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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish turn to new frontcourt of Reimer, Turner

| Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Irish starting forwards got younger, fast.

Last season, Natalie Achonwa and Ariel Braker started at the position as seniors. This season, sophomore Taya Reimer and freshman Brianna Turner have stepped into their starting roles.

Freshman forward Brianna Turner, 11, and sophomore forward Taya  Reimer secure a rebound during Notre Dame’s 92-63 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 1.Chris Collins | The Observer

Freshman forward Brianna Turner, 11, and sophomore forward Taya
Reimer secure a rebound during Notre Dame’s 92-63 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 1.

Now it looks like the two should have a few years to play and develop their games together.

“I think that that’s definitely something that I wanted, and I know that Bri wanted too,” Reimer said of the opportunity to play together. “We wanted to go somewhere we could make an impact and make an impact right away.”

That immediate impact has come in the form of a combined 24.9 points per game and 13.9 rebounds per game this season for the No. 4 Irish (23-2, 9-1 ACC).

“It’s good because we can get comfortable playing with one another,” Turner said of being able to work with Reimer over the next few years. “… She’s really been a really great learning tool for me.”

Reimer was a spot starter last season, appearing in all 38 games for the Irish and starting six of them. The Fishers, Indiana native has assumed more of a leadership role this year after the senior forwards graduated.

“It was great because I got to just observe what they did and learn from them, and there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me,” Reimer said of playing with Achonwa and Braker. “I think that that really helped, so now in my sophomore year, now that we lost that experience in the post, I’ve kind of become a mentor on the team already in the post as a sophomore.

Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner skies for a loose ball after a foul during Notre Dame’s 75-54 win over Virginia on Thursday.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner skies for a loose ball after a foul during Notre Dame’s 75-54 win over Virginia on Thursday.

“So it’s a lot different, but I think that our seniors last year really prepared me and prepared all of us for that leadership role.”

For Turner, a Pearland, Texas native, some of that leadership has been simple as starting every game she’s played in during her freshman campaign.

“[Taya] always helps me get to the right spot,” Turner said. “She always lets me know where I need to be.”

In terms of their styles of play, the two complement each other well, Reimer said.

“She’s so athletic, and definitely a lot more athletic than I am,” Reimer said, laughing. “I think that I am probably more of a mid-range player, I would say, as a post compared to her, but I think that we have a lot of similarities in our game offensively. Our job is to score and rebound, and that goes for both of us.

“It’s kind of the same and kind of different, but we love playing together, and we’re just going to keep getting better and playing off of each other and learning each other’s style of play.”

One key aspect both players bring to the table, Turner said, is speed to go along with their size. Both Turner and Reimer are 6-foot-3.

“I think because we’re forwards and not really centers, we’re more versatile, so we can probably get up and down the floor quicker than some other centers can,” Turner said.

Rebounding has been a team focus this season, with Reimer and Turner handling much of the load. Turner leads the Irish with 166 rebounds, an average of 7.5 per game, and Reimer is second with 147 rebounds, averaging 6.4 boards per game.

Irish sophomore forward Taya Reimer secures a rebound during Notre Dame’s 92-63 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 1 at Purcell Pavilion.Emily McConville | The Observer

Irish sophomore forward Taya Reimer secures a rebound during Notre Dame’s 92-63 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 1 at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw sets rebounding goals for each game to keep the team on track, Reimer said.

“She always talks to me and Bri specifically about that being our job, and so when she puts it to us like that, it’s like, ‘Okay, this is what we have to be doing because it’s just what she expects from us,'” Reimer said.

“Coach has a really big emphasis on rebounding, so it carries over to the games,” Turner said.

So far, both Reimer and Turner said the transition into the regular starting lineup has gone well.

“We’re good friends, so we communicate well,” Turner said.

“She just really adds so much athleticism to our team,” Reimer said of Turner. “It’s fun for me to throw lobs for her, and I think we both just work off of each other really well, offensively and defensively. I just love playing with her and having her on our team.”

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