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Excited about our potential

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Posted: Friday December 01, 2000 3:21 PM


In 13 seasons as the head coach at Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to seven NCAA tournament appearances. In 1997, Notre Dame went to its first Final Four, and in 1999-2000, recorded the best winning percentage in school history. The Fighting Irish are ranked No. 4 in the latest AP Poll. Check out McGraw's diary every week on

December 1, 2000
Notre Dame, Indiana

At 5-0, this is the best basketball we've played this early in the season. I'm excited about our progress and excited about our potential. The chances we've had so far to play against such quality opponents in winning the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge were tremendous opportunities for us to see where we are -- and we got a good answer. We have some things we need to work on, but I think we are definitely where we need to be. We have to keep getting better every game. I was pleased to play well and beat a great team like Georgia on national television to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge. That really helps us in a lot of ways.

This upcoming week is going to determine a lot about our season. We have our first Big East game on Wednesday vs. Villanova and that will be sandwiched between a pair of tough games vs. North Carolina and Purdue. It doesn't get easier, but one of the reasons our players came to Notre Dame was to play in games of such magnitude. To have the chance to be on national television again vs. North Carolina is great for our program. Purdue is a great intrastate rival, and they're a great team. We are excited about the opportunities that we have and just want to continue to improve. We have a big week ahead of ahead of us, and then we head into final exams. The break comes at a good time for us.

Niele Ivey is just playing great basketball. She is leading the team in just about every way we would want her too. She's the emotional leader, she's running the team, she's guiding the team, and she's playing great. Her defense is outstanding. Her assist to turnover ratio is very good. She's playing with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm. She doesn't have a weakness right now. She is at the top of her game and is going to continue to have a great year.

As well as Niele is shooting the ball, Alicia Ratay is shooting even better. How she is shooting from the three-point line is phenomenal. As a team we are amazing right now behind the three-point line. I think that's what Ruth Riley does for our team. She commands so much attention down on the block that we are getting some open looks from the perimeter and we've been able to knock them down.

Muffet McGraw Muffet McGraw shouts instructions to her team during its game against Arizona. AP  

I thought at the beginning of the year that Kelley Siemon would make a difference on our team, and she has. She is scoring a lot more than she did last year. She's doing the little things really well. I think Kelley lends a lot to the team chemistry and we hate to take her out of the game.

Ruth came up big versus Georgia when we needed her too. She's staying out of foul trouble and is playing smart basketball. She is going to continue to get bigger numbers than she is right now. Our balance has been so key for us. Ericka Haney is doing a lot of great things offensively. She also is the defensive stopper.

We have a great starting five but we're also looking at the bench and seeing a lot of improvement. Meaghan Leahy registered her first career double-double, and Amanda Barksdale is second in the Big East in blocked shots behind Ruth. We are still hoping to get Jeneka Joyce back from her ankle injury and Le'Tania Severe back from her stress fracture.

I'm pleased with where we are right now and hopeful that we can continue to improve. We are excited about playing well but we're not looking at the rankings as being very meaningful. We want to be there at the end in St. Louis.

-- Coach McGraw

Related information
Muffet McGraw Diary: Best team chemistry we've ever had
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