Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

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

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Page 46 of 55 NOV. 19, 2018 47 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI U nanimous preseason No. 1 Notre Dame is picking up where it left off as reigning national champions. That includes having a shorter bench while dealing with some early season injuries, although right now it's not nearly as acute as last year's unprecedented four season-ending ACL tears. The list this year includes senior guard Marina Mabrey (quadriceps) and sophomore forward Danielle Patterson (knee swelling), plus fresh- man guard Katlyn Gilbert will play this year with a protective sleeve on her right shooting shoulder before possibly having surgery at the end of the season. Mabrey and Patterson were both sidelined for the season opener ver- sus Harvard Nov. 9, but head coach Muffet McGraw said Patterson was "probable" to play versus Penn Nov. 12. Mabrey might be sidelined another week, if not more. Stepping in for Mabrey at the point is freshman Jordan Nixon, a McDon- ald's All-American like Gilbert who distinguished herself during the Eu- ropean tour in August and was im- mediately slotted into the guard rota- tion in order to allow Mabrey to play more off the ball and take advantage of her shooting prowess. McGraw has been amazed at how detail-oriented Nixon is, even laugh- ing at how she pored over game tape on her own during the tour through Europe. "I hate wasting time," the highly eloquent and confident Nixon said. "I like to maximize my time by do- ing whatever I need to do to just get ahead in whatever it might be, whether it be school or just getting studying done in between classes, or watching practice every day just so I don't make the same mistakes. "I take notes, I look over them, study them, just try to understand them because I do want to be success- ful and I do want to help this team to another national championship. Find- ing a balance is important. There are times to let my hair down and just play, enjoy the people around you. There are other times where you have to focus in and just get it done." She takes the same approach in her science major, where she is focus- ing on biology but exploring various courses. "I want to be a well-rounded indi- vidual," she said. "I want to expose myself to different areas of study and interact with different kinds of people who have different interests and backgrounds. I think that comes with different classes and embracing those challenges." According to McGraw, Nixon even keeps her on her toes, but eventually will be at her best on the court when she won't overthink. "She's such a student of the game," McGraw said. "If I tell her the same thing in a different way it's, 'Wait a minute, yesterday you told me …' She's really smart. I have to write down what I'm telling her. "[The other day] I came into prac- tice early, and she was sitting there with the play sheet writing notes to herself on each play. It's amaz- ing. She watches every practice, and she watches film like crazy. She just wants to get better." Knowing she has five potential All- Americans surrounding her eases some of Nixon's role. "It's not going to be easy," Nixon said of her role. "I'm going to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them every day." ✦ Freshman Point Guard Jordan Nixon Takes On Early Starting Duty Coming out of high school, Nixon was ranked as the No. 38 recruit in the nation by ESPNW and was selected to play in the McDonald's All-American Game. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA NOTRE DAME ROMPS PAST HARVARD IN OPENER, 103-58 The 2018-19 campaign commenced Nov. 9 with first-team preseason Associated Press All-American senior guard Arike Ogunbowlale pacing the Fighting Irish in points (30) and assists (five), senior forward Jessica Shepard tallying 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and fifth-year senior forward Brianna Turner recording a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Off the bench, sophomore forward Mikayla Vaughn accumulated 12 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and freshman guard Abby Prohaska contributed six points, five re- bounds and three assists in 17 minutes. Eight players saw from 17 to 29 minutes of action. Plagued by early foul trouble among its top two front-line players — Harvard was whistled for 27 fouls to Notre Dame's nine — the Irish had a 58-14 advantage in points in the paint and attempted only seven three-pointers (con- verting two). Freshman forward Danielle Cosgrove served a one-game suspension for a "team violation," per head coach Muffet McGraw. Meanwhile, junior Jackie Young, who suf- fered a broken nose in Notre Dame's exhibi- tion game a week earlier — a different area of the nose after breaking it last year, too — ditched her face mask in the second half after playing with it in the first. — Lou Somogyi

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