Irish freshman Turner handles spotlight

CURT RALLO
South Bend Tribune

There has been one thing that has been difficult for incoming Notre Dame women’s basketball freshman Brianna Turner: Staying out of the spotlight.

Turner was named the Gatorade and USA Today National High School Player of the Year this week. The 6-foot-3 forward joins Irish legend Skylar Diggins as the Irish players who have won the award.

Turner averaged 20.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.9 blocks and 3.7 steals in leading Manvel (Texas) High to a state championship this past season. She was also the MVP of the McDonald’s High School All-America game with a 10-point, 11-rebound effort, scoring the winning basket in the West’s 80-78 victory.

“I’m so excited and so happy for Brianna Turner, about what she’s been able to accomplish,” Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw said. “She’s so humble and so fun to be around. She just wants to learn and get better.”

Turner has shined at Notre Dame’s summer workouts. She will play for Team USA in the FIBA Americas U18 championships on Aug. 6-10.

“She runs the floor extremely well, and she can grab the rim pretty easily, so there are moments when her athletic ability is fun to watch,” McGraw said of Turner. “We’re going to let her play to those strengths and try to put her in situations where she can be successful right away.”

Incoming recruits, guard Mychal Johnson and forward Kathryn Westbeld, have also excelled at summer workouts.

“The freshmen have acclimated themselves very well — academically, on the court, and with the team,” McGraw said. “The team chemistry, maybe, has never been better.”

Tension please

One thing McGraw doesn’t want to see during summer workouts is smiling. She worries that the Irish are too nice.

In fact, that’s her biggest worry.

“What we want to see is a little tension,” McGraw said. “I’d like to see a little conflict, a little competitiveness; people going after each other to win playing time.”

Achonwa update

Former Irish star Natalie Achonwa, who suffered a torn ACL in Notre Dame’s victory against Baylor to earn a berth to the Final Four, has been working on her rehab in South Bend.

Achonwa, who was drafted by the Indiana Fever, didn’t get the OK to start walking until June.

“It’s been tough, but the knee is feeling fine,” Achonwa said. “Right now, the focus is on getting my full-range of motion back, and getting a full extension.”

Achonwa said that she won’t be able to get back on a basketball court until the fall.

Personnel files

Angie Potthoff, the Notre Dame women’s basketball associate director of operations and technology, has been named the athletic director for Chartiers Valley (Pa.) High School. Potthoff, a former All-American at Penn State, was an assistant coach for five seasons at Notre Dame, and spent four seasons in her most recent job.

“It’s a huge loss for us,” McGraw said. “She did all of the video and technology stuff. She did such a good job with it, that she’s going to be very hard to replace.”

McGraw hopes to hire a replacement for Potthoff in August.

Season tickets

Season-ticket forms for Notre Dame women’s basketball are going out this week. The deadline for season tickets applications is Aug. 8. New season ticket applications will be accepted starting on Sept. 9. Single-game tickets will go on sale to season-ticket holders on Oct. 21, and single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public on Oct. 23.

Fans can get information by calling 574-631-7356, online at UND.com/tickets or at @NDTIX on Twitter.

Last season, Notre Dame finished fourth in the nation in attendance (tying a program record). The Irish averaged 8,694 fans a game. Irish fans filled Purcell Pavilion to 95 percent of its total capacity, the best mark for any school in the nation.

Brianna Turner is still months away from competing in a college basketball game but already has been at ease handling the attention that comes with being an elite athlete.(AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)