The Indianpost

Notre Dame women’s basketball

The Pied Piper of the University of Notre Dame women’s team took her show on the road this summer. The Pride of the West Side asserted herself as an international force.
Three Irish players, Diggins, Novosel and Devereaux Peters, were key components of the U.S. 21U team that won the gold medal at the World University Games in China. The champions returned home Sunday, just in time to start classes.

While Novosel and Peters had their specific roles, Diggins gravitated to a leadership position once the selection process was over.

“The leaders of our team were Nneka Ogwumike, of Stanford, and Skylar Diggins from Notre Dame,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly told his school’s newspaper. “I’ve had them before as an assistant, so they knew my personality. That helped. And they’re both really good players.”

“I was the most comfortable (on the team), having worked with coach Fennelly two years prior,” Diggins said. “That was my seventh time being to Colorado (for the selection process). I knew how things worked. I knew the logistics of things. I know what coach Bill wants.

“Having played with or against these women for years – AAU or in college – we knew each other. Some of us had been teammates already on USA ball.”

“There’s a big difference between Skylar on the court and the other point guards on the court,” Novosel said. “It’s a lot more organized, more fluid.”

“Everybody respected that (leadership) role for (Diggins),” Peters said. “Everybody understood what (the coaches) wanted her to do. People would talk to me away from the court about how they love to play with her. She has that game anyone can tailor their game to.”

Judging by the scores of the six wins, the U.S. team was challenged more during the pre-tournament training camp than the actual competition. The six wins were by an average of 45 points. The closest was a 79-67 semifinal victory over Australia. The Americans beat Taiwan, 101-66, for the title.

Diggins bristled at the lack of respect for the rest of the field.

“I don’t think the final score reflected how the actual games went,” Diggins said. “These were some of the toughest women I’ve competed against; some of the fastest women I’ve competed against; some of the most physical women I’ve competed against.

“We came together. We clicked so well. No one had egos. We gave up ourselves for the greater good of the team. We never settled. Whether we were up 10, 20, 30, 40 … We wanted to keep going.

“(The international game) is more physical (than the college game). Those girls, man, they’re beasts. (The officials) let a lot of (physical play) go. They let us play more. If a foul doesn’t affect the game, they let it go. I kind of liked that.

“I told (Irish coach Muffet McGraw) that I won’t commit any fouls this season because I used them all up in this tournament,” Peters said. “It was physical and they didn’t call much.”

Peters had a scare before leaving for China. While on a fast break in training camp, she landed awkwardly after making a layup. Her left knee, which had already had two ACL surgeries, was injured.

“I threw the freakin’ pass,” Diggins said, feeling guilty about the lob. “She made the layup, though. It was a fast break. (Peters) leaks out. I saw it. I throw it. She catches it kind of behind the backboard.
She finishes the layup. When she came down, she said she felt her (left) knee hit her brace. It would have been another ACL (injury) had she not worn her brace. It was very scary. When me and (Novosel) found out she might not be going, we were in tears.”

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