wayne: Tom, you asked us who will be the breakout player this season so let me ask you, who is your breakout player for this season? Thomas Noie: Way, way, way back before 9 a.m., it was the first question posed in the chat. I went with Matt Zona, given what I saw of him in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game against Virginia Tech. I'd never seen any of that previously, and wanted to see more of it. I don't know how well he was coached, or if he was coached last year once Ryan Humphrey left for Oklahoma. He's the most experienced guy on the roster as we sit here today. Maybe that experience into a role and a season that nobody sees coming. It would alleviate a lot of pressure from Carey Booth and Kebba Njie if that happens. 

Kevin: If shrews coached at iusb that means he really is coming home. Would there have been any ties to nd from that era, like in summer camps, before he got here that you know of? Brey seems to have pushed for Shrews' hire. Thomas Noie: I don't know if he was at IU South Bend long enough to connect with anyone at Notre Dame. He was here for such a short time and had so many other aspects that needed to be addressed, IUSB may well have been the moon. As for Mike Brey having "pushed" for Micah Shrewsberry? Think Jack Swarbrick had his mind made up before anyone that Shrewsberry would be the guy. Getting Brey's input/opinion was kind of like, thanks, but we're good. 

Jake: not sure if ND travels to GT again but if they do, would you expect there to be a get together in atlanta between Brey and Shrewsberry/the team, maybe they’ll say hi or all get dinner together? Thomas Noie: Georgia Tech is one of two permanent repeat opponents (Boston College) for Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so a trip to midtown ATL is on the schedule every year. Having their paths cross next season with Brey, who will be a member of the Atlanta Hawks' coaching staff, might be a little soon. And a little too weird. 

Chris in memphis: Tom, thanks for all you do.  What was the real story about hunter Dickinson’s recruitment at nd?  Did he soft commit then back out?  Feel like that was a huge  negative turning point in brey’s later years, someone Brey was counting on to continue the success after the bonzie years Thomas Noie: Mike Brey had a commitment from Hunter Dickinson. Had him. Done deal. His brother was going to join Brey's staff - he was going to create a position for him to lock that down. It was Thanksgiving Day 2019 when Brey went to Dickinson's home - for dinner. He left with a commitment. Guaranteed. That was basically the beginning of the beginning of the beginning of the end. Or something like that. 

Kevin, chicago: Who are you most excited by of the incoming players? Was booth a big snag? Thomas Noie: How about all of them? After four years of watching Nate Laszewski do what he did and four years of Dane Goodwin doing what he did and three years of Trey Wertz and Cormac Ryan, it will be awesome to have different pieces to the puzzle and how it all fits. Booth was the highest-ranked of all of them, but in talking with Carey, outside of Braeden Shrewsberry deciding to play for his dad, Booth's commitment was the easiest. Booth said no matter where Micah Shrewsberry was going to coach, Booth was going there. Can't wait to see him. And Kebbe Njie. And Markus Burton, who I watched grow up. New cast. New direction. New optimism. 

Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom once Coach Shrewsberry has the program back on solid ground could you see a possible home and home series with Purdue since coach had ties with the Purdue program? I know your disdain for the Crossroads Classic in Indy the past few seasons. Good luck to Coach Brey next season dealing with Dejountae Murray of the Hawks Thomas Noie: Absolutely. I can see Notre Dame playing Butler and Purdue and Indiana - maybe not all in the same season. But Micah Shrewsberry is open to anything and everything in due time. In other words, when he gets this thing going and there's a foundation in place, Notre Dame will play those kind of road games. He gets the state, so he knows what it means to play those schools. Not to say Mike Brey didn't, but he didn't want to be tied in too deeply to the Midwest. Shrewsberry won't either. He wants the Irish to be able to do what the women's program is doing this season - playing South Carolina in Paris. Shrewsberry's like, we're Notre Dame. We can do that. They can. They will. 

joe from the south side: Tom, I think it would be foolish not to mention the importance of Kyle Getter.  He was UVA's Recruiting Director, and Bennett never lacked talent at a program that, from all appearances, was pretty clean.  SO, hopefully, that translates to ND.  Won a Natty there.  Was successful at every stop along the way to here, and is a Dayton Flyer alum (opportunity for our host to offer a shameless plug). Thomas Noie: Rule No. 1 if you want to make it in this business - never, ever bury the lead. You buried the lead. Kyle Getter is a Dayton guy! A Dayton graduate school guy, but UD is UD. I'm intrigued to watch Shrewsberry's staff work. The interaction. The knowledge. The dynamic. Who's the heavy? Who's the sounding board? Again, that new car smell to everything, staff included. 

Kyle Thibideau: Why was recruiting such a problem for Brey and how did Shrews flip that narrative? And another question why did Jr Koniezny get no playing time as he enters his junior year? Thomas Noie: Think Mike Brey just gave up trying to overcome all the recruiting obstacles. Take the top 100 kids every years by whatever ranking you follow. Of those 100, maybe 10 - maybe - have the grades to get into Notre Dame. Of those 10, maybe two are really interested in getting a Notre Dame education. So that pool is already severely limited. You gotta grind to find guys like Bonzie Colson and Pat Connaughton and Matt Farrell. Brey didn't want to grind. Micah Shrewsberry has shown he's willing to grind, but now you've got to get guys - get guys that weren't first committed to you at Penn State. That's next for Shrewsberry. As for J.R. Konieczny, he wasn't good enough/ready enough to play as a freshman and decided to redshirt last year because of so many older guys in front of him. He knew then that this could/should be his year. Time to get after it. 

Jim Tal Valley Center, CA: Tom, given the testing circumstances that he inherited, I think that Micah S. has done a most commendable job of trying to build back a scarily depleted roster. Kudos to him. But I was just wondering as it relates to his hiring, was anyone else really given super serious consideration? Swarbrick says so but I'm skeptical about his claim. From the outside, it seems like Micah was the go-to guy from the start and that nobody else was really a bona fide and legitimate candidate to land the coaching gig. I don't believe any others stood a ghost of a chance as long as Micah wanted the job. So, the talk of this being a legitimately open competition seems bogus. In your opinion, was anyone else truly in the running to be the next ND coach? Thomas Noie: Honestly, I don't believe so. I believe that Jack Swarbrick and his staff (I see you Aaron Horvath) did their due diligence in terms of vetting candidates and building a tier system of possible coaches but at the end of the day, this list began with and ended with and included Shrewsberry. It was a relatively easy process. And, despite what others at Notre Dame have said, relatively quick. He was the guy. If Notre Dame could match what Penn State would offer financially, it was a done deal. The deal got done.\ 

San Mike Diego: Have you heard anything on Mike Sharavjamts (freshman transfer from Dayton)? Feel like he has ND written all over him Thomas Noie: Mongolian Mike? What gives you the idea he'd entertain transferring to Notre Dame? Dayton was the perfect spot for him (seriously), but in his view, perfect in that it would get him to the NBA quicker. It's the old Fran Fraschilla adage - he's two years away from being two years away. He wanted to get to the NBA quickly while at UD. That doesn't scream ND fit in any way, shape or form. 

San Mike Diego: Have you heard anything on Demarr Langford from BC? I think I saw we were in on him early Thomas Noie: Pass. DeMarr Langford is a shooting guard/swingman and Notre Dame has plenty of those. He played a lot and did a little last season at Boston College - 7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 28.3 minutes. Shot .442 percent from field, .263 percent from 3, .714 from foul line. Just kind of there. His brother was better. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  In defense of Shrew, he did get Cole Certa.  That said, getting a Catholic kid out of Bloomington, IL is not exactly a stretch.  I'll say this, part of the litmus test will be the 2025 kids.  IND has a couple of big time guys, which includes Sisley and Haralson.  Throw in western OH and you really up the ante.  That is why the game is so fickle.  You are trying to beat ACC BBL blue bloods, really good programs like UVA and MIA, in your own state you have to out recruit Woodson, Matta and Painter, you have the toughest academic standrads imposed on you and all of this rests on you evaluating the talent level of 15-16-17 year old kids.  Sounds like a crap shoot to me. Thomas Noie: All true, and Certa's fine, but don't know what the competition was for him so early in the process. As we've said, it's a hard job. It was for Mike Brey. It will be for Micah Shrewsberry. Brey won, often when he had no business winning. Will Shrewsberry? 

San Mike Diego: Does ND have a lot of SG / Swingmen tho? (Sanders - barely played in 3 season, JR - hopefully steps up; Roper - best proven swingman (saying that with a lot of regret); 2 Freshman in Cormac Jr and Micah Jr). Doesnt scream deep to me and ND has 4 open scholarships and only have to give him 1 year. Yes, Langford isnt great at all but athletic and an extra body for minutes, yes. Also, once he came toBC they started beating ND pretty regularly.. just sayin.. Thomas Noie: You just mentioned four shooting guards. Three of whom are Shrewsberry guys and a fourth (JRK) who might be pretty good. That's a lot of shots/basketballs to go around to get to a fifth. Don't think DerMarr Langford was the reason Notre Dame lost to Boston College. His brother was better. So were about three other guys. 

Linas from OC: Hey Tom! Glad to have the chat back. Now, as a fan of a certain age, I saw a lot of Bill Laimbeer in Matt Zona at the end of the season. Not afraid to mix it up, plays with some swagger and a bit of an edge. Thoughts? (Yes, Laimbeer is from So Cal:) Thomas Noie: Matt Zona may be a little more happy-go-lucky than Bill Laimbeer who was known to not like just about everybody. But the comparison fits. Zona can be a big body/bruiser who gets in everyone's way and makes the occasional shot. Maybe there's a spot for him. Maybe he was a one-game wonder. Will be nice to find out, right? 😃 

Matt from LIC: Hi Tom, In defense of Brey (I've read a lot of how he got "lazy" in recent years) nobody, and I mean nobody, saw this past season coming. Many were thinking final four. Plus, he had a top recruiting class coming in, and a good class this past season. The class from 5 years ago was top 10. Fair? Thomas Noie: Everyone wants to know why the big, bad SBT guy was so mean to the program last year. Great that you mentioned Final Four. That didn't come from us know-nothing writers. It came from the players (specifically Cormac Ryan). Same with winning an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship. That was stuff they talked about, not us. So when it collapses as epically as it collapses, well, it has to be more than just the lazy coach at fault, right? If Brey is at fault for anything in regard to a recruiting class that was ranked among the top 15 in the country, it would be this - he put way too much faith and trust and belief in a group that also would come to include Ryan and Trey Wertz that did absolutely nothing to reciprocate it. Part of the reason Brey didn't recruit as hard as he maybe should've recruited was that he wanted to give those guys every shot at success. How did they thank him? With one good year spearheaded by a freshman (Blake Wesley) and a graduate transfer (Paul Atkinson). 

Mike, IL: Tom, any thoughts on why the NBA intrigued Brey? Thomas Noie: He didn't know what to do with himself. Probably still doesn't. For so many years, his profession kept him married to the calendar. After a college basketball season ended, he did this and this and this until a few weeks off, and then, the start of another school year and season. Not having anything to do next after the season - his last season - ended scared the hell out of him. Probably still does. That's why he chased a USF job he had no business chasing. Working with the Atlanta Hawks and good friend Quin Snyder offers a soft landing. He can get back in the basketball coaching game without going all in. He may decide after six months its not for him. That he has to be a head coach. Or he may realize, yeah, it's time to retire to Florida and be a former coach and a grandfather. It's hard. 

Bob from chicago: Tom, if ND is a 500 team, do you expect an uptick in attendance especially from the students. ? Thomas Noie: The reason - the stated reason from the students - about why they didn't attend games is gone. It wasn't that they weren't good - even when they good, the attendance wasn't all that great. They went 15-5 in the ACC and nearly made the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2021-22 with a future first-round NBA draft pick and local guy in Blake Wesley and they had only one sellout that season. It's not been the product, but the guy in charge of the product that turned the student body off. Now Mike Brey is gone and Micah Shrewsberry is here. Student body's out of excuses not to go to games. Time to deliver. 

San Mike Diego: Why do you say Mike Brey turned the students off? Just curious if you know something deeper. Been an ND fan all of my life and absoluely love MB. So bummed it ended the way it did but gave us so many great memories / quotes. If it wasnt winning games then what turned the students off w/ MB? Thomas Noie: It was obvious in 2021-22 and even more so early in 2022-23 when Notre Dame had about 150 students in the stands for Marquette that they didn't like the product on the floor. It wasn't just students. It was casual fans. It was long-time season ticket holders. It was even the media (seriously). It was just time for a change. 

Kurt from Eire: Tom. Curious about your read on Imes. You probably saw him a bunch in high school ball. Do you think he might have a role? Thomas Noie: Zionsville is close to three hours away from South Bend, so I never saw Logan Imes play, but when you have only nine scholarship guys, everyone has a chance to have a role. But this can't be emphasized and re-emphasized enough - the jump from high school basketball to elite Atlantic Coast Conference level basketball is massive. Can't compete with men if you're a boy. Not in that league. Freshmen want to play? Better bring it in the weight room, the practice floor, everywhere. 

Kurt from Eire: Follow up. Did you watch Penn State at all last year? Do you think Njie will be mainly a 3/4 or 4/5? Does he have good athleticism? Thomas Noie: Very little. Even when you're watching, you're not really watching. Or understanding the roster. Or potential. Even then, Micah Shrewsberry was going to be the guy - or maybe be the guy. From what I remember in seeing him at La Lumiere (I was often there, but to watch J.J. Starling), Njie is more a 4/5 kind of guy. Or maybe, 3.5/4.5. Not a traditional big and not a traditional stretch 4. Kind of a hybrid. Athleticism? Enough to compete in the ACC. 

San Mike Diego: Okay Noie.. can you give us 3 guys you would want ND to pick up currently in the Portal? We've been throwing you names but now we want to hear from you Thomas Noie: Absolutely - they'd be J.J. Starling, Cormac Ryan and Ven-Allen Lubin. Ducking the question? No, it's because I'm familiar with their games and how they might fit. There are over 1,600 players in the portal. Pinpointing three is like throwing darts at a board. Nobody knows who would fit or if they'd fit. At Notre Dame, it has to be all about fit. And, oh, yeah, by the way, you've got to go to class, which isn't always an easy proposition. How does the portal work? A coach knows a coach who knows a coach who knows a relative who knows that Johnny would be the perfect fit for Notre Dame. Then a few calls are made. Some film is analyzed. Before you know it, you have a fit. Just get two veteran guards, and Micah Shrewsberry and his staff might be smart enough to figure out the rest. 

joe from the south side: Tom, Njie...think Juwan Durham lite. Shot block a little, rebound, no offensive skills. Thomas Noie: Not exactly a ringing endorsement there my man! Not even an endorsement. 

joe from the south side: Tom,  Sgt. Joe Friday, "Just the facts". Thomas Noie: Amen my man! 

joe from the south side: Tom,  FWIW, the first time I saw Harangody play I thought he would hurt himself AND an opponent.  Shows you what I know. Thomas Noie: He was a runaway freight train in a lot of ways. But he also was a bucket. 

 Thomas Noie: Just rolled back to our previous chat in January to see the results of our poll question - who should be next Notre Dame coach? It was Chris Quinn at 16.4 percent, Pat Kelsey at 14.8, Martin Ingelsby at 11.5, Darian DeVries and Micah Shrewsberry at 8.2 percent. The landslide winner at 34.4 percent of the vote? Somebody else. Shows you what we knew....😃