Dec. 6, 2011
After reaching the NCAA national championship game in 2011, fifth-year senior Brittany Mallory and her Fighting Irish women’s basketball teammates have their eye on the big prize in 2012. The Baltimore, Md., native has been a major contributor to the team’s success throughout her career, thanks to her tenacious defense and consistent shooting. The 5-10 guard has proven herself to be a leader both on and off the court, serving as team captain the past two seasons. UND.com’s Maura Jones had a chance to sit down with Brittany as you get to know one of Notre Dame’s favorite women’s basketball players.
What is the earliest basketball memory that you can recall?
The earliest that I remember was when I was probably eight or 10 when I made my first three (pointer) in game. My coach was yelling “No, no, no,” but then when I shot it and made it, he was like, “Good!” Then, the next play down, I took another three because I was like, “Well, this is fun,” so that’s the first memory that I have. My mom and dad have a few others, but those are just from them telling me.
Growing up, who was someone you looked up to in the basketball world?
I just looked up to my brother. He played, and we were always really competitive. We always just battled, whether it was playing pick-up in the back yard or H-O-R-S-E or anything. He always wanted me to do better, and he’s my number one fan. His name is Bobby, and he’s 25.
What is the best part of playing basketball at Notre Dame?
It’s probably the environment, the fans, and the team. I love every single one of the girls on the team. We’re really like sisters. We hang out all the time outside of basketball, and I know, at other schools, a lot of team can’t stand each other, and we always want to be together. After we won in Dayton, after we beat Tennessee to get into the Final Four, we all came back at four in the morning and went to Nick’s Patio (a restaurant near the Notre Dame campus in South Bend). Our whole team was there, and we were like, “Who does this?” We just spent eight days together, and now we’re still hanging out. We’re just so tight, and I love all of that.
Where is your favorite place that you have traveled with the team?
I think Salt Lake City (in last year’s NCAA tournament) was really cool. I hadn’t been out west, and we got to go to a Lady Gaga concert, so that made it all worth it. We’ve been overseas, too. We went to Italy and France at the end of my sophomore year for 10 days. We played two Italian teams and one French team over there.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a game?
When I was younger, I was probably 13 or 14, and I was playing a game, and my dad was the coach, and he was telling me to shoot the ball. The way he was saying it, I thought there was like three seconds left, so I took a half-court shot, and I look up and there are like two minutes left in the game. That was pretty embarrassing, and he obviously took me out of the game and was like, “What were you doing?”
What has been the most challenging aspect of playing basketball at Notre Dame?
When I first came in, it was probably just getting used to how fast and how strong everybody is in college. I remember we came in, and during the first pick-up game that we played, I took all the time in the world thinking I could just shoot a three, and I got my shot blocked all the way to the other court. It was really getting used to the pace and what Coach (McGraw) expects you to do. You have to perform every day, and if you don’t, you’re not going to play.
Does the team have any traditions or pre-game rituals?
We listen to the same song after Coach gives her talk, and then we split up into our little groups, and then they leave, and we all dance around. We always listen to the same song before we go out of the locker room, even if it’s the last game of the season or we’re tired of that song. We never change the song during the year, but it does change every year.
Why do you wear #22?
When I was younger, I used to be (number) 12, and my brother was 11, but then he changed to 22, and I wanted to be like him, so I changed to 22. Then he changed his number back to 11, but I kind of have this thing with even numbers. I’m kind of OCD about having an even number, so I stayed with 22.
What is it like being co-captain?
I actually take a lot of pride in that. I was captain last year with Becca [Bruszewski], and this year I’m captain with Dev [Peters] and Natalie [Novosel]. I really like helping people. If they have a problem or a question or anything, I love that they can come to me. My nickname on the team is “Mom,” so it’s kind of nice to fill that role.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far in your basketball career?
I would probably have to say that it was this past year against Oklahoma with six threes. I thought that was one of my best games here. In the BIG EAST Tournament I was on the all-defensive team (that the TV broadcasters picked during the tournament), and that’s something that I really worked hard for. I really tried to work to improve on my defense this year to get it to the level where I wanted to be the person to guard the best player, and I think that was really awesome.
How have you grown as a member of the Notre Dame team?
I’ve definitely matured a lot. When I came in, I was nervous and scared, but now since I’ve been here for five years, I know what it takes. My knowledge of the game has grown so much. Maturing with the leadership role on the team has been really great.
What are your expectations for this season?
We can’t do anything less than what we did last year, so obviously we want to get to the national championship game, but this time we want to win. That’s been our goal every season, and we almost accomplished it last year, but obviously it wasn’t accomplished. We lost by six points, and during those last seven to 12 minutes that we played, we just kind of crumbled inside. It’s just the same thing as last year — get to the national championship game and win.
What is your major, and why did you choose it?
I was a business management and entrepreneurship major, but I already graduated. Right now, I’m a part-time graduate student. I don’t know why I chose it. I didn’t really like marketing because I don’t like being in the public eye or public speaking, so I figured management was kind of behind the scenes.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned at Notre Dame?
You just really have to take care of yourself and take care of your personal things, because if you don’t look out for yourself, you’re going to affect a lot of people. We have a team and a lot of support staff, and if you do something wrong, it’s going to affect everybody in a way that you don’t think that it would. I think it’s just being accountable.
Where is your favorite place on campus?
I really like going down to The Grotto. I try to get down there when I can. I like South Quad and just being outside. We’re inside all of the time with this, so I like to be out in the open when it’s not too cold.
What is your favorite thing to do in your down time?
I color every now and then. I like to read, and I’ve been doing it a lot more. It’s a lot harder with school because you have to read for school, but when I’m on the plane or traveling, I like to get a book and read when I’m done my homework. I like to focus on that, relax and listen to music.
What is something unique about you?
My brother and I have matching tattoos. They say “B MAL,” and I have a shamrock for the Irish. We have them on the same side, same direction, but his is on his arm, and mine is on my back. We got them together after my freshman summer. I love my family, and I’m kind of a homebody. I’m home all of the time.
Are you involved in any other activities on campus?
No, but I did some leadership stuff through athletics last year. It’s where your coach nominates you to go to these seminars once every couple of weeks for becoming a captain and leading your team the right way and how to deal with people’s problems. We do a lot of service as a team, too. I really like going to elementary schools and reading to kids and talking to them. It’s really fun and cute. They love when we come. They’re eyes are so big, and it’s kind of crazy because you never think that you have that affect on someone.
Other than basketball, what is one competition you are sure you could win?
I can make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever. That’s my specialty. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s my favorite food, and I could live off of it for the rest of life. I can also make the perfect high-ponytail. I think I’ve got that down.
What are your future goals?
I’m not going to play after this year, so I just want to find a stable job. This summer, I interned with Under Armour, and right now in my off days (I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays), I go in and work with Molly Anderson, the adidas rep in the athletic department. I’m just working on getting my name in with that and hopefully setting something up for the future. I’m not going to be playing, so I need to have something stable set up for when I’m out. Eventually I would love to go to graduate school and get my master’s degree, but that will be day by day, and I definitely want to go back on the East Coast, so we’ll see how that goes.
— ND —