ND Women’s Basketball: Irish head to New Jersey to face Pirates
By Samantha Zuba | Friday, February 8, 2013
After Irish coach Muffet McGraw celebrated her 700th win Wednesday against Villanova, she quickly got back to business. No. 2 Notre Dame has another game to play against Seton Hall.
McGraw, who stresses focus and defense, doesn’t want her team to forget that.
“I think for us going into every game with real focus is something we have to work on on the road,” she said. “We’ve got a big game coming up because it’s the next game on the schedule.”
With Winter Storm Nemo threatening the Northeast this weekend, Notre Dame (21-1, 9-0 Big East) heads to South Orange, N.J., to face the Pirates on Saturday. The Irish will need to remain mentally focused despite a change in travel plans.
“The weather is a factor,” McGraw said. “We’re changing plans with the storm coming in, but we have to be prepared and play through adversity.”
The Irish will also face basketball-related challenges. Seton Hall (8-13, 3-5) enters the contest in 11th place in the Big East, but the Pirates feature two guards who each average double-digit points. Senior Brittany Morris scores 12.4 points per game, and sophomore Ka-Deidre Simmons supplies 11 points per game. McGraw said Seton Hall also plays excellent defense.
“They’re just a good defensive team,” McGraw said. “They’re holding teams to 60 points per game, and we like to put up 80. I think it will come down to our offense versus their defense.”
Although the Irish entered the game averaging 81.4 points per contest, the offense mustered only 59 points in the win over Villanova on Tuesday. Cincinnati managed to hold Notre Dame to 64 points Saturday. Despite these below-average scoring outputs, McGraw said she is pleased with the offense. In both games, the Irish forced turnovers and executed scoring plays whenever they had an opportunity. But Villanova and Cincinnati consistently took full advantage of the 30-second shot clock to keep the ball away from the Notre Dame offense.
“I think we’re playing well offensively,” McGraw said. “Other teams hold the ball and try to milk the clock. You can’t look at the Villanova game. We do like to score quickly.”
Even though Villanova kept the ball away from the Irish, Notre Dame still shot 40.7 percent from the field. McGraw attributed the team’s recent success.to remarkable performances by key starters. She also praised the emergence of several bench players.
“[Junior guard] Kayla McBride has been phenomenal and [junior forward] Natalie Achonwa has been playing great basketball this year,” McGraw said. “[Senior guard] Skylar Diggins has been great of course. We’ve been getting more production from the bench. We’d like them to add to the offense. [Sophomore guard] Madison Cable is ready. [Freshman guard] Michaela Mabrey is looking for more playing time.”
The Irish and their high-powered offense will take on the Pirates at 2 p.m. Saturday at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N.J.
Contact Samantha Zuba at firstname.lastname@example.org