Jan 30, 2014, 12:04 AM EDT
Just two seasons ago I was living and dying with the Notre Dame women’s basketball program as the secondary media contact to the squad. The 2011-12 squad was coming off of its first NCAA Final Four in years and the journey I was on with the team would lead to the second (of three) in a row for head coach Muffet McGraw’s team.
Just two years removed, the leaders have changed, but their style of play and their winning style has stayed the same.
Holdovers from the 2011-12 squad include Natalie Achonwa, Kayla McBride, Whitney Holloway, Ariel Braker and Markisha Wright.
I just want to quickly highlight the two players who played key roles on both the 2011-12 squad and again this season.
A player who I have been high on since she began playing as a freshman, Achonwa, a member of the Canadian Women’s National Team, is the best “paint” player the Irish have had since Ruth Riley in my opinion. Her smooth play in the paint and her ability to play with her back to the basket makes her a multi-dimensional threat for any defender. Personally, her biggest asset on the offensive end is her ability to either pass or be in the post in a “high-low” situation with freshman Taya Reimer.
The hot-shooting McBride is one of the best midrange shooters I have ever seen in the women’s game. Her ability to receive the ball outside the three-point arch, take one dribble in and pull up with ease is one of the toughest traits to guard against in college basketball. Pay attention to the next Notre Dame women’s basketball you watch and you will see that the lost art of the midrange is not lost on McBride.
As the season continues for the Irish women’s basketball squad, their stable of seniors will dictate how far they will be able to go in March (and into April). On some nights, slick guard Jewell Loyd will lead the Irish in many facets of the game, but one thing can be said for the senior class of Achonwa, Braker and McBride – an NCAA title to cap off four-straight trips to the Final Four would be the perfect ending to their Irish careers.
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