Blue and Gold Illustrated

Dec 19, 2020

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

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Page 47 of 55

48 DEC. 19, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI N iele Ivey received her under- graduate degree in history at Notre Dame 20 years ago, and she has made plenty of the best kind of history along the way at her alma mater. Now in her first season as the head coach of the Fighting Irish, Ivey is learning more about science — specifi- cally finding the right overall chemis- try with a team attempting to bounce back from the 13-18 rubble of last year. Having already endured a differ- ent kind of science because of the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed her work with the team until August, Ivey and her staff experienced more setbacks when five players — includ- ing three projected starters — were unavailable at the outset of this sea- son because of various health issues. It was not the lone reason why the Fighting Irish debuted with a 1-2 start before defeating IUPUI on Dec. 6 (see sidebar on page 49) to close their non-conference season at 2-2. They begin their 20-game ACC campaign on Dec. 13 and Dec. 17 with home games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, respectively. However, it did play a part in com- ing out of the gates a little slower than expected. • S o p h o m o re f o r w a rd S a m Brunelle, a linchpin, was sidelined much of the preseason with a linger- ing injury that reportedly included the need for a walking boot. She made her first game appear- ance in game three, a 76-66 loss at home to No. 24 Michigan on Dec. 3, and it was evident her timing and stamina were off while playing a re- serve role in the post. She fouled out in 17 minutes of action while shooting 2 of 6 from the floor (all threes). "I haven't had her for a full prac- tice yet, so hopefully at some point she can do a little more and increase her volume in practice," Ivey said. • Junior guard Katlyn Gilbert, one of the top three scorers last year with Brunelle, was "unavailable" the first two games before seeing her first action against the Wolverines. She made 1 of 6 shots from the floor. Likewise, freshman forward Ami- rah Abdur-Rahim also was unavail- able in the opener. • Senior center Mikki Vaughn had ACL surgery last spring, and the timetable to practice more and see game action could potentially be later this month. Yet again, endurance and timing will not come overnight after an extended period of convalescence. Brunelle, Gilbert and Vaughn had combined for 38 points per game last season. • Freshman center Nat Marshall also has been rehabbing from ACL surgery, and her status for this season remains uncertain. ROUGH START During the 1-2 start, Notre Dame might have had more individual talent on paper in the losses, but in both cases the opponent had veteran leadership and better team chemistry, which is vital in a pandemic year when practice time became more limited. In the season opener at Ohio Uni- versity on Nov. 27 and minus the three starters — plus foul trouble by junior guard Anaya Peoples and standout freshman forward Maddy Westbeld — the Irish fell behind 48-34 prior to a shooting clinic by ju- nior transfer Dara Mabrey. She tallied 34 points in her debut and briefly staked the Irish to a 77-70 lead. However, the Bobcats leaned on the senior trio of Erica Johnson, CeCe Hooks and Gabby Burris, all of whom were poised at the end and closed out the 86-85 win. Through four games, freshman Maddy Westbeld was leading the Irish in scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.8 boards per contest). PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS CHEMISTRY LAB Notre Dame is attempting to find cohesion while gradually working in individual parts 2020-21 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 27 at Ohio L, 86-85 Nov. 29 Miami (Ohio) W, 88-68 Dec. 3 Michigan L, 76-66 Dec. 6 IUPUI W, 65-58 Dec. 13 Georgia Tech (ACCNX) 2 p.m. Dec. 17 Virginia Tech (ACCN) 6 p.m. Dec. 20 at Clemson (RSN) 3 p.m. Dec. 31 at Miami (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 3 Georgia Tech (ACCN) 4 p.m. Jan. 7 at Boston College (ACCN) 8 p.m. Jan. 10 at Syracuse (ESPNU) 2 p.m. Jan. 14 Pittsburgh (ACCNX) 6 p.m. Jan. 17 Boston College (ACCN) 12 p.m. Jan. 21 at Virginia Tech (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at North Carolina (ESPNU) 12 p.m. Jan. 28 Wake Forest (ACCNX) 6 p.m. Jan. 31 Duke (ACCN) 4 p.m. Feb. 7 at Louisville (ESPN/2) 2 p.m. Feb. 11 Virginia (RSN) 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at NC State (ESPN2) TBA Feb. 18 Syracuse (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Pittsburgh (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 25 Florida State (ACCNX) 7 p.m. Feb. 28 Louisville (ESPN2/ACCN) 12 p.m. Mar. 3-7 ACC Tournament* TBA * at Greensboro, N.C.; ACCN — ACC Network; ACCNX — ACC Net Work Extra; RSN — Regional Sports Networks

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