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ND Women’s Basketball: Breaking the Storm

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As the No. 4 Irish prepare for one of the toughest Big East road games of the season against No. 22 St. John’s, the question on everybody’s minds is if senior captain Lindsay Schrader will be able to suit up for the Irish after spraining her left ankle Sunday.
“We are bringing her uniform,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of the senior guard. “We are not sure if she is going to be able to play; it will be a game-time decision.”
If Schrader is unable to play, the Irish (23-1, 10-1 Big East) will miss her production, as she is the third leading scorer on the team with an average 11.3 points per game and the leading rebounder with an average 7.3 rebounds per game.
“I think we have a very balanced team, and we have a lot of different weapons, so we will just have to wait for game time and see what happens,” McGraw said.
What the Irish would really miss in Schrader’s absence is her emotional leadership on the court, a presence that McGraw does not take lightly.
“We are counting on having her out there, but I thought we did a nice job without her in the DePaul game,” McGraw said. “I thought the guards played very well. I thought [junior forwards] Devereux Peters and Becca [Bruszewski] and everybody stepped up and played well.”
What worries McGraw and the Irish is to have to rush into a game so quickly after losing such a player, especially against a St. John’s (20-5, 8-4 Big East) team that has risen into the national rankings.
“It’s a big game for them coming off of a close game with Connecticut,” McGraw said. “I think they are probably feeling really confident, I’m sure they are talking about how they let it get away and how they now have a chance to beat a really good team coming to their own court.”
Countering this kind of anticipated intensity from a team will not be easy, but McGraw hopes to accomplish it by sticking to the fundamentals she has preached all year long.
“We have to match their intensity, defensive pressure, and rebounding,” McGraw said.
The Red Storm also have a lot of quickness and speed, and McGraw hopes her team can stack up with a combination of motivation and athleticism. St John’s is led in scoring by sophomore forward Da’Shena Stevens, who is averaging 13.9 points per game.
“They are really athletic. They are very, very quick team, they drive the ball well,” McGraw said. “They just really get to basket and they are going to be a really big challenge for us defensively.”
The way to counter an athletic team like this is to win the turnover battle, which has been a part of McGraw’s game plan all year long.
“Our philosophy this year has been to cause a lot of turnovers. We always like to cause turnovers, to press,” McGraw said. “That has been our game-plan all year long.”
The Irish will look to stay one step ahead of the Red Storm tonight at 7 p.m. in Queens, N.Y.