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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish focus on defensive unit as they prepare for No. 25 Miami

| Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hot off of a 40-point win against in-conference opponent Georgia Tech, No. 4 Notre Dame will travel to No. 25 Miami Thursday, looking to extend its two-game win streak to three in the sunshine state. The Irish (21-2, 8-1 ACC) will be facing a Hurricane team (19-5, 7-2 ACC) which is playing well in conference play, with solid perimeter shooters and consistent post presence.

Irish head coach Muffett McGraw remarked that the diversity of Miami’s offensive makes them particularly difficult to defend.

“It’s a dangerous team for us to play because we don’t want to play man-to-man because of the big guys inside, but we don’t want to play zone because they’re shooters,” McGraw said. “So, we have to, we have to really, really scramble and find the shooters, try to figure out how we’re going to guard the post … hopefully we’ll continue to assert ourselves at the defensive end.”

Annie Smierciak
Irish junior guard Jackie Young defends her opponent near center court during Notre Dame’s 71-89 loss to UConn on Dec. 2.

Junior guard Jackie Young echoed McGraw’s sentiments, pointing to solid defense as a critical part of playing a competitive game.

“I think it really just starts with defense,” Young said. “We’re getting defensive stops early on and we’re able to go on transition and that’s our best game is one where we’re running the transition and that’s pretty much how I’ve been able to score my points.”

Young herself has an impressive 322 points on the season, averaging 14.6 points across the 22 games in which she has played. Young is also as unselfish as she is impressive from the field, leading her team with 104 assists on the year. Behind Young, the Irish will look to have a more decisive victory over the Hurricanes than they did last year, when Miami took an early lead, forcing Notre Dame to rally in the second half for a comeback win. McGraw certainly has not forgotten the battle her team fought in against the Hurricanes last year.

“It’s a huge week for us going down to Miami… they will be pumped up and ready to go. They’ve got a really good team there,” McGraw said. “They’re a nationally ranked team. I think they’re one of the better teams in the conference. They’ve got a 6-foot-4 transfer from Baylor who’s playing really, really well. We were in about a five-point game last year and now they add an All-American in the post, so they’re a very good team.”

Young also feels that the game will be a dogfight.

“We’re really focusing on Miami right now, really just paying attention to detail in practice, and think we’re just looking forward to playing tomorrow,” Young said. “They do have a great post presence and they have guards that can really shoot the ball so it’s going to be a game. We’ll just have to really just lock down on defense and be ready from the start.”

As they did against Georgia Tech, Notre Dame will look to come out strong from the locker room, taking control of the game early on.

“I think every game it’s important to get off to a good start and set a tone,” McGraw said.

With tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m., Notre Dame will look to continue to have success in the ACC and take down Miami away from home.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Young said. “I mean, that’s what we’re really focusing on— just winning.”

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