Notre Dame Basketball: Brianna Turner, Kathryn Westbeld Look to Take Next Step


Turner and Westbeld will be critical to Irish success

Every successful basketball program–women’s or men’s–counts on incoming freshman to inject new talent onto the floor sooner rather than later. For coach Muffet McGraw and the Notre Dame women’s team, it’s been a critical part of their successful run. 2014-15 wasn’t any different as

Brianna Turner


Kathryn Westbeld

played key roles in another run to the NCAA title game.

With another talented class of freshman coming in, the cycle will hopefully continue. But the progress that Westbeld and Turner make as sophomores may be even more important than the three talented freshman coming in. What these two bring to the floor next season plays an important role, especially with the unexpected departure of Jewel Loyd to the WNBA.

Turner was highly touted, entering as the Gatorade Player of the Year. An early shoulder injury slowed her a bit, but after that she was able to show her potential to Notre Dame fans. Her size, combined with her great athleticism and ability to run the floor quickly helped her meld with the style of ball Muffet likes to play with her bigs. Play solid defense, run the floor. Turner did it about as well as you could ask.

She finished the season averaging 13.8 points per game on her nation’s best 65.2 percent shooting from the field. As she develops her mid-range game, she will only become more dominant. But for her first season, she picked her shots and hit on most of them. Her 2.5 blocks per game helped start an offense that loves to run, and you could find Turner on the receiving end of the scoring after making the block on the defensive side.

At times, Turner could seem a bit overwhelmed, as veterans would find a way to take advantage of her inexperience. But her athleticism and talent helped lead her to an amazing season as ACC Freshman of the year, and there’s more to come in the future.

Westbeld slid in under the radar, but she was a McDonald’s High School All-American. But thanks to Turner, and the Player of the Year talk of Loyd, she was able to blend in without many noticing, but doing many of the things critical to helping the Irish win games.

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Although she didn’t start a single game, she played in all 39, averaging almost 18 minutes per game. She also shot 52.6 percent from the field, better than marksman Madison Cable’s 42.2. But in Cable’s defense, she shot 75 more three-pointers than Westbeld.

But it was her work in the “trenches”, grabbing loose balls and her work on the boards where she averaged 4.4 rebounds per game, good for fourth on the team. while she struggled a bit down the stretch, opening up more minutes for Hannah Huffman, much of that can be contributed to a long season grinding on a freshman.

Now that the rigors and expectations have been experienced and understood, Turner and Westbeld will play a key role next season for McGraw’s Irish. With Loyd the only starter lost and Cable being granted a fifth year of eligibility, this team will be poised for a sixth straight Final Four appearance.

Next: Jewel Loyd taken No. 1 in WNBA Draft