Leading by example
Joe Hettler | Friday, November 21, 2003
Muffet McGraw thinks Le’Tania Severe is more than just a good basketball player. That label doesn’t do the senior guard justice.”I just love her,” McGraw said, “because she comes in every day with a big smile on her face, no matter how much stress she’s under. Things can go wrong in your life, but she always sees the silver lining. She’s somebody that is inspirational to me, and to all the players that know her.”Severe attributes her positive attitude to the way she was raised. She said her family always believed that it is important to make the best of any situation.”Throughout life not everything goes as smoothly as you expect,” Severe said. “Within my family we’ve always tried to have a positive attitude so that’s how I try and come into practice. Everyone has their other things going on that may make them a little upset before practice so I try and bring a mile and cheer people up a little bit. I understand we have other issues besides basketball.”Severe’s personality and basketball skills set her up to become just the 15th two-year captain in Irish women’s basketball history this season. She is the lone captain on the team after being a co-captain last season.”It’s a great honor to be captain two years in a row,” Severe said.McGraw said the senior deserves being a two-time captain because of her desire to win every time she steps on the court.”She just wants to win and she’ll do whatever it takes,” McGraw said. “If that means she doesn’t score, then she doesn’t score. She just defends and rebounds, whatever we have to do, she’s going to do it.”Teammate and fellow guard Megan Duffy said Severe has been a model for the other players to follow during her career.”Le probably brings the most intensity to out team,” Duffy said. “She’s always working hard. She’s more of a leader by example and she comes to practice every day ready to work and she also a good example off the court as well.”Severe had to step into a leadership role earlier in her career than other players because of how young the Irish were during her sophomore season.”Being a point guard you take on a lot of the leadership role,” Severe said. “Sophomore year was when I started to become a leader on the team because we had a lot of freshmen and I was kind of like an upperclassman. Since then on, everyone’s been very helpful and they to me a lot of times during games and practice for leadership.”Severe has been a mainstay on the women’s basketball team for four years now, coming to Notre Dame from Pembroke Pines, Fla. She was a standout point guard on her Fort Lauderdale team and averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.4 steals her senior year. After being recruited by Florida State, Miami and Tulane Severe chose the Irish for several reasons.”When it came down to it, Notre Dame had the best athletic and academic reputation,” Severe said. Her career started with a national championship in the 2000-01 season. While she never started a game that year, Severe did play in 22 contests and that experience has continued to help her, even into her senior season.”It was a great experience, especially to just come in and play behind a player like Niele Ivey,” Severe said. “She taught me how to be a leader and how to give 100 percent every day. She always came in ready to practice and that’s something I took from that year. I’ve tried to help the younger players every year to instill that [work ethic] into them every day.”In her sophomore season, Severe saw significantly more playing time, starting in 24 of the team’s 30 games and averaging 6.6 points and leading the team with 4.9 assists per game. Her junior year was even better as Severe started in all 32 games for Notre Dame and upped her points average to 7.3 and led the team again with 3.8 assists. She also added 2.15 steals.Her best game that season helped send Notre Dame to the Sweet 16. The Irish played Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on the Wildcats home court. Kansas State had won 22 games in a row and was 29-4 entering their game against Notre Dame. But the Wildcats hadn’t counted on Severe playing so exceptionally, as the then-junior scorched Kansas State for 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while playing all 40 minutes, in the Irish 59-53 victory.
This season After winning the national title as a freshman, Severe has played on two other good, but not great, Irish teams. Notre Dame went 20-10 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2001-02 and followed that with a 21-10 record and a Sweet Sixteen appearance last season.But this season, in her final year, Severe said she believes the team can move even further into the tournament.”I think this team has a lot of potential,” Severe said. “We’re way ahead of where we were at this time the [last] two years. We’re getting better every day and I’m happy with the way the team looks. I think we’re going to do great things.”The Irish opened their season with a victory over then-No. 22 Arizona 77-64, before losing in overtime with then-No. 20 Colorado on the road. But both McGraw and Severe said the team has played well in both games.Despite playing in the tough Big East conference, the team should challenge for a conference title with a very talented returning squad. McGraw said those returning players will be playing not only for themselves, but also to help Severe end her career as a winner.”I think people generally like her because she such a great person,” McGraw said. “She’s an easy person for the team to follow and she does things the way you’re supposed to do it. She wants to go out a winner and the team would love to do that for her.””She is the hardest worker every day,” McGraw said. “She gives a 110 percent in the games and she never takes a minute off.”