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ND Women’s Basketball: Big East blues

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, February 6, 2009

The pink zone is nothing new to NCAA women’s basketball, but this Sunday it’s a little bit more significant.

It’s the first time Notre Dame will step on the court to raise money for cancer awareness since the passing of North Carolina State’s Kay Yow. The long time coach lost her battle with breast cancer on January 24.

“She’s been an inspiration to everyone,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of Yow. “Personally or not, she is somebody who has probably affected you in some way. I just think she has been a tremendous role model, she’s an admirable person; everybody has tremendous respect for her. As people have said, nobody can find a bad word about her and that’s really something to be said in the coaching fraternity.”

And in her memory, the Irish are looking to sell-out against DePaul McGraw said. And a sell out home crowd could be just what the Irish need to break out of their current rut, having lost three of their last four games.

The match against the Blue Demons marks the beginning of the final stretch in the regular season.

“… [T]he last seven games of the season are really important for everybody and we’re playing not as well as I would like right now, but we’ve got a lot of freshmen who are starting to hit the wall this time of the year,” McGraw said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to get together and have a strong finish.”

Notre Dame last faced DePaul on Jan. 6 on the road. The Irish won 86-62. But even with that win under their belt, Notre Dame isn’t counting on a win. Not even past injuries to stars Natasha Williams and Deirdre Naughton has McGraw feeling certain.

“They’re back to full strength now and I think they’re playing great basketball,” McGraw said. “I think they’re one of the hottest teams in the conference, along with Pittsburgh. I think those two teams are really coming on strong right now.”

Naughton and DePaul step onto the court Sunday coming off a five-game conference winning streak. A large part of their success has come from the 3-pont line. And with Notre Dame not exactly on their defensive game as of late, that could mean trouble for the Irish.

“I think rebounding is always going to be a problem for us, we always have to work on that,” McGraw said. “Defensively, we’ve been a little more often down than I would like. We have to play better defensively, we’ve got to guard the 3-point line a little better, and certainly DePaul is going to challenge that. They’re a great 3-point shooting team.”

McGraw and the Irish hope that guarding the 3-point line will help them secure another win against Depaul.

Notre Dame and DePaul square off at 2 p.m. Sunday.


uIn honor of the pink zone, the Irish will be wearing pink jerseys.

uMcGraw said $25,000 has already been raised. If the game sells out, an additional $10,000 will be donated toward breast cancer research.