|Game 12:||Notre Dame (6-5, 4-3) vs Boston College (5-6, 1-6)|
|Where:||Notre Dame, IN | Purcell Pavilion|
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It’s been a long 2020, but the wait is finally over on Friday, Nov. 27. That’s the date the Ivey Era officially begins, as the Notre Dame women’s basketball team kicks off their 2020-21 season at Ohio University. Tip is slated for Noon EST inside the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio, as the game will be streamed live on ESPN+ (subscription needed).
The passing of the torch from Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw to Niele Ivey is complete. McGraw retired with 936 career wins, which ranked sixth all-time among Division I coaches
Enter Ivey, who can be linked to all nine of Notre Dame’s Final Fours – two as a player and seven as an assistant coach. All-in-all, Ivey spent 17 combined years on campus before receiving the head coaching job.
In fact, Notre Dame’s last decade of dominance (2010-19) had Ivey’s handprints written all over it. No other program had produced more trips to the national title game (six) in that span. Plus, the Irish posted the third-most wins (339) during that span as well. That decade also consisted of 14 conference championships (eight regular-season plus six tournament titles split between the BIG EAST and ACC), seven Final Fours and a 2018 national championship.
With Coach Ivey returning to her roots in South Bend, she joins a rare group of women who have both played for and coached ranked teams at the same school. The list includes 15 names which range from 1976 to present day:
Niele Ivey, Notre Dame
Adia Barnes, Arizona
Amanda Butler, Florida
Pokey Chatman, LSU
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, USC
Kellie Harper, Tennessee
Michelle Clark-Heard, Western Kentucky
Carolyn Kieger, Marquette
Linda Lappe, Colorado
Wendy Larry, Old Dominion
Cheryl Miller, USC
Carol Ross, Ole Miss
Bev Smith, Oregon
Holly Warlick, Tennessee
Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota
In what may have been growing pains last year, is now a wealth of experience for the 2020-21 season. In fact, Notre Dame is the only Power-Five women’s basketball team that can claim it has five double-digit scorers returning:
Destinee Walker – 14.5 ppg
Sam Brunelle – 13.9 ppg
Katlyn Gilbert – 13.6 ppg
Anaya Peoples – 12.6 ppg
Mikki Vaughn – 10.6 ppg
Then, you can add on the fact that Dara Mabrey is injected into the lineup, as her 11.9 ppg last year makes it six players.
SISTER, SISTER … SISTER
With Dara donning an Irish uniform this season, she completes the Mabrey lineage at Notre Dame, following in the footsteps of her older sisters, Michaela and Marina. Only one other Division I team has had three sisters come through the same program – Washington State, who had three all on the same team the past two years (not triplets) – the Molina sisters.
What’s also fun to note, is that Irish fans can wait to see if the Mabrey and Westbeld combo can produce another magical Final Four run. Marina Mabrey and Kat Westbeld captured a national title together in 2018, now younger sisters Dara and Maddy look to match.
A WHOLE LOT OF THREES
When it comes to the Mabrey family, that’s a whole lot of buckets. Marina graduated in 2019 as the program’s all-time career made three-pointer leader, draining a total of 274. Michaela converted a career total of 228, while Dara enters her junior campaign with 155 to her name. All-in-all, the Mabreys have totaled a whopping 657 splash-downs.
Brunelle enters her sophomore season with several preseason accolades to her name. The Virginia native was named a Preseason All-ACC selection, a Naismith Trophy Watch List Honoree and a Katrina McClain Watch List nominee. The Naismith Trophy Watch List recognizes the top-50 players in the country, while the Katrina McClain spotlights the top-20 power forwards. Important to note that any player can work her way on and off watch lists throughout the season.
MADDY WESTBELD READY TO CARVE OWN PATH
Speaking of preseason accolades, Maddy Westbeld was 1-of-5 named to the ACC Newcomer Watch List. The freshman is projected to make an immediate impact in the starting lineup.
Westbeld was the 2020 Gatorade Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year, a 2020 McDonald’s All-American and Naismith National High School All-American as well.
WELCOME BACK ABBY & ANAYA
It’s been a long road back for Abby Prohaska, who took a medical redshirt last season after being diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolism in October. It’ll mark 599 total days since Prohaska last stepped onto the court during the 2019 NCAA title game against Baylor.
“When I first found out, my heart dropped into my stomach and didn’t have any words. I was surrounded by my medical staff and team who comforted me. I just remembered there’s more to life than basketball and Coach McGraw made sure that my health was the No. 1 priority. She made me believe I could get over this. I am truly blessed to play on Friday and it’s an opportunity I will take advantage of.”
Prohaska played a pivotal role off the bench for the 2019 NCAA runner-up squad. In fact, she was the spark in the second half rally over Stanford in the Elite Eight.
Anaya Peoples was an early favorite for ACC Rookie of the Year last year before a shoulder injury in January sidelined her for the year. She led the team in rebounding at 8.1 boards per game. In fact, there were only five true freshmen in the country who averaged over 12.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg per game and Peoples was one of them.
TOP NOTES FROM LAST SEASON
HIGHEST SCORING FRESHMEN DUO
Brunelle, Gilbert, Peoples became the first freshmen trio in Notre Dame history to all finish with a double-digit scoring average. Furthermore, Brunelle and Gilbert became the highest scoring freshmen pairing, besting: Arike Ogunbowale (11.4) & Marina Mabrey (10.7), 2015-16 // Mary Beth Schueth (13.0) and Carries Bates (12.4), 1981-82.
Brunelle & Gilbert averaged 13.9 ppg and 13.6 ppg, respectively, while Peoples finished at 12.6 ppg.
In addition, there were only three freshmen pairs in all of Division-I to average 13.0 ppg or higher –> Brunelle and Gilbert, Fresno State’s Haley & Hanna Cavinder and UTSA’s Mikayla Woods & Adryana Quezada.
THREE’S BY A FRESHMAN
Speaking of freshman records, Brunelle finished the year with 58 made three-pointers – that number landed her in second behind Irish great Alicia Ratay (73).
3 ROOKIES, 3 ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM NODS
Three Notre Dame women’s basketball rookies, three ACC All-Freshman Team selections in Anaya Peoples, Sam Brunelle and Katlyn Gilbert. The awards marked the second time in program history in which Notre Dame nabbed three all-freshman team selections – prior was 2007 in the Big East with Erica Williamson, Melissa Lechlitner and Ashley Barlow.
Peoples was arguably the early favorite for ACC Rookie of the Year. At the time of her injury she led all ACC freshmen in rebounds (8.1), shooting percentage (.457) and steals (1.9), and ranked second in points (12.6).
Brunelle and Gilbert led all ACC freshmen in scoring, while Peoples finished fourth. Among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s and Gilbert’s scoring average ranked sixth & eighth, respectively.
Brunelle led all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 21.4. Furthermore, there were only eight players total in the ACC, counting Sam, who averaged at least 13 points, 5.5 rebounds & 1.5 assists. Lastly, Brunelle’s six 20+ scoring games led all freshmen in the ACC.
When looking at double-digit scoring games, Gilbert led ACC freshmen with 25. She also led all ACC freshmen in assists/game, where she averaged 2.6.
GILBERT IN ELITE COMPANY
Only two players in all of the ACC averaged at least 13 points, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 4 rebounds: Gilbert and Duke’s Haley Gorecki. Only 5 players total among Power-5 schools. In all of Division I freshmen – just Gilbert and Buffalo’s Dyaisha Fair.
3 IRISH AMONG ACC TOP-20 SCORERS
Just two ACC teams landed three players among the top-20 scorers in the league: Notre Dame and Florida State. Destinee Walker ranked 13th, Sam Brunelle 17th and Katlyn Gilbert 18th.
LEADING SCORER BACK
Destinee Walker will be competing in her sixth year of eligibility. She led the Irish in scoring last season with her 14.5 ppg, resulting in an All-ACC Honorable Mention. In addition, Walker ended the year on the best stretch of her season, posting 10 straight games with double-digit points.
Furthermore, for the first time of her career, Walker achieved three straight games with 20+ points from Feb. 6-13. Walker totaled 69 points in said span, averaging 23.0 ppg.
All-in-all, she led the Irish in 20+ scoring performances with eight, which also set a new career best – previous was four set her sophomore year at UNC (2016-17).
Her eight games of 20+ points tied for the eighth-most in the ACC.