Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
There may be no bigger University of Notre Dame women’s basketball fan out there than Scott Dibble.
“I’m an Irish fan,” the second-year New Castle High girls coach admitted. “I’ve been one my whole life.”
Dibble has a little extra incentive to root for the female Fighting Irish these days.
He coached Notre Dame senior standout Kayla McBride when the pair helped Villa Maria Academy in Erie capture PIAA Class AA championships in 2009 and 2010.
“Sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I see her on TV,” Dibble said. “I’m really proud of her. She deserves everything she gets. That girl works harder than any other kid I’ve been around. She’s a once-in a-lifetime type of player in my eyes. I’ll never have another one like her.”
McBride, a 5-foot-11 guard, and the undefeated Irish (37-0) are looking for their first NCAA women’s basketball national championship since 2001 when they meet rival Connecticut in tonight’s title tilt.
Notre Dame and the Huskies (39-0) will tip off at 8:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn., in a battle of the unbeatens.
“The whole team has been doing fantastic,” Dibble said. “The people at the university want it bad. There’s a rivalry between the two programs. They’re the two best programs in the country. I think it’s going to be a great game.”
The Irish have reached the Final Four in each of the past three seasons, failing to bring home the title each time.
Last year, Notre Dame was ousted by eventual national champion UConn in the national semifinals. McBride and the Irish were national runners-up in in 2011 and 2012, falling to Texas A&M and Baylor.
“She’s driven,” Dibble said. “She’s all business. This is their fourth time in the Final Four. She wants the title bad. I know she does. She wants this for her team and the seniors. She’s focused on the task at hand.”
McBride, who is averaging 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, exploded for a team-high 28 points to lead Notre Dame to an 87-61 win over Maryland in the national semifinals Sunday evening.
“Kayla came to play,” Dibble said. “She was just having fun out there. It was cool to watch her. Maryland had given them their toughest game of the season, but they manhandled them this time.
“She’s a humble girl. She’s very welcoming. If any little kid comes up to her, she’s willing to talk to them, take a picture or sign autographs. The girl has no ego. She’s enjoying life and making the best of it.”
Dibble obviously is predicting a Notre Dame victory. He was in the stands in South Bend for the Irish’s 88-69 Elite Eight victory over Baylor on March 31.
“I hope Notre Dame wins by one,” he said. “I don’t care how much they win by as long as Notre Dame wins. I’ll be the happiest man on the planet. I am predicting Notre Dame with the victory. I hope it happens.”