Mar 23, 2013, 2:40 PM EST
From the Presser
Head coach Muffet McGraw, senior Skylar Diggins and junior Kayla McBride met with the press today at Carter Hawkeye Arena, site of tomorrow’s first round tournament game against UT Martin. Some highlights…
- Skylar Diggins was asked about the lingering effects of a recent illness. “I’m fine,” she said emphatically.
- On playing a first round game without home court advantage. Both players were clear that it didn’t really effect their preparation because of the one-and-done nature of the tournament. The only focus is preparing for UT Martin and anything else is considered a distraction.
- Skylar, who has over 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in her ND career was asked “Of which statistic are you most proud?” She went with the 500+ assists number and went on to list the great athletes she’s played with for whome she’s been able to set up scoring opportunies.
- On experience in the tournament: Notre Dame has played more games in the NCAA Tournament than any other team in the last few years. The players were asked how this helps to prepare them. Skylar agreed and explained that the elite level of competition in the BIG EAST conference was a great build-up for the level of play in the tournament. McBride also responded that the coaching staff’s preparation and intensity also helps prepare the Irish to compete at an elite level.
- On Mental Toughness: Both players were asked about the intensity and mental toughness of the team. Kayla McBride responded that the Irish are a fairly young team with only two seniors, but that the intensity and leadership of those seniors influences the underclassmen such that the entire team has the confidence that they compete with anyone in the country.
Coach Muffet McGraw
- On UT Martin’s strong guard play: They line up two of the best guards in the country and it will be a challenge for the Irish to contain them
- On Depth: Asked if the strategy is to get UT Martin to go to their bench early, Coach McGraw responded that at this time of the year the general trend is to shorten the bench, only playing 6-7 and relying on starters so depth is less of a factor as it may be at other times of the year.
- On Iowa native Markisha Wright: “No one in the room was happier” to find out that the Irish’s first round draw would be back home in Iowa. Coach described the solid play Wright provides off the bench in relief of Natalie Achonwa and said that she is “really pleased” with Wright’s development.
- On Jewell Loyd: Coach McGraw was asked to speak about the BIG EAST Freshman of the year and said that she loves her attitude, that Loyd is incredibly talented and has “unlimited” potential. McGraw went on to describe how easy Loyd is to coach due to her constant desire to improve.
- On Upsets in the Men’s Tournament: The recent string of upsets in the men’s tournament serve as a good reminder to the team that if you don’t come into the game mentally prepared, you can lose.
- On Associate Head Coach Carol Owens: Coach McGraw calls her “the best post coach in the country” and says that the improvement of players like Natalie Achonwa, Markisha Wright and Ariel Braker are a tribute to Coach Owens’ coaching. She’s intense, and she challenges her players, but they know she cares about them and that’s why the respond as they do.
- On Winning 26 in a Row: Coach has learned a lot about the team’s resilience and their desire to improve. Says that after a win, the team doesn’t spend a lot of time on what they did well. Rather they want to see the flaws, the mistakes, and the opportunities to improve.
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