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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Three things to watch before Notre Dame women's basketball kicks off season in Paris

Notre Dame women's basketball dominated Division II Purdue Northwest in a home exhibition Monday, winning 110-48. Here are three key takeaways from Monday's exhibition before the Irish head to Paris to face off with No. 6 South Carolina next week.

1. Transfer guard Anna DeWolfe will play a key role for the Irish

Transferring from Fordham, graduate student guard Anna DeWolfe started for the Irish Monday, dishing out several assists against Purdue Northwest. DeWolfe, who earned First Team All-A10 honors each of the past three seasons, averaged 18.4 points per game last season, ranking 32nd nationally. With junior Olivia Miles still out for the foreseeable future, DeWolfe will see substantial minutes in the backcourt.

2. The Irish will test the post during its non-conference slate

Against Purdue Northwest, the Irish took every chance to stack the lane and give taller players some action.

Last year, the Irish's ultimate demise was poor post play, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With Lauren Ebo gone, the Irish turn to junior Kylee Watson and senior Maddy Westbeld to help in the post.

Watson transferred from Oregon in 2022. Last year, she split time at the center position with Ebo. This year, some minutes will go to transfer post Becky Obinma, but Watson will see the majority of the time and should start every game.

In her preseason press conference, Watson expressed optimism about her increased role.

"I think my game has evolved a lot (over) the last year, especially because I have a year of learning the system under my belt," she said. "I feel like last year I was constantly thinking 'Oh, I have to do this in the offense, or do this.' Now, I just feel really comfortable."

After a strong freshman season, Westbeld slightly regressed during her sophomore and junior campaigns. Now a senior, the pressure will be on Westbeld to help rebound and play significant minutes for Ivey.

The Irish's offense will revolve around star guard Sonia Citron. However, Ivey knows that in order to succeed, it has to avoid being one-dimensional and instead feature all of its available tools. The Irish will be a strong team, but if it wants to make itself stand out, strong post play will be a must. After its bout against No. 6 South Carolina in Paris next week, Notre Dame will find itself in an easier position, with games against NJIT and Northwestern. These early-season games will very much be labs where Ivey can try out different schemes.

3. The Irish will play the full length of the floor

The Irish showed no mercy to Purdue Northwest, which is located about an hour west of South Bend. From an occasional press to quickly moving the ball down the court, the Irish will use stamina and a fast-paced tempo to their advantage. In the first half, with most of the starters and core bench players still in the game, Notre Dame worked fast to get 41 possessions. Additionally, 21 of its 60 points came on the fast break. The Irish should be a fast, energetic and fun team to watch.

No. 10 Notre Dame's regular season starts next Monday against No. 6 South Carolina. The game, played in Paris, will be broadcast on ESPN at 1:00 pm EST.