Micah Shrewsberry reveals his thoughts on his first roster at Notre Dame

On3 imageby:Nick Schultz07/05/23

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A new era will get underway at Notre Dame this coming season as Micah Shrewsberry takes over for Mike Brey. The former Penn State head coach will have a new-look roster in South Bend, but he pointed out a few players who are “itching for opportunities.”

Notre Dame has four commits from the high school recruiting trail and three via the transfer portal. But three players — Matt Zona, Tony Sanders and J.R. Konieczny — are returning and bring necessary experience to the roster.

In fact, early in the offseason, Shrewsberry indicated they could have a chance to play key roles in 2023-24.

“We have a couple of guys that we’re returning and three guys that are returning in Matt Zona, who played great at the end of the season. I think he’s itching for a bigger role and a bigger opportunity,” Shrewsberry told Jon Rothstein on College Hoops Today. “Tony Sanders, J.R. Konieczny — who haven’t played much, but are guys that have been there and been around it and know the ACC and also in the same way, itching for an opportunity.”

From the portal, Shrewsberry brought one of his former Penn State players with him in Kebba Njie. Njie averaged 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 37 appearances, including 26 starts. He saved one of his strongest performances for the Big Ten Tournament, though, as he logged a season-high 26 minutes against Indiana to help Penn State past the Hoosiers.

That strong finish to the season showed what Njie is capable of, Shrewsberry said, and he could become a key contributor at Notre Dame. Add in Northwestern transfer Julian Roper — who started 15 games as a freshman in 2021-22 — and Shrewsberry has an interesting group as he rounds out his first roster in South Bend.

“Kebba Njie is transferring with us, and I think his rise through the second part of the Big Ten season gives you encouragement,” Shrewsberry said. “How he played, especially in the Big Ten tournament, he helped us, really, win the game and start the game great against Northwestern. In the second half, he played it he played incredible against Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was probably the second-best player in college basketball last year. Kebba played great in the Big Ten Tournament against him. The second part of the year, he really grew up and now I’m looking forward to seeing what the next step is for him. We’ve added Julian Roper from Northwestern, who is another guy that’s just itching for an opportunity to really expand his role a little bit and he’ll bring us a different level of toughness on the offensive and defensive ends.

“Those guys are all, like, itching for that opportunity, but they’ve never been in that major starring role. And we’re gonna need some guys to step into that. We’ll be a young team, but I think this will be a really fun team to coach because we want to get better from June when we get together all the way through the end of March.”