IUWBB: Notre Dame’s McGraw wants to play IU

UPDATED: No so fast, Muffet. Teri Moren wasn’t ready to commit to playing a program that is annually one of the best in the country. “We have to get a few more recruiting classes under our belt before we would entertain the likes of a Notre Dame, UConn or a South Carolina. We are not quite there yet. But I think there is a benefit to playing in-state games, I do. I think there is nothing better, obviously, than the Indiana-Purdue rivalry. It’s just something special when you have the opportunity to play Notre Dames, the Purdues, the Butlers. I know that she would like it, but I would like it maybe in a few years, how about that?”

Indiana has not played Notre Dame since 2006, but the avoidance of one another is not of Muffet McGraw’s making, according to the Fighting Irish’s coach.

During her press conference Sunday, McGraw said she has tried to set up games with IU. In fact, her son, Murphy, is a 2012 graduate of IU. When he enrolled in Bloomington, McGraw tried even harder to set up a Notre Dame-IU matchup.

“I called them every single year, wanted to make a trip down to see him.  They were not willing to play us,” McGraw said. “It’s great to get an opportunity to play them.”

At the same time, McGraw acknowledged that a lack of Notre Dame-IU in women’s basketball is no fault of the Hoosiers’ current coach, Teri Moren, who is only in her second year.

Moren did her best to beef up the non-conference schedule this season. It appears an opportunity is out there to strengthen it even more, if the Hoosiers want to take it.

“Teri’s only been there two years, I don’t think we’ve tried since she’s been there, but I’d love to get them on the schedule,” McGraw said. “I would hope, even in the Big Ten-ACC (Challenge), we’d have a chance to play them.”

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Another oddity about this matchup is IU junior Karlee McBride, who is the sister of former Notre Dame star Kayla.

McGraw said she met with McBride’s family Saturday night, and it brought back memories to hear the announcer say “McBride for 3” during the IU-Georgia game.

“Got to talk to her mom and dad, brother and sister last night. It’s so great to see them and welcome them back home,” McGraw said. “Hard to see them on the other side, though.”

Michaela Mabrey, Notre Dame’s senior guard, said she has heard from Kayla about the upcoming IU-Notre Dame game. It appears the elder McBride is siding squarely with Karlee, not her alma mater.

“She’s not cheering for us,” Mabrey said, laughing.

For the most part, McGraw was similar to any other coach analyzing IU, initially honing in on Tyra Buss. But she then talked briefly about McBride and the Hoosiers’ other outside weapons, which make it difficult to focus solely on Buss’ ability to drive and get to the free throw line.

McGraw essentially followed up on Friday’s media availability when Moren called Amanda Cahill “undervalued.”

“It’s going to be a challenge for our defense,” McGraw said. “I think Cahill’s a really good player, a little bit under the radar and she shoots the ball really well. She’s really crafty. She does a great job in their offense. They have a lot of good pieces they’ve put together and they’ve had a great season.”

McGraw also acknowledged the significance of this game between two in-state teams. Notre Dame has been able to attract multiple Ms. Basketballs from the state of Indiana, including Skylar Diggins, Ali Patberg and now Princeton’s Jackie Young.

Notre Dame wants to get the best player from the state, as often as it can. At the same time, McGraw was happy to see IU playing at a higher level. She congratulated Moren on the Hoosiers’ turnaround in their second season.

“She’s done a fabulous job. I think that’s a huge turnaround, to come in fourth in the conference in just her second year,” McGraw said. “It’s nice to have great basketball in the Midwest so we are really happy that the program has had a resurgence under her.”