SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame women’s basketball team heads into the season looking for a go-to player to replace Jewell Loyd.
”That’s the biggest thing we have to look at. Who is going to take that shot late in the game?” coach Muffet McGraw said Monday at media day. ”We have a number of options.”
Loyd led the Irish in scoring last year at 19.8 points a game and finished second to Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart in voting for The Associated Press Player of the Year award. She left school after her junior year for the WNBA and was named rookie of the year with Seattle.
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Two players expected to help fill the void are 6-3 forward Brianna Turner and point guard Lindsay Allen. Turner averaged 13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks a game last season and led nation and in field-goal percentage at 65.2 percent. Allen averaged 10.8 points a game and has more assists in her first two seasons than any player in school history.
”Those two are definitely going to have the ball in their hands a lot at the end of the game,” McGraw said.
With eight All-Americans on the roster, McGraw said she expects Notre Dame will have a number of players who can make clutch shots as the Irish seek to become just the second team to advance to the Final Four for six straight seasons. Connecticut is on a run of eight straight appearances.
Senior guard Michael Mabrey said the Irish could be more difficult to defend because of their depth.
”We have a very team-oriented team this year,” she said. ”We haven’t really had that in the past. We’ve had a bunch of dominant players. I feel like this could really work for us this year.”
Loyd is the only starter from last year’s 36-3 team that lost to Connecticut in the national championship game that isn’t back. McGraw said she doesn’t know who the fifth starter will be.
Irish players say the goal, as always, is a national championship.
”We’ve been there every single year since I’ve been here and it’s been the same outcome each time. We’re trying to change that this year,” Mabrey said.
Notes: McGraw said forward Taya Reimer is resting a sore Achilles but should be ready by the start of the season.