Just call Notre Dame's Young 'Big-game Jackie'

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — You remember Jackie Young, right?

She’s that Notre Dame player who went off against undefeated, allegedly unconquerable Connecticut in last season’s women’s basketball national semifinal, scoring a game-high 32 points and grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds as ND beat the Huskies 91-89 in overtime. Without Young, who was 10-of-15 from the field and 10-of-11 at the line, there is no Arike Ogunbowale game-winning shot.

She’s also the one who made the game-tying jumper with 45 seconds remaining in the national championship against Mississippi State, then made the steal with three seconds left that set the stage for another Ogunbowale game-winner.

She’s likewise the one who’s been called Big-Game Jackie, the one who as a sophomore averaged 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, both second on

the team, over the 16 contests that Notre Dame played against ranked teams last season. She’s the one who averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the NCAA Tournament. Her overall averages were 14.5 points (third on the team), 6.6 rebounds (second) and 3.7 assists (second).

None of which speaks to the caliber of Young’s defense, either. Coach Muffet McGraw labeled that part of her game as best on the team last season.

Anyway, all those Jackie Youngs are the same one — in fact, the only one — among ND’s five projected starters who was left off a pair of 10-player All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason teams last week.

“Not until you asked me about it,” Young said Monday of whether she’s given much thought to not making the units that include one voted on by league coaches and one chosen by a panel of media and other observers.

“I don’t really pay too much attention to the preseason things,” Young said. “I feel like we’re a great team and that’s all I’m worried about, us as a whole, the team aspect.”

Young genuinely seemed far more upset Monday that her candy of choice was not in the candy dish that sets in the lobby of the ND women’s basketball office than she was about any perceived snubs, not that she was especially upset about the candy, either.

“I honestly think it’s because she isn’t a senior,” McGraw said Monday with a shrug of why Young was omitted from the All-ACC teams.

After all, there are only 10 spots in a league bursting with 15 schools, and the defending national champion Irish did have all four of their seniors each with their own shimmering credentials — Ogunbowale, Brianna Turner, Jessica Shepard and Marina Mabrey — make both lists.

Maybe asking for five players was just too much, though you can count McGraw uninhibited by the voting results.

“I think she’s one of the top 20 players in the country,” the coach said of the 6-foot junior guard/forward. “She doesn’t care about (honors). I care about it for her, but she’ll prove herself. I have no doubt about that.”

Young arrived at Notre Dame in 2016 as the top prep scorer in Indiana history — boy or girl — with 3,268 points at Princeton High School. She was the Naismith National Player of the Year and a consensus top-10 player in her class by the major recruiting services.

McGraw acknowledged Monday that she believes there are times Young doesn’t shoot enough, but beyond that, “I’m happy with everything Jackie does. She just works and works and works, and does everything she’s asked.”

The coach laughs at the irony of Indiana’s all-time No. 1 high school scorer needing to be urged to shoot more.

“I know,” McGraw said, “but I think she came in as a freshman and deferred, like ‘I’m just a freshman, I’m going to do what I can to help the team.’ Then last year was like ‘we need you to do a little more.’ Then when we got down to (seven healthy scholarship players), she, of course, had to do a little more.’’

Young shot 52 percent from the field overall last season and 79 percent at the line, but was just 11-of-39 on 3-pointers for 28 percent, that after hitting 38 percent outside the arc in high school.

She says she’s worked on her long ball during the offseason, but also says she isn’t concerned about points among these Irish.

“I think everyone on this team is going to score,” Young said. “I feel like we’re an extremely balanced team. One night it’s going to be be Arike’s night, and then the next night’s going to be Bri’s night. It’s just going to be different each night, but everyone’s going to score. We’re not worried about that. We just have to play our game, get out, run in transition, and we should be fine.”

Irish injuries

Mabrey is questionable for Tuesday night’s season-opening exhibition against Division II Lewis University at Purcell Pavilion, and the Irish are dealing with some other injuries as well.

“It’s not serious,” McGraw said Monday of Mabrey’s hip flexor issue, “but she might be out a day or two.”

The coach revealed that Kaitlin Cole, a returning walk-on, will miss the entire season after undergoing non-ACL knee surgery earlier this month.

Danielle Patterson is expected to sit out Tuesday due to recent knee swelling, but the coach said she’s hopeful the sophomore will return quickly.

The coach declared Shepard “fine” after a foot injury that was being addressed earlier this month, while freshman Katlyn Gilbert is back from a shoulder injury and probable for Tuesday.

Notre Dame’s Jackie Young drives down the court against UConn in the NCAA Women’s Tournament semifinal game on March 30 in Columbus, Ohio.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WHO: Lewis University (24-8 in 2017-18) vs. Notre Dame (35-3) in exhibition.

WHERE: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), Notre Dame.

WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TICKETS: Available, $5 to $18.

RADIO: Pulse (96.9 / 92.1 FM).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

NOTING: Lewis, an NCAA Division II program from Romeoville, Ill., returns its top four scorers from a 24-8 club and is the Great Lakes Valley Conference favorite this season, per a vote by league coaches. The Flyers are led by 6-0 senior and two-time reigning GLVC Player of the Year Jessica Kelliher (24.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 66.9 percent from the field last season). Also back are 5-11 junior Rachel Hinders (11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds), 5-5 senior Gabby Green (9.3 points, 4.4 assists) and 5-4 senior Tierney Lockett (7.6 points). … Kelliher and Green have ties to Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale. All three are part of Wisconsin’s highly hailed high school girls class of 2015. While Ogunbowale was leading Divine Savior Holy Angels of Milwaukee to the Division 1 state title as a senior, Green was keying Pius XI of Milwaukee to the Division 2 crown. A year earlier, Green’s Lady Popes knocked off Ogunbowale’s Dashers, 63-55, in a regular-season game despite 38 points by Ogunbowale against a box-and-one. Kelliher, who’s from Waukesha, joined Ogunbowale as one of five Wisconsin girls to finish their high school careers in 2015 with at least 2,000 career points. … Notre Dame has won 32 straight exhibitions over the last 21 years, including each of the last 11 by at least 44 points. In last year’s 108-40 victory over Indiana of Pennsylvania, freshman Mikayla Vaughn made a splashy debut with 30 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in just 20 minutes. She was 12-of-13 from the field.

QUOTING: “Right now, I’m trying to change our mindset to ‘we want to stop you, we want to dominate you on defense, we want to set a tone defensively right at the start of the game.’ But right now, we have a mindset of ‘I’ll outscore you. If you score on me, I’ll score on you.’ This year we can take more chances, more risks. We have more subs, so we can be a little more aggressive defensively.” — Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw when asked Monday what’s important to accomplish Tuesday besides staying healthy.