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    2007-08 Women's Basketball Media Day

    FIGHTING IRISH Senior guard Charel Allen was a first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America selection last year after averaging team highs of 17.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Senior guard Charel Allen was a first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America selection last year after averaging team highs of 17.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Oct. 10, 2007

    2007-08 Women's Basketball Media Day Photo Gallery
    2007-08 Women's Basketball Prospectus
    2007-08 Women's Basketball Season Preview
    Watch Coach McGraw's Comments from Media Day
    Watch a selection of interviews with Irish players from media day

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team opened its 2007-08 season Wednesday afternoon with its annual Media Day activities at the Joyce Center. Head coach Muffet McGraw will begin her 21st year with the Irish and welcomes back eight monogram winners, including three starters, from last year's squad that posted a 20-12 record, tied for fifth in the BIG EAST Conference, and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament before a narrow 60-51 loss to top-seeded North Carolina. Here's a look at what Coach McGraw and the Notre Dame players had to say about what lies ahead for the '07-08 season:

    Head Coach Muffet McGraw
    On the freshman additions to the 2007-2008 team...

    "Devereaux Peters is a highly heralded freshman. She's got a lot of talent and she's going to help us in a lot of things that we haven't been able to do in terms of defense and in terms of rebounding and blocking shots. Brittany Mallory is a great three-point shooter. We're counting on her to be on from long range, especially against zone. In transition we're looking to shoot a lot of threes. I hope that she takes the most threes this year. And Becca Bruszewski, she is someone that we are expecting to be a versatile player who can come in and be real physical and play around the basket.

    On room for players in the team's line-up this year...
    "This is probably the deepest team we've had in terms of talent and it's going to be a challenge for me. Generally we're going to play eight; this year we have 10 and it's going to be up to them to get into the rotation early. I imagine early on in the season that we'll have (our) veteran team (playing) in the WNIT, but after that we'd really like to expand the play to nine or 10 people.

    On Melissa Lechlitner's improvement since winning a gold medal with the USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team...
    "I think she gained a lot of experience. She got to see a little bit different type of game and I think she learned a lot in terms of leadership. She's going to have pretty much the same role she had for us last year: she's going to be a spark for us, she's going to be a leader for us, she's going to shoot threes, and she's going to hopefully lead the BIG EAST in assist-to-turnover ratio."

    On the freshmen contributing to three-point defense...
    "That is our number one priority right now. We have got to get better defensively. We were not a good defensive team last year, in particular guarding the three-point line. We were absolute last in the BIG EAST and that's an adjustment that we have to make or we are not going to be good. We are going to spend a lot of time on the defensive end this year. I think we can score, but defense has to be a priority with the team. It's got to be a mindset; it's got to be something that they really want to get better at. We'll see how it goes on Friday. We're not going to touch a ball; it's going to be all defense."

    On expectations for this year's team...
    "I really just think that we're just trying to take another step. I don't think that we have any lofty goals that we have to win x-amount of games or we're going to go `this far' in the (NCAA) tournament. We'd like to go one more step in the (NCAA) tournament."

    On Charel Allen...
    "She's great. She told me she's about 90 percent. She looks really good. She's strong, she's relentless, and she's fearless. I am really pleased with the way she is playing. She is really looking like one of the best players on the team already."

    On her options on the front line this year...
    "Erica Williamson really had a great summer. She looks really good. I think that Erica and Ashley Barlow probably are the two most improved players coming out of the summer. They both have really made some strides in their game. Erica is working hard. She's scoring around the basket, which is something we really need. Melissa (D'Amico) has actually been out most of the preseason with a back injury, so it's kind of hard to tell right now how it's going to look."

    On team motivation...
    "This is a team that is pretty self-motivated and they're always ready. That's one thing we never talked about last year. We never had to talk about how hard we had to work because they have a great work ethic. Preseason polls are coming out soon: we're ranked in a couple, we're not ranked in some. And I think for them that's good. I think we still like being the underdog."

    On BIG EAST competition this year...
    "Of all the polls out right now, there are six BIG EAST teams that are ranked. So, it's really going to be competitive. And when you look at the one's that aren't ranked, you know that they are going to be teams definitely go to the NIT if not the NCAA tournament. We'll probably take eight teams to the NCAA tournament this year. So, every game is tough, especially on the road. I look at our schedule there are some really tough road games for us, but it's going to really prepare us for the NCAA tournament."

    On this year's offense...
    "Well, we're playing four guards. We changed the offense last year a little bit. This year, exclusively, we're playing four on the perimeter with a post player. It's working really well. The girls seem to really like the offense; it leaves a lot of room for creativity and movement. And they are all capable this year of using ball screens, shooting the three; so it's a much more balanced type of offense."

    On getting good recruiting classes each year...
    "I think it is important. We've had our classes ranked in the Top 25 for 12 straight years now, but it really depends on how they mature. Like I said, this year we're not really counting on the freshman having to come in a step in right away with all the veterans we have back."

    Senior guard Charel Allen
    On building off last season...

    "You just play together, play the game. I think we're talented enough to go out there and beat any team in the nation."

    On last year's NCAA Tournament performance...
    "North Carolina was a great team and we felt like we had a chance to beat them. We didn't, unfortunately, but we hung in there with them."

    On sophomore point guard Melissa Lechlitner...
    "She's just a great player. She was a freshman last year and she learned a lot. She's a great leader, very vocal, and I'm excited to be playing with her."

    On team chemistry...
    "We spend a lot of our time together off the court, which may be really surprising, but we get along really well, no arguing."

    On being the defensive focus for opponents this season...
    "They're going to try to contain me. I'm still going to work hard to get my shot off, but, I mean, I have teammates, I have help. I don't have to force a shot. I know that if (opponents) double-team me, (my teammates) can make the shots."

    On the return of Lindsay Schrader...
    "It's great. We missed her a lot last year. To watch her sit on the bench was hard, but she's a smarter player now, and she's stronger, and we're glad to have her back."

    Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow
    On higher expectations this season...

    "Yeah, the expectations are higher, but we're ready for the challenge. The BIG EAST is as strong as it's ever been, and we've got a good schedule, so we've got to go out there and just compete."

    Freshman forward Becca Bruszewski
    On her friendship with Melissa Lechlitner...

    "My junior and sophomore year of high school I played AAU with her. I ended up playing with them until my senior year. I got good exposure with (that team) for about three years."

    On what she will bring to the team...
    "I want to bring the intensity. Whatever I'm called upon to do, I intend on doing. Anything Coach needs me there for, I'm going to be there."

    Sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner
    On the freshmen...

    "The freshmen are going to chip in a lot of time this year. They have worked hard and they're all really talented. They're going to get a lot of playing time."

    On the four-guard offense...
    "It really fits our team and our strengths. As a point guard specifically, it gives me a lot more opportunities to drive and kick to shooters and it opens up the floor a lot."

    On the strength of the schedule...
    "Playing the best teams in the country is always going to benefit you, whether you play your best or your worst. Playing against that kind of competition is going to get us ready for our conference games."

    On moving forward from last year...
    "We don't want people to think we can just compete, we want them to think we can win. After losing a game like that (to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament) last year, we want to come into this year with a mentality that we're going to be close to the top teams this year."

    Freshman forward Devereaux Peters
    On her role on the team...

    "I'm willing to rebound, block shots, and whatever they need me to do on offense. But I think we have most of that covered with the rest of the players. Mainly I am looking forward to helping out defensively, blocking shots and getting a lot of rebounds."

    On the change from high school...
    "The pace is a lot faster, it's a lot more running, and a lot more physical because people are stronger. There's definitely a difference but I think (the freshmen) prepared for it now."

    On the non-conference schedule this year...
    "I like playing the big teams because that's what we're here for."

    Junior guard Lindsay Schrader
    On missing last year due to a knee injury...

    "It was tough on me in the beginning, but I definitely came away a better person and a better player because of it."

    On excitement to get back to playing again...
    "When I was injured, it was not just playing the game that I missed the most. I missed all the little things like the bonding stuff during practice, team dinners, or the (public address) announcer calling your name in the game. I can't wait to get back out there."

    On learning from the sidelines...
    "I definitely learned a lot of the coaching aspect, I can see the floor better, and I have more of an understanding of where Coach McGraw is coming from both offensively and defensively. I think we are more on the same page now than we ever were before."

    -- ND --
     

     

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