#1 Notre Dame Women's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
Just like South Carolina, Notre Dame lost to Connecticut in the regular season, went undefeated in conference play and lost earlier in the NCAA Tournament than anyone expected. For the Fighting Irish, it was Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen that sent them home. But Notre Dame has a very talented team and they will get another shot at a national championship. Brianna Turner is back after leading the Irish with 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. The versatile 6-3 forward has national player of the year aspirations and with Breanna Stewart gone from Connecticut, they are very reasonable hopes.
2015-16 Record: 32-2, 15-0
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Muffet McGraw
Coach Record: 732-222 at Notre Dame, 820-264 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Madison Cable, Guard, 13.7 ppg
Michaela Mabrey, Guard, 6.8 ppg
Hannah Huffman, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Brianna Turner, Junior, Forward, 14.6 ppg
Lindsey Allen, Senior, Guard, 9.3 ppg
Kathryn Westbeld, Junior, Forward, 7.9 ppg
Marina Mabrey, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 ppg
Arike Ogunbowale, Sophomore, Guard, 11.4 ppg
Kristina Nelson, Senior, Forward, 2.8 ppg
Mychal Johnson, Junior, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Diamond Thompson, Senior, Center, 1.1 ppg
Key New Players
Erin Boley, Freshman, Forward
Ali Patberg, Sophomore, Guard, did not play last season
Jackie Young, Freshman, Guard
Kathryn Westbeld will join Turner in the frontcourt once again. She will not put up big numbers after averaging 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, but Westbeld is a hard worker in the paint. The backcourt lost two starters, but there is a ton of talent. Lindsey Allen is the experienced senior who averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 assists. She will be the leader of the backcourt, but Notre Dame will need sophomores Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale to build off of their strong freshmen campaigns. Both averaged double digits in the scoring column and will be asked to be consistent with their all-around games this season. The Irish also add two top ten recruits in Erin Boley and Jackie Young. Boley will be expected to add quality depth to the frontcourt, while Young is a 6-0 guard who can do a lot of scoring. Coach Muffet McGraw has a very deep roster and as long as the younger players are ready to be larger contributors, this team is the favorite to win the national title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.0 (8th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.3 (112, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.6 (3, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.7 (82, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game:  5.9 (126, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.2 (2, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (106, 4)
Rebound Margin: 5.8 (42, 4)
Assists Per Game: 18.1 (8, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.7 (84, 2)
Madness 2017 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#18 Lindsay Allen
Madness 2016 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#5 Erin Boley
#6 Jackie Young