#3 Notre Dame Women's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
#3 Notre Dame Women's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview
Notre Dame Team Page


The Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team is embarking on a new journey as they enter their first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Fighting Irish are coming off of another run to the national championship game where they fell short against UConn, but still won an eye popping 35 games and ran the table in the old Big East Conference. They also start life post Skylar Diggins, who will go down as one of best guards ever to play in women’s college basketball history, with four returning starters and plenty of motivation to get back to the Final Four.

2012-13 Record:  35-2, 16-0 Big East
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach:  Muffett McGraw, 27th season at Notre Dame, 32nd overall
Coach Record: 626-217 at Notre Dame, 714-258 overall

The experience of four starters heading into a new conference is going to be a great asset for the Fighting Irish. Senior captain Kayla McBride is the leading returning scorer at just under 16 points per game and is very adept at crashing the boards and taking care of the basketball. Another senior down low in the post will be Natalie Achonwa who is dual threat in that she is very difficult to stop from scoring on the inside and had just under ten rebounds per game last season.  In addition, Jewell Lloyd is a sophomore sharpshooter who hit over 41 percent of her shots from three point range and was the Big East Freshman of the Year last season. The ability for Lloyd to consistently hit the open three point shot is going to be a huge asset for Notre Dame. Also, look for Ariel Barker to have a breakout season inside as she will be another season recovered from injury and should control things inside with Achonwa for the Fighting Irish.

This Notre Dame team does not have many weaknesses. However, one thing offensively that Notre Dame needs to address is being able to be a little more of a threat from behind the three-point line as the Fighting Irish only made just over four three point shots per game last season. They also need to replace the lost production of Skylar Diggins and her 17 points per game, along with her ability to cause all sorts of havoc on the defensive end of the basketball court. On the defensive side of the court, field goal percentage defense is going to be a big ‘point of emphasis for Notre Dame as they allowed nearly 38 percent shooting and just under 60 points per game. That inability to make life difficult offensively for UConn in the National Semifinal ended up hurting them in the 83-65 loss to the Huskies after handling them in earlier meetings.

Final Projection:
The schedule for the Fighting Irish will bring many new challenges as a new member of the ACC. Notre Dame is using the non-conference portion of the schedule to get themselves fully ready for that challenge. The Fighting Irish go to Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC challenge on December 4th. UCLA follows on December 7th in South Bend. This will be a good litmus test of what a typical week in the ACC will end up being like. In conference, the home and home with Duke will be critical in determining the champion in the ACC as both of these teams are going to be battling each to the end for conference supremacy. The schedule also is favorable in that Notre Dame only has to play Maryland and North Carolina once during the regular season. Another added bonus for Notre Dame will be the fact they were named one of the four on-campus regional hosts this season. Thus, this will set the Fighting Irish up nicely for a run to the Final Four come April.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kayla McBride, Senior, Guard, 15.9 points per game
Jewell Loyd, Sophomore, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Natalie Achonwa, Senior, Forward, 13.5 points per game
Ariel Braker, Senior, Forward, 5.4 points per game
Taya Reimer, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.2 (2nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.2 (109, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.5 (6, 2)
Field-Goal Defense:  37.7 (118, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.3 (217, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.0 (41, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 79.8 (3, 1)
Rebound Margin: 10.9 (5, 2)
Assists Per Game: 19.5 (3, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.4 (77, 4)

Madness 2014 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#6 Kayla McBride
#9 Natalie Achonwa

Madness 2013 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#6 Taya Reimer
#22 Lindsay Allen
#35 Kristina Nelson
#77 Diamond Thompson


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