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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish prepare for Panther play

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No. 2 Notre Dame has won a school-record 10 consecutive road games in Big East regular season play, and they hope to make it 11 tonight at Pittsburgh.

The Irish (16-1, 5-0 Big East) last dropped a conference road game on Feb. 28, 2011, in a heartbreaker to DePaul, 70-69. In order to continue the streak, they must beat an inexperienced Panthers squad who has yet to record a win in the Big East this season. Despite the obvious discrepancies in records, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Pittsburgh (9-8, 0-4) will present Notre Dame with another test.

“Well, it’s a very young team,” she said. “They don’t have any seniors on their team, and they’re getting better. They’re much improved from last year and playing at home, where they’re going to be a lot more comfortable.”

Junior guard-forward Asia Logan leads the Panthers in both points (15.5) and rebounds (7.5) per game. McGraw said the 6-foot Logan will challenge Notre Dame’s interior defense.

“She’s really playing well,” McGraw said. “She’s a really aggressive post player. She can score in a lot of different ways away from the basket. I think she’s a challenge for a post to guard because she’s not your typical post player.”

Notre Dame cannot rely upon the energy of a home crowd as the Panthers will, but according to McGraw, the more experienced Irish do not need friendly confines to play well.

“I think we play the same way home or away,” she said. “I think when you have good leadership, you’re not going into any gym and feeling like you have to play a different game because you’re on the road as opposed to being at home. I think we keep our same routine, we do the same things we do at home, and, when you have veterans leading you, I just think it makes everything easier.”

Sophomore guard Madison Cable will rely on this veteran leadership today, as she returns to familiar territory. McGraw said the Mt. Lebanon, Pa., native will have to control her excitement during the homecoming.

“Girls handle it different ways,” McGraw said of playing in front of hometown fans. “Sometimes, you go to the hometown, and they’re so anxious that they don’t play as well. She’s going to have a lot of people there watching her for the first time playing in front of the home crowd. She’s been playing really well, practicing really well, and I think that’s the key; just do what you do in practice, and you’ll be fine.”

Among other things, Cable and her teammates have been practicing offensive schemes for situations late in the shot clock.
“We worked the last two days on what our plan is for the late shot clock, and I think it worked pretty well,” McGraw said. “I’m happy with it, and I’m anxious to see us execute it in the game.”

The Irish will have a chance to showcase some of the new offense beginning at 7 p.m. tonight against the Panthers in the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu