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Five takeaways from Irish win against Truman State

Monday night Notre Dame women’s basketball played their first full game open to the public this season, matching up with Division II Truman State in an exhibition. While the difference in overall team quality, and small sample size, limit the amount of takeaways one can have from the lopsided victory, here were five observations that stood out from the 92-47 Irish win:

1. Ivey’s preferred rotation is far from set

A defining characteristic of the exhibition Monday night was a good deal of tinkering by head coach Niele Ivey with her lineup. Though just eight players saw more than ten minutes of action, Ivey got plenty creative in how those eight players rotated. Sometimes, it was junior transfer forward Kylee Watson down low, other times it was graduate student transfer center Lauren Ebo, and sometimes it was both. Junior forward Maddy Westbeld was utilized in a variety of ways depending on the personnel around her. And, while neither guards, freshman KK Bransford or graduate student Jenna Brown, had standout nights. It was clear Ivey sees them factoring into the guard conversation in some way. With sophomore guard Sonia Citron being the only player to play more than 27 minutes as the lineup continually shifted, it is obvious that Notre Dame’s rotations are plenty malleable until one combination gels right.

2. Notre Dame is going to play as fast as possible

One of the common themes in last year’s Notre Dame team was their commitment to flying down the court at every opportunity. Heading into 2022, it doesn’t seem like much has changed on that front. Sophomore point guard Olivia Miles especially seemed interested in spearheading such a pace, eagerly rushing up the court to either finish at the rim or dish the ball out wide for an assist. Between Miles, Mabrey, Citron and Bransford, Ivey should have no shortage of ball handlers to push the pace of a game with.

3. Lauren Ebo looked dominant down low

While the caveat of Division II opposition is important to note, Ebo looked like a force in the paint. With the departure of Maya Dodson to the WNBA, Notre Dame’s biggest need was at the center position. Though Watson got the start for the Irish, it was Ebo who looked the most impressive in her share of minutes on the floor. Posting 14 points and six rebounds, Ebo was assertive around the rim and provided a physical presence on defense as well. If Truman State is the only factor in Ivey’s opening night lineup decisions, it would be hard to see the Texas transfer not getting the starting nod.

4. Sonia Citron could be in line for an all-ACC breakout year

Sonia Citron hasn’t generated as much buzz as her fellow sophomore standout Olivia Miles, likely due to her having a much smaller sample size of play (only starting for the second half of the 2021 campaign). But Ivey has raved about Citron, and the sophomore looked like a standout against Truman State. Leading the way with 17 points for the Irish, Citron also posted 14 rebounds and looked like an impact player, both in the paint and handling the ball. A dynamic and flexible talent, Citron could turn a lot of heads this year at the heart of the Irish lineup.

5. Olivia Miles is still Olivia Miles

Miles’ greatness is more or less assumed to be a given at this point. And that’s perhaps just as well; many of Miles’ trademark jaw-dropping passes came across as casual against Truman State, consistently slicing defenses apart at unthinkable angles. Miles also looked at ease getting to the hoop in transition, gliding by defenders after grabbing a rebound or an outlet pass and finishing with the one-handed extension layups she loved to utilize last season. The sophomore finished 2021 a first-team all-ACC honoree. She’ll be gunning for all-American honors this year.

Contact J.J. Post at jpost2@nd.edu

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