ND Women’s Basketball
Hurricanes visit Purcell
Aaron Sant-Miller | Wednesday, January 22, 2014
After a three-game stint on the road, the No. 2 Irish will return to Purcell Pavilion tonight to host ACC rival Miami.
“We love playing at home because our fans are the best in the country,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They give us energy and are so much fun to play in front of. We need that, so after three in a row, we are a little fatigued. It will be great to be back in the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion.”
Notre Dame (17-0, 4-0 ACC) will attempt to contain an offense that emphasizes 3-point shooting. Miami (11-7, 3-2 ACC) is averaging 19.6 3-point attempts per game, and 30 percent of the Hurricanes’ shots are from beyond the arc. The Irish, though they lead the NCAA in 3-point shooting percentage, only fire from beyond the arc on 18 percent of their attempted shots.
“You don’t want to play a lot of zone when you play a team that shoots that many 3-pointers,” McGraw said. “It will be a challenge for our guards and our post too. I think everybody has to defend on the perimeter, which has been a little bit of a problem for us this year.”
On the inside, Notre Dame is also one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. The Irish have averaged a positive rebound margin of 12.9 this season.
“We need to capitalize on [our strength rebounding],” McGraw said. “We have a little bit more size and we need to take advantage of that as well.”
While Miami does not have a player over 6-foot-2, Notre Dame has four players 6-foot-3 or taller. Over the last six games in January, the Irish have averaged 45.3 points in the paint per game, which is more than half of their points scored per game.
“We’ve been looking to play down low more over the last few games,” McGraw said. “We have been trying to establish our inside game before we go outside, so that’s something we’re going to continue to work on.”
On Monday, the Irish claimed their 17th win of the season over No. 11 Tennessee 86-70. Nonetheless, Notre Dame failed to win the battle on the glass against the Lady Vols (14-4, 3-2 SEC). Tennessee finished with 46 rebounds to Notre Dame’s 37.
“We didn’t really rebound well against Tennessee, so it’s really important for us to really establish ourselves on the boards against Miami,” McGraw said. “Still, we have quite a few things we’re focusing on fixing. The primary focus is our defense. On the perimeter, in the post, and rebounding, we need to get better in all those areas.”
On Monday, the Irish gave up 46 first half points but held Tennessee to only 24 points in the second half. According to McGraw, this was a result of some defensive adjustments at half time that the team may carry on against Miami.
“We worked on guarding the post a little bit differently, which helped,” she said. “We also dealt with screens differently, which helped as well. We’ve been working on our zone too, but that’s still an area we’re going to keep improving on.”
Notre Dame will look to continue its undefeated start to this season tonight at home against Miami. The game begins at 8:30 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.
Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at [email protected]