ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Duffy’s offseason proves golden
Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, August 29, 2005
Senior Megan Duffy went from having hopes of being a water girl for team USA to its captain and starting point guard in a matter of four months.
Duffy won gold with the 2005 USA World University Games team Aug. 19 -almost a month after she was one of 12 chosen from a group of 16 finalists to make the team.
“I was just hoping to make the team honestly, when I saw the competition,” Duffy said. “When there were 16 left, I was just hoping to be the water girl at the end of the bench – I was perfectly fine with that.”
However, Duffy became much more than that as she was elected co-captain by her teammates, which included the likes of Duke’s Monique Currie and LSU’s Seimone Augustus, both considered two of the best in women’s collegiate basketball.
“To be voted captain by my teammates and peers, was definitely unexpected and something that I hold close to my heart,” Duffy said. “It was an honor for me and a privilege.”
The senior helped the team achieve a 7-0 record, winning every game by at least 24 points, including a 79-53 win over Serbia & Montenegro in the gold-medal game. Duffy averaged 6.1 points and 2.1 assists per game, starting all seven games played in Izmir, Turkey.
“Representing my country was the highest honor I’ve ever gotten and it was an overall unbelievable experience,” Duffy said.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said she hopes this experience will help Duffy’s confidence coming into her final season with the Irish.
“I think just the whole experience of her leadership and seeing what she’s been able to do with this team is going to give her confidence, more than anything,” McGraw said. “Making the team was great, but then she’s elected captain, then she’s a starter, so I think it’s just doing great things for her confidence.”
Duffy made the team Aug. 1 after participating in USA Basketball Training Camp from July 28-31 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Duffy and Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter represented the Big East Conference as the only two players selected.
And playing overseas gave Duffy a taste of a different type of game, one that she was not used to.
“My impressions going into it were that it was going to be more of a finesse game, but really it was the opposite,” she said. “It was more physical, a couple of the games were more physical than any of the games I’ve played in college.”
And McGraw thinks the experience playing a different style of basketball will only benefit Duffy and the Irish this season as they look to improve upon last year’s second round loss in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think she’s learned a lot of things from them and understands a little different type of game at the international level,” McGraw.
But even while gaining valuable experience, Duffy said it was an honor just to play on the team, especially after taking home the gold.
“It’s pretty neat anytime you have USA across your chest,” Duffy said. “We had just an unbelievably talented team.
“To get a gold medal and share it with your teammates and step on that podium and hear your national anthem was pretty amazing.”
Sophomore guard Charel Allen, who tore her ACL and MCL in her left knee in the final game of her freshman season, should be ready to start practicing by November and ready to play come the Big East season, McGraw said last week.
“She’s on track, she’s working hard,” McGraw said. “We definitely expect her to play this year. We’re not exactly sure when, but we’re hoping for certainly by the Big East season. I think she’ll be practicing by November and it will be a week-by-week thing.”
Allen said she is confident she can return to the form that earned her a spot on the All-Big East Freshman team.
“I feel the improvement,” said Allen, who had surgery in May. “I’m capable of doing things I wasn’t coming out of surgery and when I got hurt. I’m still confident in it, not confident enough to play yet, but the whole process – it feels fine.”