As for ND, I think that's pretty much it for the latter, later rounds of guards.
Based on the results, there was no full court press, or sense of urgency, to go after and bring in a shooter at the guard position.
The mission was to sign a guard that was content in being a role bench player and would not be a threat to Livs' and Dara's minutes. The fact that Jenna is a point guard made her the perfect fit. So we basically have the same team and starters that we ended last year with. The only difference is that we lost Maya so we bring in 2 players to hopefully equal her production at the post. So again, it will be Liv, Dara, Soni, Maddy, and Watson or Ebo at the 5. The one that doesn't start will be the first off the bench to spell the other. Jenna will see some minutes in backing up Liv and, KK will see time spelling Soni. Our reasoning remains that Dara will need to stay on the floor for outside shooting and balancing the floor.
I guess with that said, did we actually get better? Looking around the landscape of the other teams, just in the ACC, we are appearing to just "run it back" while other teams have really addressed their problems and appear to have gotten better. I hope that it works out for us.
in the first month of the season?
to question whether we got better. We know what we lost. We don’t know a whole lot about what we got. It’s about equally likely that we’ll be better, worse, or about the same.
better. Why? The two freshman are now sophomores. There are four starters returning and they know each others tendencies. There is the potential of a solid, versatile bench, with KK, Watson, Marshall & Brown. Brown is a
legitimate point guard as the back up to Olivia. Size improvement: 6'4", 6'4" & 6'5", wow! That size could lead to a much improved zone defense. I predict considerably fewer turnovers, why? As good as Maya was, her assist to turnover ratio was poor 23 assists to 73 turnovers. In addition, having Jenna running the half court offense, should reduce the number of poor shot selections at the end of the shot clock. I expect more assists as part of an improved high low game. More size should mean more rebounds leading to fast break points and put backs. Now as far as individual performances from
Bransford, Brown, Ebo, Marshall & Watson, that is an unknown. Lastly, leading into the tournament, Abby & Sam were limited do to injuries. Gilbert did not play at all, only Anaya was playing well.
..and will be expected to expand their games and/or improve going forward.
- It took a very long time for Maddy, IMO, to get used to having Maya become a focal point of the low paint action. However, by the playoffs, she shot 60% and was on top of her game. I suspect she'll come back with some more moves in her toolkit.
- Ebo and Watson will be expected to do what Niele thought Maya was going to do for us: defense, rebounding, guarding the lane. They can do that. As pointed out, Vic Schaefer started Ebo at Texas and he is known for demanding the lane is protected. I saw Watson play quite a few times in high school and she patrols the lane. Not the same competition, obviously, but she patrols the lane.
Of course, Maya ended up giving us offensive options, too. Can Ebo/Watson match that? If they can come close while giving ND the defense and rebounding, good enough.
- Niele is apparently putting her talks about "position-basketball" into practice, ready or not. Remember, she's talked about having a post surrounded by four players who can play most other positions. Of course, that's easier to say when one of them - Miles - is among the best PG's in the country.
-- Jenna Brown, knock on wood, can spell Miles for 'Liv to rest a bit and get perspective. But if Brown does it better than expected, I wouldn't be surprised to see both in the backcourt, leaving 'Liv to get spot-up jumpers and/or attack from the wing.
-- KK Bransford will probably be looked upon to spell both Dara and Soni, while adding her particular talents to the mix. We'll have to see what those are at the collegiate level, but slashing comes to mind.
-- Soni, of course, is Ivey's ultimate Swiss Army Knife. She can play the 1, 2, 3 and even the 4 and I expect her to play all but the one this year, but wouldn't be surprised to see her take a spell running the half court.
However, she'll also be expected to "be more selfish" and add outside shooting and drives to the hoop. Will she get worn out filling at the other positions? Will Niele modify her offense to make things easier for her to get looks? You can't create all the time.
- If -- and it's an if -- Nat comes back, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see her spell Maddy from time to time. She's agile, has a fine jumper, passes well and, of course, has height.
- That said, there's a lot of "if's" in this conditional house of (court) cards. Will the connect?
I would've liked to have seen one more player on the squad for many reasons mentioned over the many threads we've had. Preferably this player could've spread the floor with some dependable mid-range (a must) or long-range (even better) shooting. Or, a great athlete would could match up with another team's star and wear them down.
- Maybe there's one more player out there. Or, if Jewell Spear doesn't like the new Wake coach and transfers, call her immediately.
But I'm thinking we're going to see a reliance on post and four going forward.
It's hard to argue with results when the three players that she brought into Notre Dame were Maya, Olivia and Soni.
That being said, while I'm sure she suspected some attrition, I highly doubt she anticipated 4. In the article linked below she talks of 12. We're short of that even counting two walk-ons.
“My philosophy is to have about 12 on the team,” Ivey said. "... After the season, it’s going to be an assessment for our coaching staff. As you saw last year, there was a lot of (transfer) movement, so definitely open to whatever comes our way or whatever’s best for this program. For me, it’s about fit. If I bring someone in here, it’s because they’re the right fit.”
of her H.S. video clips and watching the McDonalds All Star game. Strong, athletic, skilled passer and very good slashing/driving to the hoop, where she finishes in traffic. I also was taken by her trip to the ND gym to announce her commitment. I found that refreshing and out of the ordinary. Now what I also saw, that is not complimentary: Didn't seem to exert herself on either defense or rebounding. She certainly is capable of being very good at both, but coming in is lacking and will have to want to work at it and be willing to be coached on how and what is needed.
like to see one more player from the portal for a myriad of reasons. At this point unlikely but who knows.
We may not know what we got.
But I promise you that it’s not equally likely that we’ll be better, worse or the same.
In fact I’d say it’s 100% likely we’re one of those.
Nat Marshall. (Keeping in mind Jenna missed tons of time at Stanford and Dodson did as well, both had played very little prior to transferring to ND.) It is possible that a healthy Marshall could be a big contributor, next year. I believe she was actually a bit higher ranking than either Ebo or Watson. She was fully recovered from her ACL surgery last year. The most recent surgery was significant but not to the degree of the torn ACL.
but was certainly ranked higher than Ebo, who was not ranked coming out of high school. Remember that Nat's senior year in high school was cut short by injury, which could have possibly affected her rating.
Bluestar: Watson 5th, Marshall 24th
Prospects Nation: Watson 22nd, Marshall 19th
Hoopgurlz: Watson 17th, Marshall 34th
ASGR: Watson 15th, Marshall 29th
just responding to MountainMan's post about high school ranking.
But high school rankings are not as important as what athletes show in college. Ebo finished last season on a strong note and should be a solid post for us. But she won't be running the floor like Maya did last season.
Watson and Marshall have performed below their high school rankings thus far, but Nat has been plagued by injuries. Watson was buried on the bench. I hope both can become the players they were projected to be.