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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: D-II Indy to tip off with Irish

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 1, 2005

In Notre Dame’s first game of the season, Irish coach Muffet McGraw has two things for her team to concentrate on – defense and rebounding.

“Those are the two things we talked mostly about [Monday],” McGraw said. “We’ve got to be great defensively – we’ve got to rebound. That’s a big weakness we have right now. That’s my main concern, I just think in order to be successful, we have to out-rebound the other team by 10, and I don’t see us doing that right now.”

The Irish take on Division-II University of Indianapolis in their first exhibition game of the year tonight at 7 p.m. in the Joyce Center. As of Monday night, McGraw said she was still unsure as to who was going to start for the Irish, and therefore, tonight’s matchup would be a good opportunity to get a feel for the strong lineups.

“We’re looking at combinations,” McGraw said. “We’re going to play a lot of different lineups. We’re trying to find that group that really starts clicking.”

About the only sure thing for the Irish this year is senior point guard Megan Duffy, who was an honorable mention All-American selection last season after averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 assists per game. She was selected to the preseason All-Big East team last week at Big East Media Day in New York, and has earned numerous preseason awards after playing in the shadow of now-graduated Jacqueline Batteast her first three years with the Irish.

But besides the senior point guard, the rest of the Irish lineup is unclear. Junior Breona Gray, who started last year, is hurt and won’t dress for tonight’s game. She is still a couple weeks away from being back, McGraw said.

In the mix, however, is sophomore center Melissa D’Amico, senior forward Courtney LaVere, junior forward Crystal Erwin and guards Lindsay Schrader and Tulyah Gaines. McGraw said that Erwin would be limited to five minutes a half tonight due to injury, and Gaines is still nursing an injury. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Charel Allen, named to the All-Big East Freshman team last year, is still limited in her playing time as well after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in the final game of 2005. She is likely to play tonight, but will be limited to about five minutes per half.

“She’s going to sleep on it and make sure she feels comfortable,” McGraw said. “Right before the game, she may say “I’m not ready,” but at this point, we’re expecting to play her.”

With Gray, Gaines, Allen and Erwin injured in some respect, the Irish were forced to add two walk-ons to the already thin roster this fall. Freshmen Brittney Bolden and Christine Trezza were added to help fill out what would have been a 10-player roster.

As for Indianapolis, the Greyhounds finished last year with a 22-10 record overall and a 12-8 record in the Great Lakes Valley Conference – good for a third place finish. They lost in the NCAA Division II Regional semifinals to end the 2005 campaign. The Greyhounds return just four players from that team, not including their top three scorers. Junior Amanda Norris is their leading returning scorer, and the 5-foot-10 forward averaged 9.9 points and 6.4 points per game while starting all 32 games for the Greyhounds.

Tonight’s game is the first of two exhibition games for Notre Dame before the season-opener against Michigan Nov. 18. The Irish face Ferris State Nov. 10, concluding the exhibition season.