Notre Dame Women's Basketball Massive Makeover Continues
The massive makeover of the Notre Dame’s 2019-20 women’s basketball roster continued this week when Blueandgold.com received confirmation that 6-2 sophomore forward Danielle Patterson is planning to transfer at the conclusion of the spring semester next month.
In addition to Notre Dame graduating or losing the starting five among the top 19 WNBA picks last month, the former McDonald’s All-American Patterson also has opted to depart after seeing marginal playing time her first two seasons.
That leaves the Fighting Irish with eight scholarship players, when including North Carolina guard and graduate transfer Destinee Walker, who will be eligible to play in 2019-20 after recovering from injuries the past two years.
• In addition to Walker, the only other Fighting Irish upperclassmen will be 6-3 junior forward Mikayla Vaughn, whose 3.3 scoring average and 2.4 rebounding average are the most among returning players who played all of last year.
• There will be four sophomores: guards Abby Prohaska, Jordan Nixon and Katlyn Gilbert, and forward Danielle Cosgrove. Gilbert took a medical redshirt after the seventh game to undergo shoulder surgery, and Nixon missed 13 games with an assortment of injuries.
• Incoming freshmen Sam Brunelle at forward and Anaya Peoples at guard were McDonald’s All-Americans who could conceivably find themselves in the starting lineup sooner than later.
When asked last week prior to the team banquet if she would pursue anymore graduate transfer options, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw replied no and the plan was to stay with the current roster.
At that same post-season banquet, Patterson was awarded Most Improved Player. The award seemed a little odd, and my own reaction was, “How could one tell?”
As a freshman for the 2018 national champs, Patterson saw only token action and hardly any in the NCAA Tournament despite the team having only seven scholarship players by the turn of the new year. She averaged 2.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and finished with eight assists that year.
This season for the national runner-up, Patterson played a little less while posting the same 2.9 scoring average, 1.5 rebounds and seven assists. Her best contest was in game 2 when she scored 14 points in 22 minutes during a victory at DePaul. However, in the final five NCAA Tournament games, Patterson garnered only 14 minutes, and saw no action in the 87-80 Sweet 16 win versus Texas A&M and the 82-81 defeat to Baylor in the title tilt.
Always pleasant, polite and well-spoken off the court, Patterson unfortunately never could seem to find a role or niche in Notre Dame’s attack. She was neither a natural low-post figure like a Brianna Turner or Jessica Shepard, nor a “stretch four” or three-point shooter like incoming freshman Brunelle (who easily won the three-point shooting contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game).
Patterson was a good mid-range shooter and probably could have played in the high post, but her lack of action often stemmed from not ever really finding the right flow. Especially in the Princeton-like sets, excellent passing/court vision is essential, and McGraw has stated her favorite stat this year was how four different players for the Irish recorded well over 100 assists.
It does seem odd Patterson would transfer when it would seem plenty of playing time is there for the taking next season. Sometimes, though, a fresh start is best for all concerned, just as it was with former Notre Dame players Erin Boley (Oregon), who started for a Final Four team this year, and Ali Patberg (Indiana), who led the Hoosiers in scoring and assists.
Meanwhile, the Irish team chemistry that included Nebraska transfer Shepard spoke for itself the past two seasons with a national title and runner-up placement.