Power ranking the 15 ACC mascots

Who has the best mascot? And worst?

Happy June 17th!

Has anything sports wise ever happened on this day?  ESPN has a documentary about that already but to my knowledge they don’t have one about mascots.  And June 17, if you weren’t already aware (which I wasn’t until seeing on Twitter today), is National Mascot Day.

I thought what better way to celebrate National Mascot Day than by doing something very important that will certainly change the way we all see the world.

I’ve decided to rank all 15 mascots in the ACC from top to bottom based on a very scientific it-factor eye test.

What makes a good mascot?  I couldn’t tell you but I can certainly tell you when I see a good one or see a less impressive one.  With that very scientific formula in mind, here are your very official ACC mascot power rankings.

Notre Dame women make two additions via transfer portal

The Irish have some needed post help now.

Notre Dame has benefited from the transfer portal with the addition of two veteran post players. One is 6-foot-4 forward Kylee Watson, who comes to South Bend after two years at Oregon. The other is Lauren Ebo, who gives the Irish their only true center at the moment. After two years at Penn State, she heavily contributed to Texas making back-to-back Elite Eights.

[autotag]Niele Ivey[/autotag] had this to say about Watson:

“Kylee is one of the most dynamic and versatile posts in her class. She can score at all three levels and is extremely explosive in transition, either running the floor or igniting the break. What I love about her most is her motor and toughness.”

Ivey also commented about Ebo:

“She brings a wealth of experience with deep runs in the NCAA Tournament the past two years. She is a true leader on and off the court. She’s a force inside and is a perfect fit for our team and our culture.”

The Irish also have added Stanford’s Jenna Brown from the portal. Here’s hoping both players can help Ivey make her first run to the Final Four as head coach.

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Former Notre Dame players on 2022 WNBA rosters

Which player(s) will you cheer for this season?

The 2022 WNBA season has tipped off, and there is plenty of Notre Dame representation. Not that this should come as any surprise given that they all played under Muffet McGraw. Hopefully one day, Niele Ivey will have just as many of her own former players competing at the pinnacle of professional women’s basketball. For now, McGraw’s legacy is far more apparent.

With nine former Irish players in the WNBA and a few of them even teammates, there’s a very good chance you’ll find one of them on a given night if you decide to flip on a random game this season. Maybe you happen to be a fan of a particular team that has Irish blood on it. In that case, congratulations for hitting the jackpot!

Don’t be so quick to write these athletes off just because it’s women’s basketball. It’s just as thrilling to watch them as it is male athletes, and you’re only hurting yourself if you refuse to watch solely based on gender. Now, with that out of the way, here are the former Irish players to look for:

Notre Dame’s Maya Dodson denied sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

Best wishes in her professional career.

Notre Dame forward Maya Dodson was in a no-lose situation. If the NCAA denied her request for a sixth year of eligibility, she could instead prepare for the upcoming WNBA draft. Well, it’s time for her to start thinking about her professional career because the NCAA denied her appeal. With her collegiate career officially over, she took to social media to profess her gratitude to the Irish:

Dodson came to the Irish for the 2021-22 season after transferring from Stanford. Injuries limited her to nine games in 2019-20, and she opted out of the COVID-19-hampered 2020-21 season. By doing so, she was not eligible for the extra year of eligibility that the NCAA gave those who played that season. That made the appeal process necessary.

In her lone season with the Irish, Dodson was named to the All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team. She led the team in rebounds (7.3) and blocks (2.8) a game while also placing second in scoring (12.6).

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Notre Dame’s Abby Prohaska heading to transfer portal

The Irish guard is heading elsewhere.

Injuries limited Notre Dame guard Abby Prohaska to 20 games during the 2021-22 season. She left the Irish’s regular-season upset of NC State and didn’t see action again until the NCAA Tournament began. Clearly, she doesn’t want the remainder of her eligibility to be tarnished by something similar. But whether she took that into consideration or not, she won’t be back in an Irish uniform as she has entered the transfer portal:

Prohaska, who entered the portal the same day as Irish teammate Sam Brunelle, led the team in field-goal percentage (.509) and free-throw percentage (.857) during the past season. In three seasons at Notre Dame, she averaged 3.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game. After making 16 starts in her first two seasons, she came off the bench in every game she played in 2021-22.

We wish Prohaska well and she embarks on whatever challenge she tackles next. Hopefully, she has more of an opportunity to thrive wherever she goes.

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Notre Dame’s Sam Brunelle enters transfer portal

Will you miss her?

To the surprise of few, if any, Notre Dame men’s basketball standout Blake Wesley has announced that he’s entering the NBA draft. It took only one season in college for Wesley to realize he’s ready for the next level. On the same day, a player on the women’s basketball team also announced she’s ready to move on. However, Sam Brunelle isn’t turning professional, but rather entering the transfer portal:

Brunelle was hampered by injuries at various times during her three seasons with the Irish, but she missed only one game in 2021-22, coming off the bench every time. For her Irish career, the 6-foot-2 forward averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 42.6% from the field. As a freshman, she started all 31 games and had a double-digit scoring average for her only time in her collegiate career so far.

Best of luck to Brunelle in her future endeavors, and we hope she will become a key piece to whatever program she joins.

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Olivia Miles calls out trolls after Notre Dame NCAA Tournament loss

Be better, Irish fans.

It always is disheartening to write stories about high-profile athletes becoming targets of angry fans after a big loss. Sadly, this is one of the effects of everyone being connected to everyone. It happened to Kyle Hamilton and Kyren Williams after they skipped the Fiesta Bowl that the football team lost. Now, it appears that toxicity has reached Olivia Miles after the women’s basketball team’s NCAA Tournament collapse because she tweeted this:

Look, we know it hurts like crazy when your team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory when the stakes are high. Still, why would your first thought in the aftermath be to target the athletes and even threaten to take them out? Does it make you feel better? Exactly what purpose does this serve?

Please find a healthier way to express your feelings in the heat of the moment. These athletes do not exist solely to entertain you. If your happiness depends on how your teams perform this much, it might be time to rethink your life.

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NC State deals Notre Dame heartbreaking defeat in NCAA Tournament

This one hurts.

Notre Dame had top-seeded NC State on the ropes in the Sweet 16 of the Bridgeport Regional in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Irish were mere seconds away from defeating the Wolfpack for the second time this season and getting back to the Elite Eight. Instead, the tables turned at the worst possible time, and the Irish will head home after losing a 66-63 heartbreaker.

The Irish (24-9) took the lead in the second quarter, during which they had a 26-14 scoring advantage over the Wolfpack (32-3). They led by as much as 10 without falling behind and still had a four-point advantage with 1:45 to go. That lead was cut to 66-63, and the game was about to be tied but for Elissa Cunane’s first missed free throw of the game. Maya Dodson got the rebound, and the Irish called a timeout hoping to milk the clock with 35 seconds left.

Out of the timeout, the worst possible thing happened, and it surely will haunt Dara Mabrey forever. Raina Perez picked the senior clean at the center-court logo and broke free for a wide-open layup with nobody in front of her, giving the Wolfpack the slimmest of leads. The Irish called their last timeout to set up a game-winning basket, but Maddy Westbeld missed a 3-pointer, and Perez got the rebound and was fouled with 1.5 seconds remaining. Perez made two free throws, and the stunned Irish could only watch the Wolfpack celebrate their incredible come-from-behind victory.

As predicted, Cunane was the Wolfpack’s most productive player with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but it was the defense that will be remembered most in this game. Kai Crutchfield had three of her four steals in the fourth quarter, and two of those led to four of her 14 points. Perez also had four steals, none bigger than the last one.

Olivia Miles nearly carried the Irish on her back to the finish line as she led all scorers with 21 points. Westbeld scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals. However, she also committed five of the Irish’s 16 turnovers.

This one will sting for the Irish for a while, especially after being outscored, 20-10, in the fourth quarter. At the same time, this was the season in which Niele Ivey was able to establish herself as the right person to lead the program going forward. Most of the team will be back next season, and only more progress can result. The Irish are back, and they’re not going away.

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Tale of the Tape: Individual Leaders – Notre Dame vs. NC State

Do you like the Irish in this game?

Notre Dame is about to go into battle with NC State in the Sweet 16 during the Bridgeport Regional of the NCAA Tournament. On paper, the Irish’s individual leaders in the major statistical categories have the disadvantage most of the time. No, it doesn’t mean anything as far as their chances to advance to the Elite Eight. Still, it’s nice to see how much the best players on both teams mean in certain areas.

The Irish are pretty consistent in the number of players they have leading them in whatever it is they specialize in. For the Wolfpack, half of what they do seems to revolve around one player, and others split up duties with the other half. Do the Irish have enough talent spread out across the board to defeat the Wolfpack for the second time this season? A lot will need to go right to make it happen, but if any team is capable of making magic, it’s the Irish.

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Tale of the Tape: Team Stats – Notre Dame vs. NC State

This could be a tough one for the Irish.

Notre Dame knows that if it wants to win the national championship, it will have to beat the best of the best. That includes NC State, its opponent in the Sweet 16 and the top seed in the Bridgeport Regional. The Irish already defeated the Wolfpack once this season, so you better believe the Wolfpack will be more focused on this matchup than ever. If you look at the below chart, that’s not great news for the Irish:

Look how highly the Wolfpack rank in a bunch of these categories. As good as the Irish are in their own right and consequently have been able to match up well with other opponents, it’s no wonder they celebrated so much after winning the teams’ previous meeting. With the intensity taken up another level in the NCAA Tournament, the Irish will have even more work cut out for them than before. A lot will need to go right for the recent past to repeat itself.

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