Notre Dame women land another Mabrey

South Bend Tribune

Marina Mabrey remembers driveway basketball battles against her older sister, Michaela, at their New Jersey home.

“I’m a very competitive person,” Marina Mabrey said. “When I was younger, if I would lose, I would throw the ball at her.”

Marina Mabrey also made magic happen on the basketball court with her sister. When Michaela was a senior and Marina a freshman, the Mabreys led Manasquan High School to a state championship.

Mabrey magic could happen again, as Marina Mabrey verbally committed to play women’s basketball at Notre Dame. Marina, a 5-foot-11 guard, will join her sister for the 2015-2016 season, when Michaela is a senior for the Irish.

“It will be so much fun to play with Michaela for one more year,” said Marina, who is ranked the No. 16 player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, and No. 19 in the nation by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz. “Michaela had an impact on my decision to play for Notre Dame, but I had to think about the other three years that I’ll be there and she won’t be there.”

Marina Mabrey said her older sister, a 5-foot-10 junior-to-be who averaged 8.6 points a game for Notre Dame last season, was never heavy-handed about trying to influence the decision.

“Michaela’s main advice was to take my time and to go with my heart, whether it was playing at Notre Dame with her, or if I thought I’d be better off somewhere else,” Mabrey said. “She never forced me to think about Notre Dame.”

Recruiting expert Bret McCormick of All-Star Girls Report compared Marina to former Irish stars and WNBA first-rounders Kayla McBride and Natalie Novosel.

“Marina Mabrey is a pretty typical Notre Dame guard,” McCormick said. “She’s a multiple-position player, just like McBride was, just like Novosel was.”

McCormick said Connecticut and Notre Dame do the best job of getting players who can play multiple positions. Marina Mabrey can play the 1-through-3 positions, and possibly even the four.

According to McCormick, Mabrey has strong shooting skills, but she doesn’t have the perimeter reputation that Michaela Mabrey has. Marina is more of a slasher with a mid-range game, and scrappy on defense and the boards. McCormick also praised Mabrey’s intel-lect.

“Marina Mabrey understands the game,” McCormick said. “She fits into the category of what Notre Dame has been getting to the Final Four with lately.”

Marina was impressed with the Notre Dame coaching staff, the campus and the strong academics. She added that Notre Dame’s development of recent WNBA first-rounders is also impressive. Notre Dame is only the second college to have three consecutive years of lottery draft picks. Connecticut had a three-year run of WNBA lottery picks from 2009-2011.

“I like the way players develop at Notre Dame,” Marina said. “The fact that you can grow as a player and a person at Notre Dame was a big factor.”

Marina chose Notre Dame over Tennessee, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Louisville, Baylor, Virginia, South Carolina and Miami.

According to Mabrey, playing in the nation’s top conference for women’s basketball, the Atlantic Coast Conference, was also a key factor.

“Playing in the ACC has been my dream,” Marina said. “I used to watch Duke, North Carolina, Clemson when I was younger, and Ivory Latta (of Notre Carolina) was my favorite player.”

ACC slate

Notre Dame’s home and road Atlantic Coast Conference schedule is set for the 2014-2015 season.

Georgia Tech and Boston College will be the two rival partners, meaning Notre Dame will play the Yellow Jackets and Eagles both home and away.

Notre Dame’s home slate includes Duke, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

Away games for the Irish include North Carolina, North Carolina State, Miami, Syracuse, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

“We get to go to Miami, which is great, because we went to Florida State last year, and we want to go to Florida every year,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “That’s important for recruiting.”

McGraw also said that one of the biggest advantages of the ACC schedule was getting Georgia Tech as a team the Irish play home and away.

“I love that we’re rival partners with Georgia Tech, because that gets us into Atlanta every year,” McGraw said. “We’re trying to recruit in the Southeast more, and Atlanta has become a real hotbed for recruiting.”

Notre Dame swept through the ACC last season. The Irish rolled to the ACC regular title with a 16-0 record, and then won the ACC Tournament title.

Diggins delivers

Former Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins hit two free throws with two seconds left to lead Tulsa to a 76-75 victory against San Antonio in WNBA exhibition action. She also had a steal to tie the score at 74-74 with 43 seconds left, as the Shock rallied from a 74-70 deficit with 1:04 left in the game.

Diggins finished with 30 points.

Kayla McBride, another former Irish All-American, scored 17 points to lead San Antonio.

Diggins hit 11-of-21 shots, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 free throws. She scored 25 points in Tulsa’s other exhibition game, which was also against San Antonio.

McBride was 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and 4-of-4 free throws.

Tulsa opens the WNBA season at San Antonio on Saturday, May 17.

Injury report

Two Notre Dame players underwent surgery recently, and a third may undergo a medical procedure.

Notre Dame sophomore-to-be Kristina Nelson had shoulder surgery and is expected to be out four-to-six months.

Nelson, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 4.0 minutes a game, scoring 2.0 points.

Diamond Thompson had minor knee surgery and is already running. The 6-foot-4 post averaged 2.7 minutes and 0.5 points.

Taya Reimer, a 6-3 post, may have minor hand surgery. Reimer averaged 19.2 minutes a game last season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw will be coaching another Mabrey soon after landing a commitment from Class of 2015 recruit Marina Mabrey, the sister of Notre Dame rising junior Michaela Mabrey. (SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER)