Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2021

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

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Page 40 of 47 DECEMBER 2021 41 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA P erhaps Kelly Gramlich was a little too far over her skis when she com‑ pared Olivia Miles to Magic Johnson. But maybe she was onto something after all. The ACC Network color commentator made the comparison when Miles was in the process of scoring 10 points and dishing out eight assists in Notre Dame's 82‑56 victory over Syracuse Nov. 14. Miles also made all seven of her free throws and secured seven rebounds. Just another day for the freshman point guard. "I knew she was going to make an immediate impact with just the caliber player she is," head coach Niele Ivey said. Obviously, there was only one Magic Johnson. There has not been anyone quite like the 12‑time NBA All‑Star and three‑time NBA MVP since he retired in 1996, and there may not be anyone quite like him to ever play the game again. A 6‑foot‑9 point guard who averaged better than 50‑percent shooting from the floor and 11‑plus assists in more than 900 career games? He earned the nickname Magic for well‑deserved reasons. Gram‑ lich compared Miles to Johnson for what could be well‑deserved reasons, though, too. She didn't say the 5‑foot‑10 Miles is going to change the game like Johnson did. But she did say Miles reminds her of him. Miles averaged 10.0 points, 8.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game through the Fighting Irish's 5‑0 start. Like Johnson was for the Lakers, Miles is a do‑it‑all player for the Irish. Senior guard Dara Mabrey was the only player to log more minutes on the court than Miles in those five games. Ivey has supreme trust in Miles al‑ ready. The comparisons to Johnson don't only pertain to basketball‑centric similarities, either. Johnson was known for his captivating demeanor. Miles has one of her own. "She's very confident," Ivey said. "She has a lot of swag." Confidence and swag don't auto‑ matically translate to leadership and vocalization. Ivey said Miles could be more demonstrative in those areas. But she also said those things will naturally come with time. Seldom do true freshmen enter a locker room and command it like they've been there for years. Mabrey has been around a few blocks. So has gradu‑ ate senior Maya Dodson. Both trans‑ ferred to Notre Dame from other Power Five programs. Even sophomore Maddy Westbeld has reasons to be vocal as the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year. Miles could work herself into the con‑ versation for that same award this season, but she's going to have to battle one of her teammates among other talented first‑ year players in the conference. Notre Dame combo guard Sonia Citron earned ACC Newcomer of the Week honors in the first two weeks of the season while averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game through five contests. Citron started for the first time in her career in Notre Dame's fifth game. Miles started the first five games this season. Barring injury or illness, she's going to be Ivey's go‑to point guard on a nightly basis. Opportunities to play 30‑plus minutes per game will continue to manifest for Miles. And that's right where she wants to be. "Coach Ivey really opens up the floor for me, so I get to maneuver and dribble and create wherever I want," Miles said. "I'm very grateful for that. I thrive best in the open floor and with ball screens. She really sets me up for success there." M i l e s ' p rog re ss i o n h a s a l l owe d Mabrey to slide back over to her natu‑ ral position of shooting guard where she has averaged 14.2 points per game through the first five as a result. And again, this is only the beginning of Miles making an impact roster‑wide. "Her play just speaks for itself," Ivey said. "She's always a player who wants to make everybody better." ✦ Olivia Miles Proving To Be True Floor General Miles averaged 10.0 points, 8.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game during Notre Dame's impres- sive 5-0 start. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS 2021-22 WOMEN'S EARLY BASKETBALL SCHEDULE As of Nov. 28 Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 9 Ohio W, 105-69 Nov. 11 Western Illinois W, 76-50 Nov. 14 at Syracuse* W, 82-56 Nov. 18 Fordham W, 71-56 Nov. 21 Bryant W, 94-35 Nov. 26 vs. Georgia# L, 71-67 (OT) Nov. 27 vs. Oregon State# W, 64-62 Dec. 2 at Michigan State% (BTN) 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at UConn (FS1) Noon Dec. 8 at Valparaiso 7 p.m. Dec. 12 Purdue-Fort Wayne (ACCN) 2 p.m. Dec. 19 Pitt (ACCN) 2 p.m. Dec. 22 at DePaul 8:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at Virginia 7 p.m. *ACC; # Daytona Beach Invitational in Daytona, Fla.; % ACC-Big Ten Challenge Notre Dame Splits Its Two Games At Daytona Beach Invitational Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Georgia 71-67 in overtime Nov. 26 at the Daytona Beach Invitational. In a game that featured 16 ties and 10 lead changes, the Irish built a 67-63 lead in the extra session but the Bulldogs rallied to score the final eight points of the game. Freshman guard Olivia Miles led the Irish with a career-high 24 points, plus contributed six rebounds and five assists. Sophomore forward Maddy Westbeld and graduate student forward Maya Dodson added 13 points apiece. The Irish bounced back the following day to knock off No. 16-ranked Oregon State 64-62. Notre Dame built a 20-point lead through three quarters, but had to hold off a late rally by the Beavers to secure the victory. Dodson led the Irish with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Westbeld scored 11 points. — Steve Downey

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