HomeBasketballWhat Hannah Hidalgo, Niele Ivey said about Maddy Westbeld staying at Notre...

What Hannah Hidalgo, Niele Ivey said about Maddy Westbeld staying at Notre Dame


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Maddy Westbeld received her flowers from Notre Dame faithful when she announced on social media last week she’s staying in South Bend for another season with the Fighting Irish with two words — “not done.” Hundreds of likes, replies and sighs of relief from ND fans far and wide.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find two individuals who received the news with more fervor than Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey and rising sophomore point guard Hannah Hidalgo.

“I’m ecstatic,” Ivey said. “Really excited. She’s a legacy player. She’s made such a tremendous impact on our program. She said, ‘Not done yet.’ The whole team, the community, she has great support. An outpouring of love with her [social media] post. I’m super excited. She’s a phenomenal leader and I think she’s going to have just an incredible season next year and will lead us.”

“Maddy, she’s great,” Hidalgo added. “And she’s so versatile. Just her ability to do so many different things and her leadership, her knowing what coach Ivey wants and how to play Irish basketball, she’s such a dog. Nobody can really guard her. If it’s a big guarding her, she’s going to come out and shoot the three. If it’s a guard guarding her, she’s going to post up.”

Notice how both mentioned Westbeld’s leadership. It’s invaluable. She’ll be the only player who’s been at Notre Dame for all five years of Ivey’s tenure as head coach.

But notice, too, how Hidalgo went into the specifics of what Westbeld brings from and Xs and Os standpoint. Westbeld really is a unique forward on both ends of the floor. She moves her feet well defensively, always seeming to stay in front of drivers, often getting in passing lanes for easy takeaways. And offensively, she’s often a mismatch for opponents because she has a complete high-low game.

Nobody knows that better than Notre Dame’s floor general, Hidalgo.

“Her ability to do so many different things, it’s exciting,” Hidalgo said. “Next year, nobody’s going to be able to handle that.”

Rarely does a player get vastly better from year three to year four as much as Westbeld did. She won Notre Dame’s Most Improved Player award at Tuesday night’s team banquet. That’s an honor that screams freshman to sophomore jump, but Westbeld made the leap from junior to senior.

If she was capable of increasing her scoring average by 28.6 percent and her rebounds per game average by 31.8 percent at this stage in her career, what’s stopping her from having her best season yet in her final year at Notre Dame?

Ivey and Hidalgo would tell you the answer is absolutely nothing.

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