Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2020

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 55

46 NOV. 27, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI S eldom can a basketball team finish 13‑18 and then the next season be ranked in the initial Associated Press top 25 poll, with a new head coach, no less. Such is the 2020‑21 world for Notre Dame women's basketball, which be‑ gins the season ranked No. 22 in the AP poll. Last year 's sudden and dramatic plummet is now perceived more as a mulligan year following seven Fi‑ nal Four appearances in the previous nine seasons, highlighted by the 2018 national title. Five starters left to begin their pro careers last year, two others trans‑ ferred and a bevy of injuries resulted in a precipitous descent in 2019‑20. The upward climb in 2020‑21 with a mostly youth‑laden squad is pro‑ jected to take shape. Under first‑year head coach Niele Ivey, a long‑valued assistant from 2007‑19 under Naismith Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw and also the point guard for her 2001 national champs, Notre Dame has been tabbed to finish fourth in the 15‑team ACC this season by a 57‑person ACC Blue Ribbon panel — although only sixth by the coaches. In the AP poll, No. 5 Louisville and No. 8 North Carolina State were the only two league members ahead of the Fighting Irish, with Syracuse right behind at No. 23. Sophomore forward Sam Brunelle landed on the Blue Ribbon Panel's Preseason All‑ACC list, while fresh‑ man forward/guard Maddy West‑ beld was a consensus pick for the ACC Newcomer watch list among five players for the coaches and four for the Blue Ribbon Panel. Brunelle was a 2020 ACC All‑ Freshman selection — as were guards Anaya Peoples (who under‑ went shoulder surgery in late Janu‑ ary) and Katlyn Gilbert. Brunelle started all 31 games last season and led ACC freshmen in scoring with her 13.9 points per game while significantly improving her shooting stroke that made her a top‑five caliber recruit. Over the last five games she averaged 18.6 points on 45.2 percent shooting. Her 58 made three‑pointers ranked second all‑time for a Notre Dame freshman. Peoples averaged 12.6 points and a team‑high 8.1 rebounds per game prior to her injury, while Gilbert — medically redshirted as a freshman in 2018‑19 — had a 13.6 scoring average. The top returning scorer is sixth‑ year senior guard Destinee Walker (14.5), while the addition of Virginia Tech junior transfer Dara Mabrey — one of the nation's top three‑point shooters the past two years — forti‑ fies the deep backcourt and provides strong leadership. Westbeld headlines a five‑woman freshman class with her McDon‑ ald's All‑America honors and as the 2020 Gatorade Ohio Girls Basket‑ ball Player of the Year. As a senior, Westbeld led Fairmont High to a 25‑3 record and a regional finals ap‑ pearance in the Ohio Girls Basketball State Championships. She led her prep team in scoring (18.0 points per game), rebounds (11.2), assists (3.6), steals (2.8) and blocks (2.3). ✦ Sixth-year senior guard Destinee Walker is Notre Dame's top returning scorer at 14.5 points per game. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER Notre Dame Begins No. 22 In Associated Press Poll 2020-21 ACC SCHEDULE The ACC women will have a 20-game league schedule for the first time. Home and away games will be played against divisional opponents, five home games against non-divisional opponents and five away games against non-divisional opponents. Two additional non-divisional games were scheduled by the conference office, with most teams being assigned one home and one away game, with a few exceptions — including the Fighting Irish twice playing Georgia Tech at home. The non-conference season slated to begin no later than Nov. 25 will be announced later this month. Date Opponent Dec. 13 Georgia Tech Dec. 17 Virginia Tech Dec. 20 at Clemson Dec. 31 at Miami Jan. 3 Georgia Tech Jan. 7 at Boston College Jan. 10 at Syracuse Jan. 14 Pittsburgh Jan. 17 Boston College Jan. 21 at Virginia Tech Jan. 24 at North Carolina Jan. 28 Wake Forest Jan. 31 Duke Feb. 7 at Louisville Feb. 11 Virginia Feb. 15 at North Carolina State Feb. 18 Syracuse Feb. 22 at Pittsburgh Feb. 25 Florida State Feb. 28 Louisville 2020-21 ACC PRESEASON POLL Head coaches predicted order of finish Rk. School (1st-Place Votes) Points 1. Louisville (13) 223 2. North Carolina State (2) 210 3. Syracuse 193 4. North Carolina 157 5. Georgia Tech 146 6. Notre Dame 138 7. Virginia Tech 125 8. Florida State 124 9. Boston College 120 10. Miami 99 11. Duke 74 12. Wake Forest 73 13. Clemson 56 14. Pittsburgh 37 15. Virginia 25 Blue Ribbon predicted order of finish (57 voters) Rk. School (1st-Place Votes) Points 1. Louisville (45) 840 2. North Carolina State (10) 797 3. Syracuse (2) 724 4. Notre Dame 555 5. North Carolina 547 6. Florida State 516 7. Virginia Tech 482 8. Boston College 468 9. Georgia Tech 452 10. Duke 385 11. Miami 359 12. Wake Forest 258 13. Clemson 183 14. Virginia 149 15. Pittsburgh 125

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Nov. 27, 2020