Oct. 11, 2012

Notre Dame Women’s Basketball
2012-13 Media Day
October 11, 2012
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center – Notre Dame, Ind.

Head Coach Muffet McGraw

On replacing the inside game and losing someone like Devereraux Peters
“We’re going to have a completely different look to our offense and defense this year with the departure of Devereaux to the Minnesota Links. We’re really going to miss her. I don’t know how we replace as somebody that can block shots, she being the leading shot blocker, being capable of getting fifteen rebounds. Offensively, the scoring part, I think we can manage, but it’s the defense, the rebounding, the playing the front of the press, so we’re going to have to make some changes. We’re going to have to be much more fundamentally sound, and defensively we have to work on our help defense, our rotation, and we’re going to need to take a lot of charges. I think we’ll almost need to lead the nation in charges taken because we’re not blocking any shots, so that’s our plan going in and we’ll see how long that lasts.”

On how this team can still make the runs after losing the big three
“Yeah, well we still got the big one coming back. Anytime you have a team with Skylar Diggins at the point, you better not count us out. She’s got the competitive drive, and she’s going to get the freshmen in line. I think we have a lot of talent offensively. The big question is going to be defense and rebounding, and how we are going to handle that.”

On this being Skylar’s last year
“It is hard to believe. I feel like it was just yesterday that she came in as a freshman. She’s had so many big moments and has done so many great things for our program. It is going to be a very difficult senior night. Very emotional.”

On managing the same expectations with a much younger team
“When I look at our team, I feel like we’re young, a lot of new faces that are going to be playing major minutes for us. Obviously Skylar will lead us and we expect Kayla McBride to have an All-American year. And Natalie Achonwa. We’re expecting big things from those three, but they can’t do it all by themselves. We need the freshmen to come along quickly.”

On Skylar’s development as a point guard
“I would say that in her sophomore year in the NCAA tournament is when she really took that next step to the next level. I think that she saw things a little clearer. I think the game slowed down a lot for her, and meanwhile we were going full speed ahead. I think she was able to see that she could be creative, she could be aggressive, she could score a lot of points, but at the same time she could still run the team. I think that was the learning experience she had-going from running the team and managing the team to being a scorer. And last year she did a phenomenal job with that. She finds people and yet she can still take a big shot, which we like her to do. This year is going to be another step for her. She doesn’t have Brittany to do a lot of the talking and a lot of the leading, so her leadership is going to be tested a little more this year.”

On getting over the sting of last year
“No. We have not, for a lot of reasons. We know that we did not play well and that they were a team that was unbeatable, obviously as they were undefeated. It won’t be much a rematch this year, as we don’t have our team back and they do, but it’s a game that has already sold out and that we’re looking forward to.”

On the expectations for this year
“I think we’re going to take some lumps early. I think we’ll be a little similar to two years ago where we came out and lost a couple games in November and then had to right the ship. When you have freshmen who are going to be playing a lot of time, which we will have, we are going to be up and down. As soon as we get consistency, that’s when we’ll be able to make our run. I hope it’s by the Big East season, but we certainly expect it to be by March.”

On the anxiety she’ll have to experience this year
“(laughing) It will be a test for my patience. The past two years I haven’t had too many moments like that. There were always the seniors to calm things down. So this year, I expect we’ll have to call more timeouts. We’ll be talking to them a lot more than we have in the past. It’s going to be a challenge for me.”

On expectations of Kaila Turner
“I think that she has a calming demeanor. She is someone that can really settle people down. She doesn’t have the ups and downs that a lot of people have. Very steady personality. I expect that to help us with Skylar’s emotion and I expect her to have a calming influence on the freshman. And we expect that she is going to be our best three-point shooter.”

On the benefits of playing in the championship game
“I think anytime you play a game of that level and get to that point in your season, you gain immeasurable experience. Somebody like Markisha Wright, who played a good amount of minutes in the Baylor game-the experience of her having to play on a national stage and being expected to contribute has helped her.”

On the rotation this year
“I think it’s going to be bigger because right now, we haven’t even settled on a starting lineup, and we’ve been practicing for two weeks. We have seven or eight people that could start, and I expect we could play up to ten. I think we can have a pretty wide range depending on the game and what we need and foul trouble. I think there’s going to be a top four and then five people that are all pretty similar, so I hope that somebody breaks ahead and really shows us that they deserve the playing time. Otherwise it is going to be a constantly rotating spot.”