Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

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

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Page 54 of 63 NOV. 2, 2019 55 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI N otre Dame women's basketball will have another "Sister Act" thanks to the Oct. 20 announcement by 6-2 forward/wing Madeline West- beld of Fairmont High School in Ket- tering Ohio, that she will sign with Notre Dame in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Westbeld, ranked as the nation's No. 23 overall prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 27 by Prospects Nation, will follow in older sister Kathryn's footsteps. Kathryn was the glue figure of the 2018 NCAA cham- pion Irish team after previously earn- ing McDonald's All-America hon- ors. The elder Westbeld's high school rankings were nearly identical to her sister's: No. 21 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 33 by Prospects Nation. Coincidentally, newly hired Fight- ing Irish assistant coach Michaela Mabrey played a role in the recruit- ment. Mabrey played at Notre Dame from 2012-16 with Kathryn, and was followed by younger sister Marina Mabrey (2015-19). This fall head coach Muffet Mc- Graw's Fighting Irish also added identical twin sisters as walk-ons to the roster, sophomore 5-8 guards Margaret and Catherine Murdock from Glencoe, Ill. A starter since her freshman sea- son, the younger Westbeld averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a junior at Fairmont. In ad- dition to Notre Dame, her other four finalists were Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee and UCLA. She took her official visit during the weekend of the Notre Dame- USC football game in mid-October, where she was joined by two other Irish verbal commits in the class: 5-11 guard Allison Campbell (No. 21 Prospects Nation and No. 25 ESPN HoopGurlz) and 6-4 forward Natalija Marshall (No. 19 Prospects Nation and No. 32 ESPN HoopGurlz). Also taking her visit that weekend was Notre Dame's top-rated prospect, 5-11 point guard Caitlin Clark (No. 4 ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 7 Pros- pects Nation), who has narrowed her choices to the Irish and home-state schools Iowa and Iowa State (where her brother Blake is a sophomore reserve quarterback). Adding Clark would be the crown jewel to complete a rare five-woman set in one class. A fourth current verbal commit, guard Alasia Hayes from Tennessee, is ranked No. 44 by ESPN Hoop- Gurlz and No. 130 by Prospects Na- tion. She had taken her official visit to the Notre Dame-Virginia football game Sept. 28. The NCAA's early signing period is Nov. 13-20. ✦ Madeline Westbeld Becomes The Fourth Commit In 2020 Recruiting Class Notre Dame Picked Fourth And Fifth In ACC Muffet McGraw and her staff expect Notre Dame to continue its streak of 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (fourth longest in the nation). However, standards such as having won eight straight regular-season conference titles in either the Big East or ACC and a 90-5 conference record in the ACC — including 48-0 at home — likely will take a hit after losing five starters to the WNBA, plus two top reserves to transfers. The more modest team goals for now are to finish in the top four of the 15-team Atlantic Coast Con- ference in order to receive a double bye in the conference tournament, and to earn home court for the NCAA Tournament again as a top-16 team. Among 49 ACC Blue Ribbon Panel members, Notre Dame was selected fourth, with Louisville earning 34 first-place votes (713 points), North Carolina State eight (637), Florida State three (623) and the Irish still garnering four while totaling 580 points to barely edge Miami with 578. In the coaches poll, though, Notre Dame fell behind Miami at fifth, but the top three remained the same with Louisville getting 13 of the 15 first-place ballots. Notre Dame's freshmen duo of forward Sam Brunelle and guard Anaya Peoples were unanimous selections on the Newcomer Watch List, claiming two of the five spots on both the Blue Ribbon media poll and the coaches poll. — Lou Somogyi The Fighting Irish had a huge visit weekend for the ND-USC football game Oct. 12. From left to right: assistant coach Michaela Mabrey, recruit Caitlin Clark, 2020 commit Madeline Westbeld, head coach Muffet McGraw, 2020 commit Allison Campbell, 2020 commit Natalija Marshall and associate coach Beth Cunningham. PHOTO PROVIDED

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