Strengths: From the moment the Irish set foot in Indianapolis in 2011 for the first of their four straight Final Fours, it was clear Achonwa was a leader -- or would soon be one. Just a role player at the time, she was glib and charismatic, a program caretaker in waiting. The rest of the world got to see more of that this season. Achonwa's skills as a post player are obvious. Her talents as the voice and face of Notre Dame women's basketball in 2014 might have become even more evident in the moments and days following her devastating knee injury that will keep her off the court for the Final Four. Her presence remains vital.
Weakness: The 6-3 forward was the consummate leader even in the moments right after injuring her knee and said all the right things even in the immediate aftermath. Well, almost all the right things. She might need a refresher course in the finer points of the family viewing hour.
With her adrenaline racing -- and in her attempts to keep her teammates fired up and focused after her injury -- Achonwa got back on her feet and fired off a word or two not exactly fit for the PG-13 demographic.
Career highlights: The disappointment of the knee injury is only magnified by the reality that Achonwa was playing the best basketball of her career in the NCAA tournament. Her 25 points against Arizona State in the round of 32 was one point shy of a career high. The 19 points and 15 rebounds she produced against Baylor in the Elite Eight was the best performance in a big game she had ever had in an Irish uniform.
What's at stake: While Achonwa will not be on the floor in Nashville, a Notre Dame championship would belong to her as much as anyone else in the Irish family. With four trips to the game's ultimate stage, Achonwa's legacy is already cemented. Being part of an undefeated national champion (albeit a hobbled one at this point) as the Irish's unquestioned leader, she should be remembered among the first few names in Notre Dame lore.
Strengths: The 5-11 guard is a shooter -- an exceptional shooter and also a versatile one, a skill that has made her the perfect fit in Muffet McGraw's offensive scheme. McBride has made 47.4 percent of her field goal attempts in her four years and 50 percent of her 3-point attempts in three NCAA tournaments. Never afraid to take a big shot or have the ball in critical moments, McBride is the ideal player for spotlights like the Final Four.
Weakness: This might sound strange for someone who plays basketball at her level and spends much of her time sprinting around screens, but McBride hates to run. She puts aside her disdain for movement, of course, because it's the only way to be fit for the kind of basketball player she is. But if it hadn't been for hoops, McBride might never have put one foot in front of the other.