Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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72 PRESEASON 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI F or the record, Notre Dame was 3-0 during its exhibition tour through Europe from July 31- Aug. 8. In Rome, the Irish crushed an Ital- ian All-Stars team 103-47, and then in Croatia it posted 88-66 and 62-51 vic- tories against a group of Spanish All- Stars, although the latter outing saw head coach Muffet McGraw's squad go into an uncharacteristic funk on offense. Of course, the games themselves constituted only a small percentage of what the unforgettable sightseeing expedition entailed. The outcomes were anticipated from the reigning national champi- ons and probable preseason No. 1 pick. Not only do the top four scorers return from the starting quintet — seniors Arike Ogunbowale (a single- season school-record 20.8 points per game) and Jessica Shepard (15.6), ju- nior Jackie Young (14.5) and senior Marina Mabrey (14.4) — but fifth- year senior Brianna Turner is back, which made the overseas trip even more rewarding. The 6-3 two-time All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year sat out last season after suffer- ing an ACL tear in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Last year at this time there remained some debate about whether she could be available for the 2017-18 team by midseason, but by the start of the school year the decision was made to take a medical redshirt. Even in March there was caution about not practicing her. While the rust showed on occasion in Europe, her return to the starting lineup was edifying. "That was the highlight of the trip for me, seeing her back on the floor, doing things that she did two years ago," McGraw said. Turner 's 18 points led five Irish players who tallied double figures in the opener, and her 13 points in game two were second to Shepard's 15. The usual balanced attack saw Mabrey pace the team in scoring in the finale with 15, while Shepard had 13. The twin tower tandem of Shepard and Turner played together fre- quently. In the four-guard sets, though, Young downshifted to the four spot, mainly because 6-3 sopho- more forward Mikayla Vaughn did not play while continuing her rehab from ACL surgery last November. "She is ahead of schedule, but we weren't going to use her on the trip," McGraw said of Vaughn, who aver- aged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in the six games she did play off the bench prior to her setback. "Mikayla should be cleared by October." Another highlight in person- nel was integrating freshman point guard Jordan Nixon as a regular into the rotation, which especially ben- efitted Mabrey when she could move to her more natural two-guard role. ADDING TO THE POWER Brianna Turner's return is among the highlights of the team's European tour The reigning national champions and preseason No. 1 selection by ESPN for the 2018-19 season enjoyed a tour through Italy and Croatia while winning all three games against a group of all-stars. Visiting Vatican City here was among the many highlights. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA

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