Notre Dame hoops' Ali Patberg to miss season with torn ACL

ND Insider Staff
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND – Adversity didn’t wait long to hit the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

Days before Saturday’s exhibition opener against Wayne State, the third-ranked Irish suffered a significant setback when freshman point guard Ali Patberg was lost for the entire season with an injury to her right knee.

Accoring to a university release, Patberg suffered a torn ACL in her right knee during Monday’s practice. The five-star recruit from Columbus, Ind., who has already made an impact on U.S. age-group national teams, is expected to have surgery soon.

The injury scuttles a plan that coach Muffet McGraw had to enhance the offensive capacity of her team. Besides backing up junior point guard Lindsay Allen, who generally is regarded as one of the country’s best backcourt players, McGraw thought she might be able to use Patberg and Allen on the floor together, allowing Allen to swing out to the wing and get a different perspective on a lane to the bucket.

A couple weeks ago, during the team’s Media Day, Irish coaches were gushing over the possibilities that existed because of the type of player Patberg is.

"(Patberg is) going to be a tremendous leader," said McGraw. "She's going to be one of the best leaders we've ever had as she matures and grows into her game.

"She's someone who is strong with the ball, and is a great communicator — something we really need."

"She is going to be really special," Niele Ivey, McGraw’s assistant who handles the point guards, said of Patberg. "She's very cerebral; she thinks the game. She's basically a sponge -- asking questions, watching film.

"In the summer, she was a gym rat. It's nice to see a freshman come in and work that hard. She's just going to get better and better. She's a joy to coach."

"I've always been in the gym," Patberg said then. "It's home. It's where I'm comfortable. It's what I love."

All that has changed now. Patberg, who hasn’t been available to the media since the injury, will have to deal with an entirely new challenge consisting of rehab and having to watch her teammates play the game she loves.

“Our hearts go out to Ali, and we are disappointed she won’t be able to play this season,” said McGraw in Tuesday’s statement. “However, Ali is an extremely tough young woman, both mentally and physically, and I’m confident this is only a temporary setback and a brief delay to the start of what will be a terrific college career.

“All of us in the Notre Dame women’s basketball family will be behind Ali 100 percent during her rehabilitation and give her all the resources she needs to be ready to go next season.”

In addition to Patberg, the Irish will be missing guard Mychal Johnson (foot) and post Taya Reimer (Achilles) with injuries for the exhibition debut which tips off at noon Saturday.

Notre Dame’s Ali Patberg shoots around during Notre Dame Women's Basketball Media Day on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, inside the Purcell Pavilion at Notre Dame in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN