Note: No. 2 Notre Dame begins NCAA Tournament Friday night as the 1 seed in the Lexington Regional. The Fighting Irish host Robert Morris at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
From 1979-90, Great Britain prime minister Margaret Thatcher was dubbed “Iron Lady” primarily for her leadership style.
From 2013-17, point guard Lindsay Allen has earned a similar moniker at the University of Notre Dame, if not all of women’s college basketball history, for myriad reasons.
The 5-8 native from Mitchellville, Md. has not missed a start, game or practice in four years, and per research by Notre Dame’s media relations department, her 145 consecutive starts — prior to this year’s NCAA Tournament — are believed to be an NCAA record.
From diving for loose basketballs, running the offense and defense 35 to 40 minutes per game, to even battling among much taller players for rebounds — her 5.2 boards per game are second on this year’s team — Allen could make the Energizer Bunny seem lax.
“She’s had some practices where we tried to keep her on the sideline, but she hasn’t missed a minute,” noted Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “She is a phenomenal athlete. They’re always saying she’s a rock star in the weight room. She is just so strong … she plays through a lot of little nagging things that other people may take a day off for, but she never does.”
From first grade on, Allen does recall missing one day of school in the seventh grade because of the stomach flu, but said there is no secret sauce for her durability.
“I’m just kind of lucky a little bit, a little bit blessed, and I credit our training staff,” Allen said. “It’s making sure we take training seriously and not just go through the motions, stretching and lifting and not breaking down with muscle pulls and little things like that.
“I make sure I sleep a lot. I probably get at least eight hours every night. I make sure I eat breakfast every morning properly and am not walking around all day, staying off my feet, making sure I’m hydrating… that’s all there is.”
As a freshman in 2013, Allen was entrusted from day one to replace 2009-13 Irish icon Skylar Diggins at the point, which was deemed a severe drop-off.
Yet the Irish went an astounding 37-0 before losing — minus injured center Natalie Achonwa — to UConn in the championship game. Just like then, Allen has continued to quietly run Notre Dame’s show on the court while repeatedly ranking among the nation’s best in assist-to-turnover ratio (including No. 4 this year with a 3.55 ratio, to go with a No. 4 ranking in assists at 7.6 per game).
“L.A. is out of this world because she is such a great leader,” said Notre Dame junior forward and All-American Brianna Turner. “She’s not a loud person but she’s an effective person because she knows what needs to be said and says it at the right time. She doesn’t get rattled, whether we’re up by 40 or down by five.”
Although Allen has shot better than 50-percent in her career, exceptional for a guard, and scored 1,247 points, she has never strayed from being “The Facilitator” of a potent Notre Dame lineup. As a sophomore two years ago, Allen received the Outstanding Player Award in the Oklahoma City Regional after scorching Stanford (28 points) and No. 5 Baylor (24 points) with her shooting prowess to advance to the Final Four, but excellent team play and structure always superseded individual glory.
“Sometimes you don’t appreciate it as much until she’s not in the game,” McGraw said. “The things she can see and how she can deliver the ball at the right moment to whoever is open — and in a particular way of a pass they’re able to catch, which is different for everyone — is just phenomenal.
"She has incredible vision and is an amazing teammate. She guards people, she directs people … the consummate point guard. She has been such a joy, so smart, so easy to coach, does so many things and always wants to know what else she can do to help.”
To no one’s surprise, when Allen is asked to reflect on her most memorable moments at Notre Dame, it involves more altruism.
“Just to share with my teammates is the proudest moment for me,” Allen said. “Making it through the hard days in the preseason, the summer workouts, running on the track … being able to get through those moments and being able to see that translate to our own course of success.”
Allen prefers no handouts, but no one ever in Notre Dame basketball has been better at handing out to others.
Lindsay Allen By The Numbers
1 Player in NCAA women’s basketball history known of — Allen — to start all 145 straight games (and counting) played in her career while not missing any. The second most consecutive starts at Notre Dame are 97 by Jacqueline Batteast in her last three seasons from 2003-05.
2 Players in Fighting Irish history to score more than 1,200 points, grab more than 500 rebounds, dish out more than 500 assists and produce more than 200 steals in her career: Allen and three-time All-American Skylar Diggins (2009-13).
15 Finalists for the 2017 John R. Wooden National Player of The Year Award, with Allen and junior teammate/forward Brianna Turner among them.
33 Assists recorded in three games en route to the 2017 ACC title, highlighted by a record-tying 13 in the championship win over Duke. The 33 total broke a 37-year record in the league, earning her MVP in the tourney.
136-9 Record with Allen starting every game, prior to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The .938 winning percentage includes the most victories and fewest losses by any starting Notre Dame player over four years.
145 Career starts, eclipsing the previous standard of 144 set by Diggins, who she succeeded. Allen’s 4,404 career minutes trail only Diggins’ 4,639.
252 Assists so far this season, breaking the single season record of 247 set by Notre Dame associate head coach Niele Ivey for the 2001 national champions.
811 Assists so far in her career (most among any active NCAA player), which surpassed the previous Notre Dame standard of 778 by Mary Gavin (1984-88) and the ACC record of 785 set by Virginia’s Sharnee Zoll from 2004-08.
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