Mar 25, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
Notre Dame freshman Jewell Loyd has been more than a true freshman player during her first season on the Irish squad. She has the “ability to not play like a freshman,” stated one of the ESPN announcers during Notre Dame’s first game of the NCAA Tournament in which Jewell was a starter. She has seen a lot of playing time all season and always leaves everything on the court.
“Hard work really pays off,” said Jewell, “and it’s great always having Sky[lar] there to help me along with the coaches always believing in me. I expected to at least play this year, but I didn’t expect all of this to come along with it.”
In fact, during the intense rivalry game against Baylor when many of the more seasoned players had a quiet shooting night, Jewell’s hard work really did pay off when she ended the night on top as the high scorer of the team with 24 points. She always manages to score lots of great points and crashes the boards for a number of offensive rebounds and put-backs during each game. “She’s been fabulous all year long,” said Coach Muffet McGraw.
After she grew so much during the regular season, Jewell was able to make a name for herself and play a big role in the Irish winning the Big East tournament this year. “We knew the tournament was going to be a battle, and it was nice to win on their [University of Connecticut’s] home floor. We just came out hard and our team really wanted it at the end, so it was great to win.”
Along with the Big East Title, Skylar Diggins being named the Big East Player of the Year, and Coach McGraw being named as the Big East Coach of the Year, Jewell was named as the Big East Freshman of the Year. “It was an honor. I owe a lot of it to my team and my coaches. It’s definitely a freshman dream.”
Because Jewell proved her skills and determination all year long on the court, she earned her starting position in the first game of the NCAA Tournament this past weekend. Her expectation of herself and the team is “to just take it one game at a time. That’s how we need to look at it and just get better everyday.” Even though this was her first time in the high intensity environment of NCAA post-season play, Jewell looked like a seasoned veteran on the court. She far exceeded her own expectations and played in this first game with an unceasing tenacity and fierceness. In fact, she scored a career high 27 points and was named the Capital One Player of the Game. Not many players can earn that kind of recognition so early in their careers, and that is why Jewell is such a unique player on this Irish team.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is extremely blessed to have this kind of player depth among the younger players that will be able fill the roles next season of some great graduating seniors, Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner. We look forward to seeing many more great things from Jewell Loyd both in the NCAA Tournament this year and for years to come on the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.
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