Well folks, the long national nightmare of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball program not having a head coach is finally coming to an end, with the news today that Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry is finalizing a deal to take over for Mike Brey.
Sources: Notre Dame is finalizing a deal to make Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry the school’s next head coach.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 22, 2023
BREAKING: Micah Shrewsberry is leaving Penn State after two seasons and finalizing a 7-year deal to be the next coach at Notre Dame, sources told @CBSSports. Shrewsberry has been ND’s top target for the past two weeks—but talks didn’t begin until PSU was knocked out of the NCAAT.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 22, 2023
The 46-year-old was being considered along with Darian DeVries of Drake, Matt Langel of Colgate, and potentially others like Creighton’s Greg McDermott, but really emerged as the top choice the last couple weeks with how his Nittany Lions team performed in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
Shrewsberry has long been considered a bright, up-and-coming coach in the profession, and with some ties to both Indiana and South Bend as well as the coaching job he’s put together early in his time in Happy Valley, this was about as strong of a hire as the Irish could probably manage to make considering the state of the program in the wake of Mike Brey’s departure.
An Indianapolis native who attended Cathedral High School (also the Fighting Irish...plus the alma mater of yours truly), Shrewsberry played college hoops at Hanover College and got a master’s degree in sports management from Indiana State. He began his coaching journey at two rival D-3 schools in Indiana, serving as an assistant coach at Wabash and then at DePauw immediately following his Hanover days.
After being Director of Basketball Operations at Marshall under head coach Ron Jirsa for a couple years, Shrewsberry made his way back to the Hoosier state and established his initial ties to South Bend, serving as IU South Bend’s first full-time head basketball coach from 2005 to 2007.
From there he joined Brad Stevens’ staff at Butler, coaching there until 2011 as an assistant on the staff that took the small Indy university to back-to-back NCAA title game appearances in 2010 and 2011.
His next assistant role was at Purdue under Matt Painter from 2011 to 2013 before he reunited with Brad Stevens as one of his assistants on the Boston Celtics. He was a part of 5 playoff bids and back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances while in Boston.
He left the Celtics for a second stint under Painter at Purdue, this time serving as Associate Head Coach. That step and all that great experience began earning him attention for head coaching jobs, and soon he was hired at Penn State to try to revitalize a program that had made 1 NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001 (2011 under Ed DeChellis).
Shrewsberry’s first year went about as expected, with the Nittany Lions going 14-17 as he began the rebuilding process. To bring a basketball program with next to no historical success into the limelight would be a difficult and lengthy task anywhere, but especially at a school where football is king.
Instead, he took PSU to the NCAA Tournament in just his second season at the helm, going 23-14 (10-10 in the Big Ten), making a run to the Big Ten Tournament finals, and blowing out 7th-seeded Texas A&M as a 10-seed to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tourney for the first time since 2001.
Penn State would eventually lose a hard-fought game to 2-seed Texas, and it was clear that this young, talented coach was going to get some looks for head coaching jobs at historically-stronger programs.
Shrewsberry has a tough task ahead of him, considering the Irish have gone 101-93 over the last 6 seasons, including an 11-21 record this past season that included a 3-17 ACC record. To put that in perspective, the 3 seasons prior to that stretch (2014-2015 through 2016-2017) saw the Irish go 82-28 with 2 Elite Eight appearances and 7 NCAA Tournament victories.
With Brey retiring and the rough results of 2022-2023, multiple Irish players have entered the Transfer Portal, with blue-chip freshman J.J. Starling having already committed to transfer to Syracuse and with freshman Dom Campbell in the Portal, waiting to see who the new coach will be.
BREAKING: Notre Dame transfer JJ Starling has committed to Syracuse basketball. A big first addition for the Adrian Autry era in the former McDonald’s All American and ACC All Freshman Team member. https://t.co/U0HNDD0O3x— Mike McAllister (@McAllisterMike1) March 14, 2023
Furthermore, the Irish are losing Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, Marcus Hammond, and Trey Wertz, whose eligibilities have all finally dried up. Cormac Ryan may also move on as well, although he has another year if he wants it. To add to the potential attrition, 2 of ND’s 3 signed incoming 2023 recruits — Parker Friedrichsen and Brady Dunlap (Mishawaka native Markus Burton has stated he intends to still play for ND) — asked to be released from their letters of intent, and Friedrichsen has already since signed to play at Wake Forest.
Needless to say, it will be a major rebuild, and we’ll have to wait and see how much Shrewsberry is allowed to do with transfers, as the Portal will be crucial to him simply building a full roster for the next season or two, let alone a team that puts up any sort of fight in the ACC.
Here’s to hoping, though, that his buzz and youthfulness will allow him to bring in some solid pieces and maybe even take some of his Penn State recruits with him, such as his son Braeden, jump-starting the rebuild enough that the Irish are back to contending for the Big Dance within the next few seasons.