Humble Madison Cable has Notre Dame on top of ACC

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – It’s easy to recognize her. She is everywhere on the court.

She takes big shots – makes them, makes big plays on both ends of the floor, but does not consider herself a big shot.

She is Madison Cable, Notre Dame’s fifth-year player who lost her freshman season to stress fractures in her feet. Now she stresses her opponents.

Slim, smiling and both lithe and likeable, she refuses to bask in personal accolades. She prefers to credit her coaches and teammates with much of her success. Yet she gets praise from coaches, teammates and opponents. Quiet and unassuming, she does her best talking while in motion on the court. Few will forget the come-from-nowhere rebound basket she made against South Carolina in the closing seconds at last year’s Final Four. That basket shot Notre Dame into the national championship game.

And the Notre Dame women’s basketball team will hope she is at her best Thursday night when the Irish host North Carolina State at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the first time the Wolfpack has played at Notre Dame.

Cable doesn’t look tough, but she plays tough. “I try to be as tough as I can. I want to work hard and do whatever I can to help our team.” And help them she has. The second leading scorer for the Irish at 13.5 points a game, she also is crafty on defense and always in the hunt for rebounds (5.4 per outing).

“I’m just lucky and many times in just the right place at the right time,” she said. “Many times Bri (Brianna Turner) just tips the ball and I get it.”

Certainly it is more than luck. “She took over the game against Duke in the fourth quarter,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “She had not been feeling well since the Virginia Tech game. She had tonsillitis, had trouble speaking and hearing, but she seems to be okay now.”

Cable said she is 100 percent, but also added quickly she would say the same thing if she were really only 30 percent healthy. Not worried presently about her future, Cable said she is enjoying this year and “I just want to bring to the table anything I can.”

She and her teammates have helped Notre Dame to a 21-1 record, including an unblemished 9-0 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

That record will be tested Thursday by a North Carolina State that has been on a roll. The Wolfpack have won seven of its last eight, losing only by two points to Louisville, currently tied with Notre Dame at 9-0 in the league.

“They have outstanding guards,” said McGraw. “It’s tough to zone against them. They can drive and shoot the ball. They are maybe a surprise team in the league this year. They are in the top five.”

McGraw’s biggest concern is “fixing” her offense. “We are not getting the ball where we need it,” McGraw said, noting that Turner only had five shots against Duke. That’s not acceptable. We have to get the ball to her.”

McGraw wants Cable and Michaela Mabrey to continue to shoot the 3-point shot, but knows she needs Lindsay Allen to run the point and keep Notre Dame in sync. “Michaela can be at the point (to spell Allen), but we need to keep Arike (Ogunbowale) and Marina (Mabrey) on the wings. We want to be in attack mode. It was a different look for Marina when she was at the point. They are both better at the wing.”

Always wanting to perfect things, McGraw said, “We have looked out of sync. At Duke we did not execute. I have to fix that today (at the Irish practice session Wednesday). “I am not happy where we are right now. We should be starting to peak, but we are not there yet.”

Nonetheless, McGraw likes the results so far. “We are thrilled with 21-1. We are finding ways to win. Sometimes we look past how good our record is. We want to be great every day. Maybe we need to just enjoy it a little bit more.”

The Irish have been able to enjoy those 21 victories, and only six more regular-season games remain after Thursday’s clash with North Caroina State. Notre Dame travels to Louisville Sunday afternoon for a 2 p.m. game.

Notre Dame's Madison Cable (left) brings toughness to the third-ranked Irish women's basketball team. (AP Photo/GERRY BROOME)

WHO: No. 3 Notre Dame 21-1 (8-0) vs. North Carolina State 16-6 (7-2).

WHEN: Thursday at 7 pm (EST)

WHERE: Purcell Pavilion

TICKETS: Available by calling (574) 631-7356, going online to UND.com/buytickets.

RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) South Bend, WatchND (audio only)

INTERNET: ESPN3 and watchnd.tv

GAME NOTES: North Carolina State is coached by Wes Moore, in his third season with the Wolfpack. . . Moore is the only coach to take teams from Division 1, Division II and Division III to the NCAA tournament at each level. . . He previously coached at Maryville College (Division II) and Francis Marion (Division III).... Dominique Wilson, a 5-foot-8 redshirt junior, is the team’s leading scorer at 16.6. She is followed by 5-8 junior guard Miah Spencer at 13.2 and 6-1 junior Jennifer Mathurin at 11.2. . . Thursday’s game will be the 100th consecutive start for Lindsay Allen. The Irish guard has started every game since arriving on campus and holds the Notre Dame record in that category. . . Notre Dame leads the series with the Wolfpack, 4-0.