Notre Dame women's basketball: Loyd takes skills to 3x3 Worlds

South Bend Tribune

Whether she is slashing to the hoop, soaring for an alley-oop, or dropping behind the 3-point line to launch a long-range jumper, Notre Dame women’s basketball player Jewell Loyd has displayed an offensive arsenal in two seasons wearing blue and gold.

Now, as a member of the United States national women’s basketball 3x3 team, Loyd expects her creativity on the court to flourish.

Loyd and teammates Cierra Burdick (Tennessee), Sara Hammond (Louisville) and Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina) will take on the world in the FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Moscow, Russia, on June 5-8. Loyd was the MVP of the recent national championships held at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Three-on-three is really one-on-one hoops. It’s a game Loyd believes will benefit her college game, and also help her prepare for a future pro career.

“I think this will make me a better defensive player, because there’s so much room on the court, you have to be quicker to turn angles,” Loyd said. “You have to front players and contest their shot.”

Loyd said she has excelled in the game offensively.

“I’m getting to the basket more and creating more of my shots,” Loyd said. “With more spacing, you have a lot of room to create your own shot, a lot of room to drive and kick. I think it can help me with my college game.”

Irish coach Muffet McGraw likes the idea of her players being involved in the 3x3 competitions. Former Irish star Skylar Diggins played in the 3x3 worlds in the past. The 3x3 game is getting consideration for Olympic competition.

“I think three-on-three will help Jewell’s game at the college level,” McGraw said. “You work on your ball-handling skills, your defense and your rebounding.”

Loyd thinks the 3x3 game will reveal even more of her talents.

“A lot of people don’t see me as a point guard or a person who handles the ball a lot, but just because I haven’t handled the ball a lot, doesn’t mean that I can’t,” Loyd said. “It’s time to open the door and show people more of my game and my personality on the court.”

Return to Greensboro

Now that Notre Dame played a conference tournament on a true neutral court instead of a home court for one of the participating teams, McGraw is delighted that the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball tournament will be returning to Greensboro, N.C., through 2022.

The ACC recently announced the extension to keep the tournament in Greensboro, where a record of nearly 60,000 fans attended this season despite ice storms that hit the area.

When Notre Dame was a member of the Big East Conference, the Irish played in the league tournament the last 10 seasons on Connecticut’s home court in Hartford.

“I thought everything was so well run,” McGraw said. “It’s a great place for a tournament, so I hope we stay there for a long time.”

Although the proximity of the tournament favors the North Carolina schools in the ACC, McGraw said that isn’t an issue for the Irish, and she is not in favor of seeing the tournament move around.

“Despite the fact that we’re in the triangle area with North Carolina and Duke having some fans close by, I think you need that,” McGraw said. “It definitely was a neutral court, so we were happy about that.”

Recruiting news

Notre Dame won’t be getting the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015. Katie Lou Samuelson of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., committed to Connecticut.

Samuelson is a 6-foot-3 wing who averaged 26 points and 10 rebounds as a junior this past season. Samuelson picked UConn over Notre Dame, UCLA, Stanford, and Kentucky. Her two older sisters played for Stanford.

Among the top 10 players on the ESPN Hoop Gurlz Class of 2015 recruiting list, No. 2 prospect Asia Durr, a 5-10 point guard from St. Pius X Catholic High School (Douglasville, Ga.), is considering Notre Dame. The highly talented Durr is also considering Connecticut, Maryland, Duke, Baylor and Tennessee.

Notre Dame has two commitments from the Class of 2015 — Marina Mabrey, a 5-9 guard from Manasquan (N.J.) High School, and Ali Patberg, a 5-9 guard from Columbus North (Ind.) High School.

WNBA update

Former Irish star Skylar Diggins is off to a great start this season in the WNBA. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 20.5 points, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 4.5 rebounds. Last season, Diggins averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.9 rebounds.

“Skylar put a lot of time in during the off-season to get better,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “People only saw the things she was doing off the court, but they didn’t see how much she was working on her game.”

Diggins and the Tulsa Shock will be in Chicago on Sunday, June 22, at 1 p.m. EDT (ESPN2), and she will be in Indianapolis to play against the Indiana Fever on Wednesday, June 25, at 7 p.m. EDT.

Former Irish star Kayla McBride is averaging 8.5 points in two games for the San Antonio Stars. She and the Stars will be at Indiana on Saturday, July 5, at 5 p.m. EDT, and at Chicago, on Sunday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. EDT.

Another former Irish standout, forward Devereaux Peters, underwent surgery recently on her left knee and is out indefinitely for the Minnesota Lynx. Peters averaged 4.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game last season.


Tulsa’s Skylar Diggins drives against Minnesota’s Maya Moore during their game Friday. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, CORY YOUNG)