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ND Women’s Basketball: Nowhere to go but east

Eric Retter | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

After struggling to a 3-5 record in the first half of conference play, the Carrier Dome may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Irish, who are 12-7 overall and have fallen out of the top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2003-2004 season, will go into their game at Syracuse with an 18-2 overall series record and an 8-1 record when the game is played at Syracuse, where Notre Dame hasn’t lost since the 1988-89 season.

While the team will be making its third trip to the East Coast in a little over a week, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is confident that the team will not experience any ill-effect from the travels.

“We had yesterday off, so I think we had a nice day to get fresh, especially on a Sunday when they don’t have class,” McGraw said. “It was a good day off, so I think we’ll be ready.”

Syracuse, (2-7 in the Big East and 9-11 overall), comes into the game on a two-game win streak, having pulled out victories against Seton Hall and Providence last week. The Orange will be led by center Vaida Sipaviciute, who currently averages 17.6 points per game.

The Notre Dame effort to end its current losing streak will be led by senior guard Megan Duffy, who currently ranks eighth in the Big East in scoring with 16.1 points per game, including 25 points in a heartbreaking 68-64 overtime loss to South Florida Saturday.

“I think the thing that we want to do is make sure we have the right people shooting the ball, which, of course, Megan is a prominent feature in that,” McGraw said.

After Saturday’s disappointing loss, McGraw has indicated that there may be lineup changes, at least for tonight’s game against Syracuse.

“We’re thinking about going to a smaller lineup, playing four guards.” McGraw said. “We’re just not sure which four that’s going to be.”

Despite the potential starting lineup changes, McGraw has been adamant about trying to establish a post presence, where the team has had trouble lately.

“We need to really rejuvenate the post game. I think that’s a key, that’s what was working for us early in the year,” McGraw said.

In part because of the post problems, the Irish have been notoriously streaky the last few games, equally likely to make dominating runs or go more than 10 minutes without a field goal.

“We continually watch the droughts, to see what went wrong, what did we do wrong. It’s just a lot of different things [contributing to them],” McGraw said.

While lineup changes seem to be in effect for at least tonight, McGraw says the team has no plans of changing its overall philosophy or game strategy.

“We’re pretty much going to do the same thing we’ve been doing, offensively just hoping more shots drop in for us. Defensively, we haven’t made a lot of changes there either,” she said. “I think we’re just trying to find the right combination right now.”