Oct. 20, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Less than seven months after making its fifth NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last seven years, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team returned to the floor at the Joyce Center Monday afternoon for its annual Media Day activities. The Irish have eight monogram winners and four starters back from last year’s 21-11 club and are hungry to maintain their status as one of the nation’s elite programs.
Notre Dame will open its 2003-04 campaign Monday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. (EST) against Northwest Sports in the first of two exhibition games at the Joyce Center. The regular season tips off Friday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. (MST) when the Irish battle defending WNIT champion Auburn in the opening round of the WBCA Classic at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.
As part of Monday’s Media Day, head coach Muffet McGraw, who is set to begin her 17th year on the sidelines at Notre Dame, and several Irish players had a chance to comment on the upcoming season:
Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Q-Can you give us an injury update on the team thus far?
A-Teresa (Borton) is still out until about mid-November. She had surgery on her heel that has been a nagging injury.
Q-Do you think you are prepared to handle Teresa’s absence, since you are used to dealing with limited depth?
A-The problem is that we don’t have our seniors with leadership and experience. It is really disappointing. Le’Tania (Severe) is about half speed right now, and with Jeneka (Joyce) out with a sprained ankle, it has fallen to Megan Duffy to lead the team.
Q-What kind of difference do you see in her (Megan Duffy) now that she has that year under her belt?
A-She is so much more comfortable. She is looking to take her shot and is shooting the ball much better. She just looks so much more comfortable to me. She is out there just reacting and not thinking so much.
Q-When did she (Megan Duffy) really start to click last season?
A-I think it was during the NCAA Tournament. I think she had five three-pointers all year and two of them came in the Kansas State game.
Q-What do you envision for the season?
A-I think that we will be a little different team than we were last season. Last year with Alicia (Ratay), we ran a lot of plays for her to get a good shot off and I think that this year we will be more open and creative in the open floor. I think we will run a little bit more and be able to play a little more man-to-man defense. I think defensively we will be a different team and that will be a big plus for us.
Sophomore guard Megan Duffy
Q- How do you approach this season with a year under your belt?
A-I definitely feel so much more comfortable coming in just knowing the system and what Coach McGraw expects out of me and knowing my role a little bit more than I did last year.
Q-How did the NCAA Tournament last season help you?
A-You can’t beat playing in a pressure setting like we did at Kansas State. That will just give myself and the entire team more experience to fall back on when we get into our schedule, which is going to very challenging.
Q-I heard you shot a lot from the outside this summer. True or false?
A-Definitely true. The was the weakest part of my game last year and for us to be successful this season, I need to be able to consistently make the perimeter shot. It takes pressure off of Jackie (Batteast) and Courtney (LaVere) inside. I was shooting 400 and 500 shots a day and saw improvement and results, which is positive for our team.
Senior captain Le’Tania Severe
Q-Can you talk about your position switch for the upcoming season?
A-A lot of it has to do with Coach (McGraw) wanting to do more in transition. She feels that if Megan (Duffy) can get the outlet and get it up the court to me, me being at the 2 spot will be most convenient and get us going in transition more.
Q-What type of work did you do in the off-season?
A-We did a lot of shooting this summer and I think that it will help out. I did not personally do too much, due to me getting my shoulder back together.
Q-How good is to have a couple of players back this season?
A-Having Jeneka (Joyce) and Monique (Hernandez) back helps because they were both around when we won the National Championship. It adds a little more depth and experience to the team.
Q-Is the open court game more of your style?
A-I definitely like to get out and run a lot. That was what I did throughout high school and AAU ball, so I am happy that we are going to try to do more of that this season.
Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast
Q-What do you think of the schedule this season?
A-Being tested early helps us later on in the year. The schedule is not easy, but we expect to go out and win every game that we play.
Q-What are your expectations for the season?
A-I would like to expand on what we did last year. I would like to shoot better and be more consistent game-by-game. As a team, we want to improve and play each game as if we are in March, not be intimidated and try to go out and just win games.
Q-Does the open court game suit you more?
A-When you are in the open court, you are able to play and not think as much. Last year, we were more of a halfcourt team and with a transition offense, hopefully we will be able to get out and get some easy baskets instead of relying on our set offense all of the time.
— ND —