Notre Dame's Madison Cable the reliable veteran of Irish family

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Birthdays don’t get in the way of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Especially on the eve of a critical game.

Sunday, as Notre Dame prepared for its Monday battle with Indiana, junior point guard Lindsay Allen turned 21 with little fanfare.

“We usually have a cake, but our nutritionist is watching,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “We’ll probably just put a candle in some yogurt.”

That’s what families do. They adjust.

This Irish family is an intriguing dynamic. There isn’t the dominating voice like Skylar Diggins or Natalie Achonwa dictating the way the locker room functions.

McGraw and her assistants are in charge of what happens on the floor. The veterans make it work behind closed doors.

Whether she likes it or not, nobody is more veteran than Madison Cable – thanks to foot problems that kept her from playing as a freshman. The grad student brings more than sore feet and achy knees to her role as a leader. It’s called personality and perspective.

“This is my favorite team,” Cable said. “We get along so well. On the court and in the locker room, we’re always laughing at different things.”

Just then, Cable glanced over to the other side of the room to see freshman Marina Mabrey making silly faces at her.

“We’re pretty goofy,” she said. “But we’re serious when we need to be.

“We’re always messing with one another … in a good way.”

Cable is as “company line” as anyone on the Irish roster. She must be taking graduate-level classes in political correctness.

“There are different personalities every year,” Cable said. “We don’t have that one person that is going to get into your face, but we do have people who take it seriously.”

Cable learned the ropes from leaders like Diggins, Achonwa, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters. She’s one of the last links to those pioneers who established the foundation for the success Notre Dame is enjoying now.

“They were intimidating,” Cable recalled. “They did a great job. They teach you how the program is: When you go to Notre Dame, this is how we do things.

“It’s important to have people like that.”

Now, Cable is one of those people. She’s the crusty ol’ sage tasked with making sure rookies Marina Mabrey, Arike Ogunbowale and Ali Patberg fly straight and understand the Notre Dame way.

“I feel old, but not extraordinarily old,” the 23-year-old Cable said. “Lindsay’s catching up to me a little bit.”

Heck, there’s nearly a generation gap between her and the freshmen.

“Once we’re in the locker room, you don’t see the age difference,” Cable said. “We’re just friends.

“We’re into the same music, movies. They have a lot more classes than I do. I know that’s a struggle.”

It’s all part of the deal. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be special.

That’s why family is so important.

Notre Dame's Madison Cable (22) looks for a shot next to Clemson's Victoria Cardaci (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (Tribune Photo/Robert Franklin)