ND Women’s Basketball
Turner grabs honors early on in career
Renee Griffin | Tuesday, January 20, 2015
A mere 19 games into her first collegiate season, Brianna Turner has won five ACC Freshman of the Week honors, two National Freshman of the Week awards and one ACC Player of the Week title.
Three of those awards came this past week after the freshman forward led the No. 6 Irish (17-2, 4-1 ACC) to victories over Boston College and No. 12 North Carolina.
“It’s been really awesome [to win these awards]. It’s like my hard work is paying off,” Turner said. “It just tells me that I am getting better.”
Turner missed three games with a right shoulder injury earlier in the season, but in the 16 games she started, she posted 254 points for the second-highest total on the team behind junior guard Jewell Loyd’s 408. She has also recorded a team-high 49 blocks and 118 rebounds, and her shooting percentage of 67.8 is second in the country.
There were high expectations for Turner coming into Notre Dame, as she was the 2014 National High School Female Athlete of the Year. She also had big shoes to fill, as star forward Natalie Achonwa graduated just before Turner arrived.
Turner said the encouragement and guidance of her teammates has been crucial to her development and success.
“As a freshman, sometimes I get lost in practice, or in the game, I’m not always running the right play,” Turner said. “My teammates communicate with me well and tell me where to be when I’m confused and really make it easier for me.”
Sophomore forward Taya Reimer particularly helped Turner get her bearings on the college court, Turner said. Turner also named sophomore guard Lindsay Allen and Loyd as mentors in her early experiences.
“[Lindsay], just being a point guard, she helps me get in the right spots, and she knows where I’m supposed to be,” Turner said. “Then Jewell is such a great player and a vocal leader as well.”
Turner said ACC play has been the most difficult aspect of the college game to adjust to, in addition to the overall higher stakes of games at this level.
“ACC play is so physical, and every single game is a tough match, so it can be hard just going out there and being ready to play,” Turner said. “College basketball is louder and more physical. Playing in front of so many people, and with the other players being so strong, there’s a lot more physicality. I just try to go out there and play. Once there’s a jump ball, I have to get up there and do my thing.”
Playing with her teammates in a packed Purcell Pavilion is Turner’s favorite part of Irish basketball, she said, an aspect highlighted during Monday’s 88-77 victory over No. 5 Tennessee.
“The game against Tennessee stands out because we played great as a team against a really tough team, so that was a good win for us,” Turner said.
Though Turner has come a long way in terms of knowing the playbook and getting to the right spots, she hopes to continue to improve as the season progresses, she said.
“I can work on playing better defense, being in the right spot at the right time from a defensive standpoint. Just by watching film, I can see the mistakes I’ve made,” Turner said. “Now, I’m just trying to finish off the season strong in the ACC and get ready for the tournament.”
The Irish take the court at Purcell Pavilion on Thursday to face Georgia Tech at 7 p.m.