ND Women’s Basketball: Diggins to join Notre Dame elite
Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, November 15, 2013
Former Irish point guard Skylar Diggins will be inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor before the No. 6 Irish take on Valparaiso in Purcell Pavilion on Saturday.
The ceremony will take place around 1:30 p.m., approximately a half-hour before tip-off.
“It’s going to be a very emotional night for everyone in the building. Skylar’s meant so much to our program,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “She really has elevated our program to an elite status, and it’s a chance for everyone to come out and thank her one more time, and it’s going to be such a fantastic achievement for her to be honored.”
McGraw said the decision to induct Diggins into the Ring of Honor just a few months after her graduation is a testament to the impact she had on the program.
“Usually you’d wait a few years before you did something like that, but she’s so special that we felt like we wanted to do it right away,” McGraw said.
But once the game begins, the Irish (2-0) will return to the business of solidifying the team in the post-Diggins era.
“At this point in the season we’re really focused on us,” McGraw said. “We’re still trying to find our identity and work the freshmen in.”
McGraw said the team has come a long way since the exhibition-win over California on Oct. 30, which lacked the defensive intensity she wanted to see.
“I think we’re playing really well; we’re getting better every game,” McGraw said. “I felt like we had a giant improvement between the first and second game, and I’m hoping for the same kind of improvement in our game on Saturday.
“I think defensively we’re getting stronger and offensively we’re playing okay, but I’d like to see us execute a little bit better offensively. So that’s what we’re looking for.”
Irish bring in No. 1 recruit, top-five signing class
Three top recruits signed letters of intent to play with Notre Dame next year, including forward Brianna Turner, the nation’s top prep player as rated by Blue Star Basketball.
Turner, a senior at Manvel High School in Pearland, Texas, has won four gold medals with the under-18 U.S. team. She averaged 19.6 points, 9,4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game during her first three years of high school basketball.
“She is a 6-foot-3 shot-blocking defensive player who’s really going to help us on the boards, and she’s a lot like Devereaux Peters, who played here,” McGraw said. “So we’re really excited about what she’ll bring to the press and defense. And she can score, too.”
Kathryn Westbeld is a 6-foot-2 forward out of Kettering Fairmont High in Kettering, Ohio. Last season, she led her high school team to a 27-1 record and a Division I state championship.
“She’s a very versatile wing,” McGraw said. “She can shoot the three, she can pass, she can handle the ball. She can also post-up smaller guards, so we’re thrilled that she will be joining us, because she give us so much versatility. She can help us against the press. She can just play so many different positions.”
Mychal Johnson, a 5-foot-8 guard and senior at Huntington St. Joseph High in Huntington, W.V., has already racked up two quadruple-doubles and three state championships.
“Mychal Johnson is a really good combo guard who we expect to help us defensively in the backcourt; help our press,” McGraw said. “She’s a really good three-point shooter, a very smart player. So we’re looking for her to help us at both ends of the floor.”
All three players are ranked in the top-20 by Blue Star Basketball.
Saturday’s festivities begin at 1:30 p.m. as Diggins is inducted into the Ring of Honor at Purcell Pavilion. Tip off against the Crusaders (0-2) is set for 2 p.m.
Contact Vicky Jacobsen at email@example.com