A new season has arrived for the Notre Dame women's basketball team.
Six months after appearing in the national championship game for the 2nd straight season, has Muffet's Squad gotten over the sting of losing to Baylor?
"No," Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw said with a long pause Thursday at basketball Media Day. "We have not."
"I think for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was what happened after and what came out after, I think it made it harder to swallow," McGraw continued, referring to some minor NCAA violations against Baylor that came out a few weeks after the national title game. "We know we didn't play well and they were a team that unbeatable."
McGraw couldn't hold back the emotions after the loss last April, which resulted in the departures of three starters: Dev Peters, Natalie Novosel and Brittany Mallory.
So can the Irish make another run with the Big Three gone?
"Yes," McGraw explained. "We still have the Big 1 in Skylar."
Skylar Diggins returns for her final season under the Golden Dome. The South Bend Washington grad has been everything Notre Dame could have asked for. And Notre Dame has been everything Skylar could have asked for.
"It's the best decision I've ever made," Diggins explained. "When I came here, I knew that I was allowing Notre Dame to turn me into the woman I would be for the rest of my life. I love that woman that I'm becoming."
"To be able to keep my family in the loop and my relationship with mother is the most important thing. Letting her be involved and my family and the South Bend community which has been supporting me since I was small--following my career---they get to follow me here. It's been a great experience all around and one I'll remember forever and I get to play for a good team too."
But both Diggins and McGraw can't believe this is the final year.
"I feel like it was just yesterday that she came in as a freshman and she's had so many firsts and so many great moments," McGraw said. "She's done so many great things for our program. It's going to be a very difficult senior night--very emotional."
"I cannot," Skylar said with a big smile when asked if she can believe she's a senior. "The time has gone by so quickly. It's bittersweet for me because in one hand, I get to start this season and this is an exciting season with a new team, new challenges but on the other hand, this is my last year here at Notre Dame."
Diggins will take on a boatload of the responsibility this season as one of just two returning starters. The other returner is Kayla McBride who McGraw expects to be the team's leading scorer. Natalie Achonwa was a part-time starter last year but will be the force in the middle. Achonwa picked up a ton of experience in the summer when she played for Canada in the Olympics.
Notre Dame hosts Edinboro in an exhibition game on November 1st at 7pm at Purcell Pavilion. The regular season opener is against Ohio State in Charleston, S.C. aboard the USS Yorktown on November 8th with the the regular season home opener set for November 18th vs UMass at 2pm.
Notre Dame hosts Baylor in a rematch of the national championship game on December 5th at 7pm.