#2 Notre Dame Women's Basketball Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 Big East
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The 2010-11 edition of Notre Dame Women’s Basketball had an unbelievable run in March dethroning longtime nemesis UConn in the national semifinal at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis. Skylar Diggins burst onto the stage as a pop culture phenomenon for her looks to go along with her fantastic play on the court and is not intimidated by the big stage and going after the likes of Maya Moore and company. The sting of falling short in the national title game, along with being favored in the Big East, makes the Irish a huge spotlight team this season and everyone will be gunning for them. It will be fun to see how they handle the challenge.

2010-11: 31-8, 13-3
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Muffett McGraw (566-211 at Notre Dame, 644-252 overall)

Who’s Out:
The main loss for Notre Dame was Becca Bruszewski who provided tremendous leadership and physicality down in the low blocks. That will be a challenge for the Irish to replace as she was a big reason why they made it to the National Championship game before falling short against Texas A&M.

Who’s In:
A three player incoming freshman class comes to South Bend.  The theme of the class is depth and hard relentless work ethics to go along with rock solid talent. Madison Cable, a wing out of the Pittsburgh area, is the most highly touted prospect. She just finds a way to make plays on each end of the basketball court.  Whitney Holloway will come in and provide depth at point guard and compete for playing time off the bench. Markisha Wright, a talented 6-3 post player out of Des Moines, will provide back-up for Deveraux Peters off the bench.

Who to Watch:
The health of Deveraux Peters may be an issue.  But, if she can stay healthy, she will be a dynamic post presence that will cause havoc for everyone Notre Dame faces. Natalie Novosel has continually elevated her game. The experience she and Skylar Diggins gained during the World University Games this summer should only help them during the absolutely treacherous gauntlet of the Big East Conference. Kayla McBride scored 21 points in the exhibition opener against Windsor, thus she is kind of flying under the radar and not getting the attention of Novosel and Diggins but will be a strong contributor all year long.

Final Projection:
The ingredients are all in place for Notre Dame in 2011-12. There is the hurt from losing in the national championship game. There are four starters back so there is plenty of maturity and experience to handle what should be a constant series of challenges on an every game basis. UConn is looking at least slightly mortal heading into this season. A veteran coach in Muffett McGraw all seems to equal another Final Four appearance if everyone plays up to their capabilities. The showdowns in non-conference include the likes of USC, Kentucky, and probably Duke along with whichever team they would meet in the WNIT Finals. They aren’t the biggest team in the post and will play small a lot but this team is loaded and will be immensely entertaining to watch.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Natalie Novosel Senior. Guard 15.1 PPG
Skylar Diggins    Junior, Guard, 15.0 PPG  
Devereaux Peters Grad Student. Forward, 11.9 PPG
Brittany Mallory   Grad Student, Guard, 7.1 PPG
Kayla McBride, Sophomore, Guard, 8.7 PPG

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#9 Devereaux Peters
#23 Natalie Novosel

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#56 Madison Cable
#87 Whitney Holloway
#94 Markisha Wright