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Rest helped Irish prepare

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, February 13, 2004

No rest for the weary – that is, until this week.Notre Dame (14-8, 7-3 Big East) takes on Providence (4-17, 0-10 Big East) at home Saturday after taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off from practice. The Irish hope that the break will help them to rebound after a tough road loss at Seton Hall Sunday afternoon.”I think the rest probably did us really good, mentally and physically,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think we really needed a break.”McGraw’s Irish hope to get back on track in the Big East with only six games to go before the Big East Tournament Mar. 6.Notre Dame struggled to score Sunday, as they fell 51-45.”I think that the biggest problem in the Seton Hall game was a lack of energy,” McGraw said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort. Mentally, we’re drained; we didn’t have the energy to win the game. Seton Hall played well, but we weren’t at our best.”The Irish hope to get back to their winning ways, however, as they host the Friars, who are winless in the Big East. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is undefeated at home this season, going 10-0.The Irish are led by junior Jacqueline Batteast (14.7 points, 8.2 rebounds per game) and sophomore point guard Megan Duffy (11.0 points, 4.5 assists per game). But the Irish offense has struggled of late, unable to put a lot of points on the board.”I think what we need to do is score some points and feel good about the offense,” McGraw said. “I think we’ve not really had an overpowering output on the offensive end, and I think that’s what we need to do.”According to McGraw, the key to their offensive production in addition to Batteast is Duffy, Le’Tania Severe, Teresa Borton and Courtney LaVere. When two of those four play well in addition to Batteast, the Irish have been tough to stop.”The games that we look the best in are the games when more people have contributed,” McGraw said. “I think our transition game has been a problem; we haven’t been able to score in transition. We just don’t get easy baskets. We’re just working too hard for everything we’ve got.But amidst their offensive woes, Notre Dame’s defense has been outstanding, frequently holding opponents under 50 points. They have given up only 50.5 points per game in Big East play.”We’ve been very consistent defensively, and I’ve been pleased with that,” McGraw said.Notre Dame hopes that this week’s break has done the Irish well, as they are ready to get back on the court to face another Big East opponent.”I definitely think we’re going to be fresher mentally and physically. I think a few days off just makes a world of difference,” McGraw said.