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2021-22 Notre Dame men's basketball preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2020-21 record: 11-15, 7-11 in the ACC

Head coach: Mike Brey

Tenure at Notre Dame: 22nd season

Career coaching record: 547-300

Home court: Edmund P. Joyce Center

Starters: G Prentiss Hubb, G Cormac Ryan, F Dane Goodwin, F Nate Laszewski, C Paul Atkinson Jr. 

Bench: G Trey Wertz, G Robby Carmody, G Blake Wesley, G J.R. Konieczny, G Tony Sanders Jr., F Matt Zona, F Elijah Taylor

Overview: The Fighting Irish once again have a significant battle in front of them if they want to break into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017. Despite exhibiting upward momentum after head coach Mike Brey’s career-worst three win season in ACC play in 2018-2019, Notre Dame once again fell below .500 in ACC play last year. Despite this bleak recent history, the program finds hope in some key additions to its experienced core of upperclassmen. 

Notre Dame lost only two of its players from last season, Juwan Durham and Nikola Djogo. Their presence could be sorely missed, especially Durham’s defensive skills, if the rest of the line up doesn’t step up in terms of protecting the rim, reducing turnovers, and scoring more, particularly threes. The push to make these defensive improvements needs to come from guard Prentiss Hubb and forward Nate Laszewski. Both juniors who have significantly upped their offensive contributions through their tenure at Notre Dame, Hubb needs to play-make with greater discipline, and Laszewski needs to step up as the team’s foremost shooter. 

The factor that could bring Notre Dame back above .500 is the addition of graduate student transfer Paul Atkinson, who led Yale last season in total points and collected solid numbers of rebounds, steals, and blocks. The combination of his defensive pop along with the pair top 150 ranked freshman guards Blake Wesley and J.R. Konieczny could be just the spark Brey needs to and will capitalize on.

Team ceiling: Hubb and Laszewski continue their upward march. They mesh well with their teammates, especially Atkinson, and fight their way to an NCAA appearance.

Team floor: Notre Dame cannot fix its sloppy defense, is continually outscored, and once again remains lost in the lower ranks of the ACC. 

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