Blizzards and now Hurricanes
Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Anytime a Big East team plays a conference game on the road, it’s almost guaranteed to be a battle. Tonight’s game is no different for the Irish, as they travel to face conference leader No. 18 Miami (16-1, 5-1 in the Big East).”At this point, every game is a big game for us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.The Irish (11-7, 4-2), come off a big home victory over Villanova 38-36, a win that was key in the Big East. Villanova knocked off Miami Jan. 7 at Villanova 58-55. But the Hurricanes will be ready for the Irish.”Miami is a great team, extremely athletic, and they have two really good players Tamara James and Chanivia Broussard,” McGraw said.James (16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds per game) and Broussard (14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds) are among four Hurricanes averaging in double figures. They are joined by Yalonda McCormick (13.2 points, 5.1 assists per game) and Shaquana Wilkins (11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds).These four players are a main reason why the Hurricanes average 75.3 points per game. In last year’s matchup with Notre Dame, Miami scored 80 points en route to a 80-70 victory over the then-No. 16 Irish Jan 11 at the Joyce Center.So if the Irish want revenge, they must stop the high-powered Miami offensive attack.”We have to defend, rebound and stop their transition,” McGraw said.Leading the way for the Irish has been Jacqueline Batteast (15.6 points, 8.4 rebounds per game), and Megan Duffy (11.1 points, 4.7 assists per game). Batteast has stepped up her play in Big East games, as she averages 17.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in those contests.But the Irish have only won two road games this season, and Miami presents a significant obstacle, as they are undefeated at home. The Irish must defend well if they want to win, but it will be more than a challenge.”We don’t matchup well with them in man-to-man, and I don’t know if we do in zone either,” McGraw said.However, after two straight wins, the first coming on the road at Syracuse and the second over Villanova, Notre Dame hopes they can continue their winning ways.”We’re confident,” McGraw said. “We feel like we’re able to win on the road. The Syracuse game has given us that confidence.”Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Miami’s Convocation Center.