Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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46 AUGUST 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED MEN'S BASKETBALL BY PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame basketball's offseason staff retool has brought back two familiar names. Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey overhauled his assistant coach- ing staff by hiring former understudy Anthony Solomon as associate head coach and ex-Irish guard Antoni Wyche as an assistant. Solomon, 56, was previously on Brey's staff from 2000-03 and 2008- 16. He was the associate head coach at Dayton from 2017-21 and an as- sistant at Georgetown in 2016-17. He initially left Notre Dame in 2003 to become the head coach at St. Bo- naventure, a job he held until 2007. "Some of my greatest experiences and memories have taken place at Notre Dame with Mike," Solomon said in a release announcing his hire. "I treasure March competition and over the years we have experienced some great successes consistently to- gether. The Notre Dame community and the surrounding area have been great for me and my family. "My enthusiasm to return is as high as ever. The immediate focus is to grow our habits and establish an identity where needed that will position us for consistent success col- lectively and individually." Solomon's presence on staff has previously coincided with Brey's best seasons. Notre Dame reached the NCAA Tournament nine times in Sol- omon's 11 prior years as an assistant. The Irish made three Sweet 16 and two Elite Eight appearances, won the 2015 ACC Tournament and claimed a Big East division title in that span. In addition to the associate head coach title, Solomon will oversee Notre Dame's defense — the area Brey sought to upgrade this offseason. Notre Dame finished 203rd out of 347 Division I teams in adjusted defensive efficiency last year, per, its worst ranking since began tracking stats in 2002. The Irish were 271st in scoring defense, allow- ing 74.3 points per game, and posted the second-lowest forced turnover rate nationally (12.7 percent). Solomon fills the spot vacated by Scott Martin, who was elevated from development and recruiting coor- dinator to interim assistant coach for the 2020-21 season. Martin is re- turning to a support staff role. He replaced Ryan Ayers, who left the program in September. Wyche, 43, played for Notre Dame from 1995-99 and has spent the last two years as an assistant at Siena. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Lehigh for 10 seasons. He played 10 professional seasons, mostly over- seas, after graduating from Notre Dame. At Lehigh, he coached top-10 NBA Draft pick C.J. McCollum and was on staff for the No. 15 seed Mountain Hawks' 2012 NCAA Tour- nament win over No. 2 Duke. "I'm really happy for Coach Wyche," McCollum said in a release. "He's a good guy who works hard, does things the right way and de- serves to be coaching at the highest level. Quite frankly, he will be a great head coach one day, but I'm glad he is heading home to his alma mater." Wyche was reportedly in the mix to be the head coach at Albany this spring. His arrival will move long- time assistant Rod Balanis from as- sociate head coach to director of bas- ketball operations. "The opportunity to work with this staff and team as we build back to the goal of postseason success is something I take with pride and look forward to attacking daily," Wyche said. ✦ Mike Brey Remakes His Coaching Staff With Two Additions ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE MATCHUP SET Notre Dame's 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent is finalized. The Irish will play at Il- linois on Nov. 29. The two teams last met in 2018 in South Bend, a 76-74 Notre Dame victory, which stands as the Irish's most recent win in the annual event. It will be their third time facing each other in the challenge since 2015. Notre Dame is 4-4 in the ACC/Big Ten Chal- lenge since joining the ACC prior to the 2013- 14 season. It lost at home to Ohio State 90-85 in the 2020 challenge. Notre Dame's non-conference schedule has eight of 11 games filled. The Irish will play three times in the Maui Invitational Nov. 22- 24, play at Illinois, host Kentucky Dec. 11, face Indiana in the neutral-site Crossroads Classic Dec. 18, host Western Michigan Dec. 20 and travel to Howard in January 2022. Matchups for the Maui Invitational are still to be announced. Notre Dame will play three of Butler, Chaminade (Division II), Houston, Or- egon, Saint Mary's, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. — Patrick Engel Anthony Solomon has returned for his third stint at Notre Dame and will serve as Brey's associate head coach. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Former Notre Dame guard Antoni Wyche has joined Brey's staff as an assistant. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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