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ACC Question Mark: Can Virginia And Notre Dame Survive The Portal?

It’s going to be a challenge for both

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Notre Dame
Jan 26, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett (left) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey (right) shake hands prior to their game at the Purcell Pavilion. 
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Bennett came to the ACC in 2009. Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2012 when Mike Brey had been there for 12 years.

Both coaches have developed philosophies that rely on developing young players and getting them on the court later in their careers. When you think about guys like Jay Huff or John Mooney, they kind of illustrate the point and value of the system.

Moreover, both coaches have done this, and generally very well, as many schools have accepted the one-and-done philosophy or at least the idea that players are gunning for the NBA and want to get there as quickly as possible.

Now, add in the transfer portal and things are different. Can Bennett and Brey sustain their model(s) in this environment?

Well, let’s look.

Since this spring, Virginia has seen Justin McKoy, Casey Morsell and Jabri Abdur-Rahim all leave. These are guys that previously would have spent a couple of years maturing and improving and then stepped into bigger roles.

Not anymore (worse for Virginia, McKoy will be at UNC and Morsell at NC State. Abdur-Rahim is off to Georgia, where there should be plenty of minutes as quite a few Bulldogs have entered the portal).

It’s not as bad at Notre Dame where senior Nikola Djogo will move on as will Juwan Durham. Both leave with degrees, two in Djogo’s case. In a normal situation, neither would have been eligible to return.

However, the same basic point applies: Brey could invest heavily in young players, plan around their improvements, only to see them leave after a year or two for greener pastures.

On the flip side, Virginia brings in Armaan Franklin from Indiana and Jayden Gardner from East Carolina while the Irish get Yale’s Paul Atkinson.

These are talented players but when Virginia had Marquette transfer Sam Hauser last year, he had a year in practice to learn Bennett’s complex system. Franklin and Gardner won’t get that, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how Virginia, and Notre Dame, adjust to player movement when their systems are based on player retention.