November 03, 2016

No. 1 Notre Dame women loaded with talent

By The Associated Press=

Notre Dame

Last season: 33-2, lost in the third round of NCAA Tournament.

Coach: Muffet McGraw.

Nickname: Fighting Irish.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Who's gone: G Madison Cable, G Michaela Mabrey, G Hannah Huffman, F Taya Reymer, who quit the team after five games last season and has transferred to Michigan State.

Who's back: F Brianna Turner. McGraw calls the 6-3 junior the best nation's best player. Turner averaged 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds despite being slowed by a shoulder injury for which she had surgery in April. McGraw believes Lindsay Allen is the nation's best point guard. The 5-8 senior has started all 112 games since arriving in South Bend and averaged 5.8 assists and 9.3 points. The other returning starter F Kathryn Westbeld, who averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Who's new: F Erin Boley, a 6-2 McDonald's All-American with a quick release who McGraw said is the team's best 3-point shooter. G Jackie Young, a 6-0 McDonald's All-American who could be a player who does all the little things. G Ali Patberg, another former McDonald's All-America, who missed last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee and could keep the Irish offense running smoothly if Allen gets in foul trouble.

The Skinny: The Irish lost gritty players in Cable and Huffman and an outside shooter in Mabrey, but McGraw believes this might be the deepest, most talented team she's had in her 30 years as coach. The Irish are expected to make it to the Final Four for the sixth time in the past seven years and could get McGraw the second national championship that's eluded her.

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