Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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Page 48 of 55 OCT. 30, 2017 49 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL not slated to practice until around Nov. 1, and the conditioning work will take some time as well. Westbeld averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest and was third in assists (76) last season while doing the grunt work such as setting screens or helping the Princeton of- fense flow effectively while she was in the high post. • Stanford graduate transfer Lili Thompson, a two-time All-Pac-12 pick, has been tabbed to replace four-year starter Lindsay Allen at point guard, but she has been sidelined and hob- bled by an ankle injury since August. "Lili is probably 80 percent right now … and just started going full court a couple of days ago," McGraw said Oct. 12. "Everything revolves around the point guard — it's the most important position on the floor. "You want be patient, but you have to bring her along so quickly that you can't really spend the time that you would have with a freshman coming in. … However, she's got great experi- ence, so she doesn't need to be brought along as slowly as a freshman would." • Junior guard Marina Mabrey was sidelined all summer with her own injury, but has been able to practice, mainly at point guard. Once Thomp- son returns, McGraw wants Mabrey back at the off guard, where she aver- aged 14.6 points per game last season and drained a team high 75 three- pointers. • Reserve senior guard Mychal Johnson also was finally cleared to begin practice Oct. 13 and will pro- vide depth at both guard spots. "We're starting to see how rusty we look. There's somebody new at the helm [at point guard] and trying to put those pieces together, different people playing together, has been really challenging," McGraw said. "It's kind of fun because it's a whole new puzzle for me to put together. … We're a good team, but we're not a great team right now. We have some work to do before the season comes. "Right now, it's just incredibly stressful trying to get us to be at the level we need to be at to compete for a national championship." ON GUARD It will be a guard- and perimeter-ori- ented lineup with four probable dou- ble-digit scorers in Mabrey, Thompson, junior Arike Ogunbowale and sopho- more Jackie Young. Ogunbowale was the top scorer last season, averaging 15.9 points per game, while 2016 Nai- smith High School Player of the Year Young, hampered some by injuries as a freshman, is capable of doubling her 7.3 scoring clip as a freshman. "Those guards are as good as any- body in the country, so we definitely have talent," McGraw said. "Jackie is the most improved player coming off the summer. … She's taken a really active role on both ends of the floor. "I couldn't be happier with any one player than her right now. I think she's going to have just a tremendous year." Ogunbowale and Mabrey averaged 30.5 points per game between them last year while combining for 139 threes, and they will be counted on to be consistently prolific on offense. POST PLAY Because Thompson is just getting back into a basketball rhythm and the status of Westbeld and Shepard is uncertain, if the Irish had to open this week 6-3 freshman Mikayla Vaughn and 6-4 fifth-year senior Kristina Nel- son would join the trio of Mabrey, Ogunbowale and Young in the start- ing lineup. The other freshman, 6-2 McDonald's All-American Danielle Patterson, is trying to find her niche for now, according to McGraw. Rebounding and defense (espe- cially in the interior) will determine whether the Irish can once again be a viable contender for the Final Four. Nelson appeared in 34 games last season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds primarily as a spot player. Vaughn could be an X factor with the blue-collar work that Westbeld has handled so well. "I think you're going to be sur- prised with Mikayla Vaughn's ac- tivity level," McGraw said. "She's a really high-energy player. She is somebody I am counting on. Jackie Young may be our leading rebounder this year, and we'll hope that the posts can have a committee of good rebounding while they're in there. "Arike needs to rebound more, and that's going to be a big part of our de- fense. We have got to rebound better. … We need to have a better commit- ment defensively. I think we've seen a little bit of that so far, but we need a little bit more." The Irish open the season Nov. 11 versus Mount St. Mary's before play- ing seven straight on the road, in- cluding overwhelming national title pick UConn, reigning national champ South Carolina (likely in the Golf Cost Showcase Thanksgiving weekend) and Pac-12 power Oregon State. "Hopefully the non-conference schedule will prepare us for the con- ference, which will prepare us for the NCAA Tournament, and by March we will be playing our best basket- ball of the year," McGraw said. ✦ Guards Arike Ogumbowale (pictured), a sopho- more, and Marina Mabrey, a junior, combined to average 30.5 points per game and make 139 threes last season. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND 2017-18 NOTRE DAME ROSTER No. Name Pos. Ht. Cl. 1 Lili Thompson G 5-7 5th-Sr. 2 Kaitlin Cole# G 5-10 So. 3 Marina Mabrey G 5-11 Jr. 5 Jackie Young G 6-0 So. 11 Brianna Turner* F 6-3 Sr. 14 Mychal Johnson G 5-7 Sr. 21 Kristina Nelson F 6-4 5th-Sr. 23 Jessica Shepard^ F 6-4 Jr. 24 Arike Ogunbowale G 5-8 Jr. 30 Mikayla Vaughn C 6-3 Fr. 32 Danielle Patterson F 6-2 Fr. 33 Kathryn Westbeld F 6-2 Sr. 40 Maureen Butler# F 6-1 Jr. # Walk-on; * taking medical redshirt in 2017-18; ^ possibly sitting out because of NCAA transfer rule

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