Feb. 28, 2014
A key component of athletics is the notion of improvement-- perfecting one's sport. Although it is not possible to become truly perfect, one can get as close as possible through intense commitment and long hours of practice.
This is something sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey of the second-ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team knows firsthand. Hoping for a bigger role on the Fighting Irish roster, the Belmar, N.J., native worked harder than ever in the offseason to improve for the 2013-2014 season.
While many of her friends and classmates were relaxing and having fun, Mabrey instead spent her summer training. The sophomore dedicated many hours every day in the summer to working out and practicing all in hopes of becoming a better shooter and getting back into shape.
"Coach (Muffet McGraw) and I talked about my role after last season and she said she wanted it to be bigger," Mabrey explains. "I took this to heart, and when I came back to school for summer and preseason, I really focused on getting better and getting back into shape."
Mabrey's efforts in practice have certainly paid off as she emerges as one of Notre Dame's top reserves in 2013-14. Coming off the bench, she leads the team in three-pointers and averages 9.2 points per game, more than tripling her production as a freshman.
In addition, Mabrey ranks fifth in the ACC with a .404 three-point percentage and places 10th in the conference with 2.0 three-pointers made per game, making her a force to be reckoned with at the three-point line. Her high three-point percentage can be attributed in part to making at least three triples in seven games this year, including a career-high 6-of-14 vs. Syracuse Feb. 9 at Purcell Pavilion (tying the arena record for three-pointers in one game).
In addition to her three-point prowess, Mabrey also consistently reaches double figures in scoring and has already has scored in double figures 13 times this year (including a career-high 19 points in the season opener against UNC-Wilmington) after doing so three times in 30 games last season.
Shooting aside, the guard has also improved her assist-to-turnover ratio and defensive game as well, making Mabrey a triple threat on the court and allowing her to see much more time this year.
"I've really taken on the role of being a shooter, having a good assist-to-turnover ratio, making sure my player doesn't get the ball and playing the best defense I can," she says. "I've really embraced that and tried to expert that role."
Although her role has greatly increased, the sophomore remains unfazed and enjoys being a contributor to the team.
"I do have a much bigger role than I did last year, but I don't feel l pressured at all," Mabrey says. "I love being out on the court and helping my team win games."
Mabrey's head-on attitude is exactly what the team needs as they move through the ACC. The Irish (28-0, 15-0 ACC) have already clinched their first regular season ACC title and their third in a row overall, satisfying one of the team's preseason goals.
As for Mabrey's personal goals, the sophomore only hopes to continue to contribute and to keep progressing for next season.
"Coming from last year to now is a huge step for me, and I'm exactly where I want to be right now in shooting," Mabrey says. "I just need to make sure I keep my percentages high and keep improving my assist-to-turnover ratio.
"I also need to start taking on a more vocal role. Even next year, I'm expecting my role to get bigger and I'm expecting to have another big and new role as a voice on the team."
-- Tayler Turner, Media Relations Student Assistant