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ND Women’s Basketball

Insider: Cable, freshmen provide unexpected boosts for Irish

| Friday, March 18, 2016

Coming into the season, Notre Dame knew it would be without Jewell Loyd, who skipped her senior season to declare for the WNBA draft.

What it did not expect was to lose one of its top recruits, freshman guard Ali Patberg, to a torn ACL prior to the start of the season or to have junior forward Taya Reimer leave the team just nine games into the season. Depth was becoming an immediate concern for the Irish, especially as star sophomore forward Brianna Turner faced a potential season-ending shoulder surgery.

But before long, the offense was running like a well-oiled machine, and Turner was back manning the paint on both sides of the court for the Irish. It was as if the concerns had never existed — and perhaps they never had, at least for the players. Graduate student guard Madison Cable said she thinks the team’s abundance of leadership kept them rolling despite the adversity they faced early on.

“I just try to set the best example I can for everyone else on the team,” Cable said. “Luckily, there’s a lot of other great leaders on the team. That’s [one] reason why we’re so good. It’s not just a one-person thing, everyone plays a role and I think that’s why we’re good.”

Cable has been one of the largest contributors to Notre Dame’s success this season. After starting just six games last season and finishing as the team’s seventh-leading scorer, Cable has stepped into the role of everyday starter this year and thrived. She currently leads the Irish in steals, 3-pointers made and 3-point shooting percentage, while also being second on the team in scoring average and rebounds.

Not one to take credit for her success, Cable said the team and staff have made the transition into this new role easy for her.

“I think it’s a really easy transition when you look at who else is on the team,” Cable said. “The coaches were really good about it, the players are amazing. It makes playing easy when everyone is very unselfish, and we just all have the same goal. We just want to win, so it was a good transition.”

But Cable’s teammates believe she’s more than deserving of the praise.

“It was huge for Madison to come back this season,” junior guard Lindsay Allen said. “She’s always been kind of that player that provided the clutch plays for us, and now she’s the second leading scorer on the team. She provides that boost, and she stills does the little plays like rebounding, taking charges, getting on the floor, but she’s just that steady player, and we can always count on her to provide whatever we need for the team.”

The confidence Cable’s teammates have in her has allowed the Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, native to develop that confidence in herself.

“I just focused on being confident and not being afraid to take more shots and do a little bit more for the team,” Cable said. “I play a little bit more this year, so I couldn’t be afraid to do anything.”

While Cable has stepped into a leadership role for the team, she has not been the only player to step up for the Irish when they needed it most. Freshman guards Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey both have contributed in a way the Irish have only seen once in the last 10 seasons: providing the team with double-digit scoring off the bench.

Ogunbowale and Mabrey currently rank third and fourth, respectively, on the team in scoring average. In fact, Ogunbowale has led the Irish in scoring in seven games this season, while Mabrey has led the way in six, including a career-high 23 against Connecticut. Both players have shown tenacity and confidence on the court since day one, offering the Irish crucial offensive sparks off the bench, Allen said.

“Coming in as freshman, they’re just fearless,” Allen said. “They’re relentless. They come in the game and they’re looking for their shot. They’re always just being really aggressive on offense off the bench, and that’s been really key for us.”

While both have been effective as scorers, their styles have contrasted quite a bit. Ogunbowale is aggressive and creates her own shot, as she leads the team in shots and free throws made. Mabrey, meanwhile, is a patient scorer who finds opportunities within the offense, as she ranks second on the team in 3-point shooting percentage and is fourth in field goal percentage. Their contrasting styles complement each other well and pose problems for defense as it gives the Irish offense variety when they are in the game, Cable said.

“Arike and Marina have both been huge for us this year,” Cable said. “They come in and they both play a little bit different, but they’ve both been huge in many games this year. They’re gonna be huge for us in the next tournament games, too, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do.”

As the season has progressed, each player has settled into her role on the team and enabled the team to thrive, Cable said. As the Irish look forward to the tournament, their goal to win remains the same, and they expect to continue to do what they’ve done all year long.

“Everyone knows their role, and everyone plays their role really well,” Cable said.“We faced a lot of adversity this year, but like I said before, we all had the same goal and we all just want to win, so that’s kind of what we’ve done all year.”

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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