Notre Dame looks to move on without injured forward Turner
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw concedes that adjusting mentally to losing forward Brianna Turner took some doing before Irish figured out how to adapt on the court without her.
Turner, a junior, tore the left anterior cruciate ligament in the first half of Sunday night's second-round overtime win over Purdue and will miss the rest of the NCAA Tournament. The past few days of practice have helped the Irish (32-2) make the adjustment heading into Friday night's Sweet 16 game matchup against No. 5 seed Ohio State (28-6).
''Seeing her go down kind of shocked us all and we were just worried for her as one of our best players,'' Irish sophomore guard Marina Mabrey said Thursday. ''But coach (Muffet McGraw) really put it in perspective that we're OK. It's unfortunate to see her go down, but we're OK and have the same goals.''
Same goals, but a different strategy.
Notre Dame thrived on getting the ball inside to the 6-foot-3 Turner, a junior who averaged 15.1 points, 7.1 rebounds per game. Fortunately for the Irish, they still have plenty of scorers: they have six players averaging from 6.2 to 15.2 points per contest, and McGraw hints that there will likely be more outside jumpers than passes in the paint.
''We have really good guards and I think we can run a lot of the same stuff,'' McGraw said. ''We'll just have to score in different ways. We probably won't throw as many lobs.''
Ohio State should have some insight of what Notre Dame might do. The Buckeyes are coached by Kevin McGuff, a former McGraw assistant.
The Buckeyes are confident they can create more opportunities against the Irish with Turner sidelined.
''Having her presence there, we would've struggled a little bit because she's a great player,'' Buckeyes forward Tori McCoy said of Turner. ''Not having her here there, I think it's to our advantage to get the ball in a lot more.''
The other semifinal between No. 2 seed Stanford (30-5) and No. seed 3 Texas (25-8) is a rematch of a November game the Cardinal won 71-59. Both enter the matchup on a roll.
Stanford has won six straight while the Longhorns have won five of six since dropping three in a row in late February.
Texas coach Karen Aston credits her team's ability to handle adversity to earn a chance at revenge against the Cardinal.
''You have to have a short memory in this game,'' she said.
Some other things to look for in the Lexington Regional:
RESTED: Jet lag wasn't an issue for Stanford because it came straight to Lexington after Monday's win at Kansas State. Though mechanical issues that delayed the plane were the key factor in changing their travel plans, coach Tara VanDerveer said they should've done it this way from the beginning. ''That was a really good thing for us,'' VanDerveer said. ''Our team was really tired. ... I feel we're in really good shape. We don't feel rushed.''
CHEERING SECTION: Irish freshman guard Erin Boley should have a lot of support in the stands as the Hodgenville, Kentucky, native returns home for her first postseason. ''I'll have a lot of family and friends there, so I'm excited about that,'' said The Associated Press' two-time Kentucky Girls Player of the Year, who's averaging 6.2 points per game. ''I just wanted to blend in and figure out how to contribute.''
COACHING ROYALTY: The regional features two Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coaches in McGraw and VanDerveer, who also is in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. McGraw is a finalist this year. The two coaches have 1,862 victories and three NCAA championships between them.
COMFORT ZONE: Texas freshman guard Joyner Holmes had just 3 points and three rebounds in her collegiate debut against Stanford in the Longhorns' season-opening loss. Fast forward and Holmes, the Big 12 freshman of the year, is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds in two NCAA Tournament games. ''As I've been playing and going along, I think I've gotten more comfortable,'' Holmes said. ''My teammates have made me feel like I'm part of the team and I can do as much as they can.''