Good chemistry leads to Irish's success

Skylar Diggins, a sophomore All-America point guard for the nationally ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team, is blogging about her NCAA tournament experience for espnW.

Chemistry is important to any team's success. The ability to get along with your teammates on the court has to be matched by the way you get to know them and interact with them off the court, as well. In many cases, developing that off-the-court bond is almost more important than those ties on the court, because you end up spending just as much time with your teammates away from basketball as you do during practice, games, road trips and other basketball-related activities.

Here at Notre Dame, there isn't one teammate of mine that I wouldn't look forward to hanging out with off the court. I feel like we've all taken the time to get to know one another, learn more about each other, and we've built those natural connections that help strengthen our bond once we step on the floor. By getting to know one another and taking the time to learn our teammates, we are also helping out our coaches because we take out all the petty insecurities and the jealousies that can wreck a team's organization on the floor. Our coaches don't have to worry about which combinations they put on the floor because they know we're all going to get along and we all have the same goals in mind.

Because of the relationships we've built on and off the court, it's easier to trade criticisms to make each other better players and make us a better team. We're all friends, we're all tight with one another, and we trust and value each other's opinions because we know at the end of the day, it's not a personal thing, it's all about improving the team as a whole and getting us closer to our ultimate goal of a national championship.

Now, with any chemistry experiment, there's going to be different elements that are mixed together to create these strong bonds. Our captains, Becca Bruszewski and Brittany Mallory, go out of their way to help the younger players and make them better. They set the tone for us, not only by the way they play each night, but by the way they carry themselves each day. They've been in the shoes of us younger players, and they know what we're going through. To have that kind of leadership makes us so much better as a group.

As we move further along in the NCAA tournament, these bonds get stronger and stronger. There are only 12 of us in that locker room going through what we're going through as the scrutiny gets more intense at each level of the tournament. We know we can rely on each other and that makes it easier to handle it all. We've had all season to create and develop our chemistry and now is the time where we get to use it as a strength and an intangible key to our success.

Sometimes people use the phrase "I've got your back" when talking about how they support one another. But really, that's not how it works, because if I have your back and you fall, I can't help you up until you move. But if we're side-by-side, going through our daily challenges together, and either one of us goes down, the other one is going to be right there to pick you up. That's what it's all about for us, and that's why we've gotten to this point in the season … the Elite Eight.

Notre Dame will take on Tennessee at 7 p.m. on Monday on ESPN.

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