Notre Dame Basketball Scrimmage Report

Analysis of the open Notre Dame men's basketball practice
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The Notre Dame men’s basketball team had an open scrimmage on Wednesday an I was inside Purcell Pavilion to watch. Here is some practice observations.

Assistant coach Anthony Solomon was definitely in charge of the practice. Solomon, the associate head coach, returned to Notre Dame after spending the last four seasons as an assistant at Dayton. Solomon was instrumental in helping the Irish reach back-to-back Elite Eights in 2015 and 2016. 

In the early part of the practice, the Irish worked on defensive positioning and rotating in their zone. Solomon was in full-blown teaching and cajoling mode, stopping practice to demonstrate the correct placement. The Irish, never known as a great defensive team, were unusually bad last year, giving up 74.7 points per game. Solomon is expected to shore up their defense.

Tony Sanders, a 6-foot-7 sophomore guard, was a major surprise. The teams were split into blue and white jerseys. It was a four-quarter game, though the quarters weren’t split equally in terms of time. Sanders had the most minutes of any freshman last year but that wasn’t much. He played 79:43, and he averaged a point. 

Before practice, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, famous or infamous for only using a seven-man rotation, said he liked his six seniors and freshman guard, Blake Wesley, as his rotation. Sanders fit right in with the rotation. He stole a pass in the first period and also made a 3-pointer. He blew the layup on the steal but his length was impressive. Sanders played on the blue team with Trey Wertz, Prentiss Hubb, Dane Goodwin and Paul Atkinson Jr. The white team had J.R. Konieczny, Cormac Ryan, Nate Laszewski, Wesley, and Matt Zona on it. The Blue team won 12-7.

Paul Atkinson Jr., a 6-9, 230-pound senior transfer from Yale, was impressive. Atkinson had two baskets inside in the first quarter —one of them an impressive putback. There is no one that can really guard him except Laszewski. He alternated between the blue and white teams.

When Wesley and Sanders played together, Wesley found him several times on kick-outs for 3-pointers. Wesley had his shot blocked once trying to drive and he missed his first couple of 3-pointers but he did make one in the second quarter. The 6-5 freshman definitely looks like he’s ready to contribute and that could be a nice combination.

Atkinson and Laszewski played together for a stretch. It was an impressive duo. Laszewski is definitely a stretch four. He stepped out and made a couple of 3-pointers. All of Atkinson’s points were close to the basket. It’s easy to imagine those two playing together with Hubb, Goodwin, and Sanders. Or pick two other guards besides Hubb.

Wertz was playing with a white bandage on his knee. He struggled to move at times and definitely didn’t look healthy. 

Robby Carmody was not at practice. Carmody, a senior academically but a sophomore in terms of eligibility, has been a walking injury. He had a torn labrum as a freshman, a torn ACL as a sophomore and a broken knee cap this year. He is still listed on the roster but it’s not clear if he’ll play.

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