Notre Dame women's hoops testing depth in first exhibition
Notre Dame women's basketball hits the floor for the first time on Wednesday, playing in an exhibition against Indiana University Pennsylvania. While the game does not count, the Irish will be looking for answers to several of their preseason questions.
"Exhibition games are really important for us," said head coach Muffet McGraw. "The girls get in front of the crowd for the first time. They get to do things at game speed. I'm expecting a little game-slippage. It's always exciting to get that first game, get in the uniform for the first time and go through the warmup."
Most notably, the Irish are trying to find a response to a rash of injuries to start the season. The team's leader, forward Brianna Turner, will miss this season. Kat Westbeld is still battling back from an injury for at least the first stretch of games.
In late October, the Irish learned they will also be without senior guard Mychal Johnson, who will miss the season following a torn ACL in practice.
"We took a huge hit. It's just heartbreaking to lose on of our guards," said McGraw. "We only have for guards and [Mychal] is one with all the experience. It's been really disappointing to see her on the sidelines, but her attitude has been terrific. She's been like a coach on the floor, but the rest of the team understands we've got to be really close, be smart and play good basketball."
That will be the test McGraw will watch closest against IUP. The injury concerns for this team mean players with little experience will have to step up earlier than expected, and that begins in the exhibition.
"With our lack of depth, we're really got to be careful," said McGraw. "We're trying to work on not fouling as much and hopefully that will work for us. We only have seven scholarship players right now, so we're a little anxious with how [this game] will play out. We're hoping our walk-ons are ready."
The exhibition game is set to tip at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.