May 6, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the 12th time in 14 years, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team will be represented at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials, as junior forward Taya Reimer (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) and incoming freshman guard Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North) have accepted invitations from USA Basketball to try out for one of their country’s national teams May 14-17 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Jim Foster, head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“We are so thrilled that Taya and Ali will be competing for the amazing opportunity to represent their country, the state of Indiana and Notre Dame on the international level,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “It’s an exciting and deserved invitation for both of them and all of us will be eagerly following their progress during the upcoming Team USA trials.”
Reimer and Patberg will be seeking to add to a remarkable run of USA Basketball success by the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team, which has produced at least one member of a USA Basketball squad for the past nine years and 11 times in the last 12 years. That streak already was extended last weekend, when incoming freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) earned her third consecutive USA Basketball 3×3 Under-18 national title and the right to represent her country as part of the USA team and go after a third consecutive 3×3 U18 gold medal (fifth overall) at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship June 4-7 in Debrecen, Hungary.
A two-time USA Basketball gold medalist and captain of the victorious 2012 USA Under-17 World Championship Team, Reimer is among 54 of the nation’s top college-age players who will attend the USA Basketball National Team Trials, which will be used to select the 12-member teams that will represent the United States at either the Pan American Games (July 16-20 in Toronto, Ontario) or the World University Games (July 5-13 in Gwangju, China).
In a striking coincidence, former Notre Dame All-America forward Natalie Achonwa was named to the 22-player trials roster for the Canada Senior Women’s National Team earlier this week. Those trials will be used to help shape Canada’s squad for this summer’s Pan American Games that will be played minutes from Achonwa’s hometown of Guelph, Ontario at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre (where Achonwa posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to help Notre Dame defeat Duquesne, 100-61 in a special off-site NCAA regular-season game on Dec. 1, 2013).
The 2015 USA Pan American Games Team will be coached by University of Iowa skipper Lisa Bluder, with Western Kentucky’s Michelle Clark-Heard and Oregon State’s Scott Rueck serving as assistant coaches, and Notre Dame’s Anne Marquez named the athletic trainer on the USA Pan Am Games staff — Marquez previously served as athletic trainer for the 2012 USA Basketball U18 National Team that took the gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico.
Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown will assume the same role at the helm of this year’s USA World University Games Team, with Tennessee’s Holly Warlick and Northern Iowa’s Tanya Warren rounding out McKeown’s coaching staff.
“We have more than enough talent to field two teams from among this group (of 54 players),” Foster said. “It will be a very competitive trials as there are a number of very good players with vast USA Basketball experience and a very attractive group of first-time invitees.”
Patberg, who has been invited to USA Basketball National Team Trials for the second consecutive year, is part of a contingent of 34 players ages 19-and-under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1996) who will take part in this month’s USA Basketball Women’s Under-19 National Team Trials used to select the 12-member team that will represent the United States at the FIBA U19 World Championship July 18-26 in Chekhov, Russia. The 2015 USA U19 World Championship Team will be coached by South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, with Michigan’s Kim Barnes Arico and Louisville’s Jeff Walz serving as Staley’s assistants.
“Looking at the list of invited players, I believe the committee members are going to have their hands full because it’s filled with so much talent,” Staley said. “I look forward to repeating the trials that we had last year (to select the U18 National Team, also led by Staley), because it was competitive. It was respectful. All the players really bought into our coaching staff and the things that we had put in. Hopefully we’ll have a repeat of those trials and come up with a team that will compete and win the (FIBA) U19 World Championship.”
Should either Reimer or Patberg be selected for their respective final 12-member USA Women’s National Teams (which will be named on May 17 at the conclusion of the four-day trials), they would have the opportunity to contribute to an outstanding recent spate of gold medal success for Notre Dame women’s basketball, with the Fighting Irish program having produced 11 players (incoming freshmen, current players or alumna) in the past six years that have earned gold medals while representing their country.
Last summer, current Notre Dame sophomore forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) collected the fifth USA Basketball gold medal of her career as part of the American squad that won the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs. In addition, two-time Notre Dame All-America guard and 2015 WNBA No. 1-overall draft pick Jewell Loyd garnered her second career USA Basketball gold medal last June as the leading scorer for the Americans at the FIBA 3×3 World Championship in Moscow, Russia.
Next season, Reimer and Turner will among four starters and 10 monogram recipients returning for a Notre Dame squad that posted a 36-3 record, advanced to the NCAA championship game for the fourth time in five seasons and its fifth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four, and secured its second sweep of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles in as many years of conference membership.
In addition, Patberg, the 2015 MaxPreps National High School Player of the Year, and Ogunbowale, a three-time Wisconsin Player of the Year, will join fellow McDonald’s High School All-American (and the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 McDonald’s High School All-America Game) Marina Mabrey in forming the nation’s No. 3-recruiting class.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@NDsidMasters or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director