Women's Basketball

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McBride Eager to Play in Final Four This Time
Kayla McBride at Saturday's practice
 
Kayla McBride at Saturday's practice

March 31, 2012

NCAA Tournament Central | Get Your Final Four Gear!

DENVER (AP) - Notre Dame sophomore guard Kayla McBride was a sideline spectator at the Final Four a year ago, watching helplessly from the bench while the Fighting Irish lost to Texas A&M 76-70 in the title game.

She missed the second half of last season with what she called personal issues.

Missing out on the national championship game stoked McBride's competitive fire, and she said she rededicated herself over the summer.

She's had a sensational sophomore season, averaging 11.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists while helping lead the Fighting Irish back to the Final Four.

Everybody around her sensed her dogged determination, teammate Skylar Diggins said.

"Absolutely, because she saw that we lost the national championship, so anything could have made a difference in that," Diggins said. "She's like, 'I would have scored seven points, I could have gotten a rebound, I could have guarded somebody.' And she makes such a difference this year."

McBride said she has a deep appreciation for Notre Dame's return trip to the Final Four because she felt she let her teammates down last year and wants to make it up to them by helping them hoist the championship trophy Tuesday night.

First, she'll have to help them beat UConn in the semifinals Saturday night.

"Last year was definitely difficult for me not to be able to contribute to this team. I think this year I came back with a little bit of a vengeance, a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and I just wanted to do anything I possibly could for this team," she said.

 

 

And she's doing just that.

"I took it as, 'If I was out there, I could have changed something," McBride said. "I put a lot of that pressure on my shoulders. That's been in the back of my mind every conditioning drill, every running drill, every shot that I have taken; that was one thing that was in the back of my mind: what if I was in the game?' I took it and I used it to fuel my fire. and I came back with a vengeance."

UConn center Stefanie Dolson said the Fighting Irish are an improved team with McBride on the floor.

"Kayla is a great player; she adds a lot to their team," Dolson said. "She has that amazing dribble off the screen pull-up mid-range jumper, so she just adds that, and she adds a little toughness to their team. She's a really, really good rebounding defensive guard, and they're a lot better with her on the floor, definitely. A lot of times guards are seen as doing one thing, but she can do a lot of different things."

----

PHILLY FANATICS: Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw doesn't fit the image of the brash, in-your-face, egg-'em-on coach like, well, UConn coach Geno Auriemma. She does, however, display the thick skin that comes from growing up in Philly, like Auriemma.

"For people who don't know Philly, the saying is when they don't have anything better to do, they go to the airport and boo bad landings," McGraw said.

"I think the Philadelphia coaches are brash and outspoken. I think there's a lot of sarcasm used. I think they are right to the point. I think that's something that even my team had to deal with: I'm going to be honest and I'm going to tell you. And I think that's how most of those coaches are."

But because she grew up in that environment, McGraw said it's easy for her to blow off the bluster.

"Yes, it's so easy to let that go," she said, "because I think initially you kind of want to get into a fight. But it is easy to let it go. Especially being (that) I'm a Midwesterner now. So I'm so much more laid back than I used to be."

Auriemma bristled at the notion.

"Come on. You know, Muffet and (Baylor coach) Kim Mulkey are pretty much of the same era, I think, and they're what women's basketball coaches are supposed to be like: They're tough. They're competitive. They have a unique style about them. They can give it right back to you as well as take it," Auriemma said.

And Auriemma said it's easy for him to go after Muffet, in a playful way, of course.

"I bet you if she wasn't at Notre Dame I probably wouldn't try as hard to get under her skin, but the fact she's at Notre Dame it's easy," Auriemma said. "And I think that goes with the territory. It's like I'm the coach at Connecticut. So there's a lot of things that go along with that. If I wasn't the coach at Connecticut and we weren't this successful, nobody would care, nobody would say a word.

"But the fact that Muffet's from Philly and I've known her for 35 years and she's at Notre Dame, and if they keep beating us, we're in for it. She's in for it, big time. She's going to need more than a leather skirt. She's going to have to wear body armor. I'm coming after her."

Event Calendar

Delta

November 3
7:00 PM
Roberts Wesleyan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
November 11
7:00 PM
Central Michigan Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 14
7:00 PM
WNIT Quarterfinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 17
7:00 PM
WNIT Semifinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 20
3:00 PM
WNIT Final
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

CBS Sports Network
November 22
8:00 PM
UL-Lafayette
Houston, Texas (Campbell Center)
November 26
1:00 PM
TCU
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 30
9:00 PM
Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)

BTN
December 4
1:00 PM
Valparaiso
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 7
7:00 PM
UConn
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
December 10
8:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill. (McGrath-Phillips Arena)
December 18
2:00 PM
Toledo
Toledo, Ohio (Savage Arena)
December 20
7:00 PM
Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (Breslin Center)

BTN
December 27
6:30 PM
Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tenn. (McKenzie Arena)
December 29
7:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (Reynolds Coliseum)

ACC Network Extra
January 2
7:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavilion)
January 5
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 8
3:00 PM
Miami
Coral Gables, Fla. (BankUnited Center)

ESPN Flex
January 12
7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACC Network Extra
January 16
7:00 PM
Tennessee
Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)

ESPN2
January 19
7:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Conte Forum)
January 22
12:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Carmichael Arena)

ESPNU
January 26
7:00 PM
Duke
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 29
12:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
February 2
7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)
February 6
7:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
February 12
1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 16
7:00 PM
Clemson
Clemson, S.C. (Littlejohn Coliseum)
February 19
5:00 PM
Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome)

ESPN2
February 23
7:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 26
1:00 PM
Florida State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
March 17
TBA
NCAA First/Second Rounds
TBD
March 24
TBA
NCAA Regionals
TBD
March 31
TBA
NCAA Semifinals
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)
April 2
TBA
NCAA Final
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)

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