ND Women’s Basketball
Lindsay Allen’s leadership, work ethic sets standard for Irish
Renee Griffin | Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Four thousand minutes is a long time. It’s nearly three days. It’s 80 credits worth of college courses. It’s more than 133 episodes of your favorite half-hour sitcom.
It’s also the total length of game time senior guard Lindsay Allen has been on the court in her Notre Dame career, assuming she plays at least 34 minutes over the two home games this week.
Since she’s averaging 32.9 minutes per game this year, that seems to be a safe assumption.
“I mean, it’s a lot of minutes,” Allen said with a laugh and a shrug. “I guess it just kind of signifies the trust Coach has in me and the confidence she has in me, wanting me to play that many minutes in my career. It’s a weird stat.”
Allen — or L.A., as her teammates often call her — would be just the fourth player to reach 4,000 minutes in program history. She’s been vital to the Irish since her first day on campus, surpassing the 1,000-minute mark as a freshman with elite players such as Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride alongside her.
“It really all starts with her,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said of Allen on Jan. 18. “Lindsay, she came in smart. She came in as a freshman, knew exactly what to do in all situations, had that sense of urgency.
“We haven’t had a lot of players that have had that really high basketball I.Q., so she’s trying to teach [her teammates] as well as we are, and it’s been a long journey.”
At point guard, Allen is responsible for directing Notre Dame offenses that have been among the best in the country during her time here. In addition to holding Irish records for most assists by a freshman and most by a sophomore, she’s averaging a personal-best 7.3 assists per game this year, putting her on track to break the Notre Dame all-time career assist record of 778.
Yet, Allen said even she had to grow into the position.
“My freshman year, I just wanted to run the plays, fit in, listen to my teammates, listen to the seniors and Coach,” Allen said. “I wasn’t really comfortable talking about what I saw, because I just didn’t know that much yet.”
But as she has racked up minutes on the floor — and at practice and in the film room — Allen said she’s reached a point where it’s a “collaborative effort” with McGraw and associate head coach Niele Ivey to keep the team on track.
“I feel much more comfortable as a senior leader going in and talking to [McGraw] about anything I see out there, and she feels comfortable coming to me with anything she sees and what she expects from the team this year,” Allen said.
Those expectations were high. Notre Dame has won the ACC four years in a row and was ranked No.1 nationally in the preseason.
“On paper, this is probably the most talented team we’ve had in recent years,” Allen said.
Instead, the Irish (18-3, 6-1 ACC) have struggled more than they’re used to, falling to No. 8 in the rankings and suffering a third loss in the regular season last week for the first time in years. Both McGraw and Allen attributed that to a lack of intensity among the less experienced players.
“It’s hard to get the younger players to have the sense of urgency that I do because this is my last year, and so I want to have the best year I can,” Allen said. “It’s hard to get them to understand when we need to do things, how quick we need to do things and have that sense of urgency every game.
“I’m trying to leave this year with a National Championship. It’s not their fault, because they have other years ahead of them, so it’s hard to have the sense of urgency that I do.”
Nevertheless, Allen is eager to teach and do her part as the latest in the line of great Notre Dame guards: Loyd, McBride, Skylar Diggins, Megan Duffy, Alicia Ratay and so on. The latter three are the only other Irish players in history to have reached the 4,000-minute milestone.
The candidates to take the torch from Allen when she graduates in May include freshman Jackie Young and sophomores Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey. The best piece of advice she has for young players?
“I would just tell them, don’t be afraid to make a mistake,” Allen said. “I think early in your career, you’re kind of unsure of yourself — unsure of how you fit in the team, unsure of how you fit at the college level, unsure of a lot of things. I think if you’re gonna make a mistake, make sure it’s an aggressive mistake. Make sure you’re going hard.”
On a personal level, though, Allen is focused on ending her collegiate career on a high note. She has no problem admitting that this year’s team has not fulfilled its potential, but she also is optimistic about what lies ahead, especially coming off a 77-55 win over North Carolina that she described as Notre Dame’s smoothest game yet.
“We haven’t felt a lot of times that we played our best, even though we’re winning and have a winning record, tied for first in the ACC,” Allen said. “We want to be peaking at this point in the season, late January, starting to get to February. Coming out of that North Carolina game, I think we can use that momentum into the rest of the season.”
And while a National Championship would certainly cement her already-high place in Irish basketball history, Allen said she hopes to leave behind something less concrete, too.
“I just want to leave a legacy as a hard worker, as a listener, as someone who’s passionate about the game, who cared about her teammates, who wants to win at any cost,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing 30 minutes or I’m playing five minutes. I just want to win.”