ND Women’s Basketball
McGraw relies on bench for depth and offensive spark
Greg Hadley | Wednesday, February 5, 2014
At 21-0, No. 2 Notre Dame is one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the nation. What separates the Irish from the rest of the country is more than just senior all-American guard Kayla McBride and senior forward Natalie Achonwa. Irish coach Muffet McGraw said her team’s deep bench has been the squad’s greatest asset.
“The strength of our team is that our bench is as good as any team in the country,” McGraw said. “We’re getting [27.7] points off the bench and it’s something that we’ve able to count on all year long.”
Led by sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey and junior guard Madison Cable, the Irish bench has been key in Notre Dame’s close victories. Against Tennessee, Mabrey and Cable combined to score 27 points, helping to outscore Tennessee’s reserves 36-13. With sophomore guard and leading scorer Jewell Loyd out due to injury against Miami, Mabrey and Cable combined for 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Mabrey leads the team in 3-point attempts and she and Cable rank third and fourth in 3-point percentage, respectively.
“Michaela can come in and shoot the 3-pointer so well,” McGraw said. “She’s one of the best shooters in the conference. She’s somebody we count on to come in and score points quickly. Madison Cable is also having a great year. She’s just coming off a career high in rebounding [against Virginia Tech]. She also had her career high in scoring against UCLA. She’s a very capable rebounder and scorer. They’re a big reason we are so successful this year and … we’re looking to them to play a big role in every game.”
Mabrey has also played a pivotal role in the team’s defense, McGraw said.
“She’s worked really hard in the offseason to get better defensively,” McGraw said. “That’s something she really wanted to get better at. She knows she can come in and she can score, but she wants to do other things as well and help the team on both ends. She’s a very smart player with a high basketball IQ.”
Freshman forward Taya Reimer has also come off the bench to produce for the Irish. A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Reimer leads the team in blocks and ranks fifth in scoring while playing 19.6 minutes a game.
As the Irish hit the midway point of their ACC schedule, McGraw said she will continue to look to her bench, and Cable and Mabrey in particular, to provide a spark.
“I’m comfortable leaning on both of them,” McGraw said. “We have such great guards that it can be hard to find time for everybody, but they are certainly in the rotation and I trust them to go out there and play well and score.”
Off the court, the bench players, especially Cable and Mabrey, contribute to the team’s chemistry, McGraw said.
“They definitely like to have fun,” McGraw said. “They enjoy spending with their teammates off the court and they’re really fun to coach. They’re so upbeat and ready and very coachable in that way. They work hard in the gym and I think that carries over,”
The Irish square off against Florida State at 7 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla.
Contact Greg Hadley at email@example.com