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FURTHER REVIEW: Muffet's best team ever?

By Pete Byrne
Published On: Jan 13 2014 10:05:37 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 22 2014 03:11:51 PM CST
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw (South Bend Tribune photo // Robert Franklin)

NOTRE DAME -

The Notre Dame women's basketball team has won its first 15 games. There's 14 regular season games still to go. And midway through the regular season, in which the Irish have hardly been challenged, let alone beaten, I'm beginning to wonder: Is this the best team Muffet McGraw has ever had? Upon Further Review, it just may be.

On Sunday, Notre Dame went on the road. And for the first time all season...had their hands full. A 500 Virginia team gave the Irish their toughest battle of the season to date, in a game the Irish eventually won by 7, their closest contest of the season.

Folks, this is hardly a reason to panic. For only the 2nd time in more than a month, the Irish failed to win by TWENTY. That's because they might be the best team in America. Notre Dame has three players who can go off for twenty points at any time in Natalie Achonwa, Kayla McBride & Jewell Loyd. And their depth is so great, that Muffet McGraw has had at least one high school all-american on the bench, at all times this season.

So today, at the midway point of the regular season, I posed this question to the hall of fame coach herself: How good is your team?

"I think we're pretty good," McGraws says. "We're really good offensively. I think that's the thing. We're not able to change the game with our defense and that's a big concern."

McGraw was quick to point out lapses in defense and rebounding as ways she feels her squad can and should be better. That's what winning coaches do. Strive for perfection.

McGraw's goal is to win the national championship. And the best thing she can do for her team in that pursuit, is make them as good as they absolutely can be: Regardless of how minor their flaws appear to the outside eye.

But make no mistake about it. They're good. Really good.

Perhaps a comparison to other great Irish teams is premature. Over the next three weeks, Notre Dame will face THREE Top Ten teams: #8 Tennessee, #6 Maryland and #3 Duke: All on the road.

That will tell us a lot.

But if the Irish do get through that gauntlet unscathed... or even if they don't, still right now this group appears to be more than capable of winning a championship.

This is a program that's won regular season conference championships, conference tournament championships, and been to three straight finals fours.

Success is NOT measured by a regular season winning streak.

That said, half-way through a season, Notre Dame has never been more convincing.