The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



ND Women’s Basketball: Team to face ranked Baylor

Meaghan Veselik | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The No. 16 Irish are ready to battle tonight as they take on No. 2/3 Baylor in Waco, Texas for their third contest against a ranked opponent.

“I think they’re ready for another opportunity to play a ranked team,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of her young team. “We’ve had two chances, and we weren’t really happy with the things we did during those games, so now we have another chance. We have a lot of chances this year, we play a lot of ranked teams, so each game is a whole new opportunity for us.”

Notre Dame (5-2) fell 86-83 to No. 12 UCLA in double overtime and 81-76 to No. 9 Kentucky on Nov. 18 and Nov. 21, respectively. McGraw said she sees those contests as an important starting board for her young team as they take on the Bears.

“I think that it definitely helped us to play ranked teams and to see a few things that we need to work on. It was good for us to compare ourselves to other ranked teams and to know that we have to really be more fundamentally sound,” she said. “We can’t get away with making some of the mistakes that we made in the other games, and we have to really be attentive to the details.”

The Irish haven’t had much time to take care of details in the last week while they hosted the WBCA Classic over the holiday weekend, defeating three teams in three days. Notre Dame took out IUPUI 95-29, Wake Forest 92-69 and Butler 85-54. Despite the team’s success, McGraw said none of the tournament opponents provided enough of a challenge for the Irish to have to execute their offense, an area McGraw said will be essential in tonight’s competition.

“We play teams, and when you can score 92 points on them, you don’t have to execute the offense. You can just run your transition but [tonight], we’re going to have to run the offense,” she said. “We’re going to have to have that ability to really focus and run the offense through.”

McGraw also said that Notre Dame will need to control its turnovers against Baylor and not play “sloppy.” But working on the details may not come until after final exams.

“We just had three games in three days, so we haven’t had practices for five days, so that makes it a little bit tougher because we know we have to fix some things and we only have one day to do that,” McGraw said. “We are really looking forward to having some time after final exams that we can really get back and work on some things.”

Until then, the Irish aren’t slowing down, especially not with one of the tallest post players in the NCAA standing in front of them tonight. Baylor sophomore Brittney Griner, standing tall at 6-foot-8, averaged 30 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.67 blocks in 23.7 minutes in the Bears’ three most recent contests.

McGraw said Griner will pose a threat.

“There’s a bit of a challenge with a 6-foot-8 post player inside,” McGraw said. “We had Kentucky who had a really good post player but she was only 6-foot-1, so we’re not going to see one this often with this kind of size and agility. We’re getting our game plan formulated [Monday] and we’re going to try some things out [Tuesday]. I think we have to play a little bit smarter.”

McGraw said for the Irish, it’s about keeping a strong attitude throughout 40 minutes of play.

“We don’t want to beat ourselves, we don’t want to beat ourselves with turnovers and missed box outs and little things like that. We want to just battle on the boards and defensively, we want to be able to defend, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for,” McGraw said. “I think it’s an attitude, and I think we’ve got a really good attitude about that and I think that starts with [senior forward and captain] Becca Bruszewski.

“I think they’re ready and I think the most important thing is that we have to compete and that’s what we do best, we battle,” McGraw said. “We’re a team of fighters and they are ready to accept the challenge.”

The Irish take on Baylor tonight at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas at 7 p.m. CST.