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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame women's media day notebook

Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw said the things she likes about her team the most is the players' intensity and focus.

The Irish, who had their first preseason practice Thursday, are a better practice team this season.

"We had a lot of days where we felt we didn't get enough accomplished," McGraw said of practices last season during Monday's media day. "I think because we had such a veteran team, they were a team that knew they were going to get it done in the game."

While Notre Dame's practice habits are better, the Irish are going to miss a lot of experience this season.

The Irish returned every player from the previous season for the 2009-10 campaign and posted a 29-6 record and reached the Sweet 16.

This year, Notre Dame had to say goodbye to major contributors Lindsay Schrader, Ashley Barlow, Melissa Lechlitner and Erica Williamson.

"It's going to be who will replace the leadership from Lech (Lechlitner), Barlow, Schrader and Erica," McGraw said about the biggest challenge entering this season. "I think we are definitely going to miss the maturity, poise and the leadership that we lost with last year's senior class."

On point

Notre Dame sophomore Skylar Diggins became the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead the team in scoring last season, averaging 13.8 points.

Now she will be counted on to lead the team on the floor.

Diggins will be the Irish's top point guard this season after playing limited time there last season when Lechlitner was out of the game.

Diggins jokingly said she liked playing point guard because she's bossy and gets to tell people where to go.

She also said that she likes having the ball in her hands to be able to create for herself and teammates.

"You get to call the plays, you get to call the shots," Diggins said. "I'm going to be running. I think coach is going to be preaching that. We lost a lot of experience, but we gained a lot of speed and a lot of energy."

Finally healthy

Notre Dame senior Devereaux Peters has had a hard time getting, much less staying, on the court during her career.

And it has nothing to do with her talent.

The Chicago native has never played a full season because of a pair of ACL injuries in her left knee, but she has no such issues this season.

Peters was able to participate in the summer workouts and will go through preseason for the first time without having to worry about rehabbing from an injury.

"I'm extremely excited about that," Peters said.

But she is being missed by the trainers.

"They make fun of me in the trainer room all the time," Peter said "They are like, 'You never even stop by to say hi.' I'm like, I think I've spent enough time with ya.

"They miss me a little bit. I will stop by and say hi, but nothing seriously more, hopefully."

Peters didn't play until after Christmas break last season and finished with a 6.7 scoring average and 5.6 rebounding average in a career-high 25 games.

She said she was never at 100 percent last season, but a practice dunk clears any concerns about her being in top shape this season.

Diggins said she challenged Peters to dunk during the first preseason practice, and the 6-foot-2 forward slammed the ball with such force that it bounced right back up.

"I just put it on the rim, and she got up," Diggins said. "I remember last year, she was worried about people being under here and all of that. Now, she can jump out of the gym. … That just shows she is getting her confidence back."

Listen up

McGraw said she is expecting senior Becca Bruszewski to step up and be a vocal leader for the team.

The 6-foot-1 forward, who averaged 9.1 points per game last season, seems ready for the roll.

"I'm a very loud person and very opinionated person," Bruszewski said. "With the leadership we had last year, I was more of a role player and they were the voice. It has kind of been coming."

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