Muffet McGraw was hoping to push her team harder this fall, but she's a realist. With three new starters and seven underclassmen, the Notre Dame coach would plan her practice schedule for the week, she says, "and then I'd end up erasing half of it." The Irish have been the national runners-up in three of the last four seasons—and their roster is built for another deep run—but the new parts need time to jell.
Notre Dame's Princeton offense relies on spacing and quick cuts, and few players are quicker than All-America junior guard Jewell Loyd, who's deadly both on the run and from midrange. While Loyd can get up shots at will, McGraw cautions, "If she has to score 20 every night, I don't think we will be successful." That makes the offensive development of sophomore point guard Lindsay Allen, junior wing Michaela Mabrey and sophomore forward Taya Reimer critical. Reimer, the daughter of former NBA forward Ben Davis, came in this fall as the most improved player both mentally and physically. She'll be joined in the frontcourt by 6'3" freshman forward Brianna Turner, the 2013--14 Gatorade player of the year, who should be among the nation's leaders in blocks.
Once the pieces fall into place, the Irish can plan a fifth straight trip to the Final Four.
With 2013--14 Stats
|PG||Lindsay Allen* 5'7" Soph.||6.2||2.4||3.9|
|G||Michaela Mabrey 5'10" Jr.||8.1||1.3||2.2|
|G||Jewell Loyd* 5'10" Jr.||18.6||6.5||2.1|
|PF||Brianna Turner 6'3" Fr.||20.9||11.4||4.2|
|PF||Taya Reimer 6'3" Soph.||7.4||4.6||1.6|
|G||Madison Cable 5'11" Sr.||5.5||3.4||1.0|
TELLING NUMBER 5
USA Basketball gold medals for Brianna Turner, after she captained the U-18 team to the FIBA America's championship in August. The U.S. has a 37--2 record over the past three years when Turner has been in the lineup.