ND Women’s Basketball
Irish set to begin regular season against Crimson
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, November 9, 2018
The defending national champions will begin their 2018-19 campaign Friday, when the No. 1 Irish host Harvard.
Notre Dame has shown of a glimpse of what it is going to look like this season, as it played an exhibition matchup against Lewis University on Oct. 30, but Irish head coach Muffet McGraw was not all that pleased with what she saw in that showing, despite her squad’s 107-65 win. She felt the Irish were lackadaisical on the defensive side of the ball and relied too heavily on their superior offensive talent, to the point they felt they did not need to play much defense.
After reviewing film of the game, McGraw said her thoughts on the defense were that it “definitely wasn’t better” than she initially thought it had been.
“I really think it’s a mindset, it’s a willingness to take a charge. You know, we slide over then we move or we foul,” McGraw said. “We’re not really shot blockers except for [graduate student forward Brianna Turner], so I’d like to see more charges taken, more risk taking, actually. I feel like we could go get steals and I feel like we’re kind of conservative; I’d like a few more liberals.”
Turner said the team needs to work on playing defense as an entire unit, not just allowing one or two people to devote themselves to that aspect of the game, because that does not make much of a difference.
“It’s such a team effort. If one person’s playing defense that’s not enough,” she said. “We need all five … to go play defense at the same time. It’s very much a team aspect of our game.”
Turner added the defense’s performance against Lewis was especially lacking around the 3-point arc.
“Just as a group [we need to work on] having more of a sense of urgency. Limiting the amount of 3s we gave up as well cause of course those add up so quickly,” Turner said. “So just being more aware all together.”
The Irish will be without two of last season’s squad for the opener, as senior guard Marina Mabrey’s leg is still causing her pain and being worked on, making her questionable for Monday’s game as well, and sophomore forward Danielle Patterson is working toward a return deadline of Monday’s game against Penn, as she came down with swelling in her knee. Both players missed the exhibition game.
However, without Mabrey and Patterson, McGraw is turning back to a familiar face to start the season: manager-turned-walk-on-turned-manager-again, sophomore guard Nicole Benz. McGraw said Benz should be in the lineup until Mabrey and Patterson are cleared to return. Activating Benz will allow McGraw to not have to play many players too deep into games early in the season.
Freshman guard Jordan Nixon will be starting at point guard in place of the injured Mabrey, but McGraw said Nixon is capable of handling the load, and has proven to be a fastidious student.
“I’m really happy with her. She’s doing so many good things. She’s such a student of the game that I have to really be on my toes because if I tell her the same thing in a different way it’s like ‘Wait, what a minute. Because yesterday you told me to’ — she’s really smart, I have to like write down what I’m telling her,” McGraw said. “Yesterday I came into practice early and she was sitting there with a play sheet like writing notes to herself on each play. Really, it’s amazing. She watches every practice. She watches film like crazy. Just wants to get better. I think she’ll actually be better when she can not think as much.”
The Irish are excited to get back on the court and show off both the defense they’ve been working on and their new members. Even after more than 30 years, McGraw said she still gets nervous.
Notre Dame will take on Harvard at Purcell Pavilion on Friday with tipoff scheduled for 4 p.m.