Notre Dame women can wait for move to new facility

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — It’s not easy to move when you’ve been in one place for 32 years.

Even if the amenities, or at least logistics, connected with that place have become antiquated, and even when the alternative is a place that’s state of the art, maybe the envy of the nation.

Just ask Muffet McGraw, who’s navigating the transition now.

No, the Hall of Famer is not going anywhere in terms of being Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach, but she is transitioning herself and her team — slowly, but surely — to Rolfs Athletics Hall.

Rolfs, roughly across the street from Purcell Pavilion, recently opened as the swank new practice home and much more to the Irish men’s and women’s hoop programs.

Purcell — a still-sparkling, fan-friendly venue that underwent a $32 million renovation in 2009 — will remain ND’s home for games, but nearly all other basketball-related activities are expected to take place at Rolfs by next season. A few practices are being staged there already.

“It’s beautiful,” McGraw said Tuesday of a facility that Notre Dame will more formally introduce in the coming months. “It has everything you could possibly ask for — nutrition center, the weight room right off the court, the training room right off the court, beautiful locker rooms and video room. It’s like a theater-style video room, so we don’t have to use our team space to watch video. The lockers are beautiful, the offices are beautiful. Everything’s first-class.

“I think it’s going to be the biggest in the country,” McGraw said of the 77,000 square-foot facility that includes separate practice courts for the men and women. “It’s just a huge space that’s going to be great for recruiting.”

Yet, McGraw has been admittedly hesitant to completely move over to Rolfs, a bit player in the recently completed $400 million Campus Crossroads project.

“I’m just not moving until after the season,” she said, explaining that she wants to remain focused on the 2018-19 task at hand. “I’m not moving my office until after.”

Even once that happens, McGraw said she may want to maintain offices at both Purcell and Rolfs to deal with issues related to game-day scenarios.

In the meantime, the coach is not at all minding her long-familiar Purcell digs, anyway — including the so-called “Pit” that serves as the practice home for either the men’s or women’s team when the other has the arena for a practice or game.

“I love the Pit, because you can close it down and have a really good workout in there without anybody walking in,” McGraw said of a basement area that might be described as crude and archaic by most major college coaches. “It seems so private because it’s so small and intimate.”

“Coach has been here a long time, so I think the Pit feels like home to her,” graduate forward Brianna Turner said Wednesday with a laugh.

But what about the players, Bri, or at least what about you?

“Oh, yeah, I like the Pit, too,” Turner insisted. “I mean, I’ve been here five years, half a decade, and wherever Coach says to go, that’s where I’ll go.”

Wrapping up her final season this season, Turner will miss out on experiencing a full one at Rolfs, but still appreciates what it has to offer.

“It’s so phenomenal,” Turner said. “Everything’s top of the line — massage chairs, healing stations, weight room.”

Though the Pit and the main arena are expected to remain the primary practice homes for the ND women throughout this season, the team has used Rolfs “three or four times,” according to McGraw.

“It’s extremely nice, a great facility, but it’s the middle of the season,” junior guard Jackie Young said Tuesday. “They actually just told us today we can move our stuff in there, but I think we’ll still mainly be here (at Purcell). Next year, we’ll definitely use the new place because we’ll get to use it from the start. Everyone will be adjusted.”

Feeding Turner

Turner remains the second-most efficient field-goal shooter in the history of ND women’s basketball (61.6, behind Ruth Riley’s 63.2 from 1997 to 2001.), but heading into Wednesday’s home game against Western Kentucky, she’s attempted just 22 shots over her last three outings.

It’s not because she’s instead gone to the line a bunch of times over those games, either, with 10 free throws during that span.

“No, she’s not,” McGraw said of whether Turner’s getting enough shots. “I think she needs to work harder to get them, but I also think we miss her some (when she’s open).”

Tuner never attempted a field goal in the first half of Sunday’s 103-53 win over Binghamton, but came back to go 5-of-7 in the third quarter on her way to 14 points.

“I think there’s some things she can do — sometimes you gotta get rebounds — and there’s definitely some things we can do in terms of looking for her,” McGraw said.

Turner said Tuesday she feels she’s receiving the ball in good spots from her teammates.

“I think the main thing for us is to get good shots,” she said. “Some games, I might get five, sometimes I might get 15, but we’re always looking for the best shot.”

“We have to make sure we get Bri the ball,” said Young, who is ND’s assist leader at 5.0 per game. “That’s something Coach has said to us a lot, but we did have 27 assists the last game, so I think everybody had a good amount of shots. We’re just really focusing on sharing the ball right now, not necessarily taking the first shot, but taking the best shot.”

Turner, a former second-team All-American who sat out last season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, averaged 9.8 field-goal attempts as a sophomore and 10.4 as a junior.

Overall, even in a lineup with five established offensive threats, she hasn’t dipped much this season at 9.4 tries, but that does include just 7.5 over the last four games.

Her field goal percentage is at 55.3 this season.

Patterson & Prohaska

Sophomore Danielle Patterson and freshman Abby Prohaska are each expected to be available for Wednesday’s game, according to McGraw, after both missed Sunday’s win.

Patterson has sat out the last two contests while nursing a sore kneecap. McGraw estimated that the forward might be limited to 10 to 15 minutes against the Hilltoppers.

Prohaska sat out against Binghamton with an illness, but is “good now,” according to the coach. “She’s gonna go.”

Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner (11), shooting against Pennsylvania’s Eleah Parker (31) in a Nov. 12 game at Purcell Pavilion, has totaled just 22 shot attempts in the last three games.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WHO: Western Kentucky (5-7) vs. No. 2 Notre Dame (9-1).

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

WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TICKETS: Available, $5 to $18.

RADIO: Pulse FM (103.1/96.9/92.1).

TV/WEB: ACC Network Extra.

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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

NOTING: Western Kentucky and Notre Dame already have racked up three common opponents, and all of them are ranked teams — current No. 11 Oregon State, No. 16 Iowa and No. 21 Gonzaga. The Hilltoppers are 0-3 in those matchups, the closest being a 74-60 loss to the Beavers, and the Irish are 3-0, the closest being a 91-81 win over the Beavers. … WKU is led by 6-1 junior forward Dee Givens, averaging 19.6 points. The Lexington native also ranks among the nation’s leaders in 3-point percentage (42.7 on 32-of-75), free throw percentage (90.5 on 57-of-63) and steals (2.8 per game). Raneem Elgedawy, a 6-4 sophomore from Egypt, is averaging 15.3 points and 8.1 rebounds, while redshirt junior guard Alexis Brewer, a transfer from West Virginia, is at 12.2 points to go with 23-of-57 on 3s for 40.4 percent. … ND leaders are Arike Ogunbowale (22.9 points, 3.7 assists), Jackie Young (17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists), Jessica Shepard (16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 60.4 percent from the field), Marina Mabrey (14.0 points, 3.8 assists) and Brianna Turner (12.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 55.3 percent from the field). … The Irish and Hilltoppers are meeting for just the third time, but for the second straight season. ND won 78-65 last winter at Western against the eventual Conference USA Tournament champs, who were as close as three points in the third quarter. … The Hilltoppers are in their first season under ex-Louisville, Arkansas and WKU assistant Greg Collins. He succeeded Michelle Clark-Heard, who went 154-48 in six years before accepting the head coaching post at Cincinnati.

QUOTING: “(Western Kentucky) gave Oregon State a great game out in Vancouver. They’ve played some really good teams (including a 102-80 loss to No. 3 Louisville). They’ve had a tough schedule and it’s been hard for them, but they’re a good team with some really good players. They gave us a great game last year down there.” — Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.