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Irish prepare for matchup against Toledo following two consecutive home losses

| Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team will be facing off against Toledo on Wednesday evening in Purcell Pavilion.

The Irish (2-2) are currently coming off a two-game losing streak after getting beat at home against Tennessee and Michigan State last week. Prior to these two games, the Irish were 110-3 in their last 113 home games in Purcell Pavilion, with all three of those losses at the hands of UConn.

Chris Collins | The Observer
Former Irish guard Jackie Young dribbles the ball down the court during Notre Dame’s 84-70 win over Tennessee at Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 1, 2018.

For Irish head coach Muffet McGraw, this is a big shift from her normally dominant squad. In her tenure at the helm of the team, she has an overall record of 835-234, 67 of those wins coming in the NCAA tournament. Coming into those two home losses, the Irish had also been undefeated in November for 49 days — a streak that spanned nine years.

McGraw admitted Tuesday evening during her radio show that this season has presented a new challenge to her after losing all five of her starters to the WNBA last season.

“It’s been very different,” McGraw said. “… I think everyone anticipated that it would be different. But when you get in it it’s even a little bit — well, I don’t want to say worse than we thought, but it’s been a challenge early on. I think we’ve had to really adjust what we do at practice. We’ve tried to make things a little simpler. We’ve tried to do a little bit less, talk a little bit more, explain things a little bit more, show them a little bit more. They’re really coming along — it’s a great group, they’re so excited, they’re eager to learn and they want to be good. That always makes it fun. But it is definitely different from last year.” 

The Toledo Rockets are 1-1 on the season after notching a win against Georgia State on the road but dropping their home opener 42-60 against Dayton. The Irish should be able to handle things well despite coming off a two-game losing streak against Tennessee and MSU — both of which have seen their rankings rise since their contests at Notre Dame.

Tennessee is currently tied for No. 23 after being unranked before its win against the Irish, and MSU was ranked No.16 heading into its matchup against the No. 15 ranked Irish. After the 69-72 loss to MSU, the Irish fell out of the top-25 and the Spartans would claim the No. 15 spot.

McGraw spoke after practice Tuesday about the two losses and how her team is looking to improve with the season ahead. 

“We actually don’t talk a lot about winning and losing, we talk about playing well and controlling the things you can control and that’s what we need to do,” McGraw said. “We have to come out every game and control those things. We have to take care of what we can do, we have to box out. We have to think on the job. We have to try to be in great shape. We have to take care of the execution of setting and using really good screens, running the offense, knowing where you’re supposed to be. All the things you can do regardless whether your shot is going in or not, and with a young team the shot going in or not is a big factor for them.”

Although the Irish have a youthful squad this year, they received seasoned transfers this season with the additions of graduate student guards Destinee Walker from North Carolina and Marta Sniezek from Stanford. Both Walker and Sniezek have started in all four games of the season. McGraw spoke about the critical role they play on the squad despite this being their first season with the team. 

“I think Marta is doing a really good job on the court of really directing and leading and telling them and helping them and encouraging them and doing everything that she can do,” McGraw said. “She is the only one that has been in a position of leadership so I’m really counting on her to do a lot.”

Tip off against the Rockets is set for Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC Network.

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About Jimmy Ward

Jimmy is a senior at Holy Cross College, where he studies English and sports management. He is originally from Westfield, Indiana. Currently, Jimmy serves as an associate sports editor at The Observer. You can find him at @jimmyyward on Twitter.

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