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ND Women’s Basketball: McGraw’s squad takes on Canadian champs in exhibition

Molly Sammon | Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The last time the Irish took the court, they finished their season six points shy of becoming national champions. Looking to build upon its second place finish, Notre Dame starts fresh in an exhibition game tonight against Windsor, the reigning Canadian national champion, at the Purcell Pavilion.

“We have lot of confidence and we’ve set our goals high,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “The summer especially helped us get better.”

While most of the team took on individual workout regimes over the break, three members of the Irish squad played together for the United States in the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. Senior guard Natalie Novosel, junior guard Skylar Diggins and fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters represented the Irish on the 12-person squad that beat Taiwan 101-66 for the world champion title.

“Their summer games allowed them to train and play at a high level,” McGraw said. “They all came back ready to lead the team.”

With all but one member of last year’s team returning to play for the Irish, a similar-looking squad and momentum from last season’s success should help not only in Tuesday’s opening exhibition game, but throughout the season.

Three new freshmen join the team in guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway and forward Markisha Wright.

“Because we have so many returning players, we’re going to let the freshmen take their time and learn,” McGraw said.

At the top of the preseason Big East rankings, the Irish will begin competitive play against the Lancers, a new opponent for McGraw.

“We were not able to get any tape on [the Lancers], so all we have is their stats,” McGraw said. “We’ll just have to see how the game goes.”

From Windsor, Ontario, the Lancers (4-1) opened their season Oct. 14 and wrapped up their first competitive weekend with three wins and the top spot at the Darcel Wright Memorial Tournament in Toronto. They lost for the first time this season Sunday to the Regina Cougars of Alberta.

The Lancers finished 34-2 last season, won their conference title and became national champions after winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport title, Canada’s version of the NCAA championships.

Two players from Windsor’s team represented Canada at the World University Games. Former Lancer Raelyn Prince and current guard Miah-Marie Langlois made the trip to Asia to represent Canada.

 “There is a lot of excitement building for us, and we have to see what we’re going to do,” McGraw said.

The Irish tip off at 7 p.m. against the Lancers in their only exhibition game of the season.

Contact Molly Sammon at msammon@nd.edu