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    Notre Dame Basketball Media Day

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    Notre Dame Basketball Media Day
    October 15, 2009
    Purcell Pavilion - Notre Dame, Ind.

    Women's Basketball Head Coach Muffet McGraw

    Opening statement...
    "Welcome back. The most exciting thing going on right now is the opening of Purcell Pavilion. We had a tour this morning, and we will be practicing there this weekend. We are so excited. It looks fabulous. It's a beautiful building. Our recruits are going to love it, our fans are going to love it, and everybody's going to love it. It's a really spectacular facility. I had a little trouble finding my way to the locker room because I am used to looking for the orange and purple seats and they are all blue now, so it's a little tougher now to find your way to press row. But I think once you're in it enough, you will enjoy it as much as we are planning to. We are so excited about the season opening and with everybody back we have been planning on a couple things. We started right after the season last year and got working on our defense. That's our emphasis of the year and we will continue that through the fall, and we will continue that through practice, so hopefully our defense will improve this year."

    On high expectations in regards to the players...
    "I want them to embrace it. I think that we are going into the season as a team with everybody back, but the expectations are definitely higher than they were last year. I think that when you look at the BIG EAST it's a great conference. We are expected to finish at the top. We're expected to be better nationally. I think that it's a little bit of a different feel going into the season, but I think we have a little bit of a different sense of urgency with the seniors. I think last year not having any seniors we didn't have that sense of urgency that we needed. Now we have five senior players, and they know what they want to accomplish before they leave here. I definitely think there is a greater sense of urgency amongst the players."

    On where the team chemistry stands right now...
    "I think our chemistry is really good. It was good last year, and we added a couple of new people, and it has been terrific. They really have a great camaraderie on and off the court. I think they do a lot of things together, which I think is good. The freshman didn't have any trouble fitting in. Skylar [Diggins] wasn't here this summer, but she was here enough and she was able to play with them some. Kaila [Turner] was able to play all summer, so I think the chemistry is good. I think definitely the issue of our depth is going to be a really good thing. I think we are going to be really competitive at practice and we probably won't use our practice players as much. I think that we will really look to scrimmage against ourselves and really expect that someone is going to beat somebody out for playing time."

    On how good the team can be...
    "I think that we can be a really good team, but we do have some question marks. Right now we are hoping that our post game comes along really quickly. Getting them back into the practice will be a great start. We have Erica Williamson in a cast right now until next Monday. Erica Solomon just got out of a cast. Devereaux Peters, of course, is not back yet. Right now, Becca Bruszewski is our post game. She had a great summer and a great fall. We are expecting big things from Becca, but really we need our depth to come along in the post really quickly."

    On the status of Brittany Mallory...
    "Brittany's has been cleared. She has only been playing half court. She had just a little minor set back, but she will be fine."

    On the strength of having good team depth...
    "Yeah, we talked a lot about having 14 and how are we going to get them all in the game. What's my substitution pattern going to be like? We had a number of practices when we were allowed to practice and we only had six or seven people, so I think right now we are really happy we have 14 and we hope everybody gets healthy. Otherwise, it will be really easy to sub because we will only have two people on the bench. "

    On the excitement of Skylar Diggins making her debut...
    "I think we saw the excitement brewing during season ticket sales. We are just about at 7,500. I think there might have been a couple of season booklets left. We really did a fantastic job. The fans really came out and got the tickets early. We are kind of excited and think you can sense that in the air all around town; certainly for Skylar and for the rest of the team as well. I think that she is excited just to get out there and start playing. There has been a lot of hype coming in and she just wants to put that behind her and start on a new carrier. "

    On immediate impact that Skylar Diggins can provide...
    "I think with five starters back, the impact is going to be a little bit less. She will certainly make her presence known, but she is going to have a lot of help. I think we are really relying on our senior class also."

    On challenge of Melissa Lechlitner and Skylar Diggins playing in front of their hometown fans...
    "I think the expectations are so much greater when you are playing at home because you have so many people coming to watch you every single game. I think it was harder for Lech. I think she played better on the road in her first couple of games. When we are going to somebody's hometown you notice they are pressing a little bit and they are trying a little bit harder. Before you know it you have that feeling every night before a home game. Skylar wants to do well, and she wants to do well for everybody else. She wants to play well for the fans. I think it may take her a little bit of time just to relax and get into her game."

    On where this team stands compared to past teams...
    "I think that we have had a number of Sweet 16 teams that I think this team is very similar to. We don't have the dominating presence in the post like Ruth Riley to think that we have a championship team right now. We feel like we can get to that point, but we really have to find our rotation and how we are going to play without a dominating center."

    On who the X-factor of the squad is...
    "We have a couple of X-factors this year. I think Natalie Novosel is going to play a big role for us. But I think Becca is going to be the X-factor for us as well. She has been the most improved player the past two years. She has gotten better. She has worked really hard all summer."

    On the talent on the perimeter for the Irish...
    "The perimeter is solid. We have some of the best guards in the country. I think with Lech and (Ashley) Barlow, and Natalie Novosel coming off the bench. I think that Brittany Mallory is going to play significant minutes for us. Kaila Turner is also a very good player. I'm not sure when she is going to break into the lineup with the experienced seniors playing ahead of her, but we have excellent guard players. We also have Kellie Watson as a three-point specialist. I think that we can really cover everything with our guards."

    On using last year's NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Minnesota for motivation...
    "We have not forgotten it, and we will not forget it until the NCAA Tournament this year. It has been on our minds all summer, and it has been in the players' minds and it certainly has been on my mind. It is a bad taste that we want to get rid of quickly. We are not going to be able to do that until we get back to that point in the season. I think that it inspired us in a lot of ways and it motivated us in a lot of ways. Coming off of the summer, and coming from the captains, we have just had really great workouts all summer long, and I think it's because of the way our season ended."

    On who will be counted on for rebounding...
    "We are going to see Lindsey Schrader in a lot of different spots. She has been playing center for us a lot this fall because of the injuries. But she is so hard to guard around the basket. She is really a great post up player. I think she can score a lot of points there, and we expect her to be our leading rebounder again this season. She is a tenacious rebounder, and I think her and Becca both will be very physical inside going for the boards. I expect the guards are going to rebound as well. I think (Ashley) Barlow is going to rebound. I think Skylar is going to rebound. Natalie will get in there."

    On type of game plan that will be used this season...
    "We are hoping for a lot of pressure, and a lot of great defensive pressure coming up in the backcourt. We are going to be able to play a lot more man-to-man. I think our aggressive attitude on defense is going to be a lot different because we are not going to worry as much about foul trouble. We have so many people that can come in and play. It is going to be a great motivator for them to play well, and to play hard defensively because there are going to be so many people that can come off the bench waiting to take their spot if they don't."

    On the role/expansion of game of Fraderica Miller...
    "She is a great example of what we are trying to do defensively. She had a great three games in Europe. She actually was in the starting lineup for two of those games. She played really well defensively. That is what we need her to do again. I think she can really create havoc defensively. She sets the tone defensively. She knows exactly what we want. I think that she has really helped Kaila Turner and Skylar Diggins a lot in that area. She is really a specialist in that area. I don't think we have anybody that can do exactly what she is doing. I think that her role will be very similar to what it was last year."

    On the potential for an all South Bend backcourt...
    "We have got some great chances to play different combinations. Certainly with Skylar and Lech on the floor we definitely have the best backcourt in South Bend. It will be fun to watch them. They played against each other just one year, and it was a fun game to watch. It is great to have them finally playing together. I know they have done a lot of that through the summers at different times. I know they are looking forward to playing together."

    On the importance of the coaching staff...
    "Jonathan Tsipis, the associate head coach, is going to take over an even bigger role in the scouting. He does a great job with our opponents. It's always great to have Niele [Ivey] in any situation because she is a great recruiter. She is going to do a great job with the guards. She does a great job on the bench. She is somebody that is important for the team to have because they can look at her and know what she did, what she accomplished in her career, and how she did it. She just wants to win another national title to show them what it was like. Then Angie Potthoff-Barber really rounds off the group. We have great chemistry on our staff, and it makes it fun to come into the office."

    On the potential that this team possesses...
    "This team has potential, but until we get out there and really see what our attitude is defensively; I think that is going to be the big key for us."

    On what the new facility will mean for recruiting...
    "I think it is going to play a big role. When you come in here, it is such an impressive facility. What they are planning in the foyer and the lobby area is just going to speak of excellence and tradition and all the things that we think Notre Dame women's basketball stands for. Just to go out there and see what a great look the arena has, I get excited just looking in there. I know the players can't wait to get in there. I think initially I was unsure what the inside was going to be, but after seeing it I know that it is going to be a big impact on the recruits. All the players that come in are going to want to get a good tour of the building."


     

     

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