Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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Page 52 of 63 MAY 2017 53 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL That concern has been allayed when it was announced this winter that Thompson will use her fifth season of eligibility at Notre Dame in 2018-19. In March 2016, Thompson scored 11 points (while shooting 3 of 7 from three-point range), dished out nine as- sists and had no turnovers in Stanford's NCAA Tournament upset of the Irish. The 5-7 Thompson started 96 games and contributed 295 assists from 2014-16. She earned All-Pac-12 accolades the last two years and av- eraged 14.7 points per game her final season with the Cardinal. Thompson left the program during the summer but remained in school. According to McGraw, Thompson is not quite a pass-first point guard like Allen, who still averaged 9.4 points per game as a senior. "She's very different from Lind- say," McGraw said. "She's a scor- ing point guard, she can play the two, she's a really good three-point shooter and she can run the team. She's got good leadership skills." Senior Mychal Johnson — yet an- other player who underwent surgery this season — also has some experi- ence at point, and Mabrey also has played there in a pinch. WILL DEFENSE IMPROVE? With or without Turner, Notre Dame has enough firepower to continue to score in bunches. But if it wants to return to the Final Four, the defense needs a collective upgrade, especially if the shot-blocking Turner is not avail- able to be a security blanket. All four of this year 's Final Four teams ranked in the top 35 nation- ally in scoring defense, while Notre Dame was 118th. National champion South Carolina was 19th in field goal percentage de- fense, while Stanford was ninth and UConn 10th. Notre Dame was 147th. This is a topic McGraw has re- flected on since the end of the season. "I wonder sometimes if having the guys at practice gives us less chance to be on defense," she said of using top male players from campus to compete against in the daily prac- tices. "We work on our offense, and they guard us. If we were working on our offense against ourselves, maybe that would help." The bottom line is one achieves what is emphasized. "I just think we need to focus on it more. It is a mindset that when you're a scorer, you don't really have the mindset to defend," McGraw said of the many prominent scorers on the roster. ✦ Notre Dame Cancels Summer Foreign Tour Every four years, the NCAA permits a college basketball team to travel overseas in the summer to play exhibition games. After a 2013 tour through Europe, the Fighting Irish women had scheduled a similar trip through Italy and Croatia this year from July 31 to Aug. 9. Due to a lack of bodies, however, the tour was cancelled and will be used in another year. Surgeries to current juniors Brianna Turner (ACL), Kathryn Westbeld (ankle) and Mychal Johnson (shoulder) will sideline them, and the transfer of Erin Boley (school to be determined) and Ali Patberg (Indiana) leave the Irish with six scholarship players. The trip would have permitted the coaching staff to get 10 extra days of practice this summer, which could have been beneficial to starting Stanford graduate transfer point guard Lili Thompson and par- ticularly incoming freshman forwards Mikayla Vaughn and Danielle Patterson. That duo will be called on earlier than anticipated, while Turner and Westbeld rehab from their April surgeries. "I thought we were going to need them anyway, especially on defense, which is a weakness of ours," head coach Muffet McGraw said of the freshmen. "The ability to guard on the perimeter will be key for both." The 2017-18 lineup, if Turner can play, will be as follows: Low post: Turner, Kristina Nelson (fifth year), Vaughn High post: Westbeld, Patterson Guards/wings: Michaela Mabrey, Arike Ogunbowale, Jackie Young Point: Thompson, Johnson — Lou Somogyi Junior post Kathryn Westbeld averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game this past season, despite an ankle injury that ended up requiring surgery in April. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND Wing Marina Mabrey averaged 14.6 points per game during her sophomore campaign. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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