Notre Dame ushers in Micah Shrewsberry era vs. Niagara

As a new era of Notre Dame basketball begins, coach Micah Shrewsberry is taking a wait-and-see approach to the season.

Shrewsberry makes his Irish debut on Monday in South Bend against visiting Niagara, which looks to build on its first winning season in five years.

The last time Notre Dame welcomed a new basketball coach, Mike Brey debuted in 2000. He lasted 23 seasons and won 483 games before stepping away after a dismal 11-21 campaign in 2022-23.

Enter Shrewsbury, who went 37-31 and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in two seasons at Penn State. He turned heads with the Nittany Lions’ 23-win effort last season.

Shrewsberry, though, faces a serious challenge with an Irish squad that lost its top seven scorers, and returns a quartet that combined for 82 career games and two starts. Notre Dame was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, but Shrewsbury has a message to those watching.

“Don’t come in with any preconceived notions of what this team is like, what this team may be,” Shrewsberry said. “Come and make your own judgment about us.”

Northwestern transfer Julian Roper (4.1 ppg in 44 career games) and Tae Davis, who played 32 games at Seton Hall last season, provide experience for Notre Dame. However, a freshman class featuring South Bend area prep star Markus Burton, the coach’s son Braeden Shrewsberry, 6-foot-10 Carey Booth and talented guard Logan Imes could fuel the present and future.

Notre Dame is looking to win its third straight opener.

Niagara, which went 16-15 last season, but lost its top two scorers. Returning guard Braxton Bayless started 20 games and averaged 5.4 points for the Eagles last season, while transfer Luke Bumbalough made 190 3-pointers over four seasons at Ball State.

“What we’re trying to create is an environment where we can take ownership,” Niagara coach Greg Paulus told The Buffalo News.

Notre Dame won all three previous meetings against Niagara, most recently in December 2012.