Apr 7, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT
Gary Paczesny is a member of the Notre Dame women’s basketball travel party that will be writing a daily blog about traveling to the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.
Game day means one thing, a return to a routine. Many times teams are taken out of their daily routines as they attend media sessions, banquets, open practices, award presentations and various other events that go along with a trip to the Final Four.
The Fighting Irish enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before departing for Bridgestone Arena for a one-hour closed session on the floor. The NCAA allows each team to have this one-hour session on game day to allow the players to get more accustomed to the arena environment, and also for many teams, to get the players moving and get the blood flowing. It also allows the coaching staff and team to walk through situations that might happen during the game.
During the hour long workout, ESPN talent sat courtside and watched as the Irish prepared for the game, taking notes on how the Irish planned to defeat Maryland. This allows the broadcasters to have a better understanding of storylines and to help tell the story beyond the ball going in the basket.
The team then returned to the hotel with time to relax before eating pregame meal and heading over to the Arena.
Former players Courtney LeVere, Brittany Mallory, Kelly Siemen, Melissa D’Amico, Melissa Lechlitner, Erica Williamson, Megan Duffy, Ashley Barlow, Fraderica Miller, Julie Henderson, Amanda Barksdale, Amanda Tsipis, Skylar Diggins, Letita (Bowen) McGuff, Sara Liebscher, Sheila (McMillan) Keller, current George Washington head coach and former Irish assistant Jonathan Tsipis and current Penn State head coach (former Irish guard and assistant under coach McGraw) Coquese Washington.
Many of the throngs of Fighting Irish fans made the almost seven-hour, 400-plus mile drive to the Music City.
The team departed the hotel around 3:30 pm CT, as hundreds of Fighting Irish fans, cheerleaders and the Band of the Fighting Irish cheering them on as they boarded the bus.
The team took to the floor wearing their white uniforms, but with a twist on the blue adidas shooting shirts. Added to back of them was “11, ACE” a salute to Natalie Achonwa who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee in a Regional Championship win over Baylor.
Following the 26-point victory over the Terrapins of Maryland, the team enjoyed a little “dance” in the locker room. This “dance” has become somewhat of a tradition following wins in the NCAA tournament. Following a moment to pray with University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C. the team then spent the next 30 minutes in the locker room talking with the media.
Many members of the team returned to the arena floor to watch the start of the UConn/Stanford clash. Senior forward Natalie Achonwa accepted the team award for leading the NCAA in Field Goal percentage for the season.
Coach McGraw then joined Kevin Negandhi and analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo on the ESPN set at halftime of the UConn/Stanford game to talk about the victory over Maryland.
Check back to UND.com for continuing coverage of the women’s basketball team in the National Championship game. WatchND.tv will have full video coverage of the post-game celebration and media interviews.
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