Mike Brey’s Notre Dame teams are always interesting. Last year he had a group of experienced, freshman added Blake Wesley, and Bob your uncle, that was a really dangerous group.
Notre Dame finished the regular season 22-10 overall and 15-5 in the ACC with wins over Kentucky and UNC even though UNC was struggling at the time and no one thought they would make the Final Four that much less playing Monday night.
However, when the invitations went out, the Irish only got to show the first four. They made the most of it, defeating Rutgers in a double OT and then dealing with Alabama with surprising ease before finally losing to Texas Tech, an outstanding defensive team that will lose to Duke in the Western Regional Semifinals next weekend.
Notre Dame may have been punished for believing the ACC was weak. Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech were also invited and the ACC proved the skeptics wrong with the NCAA’s dominant performance.
Duke, Miami, and UNC made the Sweet Sixteen. The Blue Devils and Tar Heels made the Final Four and played each other there for the first time, with the UNC leading, while Miami was on a spectacular run, beating Southern Cal, Auburn and Iowa State before surrendering to the eventual national champions Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Notre Dame was also very credible. The Rutgers game was great fun and the win against Alabama was really impressive because the Irish were coming off a tough game against Rutgers in Dayton and had to catch a late flight to Cali, only to play again with a day’s rest. They could have succumbed to exhaustion but that match was not in doubt after the first half.
Notre Dame played Rutgers on Wednesday, Alabama on Friday and the Texas Tech defensive nightmare on Sunday, when fatigue may have finally caught up with them. However, running is great.
Bray loses Paul Atkinson’s transfer from Yale University, who is supposed to have graduated, both Elijah and Tyler and Morgan and new student Wesley.
Atkinson was very effective, and surprisingly good in fact. It is a loss.
Wesley could have played out of control as a freshman, and made some bad decisions, but he was so talented that he was able to do something really good seconds later to make up for it. His potential was obvious, even if he was green and raw.
Playing Elijah rarely and shouldn’t be a huge loss.
Notre Dame’s longtime point guard lost the Prentice Hub, and that could hurt.
It was a perfect fit for a wild system and would be difficult to replace.
On the plus side, Notre Dame reclaimed Robbie Carmody, Dane Goodwin, JR Konichni, Nate Laszowski, Cormac Ryan, Tony Sanders, Jr., Alex Wadow, Trey Wertz and Matt Zona.
Carmudi’s menu picture looks pretty bleak, why not? His history is catastrophic. As a freshman, he made his first game but suffered a shoulder injury in late November that forced him out for the rest of the season. In 2020, he suffered a concussion, then injured his shoulder again in his first game. He returned by early December but blew his left anterior cruciate ligament.
Last year he suffered a broken knee and has been sitting all season.
In three seasons, he played only 19 matches. It could be bad luck or it could just be one of those guys who just can’t handle the stress that a serious athlete puts in his body. He has two more seasons of eligibility left, so the 6-4 guard may still be influential. We have to see.
Graduate student Dane Goodwin (6 to 6 year old graduate student) certainly made an impact. He was second in minutes played last year, just behind Hubb with 33.5 mpg and a 13.6 ppg average. He also has 4.7 rpg, 3.7 plates and 2.4 assists. He shot a pretty cool 45.8 on triples. He has always been good throughout his career.
Cormac Ryan, the 6- to 5-year-old who we believe was a Karmudez teammate with the New York Rains at AAU, was also good. He got 30 mpg, averaged 9.2 points per gallon, 4.8 rebounds and two assists. He was an exemplary braai player – seasoned and intelligent. It fits nicely.
Charlotte-born Trey Wertz, a 6-3 graduate student — and there’s a bunch of them on the list this year — has been strong, too. He got 19 mpg and averaged 4 ppg, 1.8 rebounds and two assists. At least, it helps as a rotation player.
Nate Laszowski is also back. The 6-11 grad student is a good outdoor shooter and we thought he’d be farther away but he wasn’t. The overall FG ratio decreased from 58.9 percent to 51.4 percent. His rebound dropped from 7.3 to 6.5 per game. He scored five goals or fewer on 10 occasions and seemed to have disappeared for a stretch. Part of that may be that Atkinson was a strong general and took on a lot of the job, but Laszewski sometimes disappeared. He can still be a major factor but he’s a fifth-year player. It may already be what it will be.
Also back is Matt Zona, who his parents would have called Ari if they had a rough sense of humor. He’s 6-9 and 242 so he can at least hit. He participated in only eight matches last season.
Sophomore JR Knoieczy (6-7) also returned. He didn’t play much, but that’s not unusual for a freshman in a wild system. The jury is out until something appears.
Junior Tony Sanders (6-7) also returned but played only 15 minutes last season. His record has already decreased from the previous year. He might have switched to Scotty Pippen over the summer, but we’ll have to wait and see. It appears to be a functional reserve.
Brie brought in one transfer, Marcus Hammond, who was coached at Niagara by former Duke guard Greg Paulus. Hammond, a 6- to 3-year grad student, had a strong year with the Purple Eagles last year. Hammond led the nation in the three-point shooting as a freshman with 52.2 percent, something you can be sure Bray is aware of. He put 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists last year and could play the point.
Interestingly, his high school coach Ron Naslerio said, “Physically, his body is finally starting to mature.” If you look at his past photos, he was really skinny earlier in his career. It has also been said that he is very healthy and Naclerio also said that when he makes a mistake, he learns from it.
Interesting trivia about Hammond: Niagara was the only school that offered him a high school scholarship and Brie would become his fourth college coach.
Notre Dame has three new students: Dom Campbell, 6-9/268, Finn Allen Lubin, 6-8/225 and JJ Starling 6-4/200
Campbell is really interesting. It’s too heavy for one thing. On the other hand, it has been compared to Bonzie Colson, who you may remember was a huge pain in the ass.
Campbell also developed a three-point shot, so he could end up becoming a drag.
Ven-Allen Lubin is located outside of Orlando and is often described as out of place. Like Campbell, he has a three-point range, and like Campbell, he also has a high basketball IQ. We’re wondering if he could play some points. This would be a major asset for the Irish if that were the case. Bree suggested he might start.
These two are intriguing but Bree’s best recruit this year, and his highest rating on South Bend, is 6-4/200 lbs. J.J. Starling. He hails from Baldwinsville, New York, a small town on the banks of the Seneca River and within walking distance of Syracuse. If you haven’t noticed, many reasonable potential clients from the area have chosen not to play for the Orange team, which is interesting but a topic for another time.
Starling is the combo keeper, which means Brey has two and maybe three guys, after Hammond and Lupine, who can manage the point.
He shoots really well (surprise), he can hack, and apparently surprising a little wild, he can pass very well.
The main thing about him may be his personality. It’s very upbeat and the descriptions are somewhat similar to Magic Johnson (the character, not the game). He says he’d rather help someone else sign up and is excited to learn from the older guys. It will probably start as well.
So, if you look at the list, the starting lineup from Goodwin, Laszewski, Ryan, Starling and Lubin could be really good. Campbell might be a nice hostile to Laszewski, if he’s unwilling to get in. Hammond can start and Wertz has been reliable. It would be nice for Carmody to get past his traditional end-of-season injury in November and be a factor but at this point, that’s lagniappe.
This is a really interesting group and we wish you good luck defending it. Brie can put together a team of bowlers who will open the floor, and as we’ve seen in the past, very few coaches can use the three-point shot to exploit the inside like Brie does. His attack, at the peak of his level, is amazing.
In short, this looks like a team that no one will want to play in but everyone will want to watch.