ND Women’s Basketball: McGraw prepared for Bulls
Chris Masoud | Friday, February 4, 2011
While South Bend remains enveloped in snow, the Irish head to warmer climates to take on a South Florida team seeking its second conference win of the season.
Despite their struggles in the win-loss column, the Bulls feature a number of premiere players that Irish coach Muffet McGraw believes could cause potential mismatches on the floor.
South Florida guard Andrea Smith ranks third in conference scoring, averaging 17 points per game.
“[The Bulls] have played really well,” McGraw said. “Andrea’s outstanding. She’s had a sensational year. She’s a first-team Big East type of player. She’s quick, she can shoot the three, get to the basket. She’s as good as any of the guards in the Big East. She’s going to create some problems for our defense.”
In addition to Smith’s scoring ability from the perimeter and her quickness through the lane, No. 8 Notre Dame (19-4, 8-1 Big East) will have the additional task of containing post presence Porche Grant. Listed as a true center, Grant is the second-leading rebounder in the Big East with a 9.6 rebounds per game average.
The Irish have faced a number of talented posts thus far in the conference season, and McGraw has once again tabbed senior forward Becca Bruszewski to lead the defensive effort against the Bulls (10-12, 1-7).
“[Grant] is a great rebounder,” McGraw said. “She’s got size, and she’s just so athletic. We’ve played some other good posts that Becca Bruszewski has done a really good job on, so she’s going to get the challenge of guarding her again.”
While their conference records are nearly mirror opposites, the two squads implement a similar style offense. Both teams like to run the floor, score in transition and put pressure on the defense to come up with key stops.
They’re an up-tempo team,” McGraw said. “They like to run, they’ll press. They create a lot of different things defensively. They’ll play some man, they’ll play some zone. They’ll really try to mix things up, really trying to break your rhythm. It should be a matchup of two up-tempo teams.”
While Notre Dame has benefited from a competitive lull by racking up six straight wins in the conference, the schedule heats up following Saturday’s contest against the Bulls and a home matchup against a Seton Hall team that remains winless in the conference. Notre Dame will host Rutgers (12-9, 5-3) next Saturday before traveling to No. 2 Connecticut (21-1, 9-0).
McGraw said her players take each game with the same approach — preparation and determination.
“This team, especially with the leadership of Becca, has really come out every game and been ready, no matter who we’re playing,” McGraw said. “That’s just great leadership. They don’t look past anyone. They look forward to the challenge of playing everybody.”
The Irish face the Bulls at 7 p.m. Saturday in Tampa.