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Notre Dame Women’s Basketball: 2019-2020 Season Preview

The season starts Tuesday, and it should be interesting

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 30 Div I Women’s Championship - Third Round - Notre Dame v Texas A&M Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome back to Women’s College Basketball!

Another Notre Dame Fighting Irish season is upon us. Last season saw the irish come ever so close to repeating as national champions. Another thing was the loss of the WHOLE starting lineup to graduation/the 2019 WNBA Draft. All 5 starters were drafted in the Top 20 in the April draft. And, if that wasn’t enough loss, Assistant Coach Niele Ivey took a job as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. There was A LOT of change this offseason, and it is bittersweet. The players/coahces’ success is awesome to see, but it leaves some holes to fill this season. Thus, Muffett McGraw and her coaching staff have some work cut out for them. But, I think they can still weather the storm to compete for the ACC and National titles.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four-Baylor vs Notre Dame Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Recapping the 2019 Offseason

As mentioned above, the whole starting lineup was drafted. Niele Ivey left to go to the NBA. But, there were many additions that were added to the lineup/staff, too. Firstly, Michaela Mabrey was hired to come be an assistant coach and replace Coach Ivey. Mabrey played for the Irish from 2012-2016. There were also some transfers that occurred. Danielle Patterson and Jordan Nixon, both of whom saw some minutes last season, entered the transfer portal. This left room for Destinee Walker from UNC and Marta Sniezek from Stanford, both graduate transfers, to join the program. Two seasoned veterans from solid programs will be key to helping rebuild a roster from scratch.

For some current players, the Irish welcomed in both Anaya Peoples and Sam Brunelle, two freshmen already added to the ACC Newcomer Watchlist. They are two highly touted recruits, so they will look to add right away to the team. And, this news unfortunately just came in the day before the season opener, but Abby Prohaska has been diagnosed with Bilateral Pulmonary Embolism. She has a blood clot in each lung, so she will be sitting out for a while, unfortunately.

We all hope she can get healthy as quick as possible for her own sake but then also so she could contribute as someone who saw significant minutes as a 6th woman last year, specifically in the NCAA Tournament. Her expertise and hustle will be needed. Muffett McGraw is hoping Abby can come back in January when ACC play ramps up, but the exact timeframe is unclear at the moment.

The 2019-20 Season

The Irish open up the season actually on the road as they take on Fordham on November 5 at 7 PM. They were ranked as the preseason #16 team, which is not bad considering the loss of the whole starting lineup. However, it’s been a long time since we have seen the Irish not start off the season ranked in the low single digits. It’s just a bit of a different year.

As for the starters, the Irish will look to start Brunelle and Peoples as well as Walker and Sniezek. Danielle Cosgrove or Mikayla Vaughn will probably be the other starter, as they have the most experience, and they could play under the hoop. This is going to be a full team effort, even if the team is down to 7 scholarship players. However, the Irish have done something similar to this before, winning the national championship in 2018 with depleted numbers. I still see big things for the Irish, and Muffett McGraw will ook to get the program on the right track to continue the dominance in conference and nationally. It could be a bit of learning curve, though.

The Irish start with that game against Fordham, and then they come back home on Friday, November 8 to begin play at Purcell Pavilion against Loyola Maryland. Keep checking in with us this season as we bring you some excellent coverage on the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Team.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports