ND Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame opens season as part of Carrier Classic
Joseph Monardo | Friday, November 9, 2012
Notre Dame’s season opener will be the first of its kind as women’s basketball moves into the fringes of the ocean. The No. 7 Irish and No. 19 Ohio State will tip off their respective campaigns in the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
For the Irish, the game is the first since they dropped the national championship game, 80-61, to Baylor on April 3. Notre Dame will retake the court, but this time outdoors.
“This is the first time ever a women’s game had been played on an aircraft carrier,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.
“It’s supposed to be 67 [degrees] and sunny … Friday, but I think the sun will be setting by the time the game is in the second half, so it should be cooler, and we do have some Adidas long-sleeved shirts to put on underneath the uniforms.”
Notre Dame received the invitation around the time of last year’s inaugural Carrier Classic, which pitted North Carolina against Michigan State in a men’s game on Nov. 11, 2011 – Veteran’s Day.
“We were approached about it last year … we were called primarily because we have a former player [Danielle Green] who was in the army and lost her arm in Iraq, and they wanted someone with a military connection,” McGraw said. “They heard the story about Danielle Green, and so that’s why they wanted Notre Dame in the game.
“[Green] is here with us, now. She flew out with us and she’ll be at the game.”
In their lone exhibition contest this year, the Irish defended their home court and handed Edinboro an 88-28 loss on Nov. 1. Senior guard Skylar Diggins, one of only two returning starters from last year’s national runner-up team, netted 13 points and added seven assists and five rebounds. Junior guard Kayla McBride, the other returning starter, contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds. However, it was a new face leading the Irish, as freshman guard Jewell Loyd had a game-high 20 points on 6-11 shooting.
Ohio State enters the classic without having played an exhibition game. However, the Buckeyes will present a tough test for the Irish, McGraw said.
“It’s going to be a great game,” she said. “They’re an experienced team. They lost their starting point guard to graduation, and we of course lost three starters. So I think the rest of their team is pretty experienced. We have a lot of new faces – we’re incredibly young. It’s a big test for us this early in the season.”
Friday marks the first time since 2008 – when they defeated No. 22 LSU – the Irish will begin their regular-season slate with a game against a ranked opponent. If the Irish are to capture another season-opening win they will have to show something on the defensive end, their coach said.
“[Senior guard] Tayler Hill from Ohio State, one of their leading scorers in the nation, led the Big Ten in scoring, and also a great defensive player,” McGraw said. “So I think she’s a big key to their team. So we’ve got to come along defensively. We lost [former Irish guard] Brittany Mallory, who was our best defender. We lost [former Irish forward] Devereaux Peters, who was the Big East’s best defender, so defensively we’re very young.”
Irish fans will get a first glimpse of the new-look lineup Friday in the Carrier Classic. Notre Dame and Ohio State will tip off at 4 p.m. aboard the USS Yorktown.
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