ND Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame prepares for Purdue
Joe Meixell | Friday, December 7, 2007
Purdue’s advance to last year’s Elite 8 is now a distant memory for the struggling Boilermakers, but it doesn’t foretell an easy win, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said about Saturday’s road matchup.
“I think that if you look at their losses, they’ve lost to some high quality teams,” McGraw said. “So I don’t you can look at their record and say that they’re struggling because they’re only losing to teams in the top 25.”
The Boilermakers (4-4), who fell to North Carolina in the Elite 8 of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, have had a tough start to the season. After two wins, Purdue dropped its next four, including a 0-3 performance at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament.
McGraw said the Boilermakers present some tough matchup problems defensively for the No. 16 Irish, especially Purdue’s top two scorers – guard Lakisha Freeman and center Danielle Campbell.
Freeman leads the Boilermakers with 14.1 of her team’s 56.9 points per game.
“Freeman’s been playing really well. She’s kind of a tough matchup for us. She’s a really athletic player, scores a lot in transition. She’s going to give us problems,” McGraw said.
But Freeman’s game suffers in some aspects. The redshirt junior has only four assists to go with her 21 turnovers and only grabs 3.7 rebounds per game.
Campbell has been a dominant presence in the paint for Purdue so far this season, with 8.6 boards per game and 20 blocks already this season.
“Campbell is very good on the block. She’s a little quicker than we are,” McGraw said. “There’s probably something on everyone on their team that concerns me, but those are the main two.”
Going into the matchup with Purdue, McGraw said her team needs to improve its defense significantly from its 86-84 overtime win at Bowling Green Wednesday night.
McGraw said she was “not too happy” with the defense against Bowling Green, but that much of the problem stemmed from inexperience.
“I think a lot of it was freshman mistakes. [Freshman forward] Devereaux [Peters] was picked on a little bit and I think we can help that,” she said. “I think we can fix it pretty easily. I think we just have to see it on film and show them what they have to do.”
One positive McGraw took from the Bowling Green win was the confidence it gave her team.
“To be in that situation I thought was great experience,” she said. “Just to be in a game like that on the road with a great crowd, loud, everything you could want – you really learn a lot about your team.
“We learned a couple things defensively. We’re not good at defending, how can we get better and offensively we did great things.”
Notre Dame finishes its two-game road trip Saturday when it takes on Purdue at 4 p.m.
uDespite its 7-1 record, Notre Dame has had only the third best start in the Big East this season. No. 2 Connecticut and No. 15 DePaul are both 7-0, and No. 13 West Virginia and Villanova are also 7-1.