NDI’s Tom Noie held his monthly Notre Dame men’s basketball chat on May 5. Here’s a complete (albeit lengthy) transcript of that session.
Tom Noie: Welcome to May and welcome to another Notre Dame men’s basketball chat. There’s been no shortage since we last met – players coming, players going, schedule stuff, etc. To join today’s chat, be sure to include your name and hometown. And with that, let’s light this May chat candle…
Bob: What is your best guess on the big men on NDs roster next season?
Tom Noie: Bob: Is “Too early to tell….” an option. Right now, it would be just a guess, with a possible big man (or two) to be named later. Right now, the number of bigs on the roster is slim – junior to be Matt Zona and incoming freshmen Dom Campbell and Ven-Allen Lubin. Notre Dame may (stress may) add another big via the transfer portal and may (again, stress may) get Nate Laszewski back for his super senior season. Those two possibilities may be a coin flip. Stay tuned.
Linas from Aliso Viejo, CA: Hey Tom, Thanks for keeping the “hot stove” league alive in the off season for all the hard core Irish fans. I assume Basile will decide soon, if he hasn’t already by the time you read this. If not Notre Dame, have you heard about any other transfer portal players scheduled for a visit? Also, any concerns about Hammond fitting in with his less than desirable (compared to Prentiss Hubb) assists to turnover ratio? Have not seen him play but I assume Brey and staff have done their homework and found a guard to shares the ball as well as all of Brey’s teams have done during his tenure here
Tom Noie: Linas: We’re here year-round for you scratch your hoops itch. There’s never a bad time to talk hoops, especially on another fall-like spring day in Northern Indiana. For those of you missed it, Wright State power forward Grant Basile chose Virginia Tech over Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Iowa State on Wednesday. He was the top big man target of Notre Dame to replace graduate transfer Paul Atkinson, who arguably was the team’s most valuable player last season (I’d lean toward Dane Goodwin). Right now, there is no concrete second choice, though the Irish staff will continue to monitor the transfer portal.
For those who missed it, Notre Dame added a transfer guard last week in former Niagara standout Marcus Hammond. To be fair, nobody is going to have an assist/turnover ratio comparable to what former Irish guard Prentiss Hubb did last season (4.4 A/T ratio in ACC play). Hammond was asked to do more of the scoring lifting for the Purple Eagles last season – he led the team in scoring (18.1) field goal attempts (408) and 3-point attempts (184). He was second on the team in assists (84) and led the team in turnovers (64). Having never seen him play, I think Hammond fills more of the Blake Wesley role on next season’s team than Hubb’s role. Mike Brey believes he can never have too many guards – and especially veteran guards. Wesley’s likely departure after one year for the NBA opened that door. In speaking with Hammond, he just wants to fit in and win, something he surely can do with this group. He may not need to be a MAIN guy, but will be one of the veteran guys.
Jim Reagan, Charlottesville, BA: Hi Tom. Love this Chat! Mike Brey has managed the stress of coaching 🏀 at ND well enough to have earned the MO of (almost) never letting’em see you sweat. So I will worry aloud for him about a dearth of capable Bigs on next season’s team. As of now the suspects are three, a Junior without meaningful minutes since HS, and two Freshmen, one not ready for the rotation and the other playing out of position in it. Thoughts? Oh yeah, the question! What Bigs are in the now closed Transport Portal who Brey is recruiting to continue the excellent precedent of SAVING A SEASON that Paul Atkinson, Jr set I ‘21?
Tom Noie: Jim: First, don’t believe the hype – Mike Brey may be Mr. Loosest Coach in America on the outside, but on the inside, he’s tied up in knots. That’s something he may be at times this season with the lack of another veteran big. Grant Basile was the top target – there really wasn’t a clear No. 2. Notre Dame will continue to monitor the transfer portal for a possible addition, but I get the feeling they’re ready to move forward with Matt Zona and Ven-Allen Lubin and possibly Nate Laszewski if needed. That will be a situation worth monitoring moving forward. We may not have an answer of what the big man situation will look like at least until June 1 (when Laszewski has to decide) and then maybe closer to summer school (which starts in mid June).
Willie from Mishawaka: Recently I learned that the football team has a group(Irish Players Club) that raises funds to help the current players with funding(NIL?). Is there a group or one being planned to help the basketball team with funding(NIL)?
Tom Noie: Willie: Not yet. The whole name, Image and Likeness circus hasn’t made a full stop at Rolfs Hall just yet. There were only a couple of instances (at least publicly) when NIL was a factor on last season’s team. A handful of players conducted a preseason clinic at South Bend Saint Joseph High School to earn a couple bucks. Also, Nate Laszewski and Cormac Ryan had something with Drive and Shine, a company you’re probably familiar with. Laszewski and Ryan even filmed a commercial for Drive and Shine, where Laszewski uses a car vacuum as a hair dryer. There may be additional NIL opportunities moving forward, but this group was more focused on playing basketball than making money.
Dan: Laszewski and Basile update? And do you feel how one might decide might affect the decison of the
Tom Noie: Dan: That’s going to be a popular topic today (understandably) and it’s been addressed. Scroll up (or down) to find the intel. From what I’ve learned, Basile was a bit hesitant with the number of bigs already on the roster, which steered him to look closer at Virginia Tech. That may mean Laszewski COULD return instead of chasing his pro dreams.
Dan: How do you think this team potentially ranks as a shooting team (both fg and ft) versus previous ND teams?
Tom Noie: Too early to tell, in that we don’t know if Notre Dame will have that one big down low who can/will/should a high percentage. Last year’s team finished at .463 percent from the field and .389 percent from the foul line. A lot of the FG percentage was boosted by Paul Atkinson, who shot a team-best .587. Right now, there’s nobody on the roster who you can pencil in as a .500 percent guy from the field. They may not have a guy. Going back since the 2010-11 season, no team shot it better from the field or from 3 than that 2014-15 outfit, which finished at .509 from the field, .390 from 3. That team is without peer for myriad reasons. It had everything – an All-American point guard (Jerian Grant), a more-than-capable big (Zach Auguste) and perimeter guys who could make shots from distance and at the rim. The 2022-23 team may not have any of those ingredients to start, but could eventually develop into a high-percentage team.
NDHoopsAddict: Is Laszewski exit a done deal, or any hope he returns?
Tom Noie: Honestly, I can’t quite get a handle on what Nate Laszewski wants to do or what he could do. From the intel we had throughout the season, there were two schools of thought – guys who were definitely coming back and guys who were classified by those close to the program as “extreme longshots.” The guys who were definitely thought to be coming back – Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, likely Trey Wertz – have come back. The “extreme longshots” were Prentiss Hubb and Nate Laszewski, just because the feeling inside Rolfs Hall was that both were ready to begin the next chapter of their lives, whatever that meant from a basketball standpoint. Laszewski is in full-on chase mode in terms of his NBA dream. What does that mean? It may not mean many individual workouts or an invite to the upcoming NBA combine. That still might not be enough for him to give college one more try. Those close to the program believe he might be 50/50 in terms of staying or going. It might be more like 40/60 for him to return.
Joe from Katy, TX: Tom, I get the basic principles of Brey’s type of free-flowing offense. However, one thing I’ve never been able to understand is why so many times there isn’t a single ND player inside the 3 point line after a teammate lets one fly from behind the arc. It’s not just that all 5 players are beyond the 3 point line at the time of the shot. After the release nobody runs in to try to get the offensive rebound. Obviously this doesn’t happen on every possession, but it’s staggering how many times it does occur. Why the lack of attempts at offensive rebounds? I theory, a missed 3 pointer should be easier for a “vertically challenged” team to rebound since the carom is less predictable and can easily soar over a defender who has the better rim position. Teams have been able to turn some of those misses into easy fast break points, even with ND’s defenders sagging into the backcourt. I’m guessing opposing coaches tell some of their players to leak out vs worrying about crashing the defensive boards.
Tom Noie: Joe:” Good stuff, kind of….lol. Paul Atkinson shot two 3s last season, so I’d guess more often than not that he was somewhere inside the paint on a missed 3. Mike Brey would rather play the percentages that his guys will make enough shots from 3 and not worry about offensive rebounds to the point where it sacrifices the floor balance back on the defensive end. We all know that a missed three can be the first pass of a fast break back the other way, right? It’s more important to get back on defense than battle for an offensive rebound. That speaks to this team being shot makers. Mike Brey believes they’re going to make enough shots (especially from 3) where he doesn’t have to worry about offensive rebounds. Make shots, get back and defend.
Ron: Hopefully the Irish get Grant Basile and Nate returns. Any other options for ND?
Tom Noie: Ron: Right now, plenty of options in the ever-open transfer portal. But none that are as serious as Basile. That may change in the coming weeks. That might not.
Brian: Good morning, Tom. For 2022-23 nonconference games, I’m tracking St. Bonaventure at UBS Arena in New York on November 25, Marquette at home on December 11, and Bowling Green at home TBD. Are there any other games scheduled? Any insight as to when they’ll release more matchups? Thank you!
Tom Noie: Brian: The annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge will be the first week of December – matchups usually are announced later this month. Notre Dame is due a home game this season. How about a First Four rematch against former Big East colleague Rutgers? That double-overtime game arguably was the best game of the NCAA tournament (we see you, Saint Peter’s). The leagues try to schedule it where teams that played at home last year go on the road this year. For Big Ten teams, that would be Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, Maryland and Penn State. Notre Dame already has done the Challenge dance with Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State and Maryland. The Terps also have the option of sitting out this one because they have a first-year coach in Kevin Willard. Playing Purdue at home would be cool now that the Crossroads Classic is done. We’ll see how that shapes up. No Crossroads opens another non-conference slot. We’ll see how Notre Dame fills that.
San Diego Mike: Surprised to see Carmody didn’t enter the transfer portal… any word on the latest from Robby?
Tom Noie: Mike: Not really. Robby Carmody will graduate this month from Notre Dame and seemingly has five or six years of eligibility remaining. He may return to the roster for 2022-23 but his lingering knee issues will prohibit him from ever having more of a role than just practice player/team guy. He’s tried to work his way back and would practice for two weeks, then have to be shut down because of swelling/soreness. That was the routine this year – back for a couple weeks and feeling good, then back out because of soreness. It’s never going to NOT be an issue. I can see him staying on this season to earn a Master’s and then maybe going somewhere other than D-I to give it one more (limited) chance.
joe from the south side: Tom, There seems to be a renewed vigor to Brey and recruiting. He has to have 10+ offers out there for 23 and 24. Do you attribute this to Slo? Antoni? Brey? Or with the new D1 landscape, it is recruit like crazy, including the transfer portal, or get left in the dust?
Tom Noie: Joe: How about NONE of the above? Seriously. It wasn’t like Brey and that staff shelved recruiting the past few years, though I know that’s the perception. Brey was going to give that senior class of Hubb, Goodwin and Laszewski (then Ryan and Wertz) every chance to max out their college careers. That meant not recruiting over them when maybe they should’ve been recruited over. That run was coming to an end last season (though the super senior seasons will be a factor) so Brey knew he and his staff had to deliver. Welcome, J.J. Starling and Ven-Allen Lubin and Dom Campbell. Now there’s some momentum, so build off it. But again, how much? Recruiting the portal and understanding how to use it might be more important than scouting high school kids at AAU tournaments. Given the pool of prospects that Notre Dame can be serious about and are serious about Notre Dame, there’s always going to be the perception of “being left in the dust.” It takes a different kind of kid to want to go to Notre Dame. Just does.
joe from the south side: Tom, A bit shocked that only Taylor officially left. You? Any others who might go even after the deadline has passed? Carmody? Part 2 is Wertz staying was also crazy. I guess the ND education must have real value to him and hats off are in order. But, he has to be at least the 5th guard behind Dane, Cormac, JJS and Hammond.
Tom Noie: Joe: Yes and no on Elijah Taylor. Figured he’d stay because he never really had a chance to do anything his first two years after ankle surgery as a freshman and then academic issues as a sophomore. Then again, maybe he decides to rid himself of the black cloud that hovered over him since he arrived by finding a fresh start. Can’t say exactly what the Irish are losing because we saw so little of him. His best game was against Illinois, a game I was courtside for last year but neck-deep into the Brian Kelly breaking news that I barely noticed Taylor on the court. Carmody’s situation was addressed earlier. It’s not like he can parachute out and into another D-I program given the lingering injury issues. I am a bit surprised that Trey Wertz is back. Word late last season was he’d want more of a role than this season (18.8 minutes per game), but I don’t know how that improves in 2022-23. You mentioned the four guards ahead of him, but Notre Dame also has to figure out what it has in J.R. Konieczny as well.
joe from the south side: Tom, Any update on Laz? I would say 10% ND, 0% NBA, 90% BBL overseas. What are you hearing?
Tom Noie: As of this week, it was 50/50 on whether Nate Laszewski would return, though I’d put it more like 40/60. He was considered an “extreme longshot” for much of this past season. And his reaction to my question about having another senior day during this past senior day was about as awkward as awkward gets.
joe from the south side: Tom, Anything on Basile from Wright St.? Looks to be a 3 horse race (I may be off but VTECH is on the outside here). Is there a Plan B if Basile goes to say, WISC, and Laz goes overseas?
Tom Noie: Joe: Sure you know by now that Basile picked Virginia Tech. Plan B is to …. find a Plan B. 😃
Schoondog1: What is the deadline for Nate Laszewski to declare if he is coming back next year or not?
Tom Noie: Nate Laszewski has until June 1 to decide whether to remain in the NBA draft or return to school for his super senior season.
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Hi Tom this is more a general college hoops question. Would you like to see any rule changes to college hoops? For me there would be 2 rules I would take from the NBA and the first is have the 3 second call on defense. The game needs to be opened up and increase scoring on offense and get rid of defenders camping in the lane and not guarding anyone on offense. The second would be advancing the ball to mid court after a time out in the last 2 minutes. Puts more excitement in the game and the offense has a decent chance to score with 2 seconds or less in a game.
Tom Noie: Mark: Good stuff. Definitely would like the defensive three-second call to open up offenses. Along those same lines, make it more of a trapezoid lane which also would increase spacing/freedom of movement. That’s been on the docket for years, so not sure it’s ever going to to advance past that. I’m all for advancing the ball to halfcourt in the last two minutes. If the NBA can do it, where the skill level/shot making is far greater than college, let the college kids do it to. There’s nothing worse than having to go the length of the court in two seconds to win/tie a game. Yeah, that’s not happening.
Joe: Some NBA mock drafts are showing Wesley close to the end of the first round. Any chance he changes his mind?
Tom Noie: Joe: I’m actually kind of stunned that we’re nearly 90 minutes into the chat and this is the first Blake Wesley question. Mocks right now are akin to NIL and the transfer portal – it’s Thunderdome. Everyone can do a mock. I saw three mocks on Twitter all post within an hour on Wednesday and Wesley was listed like the 15th, 24th and 40th prospect. Nobody really knows, even if they say they know. This month will give us a better indication of exactly where Blake Wesley fits with NBA teams starting individual workouts and the NBA combine starting May 16. As for whether he changes his mind, he will be the first one-and-done at Notre Dame. That door closed for good when the Irish landed Marcus Hammond.
Todd, Waynesville, NC: Any idea on Nate’s progress in his training for NBA Draft? Is he getting positive feedback? With Basille heading to VaTech (thought for sure he was Irish), A Nate return would be really nice.
Tom Noie: Todd: Both Nate Laszewski and Blake Wesley have been (or had been) training out in Las Vegas at IMPACT, run by longtime NBA workout guy Joe Abunassar, whose son is a manager for the Irish men’s basketball team. Individual/team workouts will ramp up here in the coming days. Don’t know how much feedback either have received. That usually starts at the NBA Combine in the middle of the month. That gives guys two weeks to collect their intel and decide whether to return. Both likely have played their final games at Notre Dame. Wesley more so than Laszewski, who still could return.
Dan from Jersey: Hi Tom. Sorry I missed you at Barclays.. in the past I remember hearing about some of our” Bigs “ attending Big Men Camps in the off-season to hone their skills in the paint.Do you think that is something that could help Zona become the next Cooley/ Harangody and do you know if that is a plan.
Tom Noie: Dan: I was at Barclays for basically five minutes (thanks for that Virginia Tech) before I was back at my hotel and off to LaGuardia for a flight home. Worst matchup for Notre Dame was Virginia Tech. I had packed for four days, but kind of figured I’d be home way sooner. Anyway, I digress. Those summer camps for big men haven’t been around since the Jack Cooley days. There are opportunities for Matt Zona to maybe join a college all-star team for a week-long tour of Europe where they play exhibition games. That’s always an option. It also might be more important for him (and for Ven-Allen Lubin and Dom Campbell) to be back on campus in June and get reps/familiarity with the main guys. Summer’s critical for guys in this program. It’s best they stay close to Rolfs.
Pat H. Springfield Illinois: If Grant Basile does not commit to ND, what are the options for a front line player? What is your take on where Basile will land?
Tom Noie: Pat: I’d say Virginia Tech..😄
Ryan mars pa: Good morning Tom what do you think about next year team with Dane cormac coming back anyone else coming back go Irish and with the recruits coming back
Tom Noie: Ryan: If – and it’s a big IF – they can figure out the frontline situation, there’s a chance that this team could be better than last year. No, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be better than 15-5. The league will make sure that doesn’t happen again. Notre Dame was good against a lot of the league’s bad teams. But…if J.J. Starling can adjust quickly and Cormac Ryan picks up where he left off and Goodwin plays more like he did in December and January and early February and Marcus Hammond can find his niche….there’s a chance. I like the roster. I like their chances.
Robert from Mishawaka: Notre Dame seems to have failed on getting a big man(Basile, Washington, Bates) to commit from the portal, do they still have a interest in someone?
Tom Noie: Robert: There’s always interest and Notre Dame is always mining the portal for potential fits, but they have to be exactly that – fits. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Oh, Notre Dame needs a big man. Just jump in the portal and grab a big or two or three. Remember, not only do prospects need to have an interest in Notre Dame, their college transcripts need to line up as if they were attending Notre Dame. That eliminates a big chunk of possible contributors. It’s a lot more difficult than it may look.
California Mike: hi Tom.. couple of questions: 1) what were your thoughts on when Blake told you to take your post down on him testing NBA.. 2) please tell me we’re talking to Osun Osunniyi.. he would be an upgrade from Basile IMO
Tom Noie: Delete that bruh…Yeah, that was pretty amusing when Blake Wesley clapped back on Twitter after my story (which quoted Mike Brey on a Chicago radio station) about Wesley going the NBA route. That’s just a case of a kid being a kid and not really understanding how everything works. I mentioned it to Blake in a direct message – when the head coach of the basketball program you cover goes on a Chicago radio station and mentions a player’s plans, you have to report that. Sorry if it messed up with Blake’s announcement plan. Honestly, I think Blake just saw my tweet about his NBA plans and never clicked on the actual link, which was a story quoting the head coach. Was doing my job, It did make for a funny couple of days – every time I’d see a media member, they’d quote Wesley…😄
As for Notre Dame landing Saint Bonaventure big man Osun Osunniyi, stay tuned. Grant Basile was option No. 1. Notre Dame exploring its other options now that Basile chose Virginia Tech. If you’re a transfer big man in the portal who has experience, you’d think Notre Dame would be a viable option. Doesn’t always work that way, though.
Mike,New Jersey: Hi Tom, I love the addition of Hammond and hopefully we can pull an established big from the portal as well. My one concern would be is the make up of this roster going to be lacking of guys who can actually get into the paint and create their own shot for themselves and others? The loss of Hubb and most likely Wesley leaves a huge hole to fill for this skill set.
Tom Noie: Mike: Good stuff, but Prentiss Hubb was more about leadership (and tutoring Blake Wesley) than he was about getting to the rim and finishing. Same for Wesley. He could GET there, but he had a heck of a time trying to finish if it wasn’t a dunk, and he only had a handful of those last season. Wesley struggled to finish at the rim and finish in traffic. It also didn’t help that he struggled to shoot free throws (.657 percent). Wesley got the foul line 143 times last season – Marcus Hammond got there 130. He also shot .831 percent.
Hammond and J.J. Starling spelling Hubb and Wesley next season brings a different kind of dimension. It’s intriguing to see. That hole you speak of? Not as big as you might fear. They should be fine.
Robert from Mishawaka: Speaking of NIL. At first I thought letting a scholar athlete make a few bucks playing in a band, etc was a good thing. But now after seeing the U of Miami(Wong) story, it needs to be revised. It is nothing but a recruiting tool at most schools.
Tom Noie: Robert: The next few years (hopefully at the most) will be ridiculous in terms of NIL. You’ll get stories like Isaiah Wong wanting more cash, but eventually, everyone will take a step back and say, wait, we payed X amount of dollars to this basketball player or that basketball player and never got to a Sweet 16 or even made an NCAA tournament. is Isaiah Wong taking Miami to a Final Four? Probably not. You can pay anybody to play for program X, Y or Z, but they have to be the right kind of guy. That will eventually sort itself out. Until then, buckle up. It’s Thunderdome.
Willie from Mishawaka: Besides playing Saint Bonaventure, do you any other insight on non conference opponents?
Tom Noie: Willie: Notre Dame’s non-league schedule will include Saint Bonaventure, Marquette and Bowling Green for sure, with an opponent to be determined in the annual ACC/Big Ten challenge (likely a home game for Notre Dame). Other non-league home games will trickle out between now and mid-September. Marquee opponents? Probably on the slim side this season.
Guest: Good morning Tom. This is Bret from Orange County, CA. In your opinion will Brey sign a good big man from the portal? Basile deciding to play for Virginia Tech could be a big blow to our season if Brey does not sign someone. Also what’s the latest news regarding Wertz? I’m assuming he will be back but nothing has been announced. Do you think Wertz will be back?
Tom Noie: Bret: Good to hear from you. Notre Dame still mining the transfer portal for the right kind of big man. With emphasis on right. There has to be a fit, more so at Notre Dame than anywhere else. As for Trey Wertz, since he wasn’t in the portal as of the May 1 deadline, he’s 99.9999999 percent back. He just didn’t make a big production of it. Like Cormac Ryan, who’s not a big social media guy. It’s kind of like, yeah, I’m back, so let’s go. If Wertz leaves now, he’d have to sit out a year. And getting a Master’s was big for him.
Dan: How good is Marcus Hammond?
Tom Noie: Dan: Don’t know. Stats-wise, he seems really good, but again, how does his game translate to playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It’s an adjustment, but it’s one he wants to experience. It will be interesting to see how his game fits, at Notre Dame and in that league.
bret: Hi Tom this is Bret from Orange County. Is Blake Wesley 100% done with Notre Dame? Obviously he’s not ready for the NBA and if he does not perform well this month and advised to return to Notre Dame would he? In your opinion what’s the chances in percentages that he will be playing for Notre Dame next season.
Tom Noie: Bret: The chances of Blake Wesley returning to Notre Dame are way closer to zero to less than zero than anything the other direction. Every indication when Blake announced his plan was that this was an all-in situation, even if he’s advised (and he likely will be) by NBA personnel to return to school. It would be beyond stunning if he were back at Notre Dame. He thought of himself as a one-and-done guy from the start. One and done it will be.
joe from the south side: Tom, Let me add something to Basile. My question was written on WED, before he declared. I said no chance to VTECH. Here’s why. Mutts and Alume declared for the draft, but left their college eligibility open. They have as much chance of getting drafted by the NBA as Nate L. In addition, both will be 24 years old next year. I don’t know who told Basile that the situation was “too crowded” at ND, but if Mutts and Alume both return, Basile’s butt is going to be full of splinters.
Tom Noie: Word is Grant Basile looked at the Notre Dame roster and was skeptical. He saw more immediate playing time at Virginia Tech, so he picked Blacksburg.
Mike from Fort Worth: Tom I know you’re an A-10 guy! UD had a season at least worth tuning into late, so I would think you would have some awareness of the senior-laden crew that St. Bonnies had this year… thoughts on the big man Osun Osunniyi? Super rangey big that is an awesome defensive presence, but not the offensive presence that Atkinson was. I have heard there’s some interest… any Irish intel on Osunniyi? He’s one of a few surprise transfers looking for one last college year away from upstate NY…
Tom Noie: Mike: A-10 ONLY when the Dayton Flyers are involved. Otherwise, I’ve got my hands and my eyes full with the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Osunniyi situation is still developing in terms of Notre Dame. All the focus was on getting Grant Basile. Now let’s see where the Irish go from here.
Mike from PA: Tom, any additional insight on why Blake Wesley asked you to take down the article you wrote about him entering the draft? The infamous “Can you take this down bruh” article. Also, why was his statement different than what Brey said a day earlier, that he was leaving his options open? It seems like they weren’t on the same page. If his projections slip to round 2, is the option to come back still on the table, even if unlikely?
Tom Noie: Mike: Addressed the delete this bruh post a little earlier. It’s just a kid being a kid and not understanding exactly how the business works – but in his defense, I don’t think Blake clicked on the link, which contained a story about Mike Brey going on Chicago radio and saying he at the least would test the waters. We all knew that would happen. So I wrote it up. Blake saw the Tweet and took it as if NDI was breaking news of him leaving. We weren’t. Blake wants to be first, he really should’ve posted his plan the minute Brey left his house the previous night. And no, player and coach weren’t on the same page, because listening to those to Wesley, there never is/was/will be a contingency plan of returning. He’s all in. College basketball is in the rearview mirror.
Tim from Chicago: Hi Tom, thanks for chatting with us, seems like the perfect time to reconnect. I keep seeing Blake Wesley going anywhere from mid first round to the 40’s. I hope he made the right decision. This would have been his team next season if he stayed, will he really develop more as a bench guy in the NBA who will probably get shuffled back and forth between the parent team and the G League for most of the season?
Tom Noie: Tim: Blake Wesley leaving (and he’s leaving) after one year for the NBA is such a crapshoot for so many reasons. Look at the mock drafts, and he’s all over the place – late lottery, middle first round, back end of first round. He’s going to have to land in a perfect situation to make this work. Bad team? Ugh. Good team? Cool, but minutes will be minimal. Better be ready to season your game in the G League. If that outweighs another year of college, nothing you can do about it. But as we’ve seen with several former Irish (Jerian Grant, Demetrius Jackson, Bonzie Colson) that NBA window opens only a crack and only for a really, really, really short time. Better max out the chance you have, because when it closes, man, it closes for good.
Vince: Tom: Not sure if you addressed this or not but how did you feel about the entire team receiving the MVP award at their post season award celebration? Feels like a participation trophy.
Tom Noie: Vince: Great question. And thanks for asking it. It was 1000 percent a participation trophy. Like, it was grade school stuff. Hey, look, EVERYBODY wins! Ice cream all around. Come on, guys. Make a decision. You could argue, and be right, there were a whole host of guys who deserved most valuable player. The steadiness of Dane Goodwin? Yep. The late-season surge of Cormac Ryan? Check. Prentiss Hubb? The unsung/lunch pail stuff of Nate Laszewski? Worthy. The one-year shooting star of Blake Wesley? Check. And Paul Atkinson. All six were worthy. But name an MVP. Come on, guys. I voted Goodwin a first team All-League guy, so I’d go with Goodwin. Next year? I’m looking at you, Cormac Ryan. He could be the second coming of Ben Hansbrough.
Mickey, NY: With the uncertainty around returns/transfers are we looking at a significant increase in PR for players who haven’t had to do that up until now? Zona, JR, JJ, VAL…other than JJ, do any of them avg 10-15 min a game next season? And will one/two of them have to in order to be successful? Hope you are gearing up for summer and some down time. See you at UBS in November.
Tom Noie: Mickey: PR? Might you mean PT – playing time? J.J. Starling and Ven-Allen Lubin will be major-minute guys (more than 18) next season. The others? Matt Zona? J.R. Konieczny? Tony Sanders? Prove it time. You want more minutes? More responsibility? More of a role? Prove you’re ready. None were last season.
TOM-SOUTH BEND: Can ND accept a transfer who has completed 3 years of college? I’ve heard the Admissions Office has a policy against that.
Tom Noie: Tom: Former Notre Dame swingman Dan Miller played three years at Maryland before transferring in for one season (2002-03). Don’t know if the policy has changed since. If a guy fits, he fits. Think it’s more about fit than any policy.
Bobby: Hey Tom – ND has not been hit as hard as other programs who have lost one or multiple key players to the transfer portal. Credit to Brey and the coaching staff for creating an environment that it seems the guys enjoy playing in. Question is do you think the landscape of college hoops shifting away from 3-4 year player development and toward an emphasis on the portal and re-recruiting your roster is cause for Brey to retire soon, or is he embracing the change more than others?
Tom Noie: Bobby: The transfer portal and the ever-changing landscape of college basketball won’t be the reason Mike Brey decides that he’s had enough. He’ll walk away because he’s done it for so many years and just doesn’t have the juice to keep doing it. Mike Brey has accepted, and arguably, answered, so many challenges just during his 22 seasons at Notre Dame – the Big East changing formats, then moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference, etc. Adaptability has been one of his strengths. This is just the lasted example. Notre Dame won’t ever be full portal or full NIL. It still will be a program kids choose for more than that. Always has been.
joe from the south side: Tom, With Jay Wright walking away, did anyone reach out to Whitmore to see if he had a change of mind? On paper, he fits the ND mold and has a pretty big upside.
Tom Noie: That he never entered the portal answers that question, no?😄
bret: Hi Tom if Laz does not return and Brey does not sign a good big from the portal we could be in big trouble next season. I’m sure Brey knows this and therefore you would have to figure he will sign someone from the portal. Otherwise we will get killed in the paint and a once promising season could be over before it starts.
Tom Noie: Bret: Though it seems otherwise, the college basketball sky’s not falling. Relax. They’ll figure it out. There’s at least one of these posts every single season. Probably a few last year. How’d that turn out.🙄
Robert from Mishawaka: Potential fits for this Notre Dame program will always be difficult. Thanks for confirming that!
Tom Noie: Yessir!
Mike from PA: Tom – Why does the addition of Hammond shut the door on Wesley? If Blake calls Mike Brey tomorrow and says coach I’m coming back, as unlikely as that is, they would take him back, no? I think the NBA shuts the door, but not sure what how Hammond would have any impact on Blake’s decision.
Tom Noie: Mike: Just look at the guard depth chart. You have Cormac Ryan. Going to play A LOT. You have Dane Goodwin. Going to play A LOT. You bring in J.J. Starling. Going to play A LOT. You bring in Marcus Hammond as a transfer guard. What do we know about transfers and Mike Brey – they play A LOT. We haven’t even gotten to Trey Wertz or J.R. Konieczny, both of whom it’s safe to say are expecting larger roles than the ones they played last year. There’s no more room for another guard. No, the minute they signed Hammond, it was over in terms of Wesley returning. You don’t take a grad transfer guard who’s going to play major minutes if you don’t have a hole with major minutes. Taking Marcus Hammond doesn’t impact Blake Wesley’s decision – it confirms that there’s no chance he’s coming back. It’s common sense. Wesley coming back? You don’t sign Hammond. Wesley’s not coming back? Get yourself another veteran guard. Notre Dame did that.
Robert from Mishawaka: As always thanks for these chats, and answering curious minds. Football is always the talk of the town, but we have you to keep us informed! “WELL DONE”
Tom Noie: Always. 😄
California Mike: Tommy, have you seen much from Ven Allen Lubin? Is there potential he will get a lot of tick in his first year? If yes this could end up being one of our more athletic teams in a while with JJ, Hammond, Lubin, JR, and Osun (yes I am speaking it into existence)
Tom Noie: Mike: Zero. I usually wait to see freshmen until they get to campus and play against actual college players. Then you see that, yeah, this guy fits or that guy is going to go the long game route. Word from inside ND is that Lubin should be ready as a freshman. What does that translate into? Wait and see.
Mike, Rochester, NY: Sort of off topic, but any momentum at all among the coaches or administrators to reduce the number of timeouts or curtail replay? There are too many games where the most pivotal moment (i.e., the end) becomes an unwatchable slog.
Tom Noie: Mike: That’s basketball. Not just college, but NBA as well. The final two minutes of games sometimes takes 20. That’s part of the game.
Mike from PA: Tom – we all expect JJ Starling to make a Blake Wesley like impact next year. What about the other incoming freshman? Is it expected they will be a part of the rotation?
Tom Noie: Mike: A lot of Mikes this session. A lot of good stuff too. Ven-Allen Lubin as I mentioned is penciled in as a rotation guy. Maybe a big one if Nate Laszewski chooses to go another direction. Dom Campbell is kind of a wild card. He seems like he’d benefit from a slow-play season, but what if he’s the most surprising of the bunch? What then? Starling’s going to play; Lubin’s going to play. Campbell will have to prove he belongs.
Johnny: I really think lubin is going to be very underrated. On rivals he’s top 50. Let me know your thoughts if him potentially being a main big if nd cannot find anyone else, or Nate elects to leave.
Tom Noie: Johnny: Word from those who should know and definitely are smarter than me that Notre Dame would feel (relatively) confident moving forward with Ven-Allen Lubin as the main big in a bigger helping of four-around-one lineups.
Mike from PA: Tom – Are you certain Blake Wesley isn’t coming back (I kidd, I kidd). Do you ever see Mike Brey pulling a Brian Kelly and unexpectedly taking the money and running or is ND his last stop? Did he have a good relationship with Brian Kelly? What about with Marcus Freeman? I remember Brey saying when the football team is good, it helps the basketball team. Lots of juice on campus and provides great fall recruiting weekends when there is excitement in the air.
Tom Noie: Mike: LOL….LOL…If last November-December didn’t teach us this already, you need to know this about all coaches at any level in any sport – they ALL believe deep down that they have one more move left in them. To this school or to that team. One final jump before they call it a career. We saw that with Brian Kelly. We’ve seen that throughout college athletics. We may see it with Mike Brey. We might not. Brey used to be of that mindset that fall football weekends were good for hoops – and then he started bringing guys in last year on non-football weekends. J.J. Starling made his official visit over Labor Day weekend when Notre Dame football was in Tallahassee. He’s kind of moved away from the thinking that football helps basketball – more like his program should stand on its own. But a football weekend never hurts. 😃
Mike from the west coast: Serious question – is there a cooler coaching combo in D1 sports than Marcus Freeman and Mike Brey? Both those guys should be together in the living room for both bball and football recruits.
Tom Noie: There’d never be a shortage of conversation, that’s for sure. Can Mike Brey help close the deal with Dante Moore? (ducks) 😃
joe from the south side: Tom, I would suggest to all to temper the enthusiasm of VAL. Yes, there is a lot to like. Probably fair to say the last big with that much athleticism was Coach Hump. The kind of athlete Brey doesn’t get. But he is a FR playing in the ACC. Maybe that works at Duke or NC, but that is a stretch here. He will be an impactful player at the D1 level eventually, but there are some rough edges to his game. And, he won’t be able to defend a guy like Bacot or Lively. You are almost guaranteeing you are willing to give up 2 to get three. If ND was so sure of his plug and play talent, they wouldn’t be surfing the portal for a seasoned big.
Tom Noie: Joe: Knew it was only a matter of time until you brought the voice of reason angle to the chat. I get it, but there was similar skepticism with Blake Wesley last year and look what he did as a freshman. I watched him play plenty in high school and shred Northern Indiana Conference guards. That all looked good in the box score, but what would he do at the next level? Now, he’s going to be the program’s first one and done. We didn’t know about Blake Wesley this time last year and now we don’t know about Ven-Allen Lubin. Won’t know until maybe December, and likely later. That’s the way this works. Notre Dame rarely gets guys whose games are college ready as freshmen. Might have to go all the way back to Chris Thomas. As for mining the portal, it’s also been about staying OLD. That’s no knock/concern about the freshmen. You have a chance to stay old, you take it.
Tom Noie: Have just received word that Blake Wesley (has anyone asked about him? LOL) has been invited to the NBA draft combine, May 16-22 in Chicago. He will participate in the individual drills and testing and interviews with NBA GMs but will NOT participate in any five-on-five scrimmages. Thoughts???
Mike from PA: Tom – Thanks for answering all of the questions! Good to talk hoops in May (and year round). What’s the latest with the Kentucky game? Is it officially cancelled? If so, was it a mutual decision or was Cal tired of getting whipped…
Tom Noie: Mike: The “official” word will be that the teams agreed to dissolve the third and final game of the series because of (insert reason). Maybe they’ll say they each played a home and home and that’s enough. But this is all Cal not wanting to be saddled with another early-season non-league loss to a program that he shouldn’t be losing to three straight seasons. Mike Brey’s like fine, we won at Rupp, we won at Purcell. I’ll sit on a two-game win streak. 😃
JT from Gulf Shores: Hey Tom, If no true bigs, will the Irish have kind talent to press and play up-tempo for 40 minutes? I could see playing more of the bench since some more interchangeable/equal type talent?
Tom Noie: JT: They’re going to have like 20 guards (OK, maybe seven) and limited bigs. Four-around-one and running sounds good. But going deeper into the bench? You new around here? Yeah, not happening. 😄
joe from the south side: Tom, Wesley could hit the campus with a snowball. VAL probably has never seen a snowball. Wesley had a mentor. Who is VAL’s mentor? Big Zone? It’s not just adapting to ACC BBL. It is also being a FR and being far from home for the first time. And budgeting your time for practice, classes, and studying. That is a lot to ask a kid and then say go handle Bacot for 35 minutes.
Tom Noie: Joe: Uh…..you’re assuming Lubin NEEDS a mentor. All that stuff you mentioned, some kids (no names being used) NEED all that stuff. Others get it right away and hit the ground running. And we’re wringing out collective basketball hands in May about a player (Bacot) who might only be on the schedule one time? For what I’ve been told about Lubin and how he’s thought of inside Rolfs, he’ll be fine.
joe from the south side: Tom, My assessment of Wesley was, is, and will be that he should have stayed for one more year. His game was not NBA ready, and will need G League seasoning. Also, I fully agree with you that the 2nd NBA contract is the big one, not the first. I think he is going to have a tough time overcoming the knock on him, and that is, when the lights shone the brightest, his game tanked. I wish him well, but he has an uphill climb.
Tom Noie: Joe: All true, but he believes he can make it. So let him go try.
joe from the south side: Tom, Mentor being Hubb. And how did that work out with Demetrius Jackson? It was me who called him the timid teenager when he tanked his FR season.
Tom Noie: I’d put both local guys in a class by themselves when it came to adjusting to everything about college life. The guys who haven’t struggled have far outnumbered the guys who have.
MS: Tom: When the staff decides it is no longer interested in recruiting a player, do they let the player know? I’m just thinking about from this year’s class, Aidan Braccia and Avery Brown, who both ended up committing to low-D1 programs after ND seemed interested earlier in their high school careers. Or does the staff just stop calling? Also, any chance the staff might pursue a class of ’22 big if someone decommits from another program?
Tom Noie: MS: Good question. Think it’s just assumed/understood that schools A, B and C aren’t interested just by the a decrease in communication. If a coach called a kid every Tuesday during the contact period, but now the deeper you go in your season and your phone stays silent on those contact period Tuesdays, you get the idea that they’re no longer interested. The chance that Notre Dame will add another young big to this recruiting class is slim. They’ve got two young bigs in Campbell and Lubin. A veteran big with college experience would be welcomed yesterday.
Johnny: What does that Blake Wesley news that you just mentioned about May 16-22 mean for notre dame? Just curious if I missed something.
Tom Noie: Johnny: Nothing. But for someone who struggled to create/finish/score against elite athletes, you’d think you’d want to play against elite athletes. Unless there’s something you don’t want teams to know/learn about you….
Mark Kruz from Mishawaka: Tom realistically does ND have a shot in getting Xavier Booker from Indy Cathedral? Lately he has picked up offers from some of the elite programs. Also is Flory Bidunga from Kokomo on ND’s radar? A relatively unknown sophomore during the season he had a breakout tournament and has been rising up this spring on the AAU circuit
Tom Noie: Mark: Notre Dame was among the first schools to be in with Xavier Booker. That should mean something – it did when Jaden Ivey committed to Purdue. Unless Booker has made it known otherwise – and he hasn’t – there’s always a chance. Haven’t heard of Bidunga. Sophomore year still a little early. This isn’t football….😃
bret: Joe from the south side is spot on. Usually a one and done player shins in big games. Wesley was at his worst. Every time he touched the ball in the last 5 minutes of the Texas Tech game Notre Dame fans were not confident. I understand leaving for the money but in the long term Wesley is making a big mistake leaving after one year.
Tom Noie: Bret: I would push back on the “big mistake” part of your comment, because we don’t know what goes through the mind of a young man or his family when presented with the situation Blake Wesley is presented with – the chance to play basketball at the game’s highest/elite level. Is it enough for a young man – Wesley, anyone – to just GET there? Make it the NBA, sign a contract, live that life for however many years they can live that life? Or do they really want to STAY there? Make it a 10-year career? Some kids want to GET there, some want to STAY there. In the end, no matter how it turns out, they’re afforded a chance to live a life they never dreamed. Hard to classify that as a big mistake.
joe from the south side: Tom, Qudus Wahab is still out there as far as I can tell. I am not saying he is a FIT for ND, I am saying that there are other options beside Basile. Wahab is a legit D1 center, who played in big time conferences, is from the DC area and won’t demand the ball on the OFF end. Just a conversation starter.
Tom Noie: Joe: There have been plenty of conversations inside Rolfs about how to proceed with Basile not an option. That’s not the issue. The issue is finding the right guy. Paul Atkinson was this and he was that when we first saw him, but at the end of the year, he was the right guy at the right time. Notre Dame needs to duplicate that.
Illinois Fool: Looking beyond the current off season, are there any post players (hopefully 6’10” or taller) the Irish have a chance to add to the roster?
Tom Noie: IF: Where you been? One season at a time around these parts, my man!😃
Joey from Highland, IN: Do you see Wertz starting or Hammond? Not sure if this has been asked.
Tom Noie: Joey: Let’s say the Irish have an exhibition game tonight. The starting five would be Cormac Ryan, J.J. Starling, Marcus Hammond, Dane Goodwin and Ven-Allen Lubin. Trey Wertz and J.R. Konieczny off the bench. Maybe some Matt Zona. Who’s ready to roll with that look?
JDub, Fort Wayne: A little late to the party, but in reading through the previous questions and answers, your response earlier about Cormac Ryan being the second coming of Ben Hanbrough. Something clicked in Cormac the last several games of the season and into the tournament. He seemed more vocal. Did I just miss this during the year somehow or did something change with him?
Tom Noie: JDub: Better late than never…told my editor I wasn’t ending the chat until you checked in with at least one question. Cormac Ryan was the team most valuable player the last five weeks of the season. Especially postseason, where you really saw a Hansbrough type of effort. It was a case of a guy finally figuring out where he fit. He’s always had the voice – he’ll be a three-time team captain this season. This year, especially late, he played with a better pace. Like, he wasn’t in such a hurry. Last year, everything he did seemed rushed. This year, it flowed. To the point now where you’re intrigued to see what he can offer from the start next season. All-league guy? Absolutely.
Mike from the west coast: Do we have 2 years left with Cormac or 1?
Tom Noie: Mike: I want to say one, but with the whole COVID bonus year, who knows. It messes everything up. 🙄
Section 116: Tom, give me a prediction on the season record for next year? I understand that the roster isnt complete yet but what should we be expecting as far a w/l record for next year? Thanks brother!
Tom Noie: Sorry, not touching that. Too many variables that we don’t know about – schedule, roster, rhythm of the schedule, etc. Let’s paint with a broader brush – 20-plus overall wins, double-digit league wins, top six league finish and trip to the NCAA tournament AT THE VERY LEAST. We’re done with this program treading water. Time to ride the momentum of last season back to the Sweet 16 – and maybe beyond.
San Diego Mike: Tommy, let me know if you need some help this upcoming season. I can be an unpaid intern. Can box my things up in SD and be in SB by early September. Sleep on it brother
Tom Noie: Mike: Where were you to get me at the airport on Saint Patrick’s Day after my all-night travel from Dayton? Ferry me to and from Viejas Arena for four days? Send me a case of tri-tip sandwiches from Phil’s and you’re hired! 😄
Joe, Chicago: With the Crossroads going away, will ND fill that weekend before Xmas with a premier non conference game?
Tom Noie: Joe: Unlikely. That’s a tough date to fill – the Saturday before Christmas. The “premier” dates on the non-conference next season will/are Marquette at home on Dec. 11, Saint Bonaventure (and maybe a second game) at UBS Arena over Thanksgiving weekend and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge home game in early December. With a younger/less ACC seasoned roster (Starling, Hammond, Lubin) and still not sure exactly what the league schedule will entail in terms of home and homes, it might be more important to stockpile some early confidence/wins before January/February/March arrive.
JDub, Fort Wayne: Having had time to think back about the season, how do you assess the job Anthony Solomon did this year? Did Notre Dame achieve more success with him, or about the same success, than they would have without him?
Tom Noie: JDub: Short answer – on a scale of 1-to10, the addition of associate head coach Anthony Solomon was a 20. Seriously. Not going to entirely give the guy they call Slo all the credit, but what he was able to do with that group defensively, and from a coaching standpoint, he was a massive reason why this team nearly went to the Sweet 16. They needed an edge. He gave them that. And more. There’s a reason why Mike Brey believed he was the most important addition last offseason. That Notre Dame was in San Diego playing with a chance of going to the Sweet 16 was proof. He was that good. He was that needed.
JDub, Fort Wayne: I agree. I like your word “edge” to this team, more desire to dig in and defend than past years. Do you hear any rumblings of any offseason staff changes coming this off season?
Tom Noie: JDub: That would be more stunning that Blake Wesley returning for his sophomore season. This staff really found something last year – a good/effective mix of young and old, new guys and old guys. Not just the coaching staff, either. Pat Rogers as a support guy really offered a fresh perspective. Mike Brey’s not going anywhere. Neither is Anthony Solomon or Antoni Wyche or Ryan Humphrey. Same for Rogers. There’s always a chance DBOB Scott Martin decides college basketball’s not for him and returns to private business, but this is a good group that did a lot of good last year. Time to go be great.
Joe, Chicago: Have you heard anything from ND regarding interest in the newly proposed “bracket buster” 2.0 that conferences have been discussing for the 23-24 season?
Tom Noie: Joe: Nothing concrete, but I’d be surprised if it’s something that Mike Brey would be behind. I’d think it would be the opposite. I always go back to 2008-09 when this team was laboring through a horrendous losing streak (six straight in the Big East) and then went out to UCLA and got boat-raced by 26 points. At the time, it was the program’s most lopsided loss under Brey. Afterward, he vowed that never again under his watch would his team step out of league play for a non-league game. It threw off the rhythm of the season. Brey held true to that vow up until this year when they played at Howard on MLK Day – and nearly got beat. Afterward, he felt same way – never again step out of league play in the middle of league play. It’s too important.
Buck: You will hear about Bidunga from Kokomo. Tall (6-10), athletic (scored some triple doubles as a sophomore) and I think made second team all-state. Foreign exchange student that speaks 4 or 5 languages. Great defender. Worth a long look!
Tom Noie: Mark it down. Buck’s got it first! 😃
Tom Noie: And with that, our marathon hoops chat has come to an end. Thanks to all who participated. We’ll be back around again to talk Notre Dame men’s basketball in June. Maybe spring/summer will be here by then. Have a question or comment that can’t wait? Drop me a note at email@example.com. Have a great rest of the month. Take care and all the best to you!
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.