Notre Dame forward Taya Reimer's status still uncertain

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – If the “personal reasons” that caused Taya Reimer to miss fourth-ranked Notre Dame’s 78-63 loss to Miami Thursday night are that she is considering a transfer from the program, neither she nor Notre Dame officials were talking.

Or maybe they were – to each other.

WSBT-TV sports director Pete Byrne reported on the station’s WSBT.com website late Thursday night that “WSBT 22 Sports has learned that sophomore forward Taya Reimer intends to transfer from Notre Dame. A source with knowledge of the situation told WSBT 22 Sports that Reimer has informed the team of her intentions.”

Notre Dame Associate Media Relations Director Chris Masters told media members in Coral Gables, Fla., Thursday that Reimer did not travel to south Florida with the team because of “personal reasons.”

Asked late Thursday night about Byrne’s report, Masters told the Tribune in a text message, “That’s his prerogative .. we have said no such thing.”

Notre Dame was traveling back from Miami via airplane to Chicago and bus to campus Friday. There was no statement from head coach Muffet McGraw and an attempt by the Tribune to reach her Friday evening was unsuccessful.

Masters texted the Tribune Friday afternoon in response to questions about Reimer's status with the team. “As soon as we have anything to pass along, we will let you know,'' Masters wrote.

The Tribune also reached out to Reimer’s family via Facebook and did not receive a reply as of Friday afternoon.

While no one was forthcoming, there also was speculation that Reimer might have been asked to ponder her decision and that McGraw and others wanted to talk to her more about it before granting her release.

The news that the 6-foot-3 Reimer might be asking for her walking papers is stunning considering that she had started the previous 15 games and averaged 21.7 minutes, 9.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.9 blocks per game. She was shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 67.4 percent from the line. Reimer was second to Turner (7.0) in rebounds per game and blocked shots for the season (35-14). But Reimer also led the team in turnovers with 36 and was tied for third in personal fouls with 30.

Reimer also was one of the leaders who spoke out after the team donned black T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe” prior to the Dec. 13 game against Michigan. Team members said afterward they wore the shirts to support the family of Eric Garner, who suffered a fatal heart attack when he was put in a stranglehold during a skirmish with New York City police last July. The backlash from the decision to wear the shirts produced an uneasiness among fans and area police agencies. Reimer herself was the victim of hate mail, including being sent photos of burning women’s basketball T-shirts.

Reimer led the Irish in scoring once this season when she had 14 points in a 97-43 victory over Harvard in the Hall of Fame Challenge on Nov. 24. Her best efforts came during the absence of Turner, who injured her right shoulder early in Notre Dame’s 92-72 victory over Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Fort Wayne on Dec. 3.

Reimer had 21 points against the Terrapins and then had a 15-point, 11-rebound effort in a 93-92 overtime win at DePaul on Dec. 10. But she hit double figures just twice after that, scoring 10 points each in victories over Saint Joseph’s and Syracuse.

Reimer had eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes in a 76-58 loss to Connecticut, and she was benched at the start of the second half against Florida State after contributing just two points, though she did return to finish with nine points and six rebounds in a 74-68 victory. Then against Syracuse, she had 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting and four rebounds with two turnovers in 16 minutes of Notre Dame’s 85-74 triumph.

Reimer was expected to be one of the leaders on the team after a freshman campaign that included six starts in 38 games and averages of 19.2 minutes, 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists with a team-high 52 blocked shots. She started the national championship game against Connecticut in the absence of Natalie Achonwa and had six points and four rebounds in 28 minutes during UConn’s 79-58 march to its second consecutive NCAA title.

She was ESPN’s No. 4–ranked prospect in the nation coming out in 2013 after a standout career at Hamilton Southeastern High School near her Fishers, Ind., home. She chose Notre Dame over Connecticut, Duke, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA. She was in the same recruiting class that brought point guard Lindsay Allen, forward Kristina Nelson and center Diamond Thompson to South Bend. Nelson and Thompson are injured. Nelson is recuperating from off-season shoulder surgery and is being redshirted while Thompson has a calf strain and is expected to miss several more weeks.

Thursday night, 5-foot-11 senior Madison Cable started in Reimer’s place, and both 6-2 senior Markisha Wright and 6-2 freshman Kathryn Westbeld also saw extensive action. Notre Dame trailed 40-20 at halftime but rallied to within six points with 8:28 to go before losing for the first time after 30 consecutive road wins.

Notre Dame (14-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will attempt to rebound Sunday afternoon at 1 against Boston College at the Purcell Pavilion — with or without Reimer.

Notre Dame's Taya Reimer (12) eyes the basket against Connecticut's Breanna Stewart (30) Saturday, December 6, 2014, during the Connecticut-Notre Dame women's basketball game at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)