Guard Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame is eager to get another title shot. She has been on the losing side in the NCAA women's basketball tournament in each of the last two seasons. The 64-team tournament starts Saturday.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins enters her final NCAA tournament with a sense of calmness after losses in the championship game the past two seasons.
“I’m really coming in with a light mood, approaching practice wanting to have fun and enjoy this moment, because it’s my last go-around. But the sense of urgency is greater,” Diggins said Friday before practice. “But I don’t think I’m putting any more pressure on myself or on our team than anyone else is.”
Diggins, one of four finalists for the Naismith Award, led the Fighting Irish (31-1) to their first undefeated Big East season and their first title in the conference tournament, beating rival Connecticut three times along the way.
Diggins believes winning the Big East tournament is an example of this squad’s will to win and gives it momentum heading into the NCAA tournament, where the Irish open against Tennessee-Martin (19-14) on Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa.
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The first round of the 64-team tournament begins Saturday.
Notre Dame, which has won a school-record 26 straight, is a No. 1 regional seed for the second consecutive season and for the third time in program history.
Diggins, who has started a school-record 139 games and played in 15 NCAA tournament games, seems relaxed.
“The calmness comes with experience,” she said. “I know what I have to do in my job.”
Coach Muffet McGraw, who guided the Irish to a national championship in 2001, said Diggins had been feeling “under the weather” all week. All Diggins would say Friday was that she is feeling fine.
Diggins is eager to make another deep run in the tournament.
“She wants to be the best player and she wants us to be the best team. So I think for her, she’s going to go into this tournament — like she does for every other one — with an incredible sense of urgency and ready to go,” McGraw said.
“She doesn’t have to prove herself to anybody.”
Diggins heads into the tournament 53 points shy of surpassing the school scoring record of 2,322 held by current assistant coach Beth Morgan Cunningham (1993-97).
In NCAA tournament games, Diggins is averaging 17.4 points on 46 percent shooting.