ND Women’s Basketball: Welcome To The Madness

While practicing at Purcell Pavilion on Monday, the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball team got an early taste of March Madness. While prepping for the 7 PM NCAA Women’s Selection Show, ESPNU accidentally revealed some of the brackets for the show. ESPNU contacted Josh Bates the Sports Information Director of the schedule change. Josh had to run from his office and announce the news to Coach McGraw. Coach was in the middle of practice when the news was revealed. Coach sent the team to the showers and they had ten minutes to get ready. Needless to say MAYHEM has already made an appearance before the games have started.

They say that timing is everything. I stepped out of the elevator from the lower level of Purcell Pavilion to applause and cheering. It was like they were cheering for my arrival to the evenings event. Actually, it was for the reveal. The team had been just announced to the Chicago Region. This selection will make Irish fans very happy. One and a half hours from the school, that’s a pretty sweet deal. First the Irish will need to win on Saturday and then on Monday. This is the eighth consecutive #1 seed for the Fightin’ Irish.

Bethune-Cookman vs ND

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats come in as the #16 seed in the Chicago Region of the bracket. The university has approximately 4,306 students and is out of Daytona Beach FL. The Wildcats come out of the Mid-East Athletic Conference. The Wildcats won their conference tournament 57-45 over Norfolk State University on Saturday night. With a 21-10 overall and a 10-5 in conference record, the Wildcats face-off against ND on Saturday morning at 11 AM EST and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. A copy of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Tournament can be found here. The Two other teams playing at Purcell this weekend will be #8 Central Michigan vs #9 Michigan State.

Post Selection Interviews

Coach McGraw

Media Question: “How Notre Dame learned about the Selection Show snafu”

Coach McGraw Response: “We were right in the middle of practice. We didn’t know anything that was going on, and our director of operations came in and said, ‘They’ve just moved the Selection Show up and we’re on in 10 minutes, and we need to stop practicing.’ Kind of revealed the whole bracket to us. It was great news to get.”

Media Question: On going to Chicago

Coach McGraw Response: “We’re excited to have earned the spot in Chicago. But of course we have two really tough games at home before we even think about getting there. That’s something we have to focus on. We don’t want to look ahead to Chicago – we have to take care of business here.”

Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question To Coach: “How do you get the team refocused after the events of today?”

Coach McGraw Response: “We were planning on taking a day off this week and today ending up being a half day . We will get right back to work tomorrow, they will be more focused tomorrow because we can talk about scouting and personnel”

Arike Ogunbowale

Media Question: “Having a week off after winning ACC Tourney?”

Arike’s Response: “Coach really gave us a whole week off. We have a whole week to practice, which is definitely what we need to prepare (for Bethune-Cookman). I know everyone worked out (during the week off), but it was a good mental break for us. We got back to practice yesterday and everybody had the intensity to play. Today, too. I think everyone is excited to be back.

Media Question: “On Defending the championship?”

Arike’s Response: “The tournament: You win or go home. That’s all our focus is about. It doesn’t mean who’s in front of us. Every game is a championship game because if we lose, our season is over. I think everyone is coming back with that mindset.”

Jessica Shepard

Media Question: “Being No. 1 in the Midwest with the possibility of going to Chicago”

Jessica’s Response: “The only game we have right now is the first game (against Bethune-Cookman). We’re not looking ahead to Chicago. We’re excited to be able to play in front of our fans.”

Media Question: “How Notre Dame is playing coming into the tournament?”

Jessica’s Response: “We definitely learned from our losses. We’re playing together right now and that’s most important. As long as we’re playing hard and playing together, we’re obviously a really good team. In practice, we’re going to be focusing on one game (Bethune-Cookman) and doing all the little things.”

Media Question: “Defending the title?”

Jessica’s Response: “We’ve had the target on our back all season. Once you get to March, everyone wants to win. It’s going to be important that we take each team seriously and play our best basketball.”

Coach McGraw And Her Husband Watching The Selection Show

Wrap Up

Shake Down The Thunder Sports will be pulling double duty on Saturday. Following the ND Women’s Basketball game, we will be heading across the parking lot to Compton Family Ice Arena for the B1G Hockey Conference Tournament championship against Penn State. It’s a day in the life of a ND credentialed media member. We would not have it any other way.

Cheers and Go Irish! ☘

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