McBride improves in year two
Matthew Robison | Thursday, March 1, 2012
As the lone non-veteran on the starting five this season, sophomore guard Kayla McBride has surprised everyone but her teammates and coaches with her breakthrough performance.
Irish coach Muffet McGraw certainly knew McBride’s potential upside and is certainly glad to see it show through in her play this season.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the way she’s playing and what she’s been contributing to our team,” McGraw said. “She makes a huge impact for us.”
Playing with four veterans in the starting lineup, including three other guards, McBride has quickly learned the system and her role within it. But more importantly, she has drawn one key lesson from it: mental toughness. Seniors Devereaux Peters, Natalie Novosel and Brittany Mallory and junior Skylar Diggins have inspired McBride to display the fortitude to embrace and overcome adversity.
“They’ve been through so much during their three, four, five years here,” McBride said. “Just taking that and going with it, just playing with them and seeing their determination. It just kind of gives me the strength that I can go out there and do these things, and I can go far, and I can get better each and every day like they have.”
McBride has averaged just over 11 points per game this season and has pulled in just under five rebounds. Last season, she played 19 games for the Irish before sitting out the remainder of the season to deal with an off-the-court issue.
Her return has sparked Notre Dame both offensively and defensively and gives a great glimpse of the future for the Irish. She is motivated by both an internal fire and the push she receives from those around her.
“I think a lot of it is self-motivation just because of everything I went through last year,” she said. “But I think a lot of it comes from my coaches and the confidence they have in me. They wanted me to step in and play my game and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
McGraw expressed supreme confidence in McBride’s ability right now, as well as her ability to continually improve during the remainder of her career.
“She plays well in the high post against the zone. She can score one-on-one, she can use the ball screen. She can score in a lot of different ways,” McGraw said. “She’s just beginning to tap that potential. She can continue to get better. She really has made great strides and continued to make them while she was out last year.”
Certainly a contender for Most Improved Player in the conference when the postseason awards are announced, McBride has strived to get better each and every day. That is her primary goal.
“One of my goals is just to get better on and off the court,” McBride said.
“I think she’s the most improved player in the league,” McGraw said.
As a heavily recruited player coming out of high school, she saw Notre Dame’s diversity of offerings appealing, the ultimate deciding factor to play for the Irish, she said.
“There was really nothing I could see wrong, academically, athletically,” McBride said. “I was just drawn to it immediately.”
She attributes part of her success to the culture of Notre Dame, a culture of hard work and the determination to succeed.
“I think the work ethic we have to put in as a student-athletes here at Notre Dame makes you succeed on so many different levels,” McBride said. “I think that’s just one of the best things about being here and being part of this program.”
Contact Matthew Robison at [email protected]