Lindsay Allen serves as glue for Notre Dame women's hoops

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Give the rock to No. 15 and get out of the way.

Lindsay Allen is the good hands insurance policy that provides the stability to the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

She’s the glue that keeps it all together.

Ten points, seven assists, four steals, four rebounds, and – you guessed it – four turnovers was Allen’s line from Monday night’s 79-66 victory over Tennessee.

It was an effort that will hardly draw raves from the uninformed fan, but coach Muffet McGraw pointed out that the numbers just scratch the surface of her value to the final product.

“She came into the season expecting to be able to score a little bit more; looking for her shot a little bit more,” McGraw said. “It’s been hard for her. We put a lot on her. She has the full load of the offense on her. She brings it up on every possession. She’s like an ironwoman.

“She’s got command of the offense. She’s got great presence on the floor. Everybody relaxes when she’s on the floor.”

Then, McGraw gave Allen, who is averaging 9.2 points, the ultimate compliment – considering the litany of elite players who have come through the Irish program in the last decade or so.

“She’s completely unfazeable – if that’s a word,” McGraw said laughing. “She can handle anything. She’s the steadiest player I’ve ever coached.”

That’s saying a lot. With the game on the line, there’s no one more dependable than the 5-foot-8 junior from Mitchellville, Md.

Through her 95 consecutive starts for the Irish – two behind Jacqueline Batteast for the most in team history – Allen has rolled with the flow of talent and emotions to define the point guard position with every trip up the floor.

Allen’s personality has allowed her to cope with the mid-stream changes of her role and adapt her contributions to what’s best for her team.

Last March, fans became aware of just what sort of offensive presence Allen could be. While averaging 10.4 points, Allen erupted for 28 points (24 in the first half) against Stanford and 23 against Baylor in the Oklahoma City Regional, winning most outstanding player honors.

When guard Jewell Loyd, last year’s leading scorer, decided not to return to the Irish, it looked like Allen would be the best bet to assume that mantle – especially since incoming freshman Ali Patberg could shoulder some of the point guard chores, allowing Allen more opportunities to shoot.

Patberg was lost for the season with a knee injury, placing the yoke of the point guard burden back on Allen. Then, post Taya Reimer left the team and post Brianna Turner was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Looks like Allen needed to score more, right?

Well …

Turner’s back as a legitimate weapon and the post play is solid. The Mabrey sisters, Madison Cable and Arike Ogunbowale have all had offensive success. That means Allen means the most to this team as a press-breaker and distributor.

“I don’t think I expected much to change this year,” Allen said. “I figured I’d have to do a little bit more with Jewell’s absence, we had some real great guards coming in… We’re more balanced this year when it comes to scoring.”

Monday night, when the Vols applied frantic man-to-man pressure, the inbounds pass got to Allen and everyone else cleared out.

“Everyone has their role,” Allen said. “That’s my role (to break the press). It’s just me taking as many (defenders) as I can, so it opens someone else up and opens the offense up.”

Steady. And unselfish.

“I’ve always been that calm person, easy going, kinda flat-lined. It’s a part of who I am,” Allen said. “I try to have an aggressive approach every game, no matter what’s going on. I just try to feed the hot hand at the time.”

Though her effort was easy to deem a success, the cloud that comes with 18 turnovers hangs over the heads of the Irish. That’s a number Allen takes personally.

“There were some unforced errors that we made,” Allen said. “Tennessee plays an aggressive defense. They’re going to overplay passes and make it tougher for us to get into our offense.”

Taking a cue from McGraw in the circumstance of letting success spoil the preparation, Allen is still hungry for more. All she knows, over her two years at Notre Dame, is ending the season in the national championship game.

With a loss.

“Everyone on this team is extremely competitive,” Allen said. “We always want more. The last couple years when we’ve lost in the championship (game), we’ve come back and said how grateful we are that we made it that far.

“We always want more. We’re always striving to win the national championship.”

A steady effort might be the best way to get that done.

Give the rock to Allen and get out of the way.

Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen (15) cheers from the sidelines against Tennessee, Monday, January 18, 2016 in South Bend. Tribune photo/ BECKY MALEWITZ