Notre Dame women have stiff bunker mentality
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said that she would love to schedule a series that would bring the Irish to Philadelphia.
McGraw, whose club is in Philadelphia in alternating years to play Big East-rival Villanova, doesn't see a Temple-Notre Dame series in the future.
"We don't go back to Philly and play Temple because being in the Big East Conference, where you're on the East Coast so much, I felt like we wanted to branch out and play teams in different conferences, to the south and west," McGraw said.
McGraw's scheduling philosophy is to get the Irish prepared for the NCAA Tournament, which is why the Irish played at least one team from each of the six power conferences.
Notre Dame is used to playing in hostile territory. The Irish played Connecticut on the Huskies' home courts in Storrs and Hartford this season, played at Baylor, and were hardly welcomed at West Virginia, Villanova and DePaul. On Saturday, in first-round NCAA action, the Irish opened against Utah on the Utes' home court. On Monday, against Temple, McGraw expects the Utah crowd to cheer for the underdog Owls.
"We see that when we go to Connecticut in the Big East Tournament, and we're playing DePaul, and all the Connecticut fans are cheering for DePaul," McGraw said of her team not being fan favorites on the road.
"I think we're kind of used to being in that situation," McGraw said. "We've gotten away from the underdog role, except when we're playing Connecticut. We're kind of the team that everybody wants to beat. It's different playing with a target on your back."
McGraw said that this season's Irish have responded well to living up to the program's standards.
"That's the great thing about this team," McGraw said of her Irish. "We lost four starters last year. We came into this season a little unsure, not knowing exactly how we were going to gel. We went from quickly being the underdog to being right back in the hunt as a top-10 program. I think the expectation coming into Notre Dame is that we're going to try to compete for a national championship every year. We want to get those kind of players who expect to win. That's the mindset of our team."
McGraw did put out a call for some local support in Utah.
"I'd like all the Catholics in Salt Lake City to come and sit behind the Notre Dame bench," McGraw joked.
Staff writer Curt Rallo: