ND Women's Basketball: Deadly shooter
Freshman guard starts her career as scoring machine, key player in Irish victories
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 02:01
From the moment she first stepped onto the court in Purcell Pavilion, freshman guard Jewell Loyd has dazzled Irish fans, scoring 20 points in an 88-28 exhibition win over Edinboro.
Since then, she’s been nothing but spectacular.
The Big East honored Loyd on Monday as the conference Freshman of the Week, the third time she has received that award this season. In a 75-71 overtime win at South Florida on Jan. 8, Loyd notched her first career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Although Loyd said she appreciates the praise, she recognized that it’s just a product of hard work in practice, something she needs to continue.
“I thank them for giving me that award,” Loyd said. “But I’ve got to stay grounded and keep getting better. I couldn’t have done that without my team. I’ve still got to work. It’s awesome that I got it but I’m not getting caught up in that.
Two days later, she scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in a 71-46 win over Rutgers in Purcell Pavilion.
Simply put, Loyd can do just about everything on the court. As a highly touted recruit from Niles West High School in Chicago, Loyd’s success as a four-year starter did not take long to translate to the collegiate level.
“It’s a different game, a different style of play,” Loyd said. “The confidence I get from my team and my coaches helps me. When you step out onto the court you can’t think, ‘Oh I’m just a freshman, I’ve got to just pass the ball.’ They give me the confidence to just shoot.”
From behind the three-point line, she’s deadly — shooting 17-for-38 on the year. But Loyd can score in a variety of ways. She can drive, she can cut backdoor and she can get out in transition. All in all, she averages 13 points per game, just two per game shy of team leaders senior guard Skylar Diggins and junior guard Kayla McBride.
Defensively, she’s a nuisance. Though just a five-foot-10 guard, she pounds the glass as hard as any post player, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game, good for second on the team behind junior forward Natalie Achonwa. She attributed her rebounding ability to a mindset ingrained in her by Notre Dame’s coaches.
“Boxing out and rebounding is something we do every day in practice, so it’s kind of like a habit,” Loyd said.
On a team that features a number of veteran scorers, including Diggins and McBride, Loyd said she has found her niche as the utility guard, a scrappy player who can score, rebound and defend.
“[My role] depends on game situations,” Loyd said. “At times, I can be a really good passer. I can score at certain times. I just try to do what’s needed. A lot times it helps with Skylar on the floor because everyone covers Sky. So there’s opportunities to score.”
Moving forward, Loyd said she knows she needs to continue to improve. She pointed out several areas on which she needs to focus.
“There’s always things to help improve my game,” Loyd said. “You can always improve ballhandling, knowing the offense a little bit more and personnel. Reading the defense is something that’s still hard to do. I’m trying to watch film and stuff to get better everyday.”
Up next for Loyd and the Irish is a home matchup Sunday against St. John’s.
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