Skylar Diggins' Notre Dame legacy goes beyond Twitter, Final Four
Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports9:32p.m. EST March 5, 2013
(Photo: Mark L. Baer, USA TODAY Sports)
Skylar Diggins' Irish saga includes a 123-19 record and two national championship game appearances
Her Twitter following now approaches the population of Iceland.She played her final home game Monday night
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Notre Dame basketball player with 301,945 Twitter followers (and counting) is taking an introductory course in playing the piano.
The television folks want to film Skylar Diggins at the keyboard. They want to film Skylar Diggins doing anything these days, but she has her pride and her passion to be good, so any public performance will have to wait. It takes practice, just like basketball.
"Tell them,'' she told the sports information department, "I'll do it at the Final Four.''
This BWOC has big hopes for April. Her Irish saga – which already includes a 123-19 record and two national championship game appearances -- only wants for a happy ending, and first title. But that'll be dicey, with Baylor and Brittney Griner out there to get in the way.
Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins celebrates with coach Muffet McGraw, right, after defeating Connecticut at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame defeated Connecticut in triple overtime 96-87 on March 5.(Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)
"I don't think my legacy is going to be defined whether I win a championship,'' Diggins said Tuesday morning, looking like just another Notre Dame student in a stocking cap on a winter day. "But that's the goal. That's always been the goal.''
Here is what a star looks like these days, at a school that has seen a few.
joHer Twitter following now approaches the population of Iceland. Security now accompanies the Irish on the road, as if they were a traveling rock band or high-level government officials. The stands are full nearly everywhere, the young girls often line up after the game to meet her and maybe get an autograph. That happened the other night – in Providence.
"It's bigger,'' she said Tuesday, "than anything I could have ever imagined.''
Her parents -- who raised her with high expectations, early curfews, and well-defined rules -- have watched with a mixture of amazement, excitement and occasional alarm. She played her final home game Monday night, and they were in their usual separate locations, as custom and superstition demand.
Stepdad Maurice Scott was at one end, Renee Scott in the middle. "We were a little worried, but we weren't prepared to this magnitude,'' Maurice said of the fame that has surrounded their daughter. "How can you prepare for that?''
Skyler played all 55 minutes Monday night and put 29 points on Connecticut in a three-overtime epic that made the Irish undisputed Big East champions and 28-1. The only way to go out. "I felt like I knew everyone in the crowd,'' she said afterward, and maybe she does.
"Waking up this morning, my legs are lead,'' she tweeted out to the masses on Tuesday.
She is the hometown girl who grew up seven miles from campus and had a Notre Dame scholarship offer in the eighth grade, but thought about going to Stanford.
"There was something about this place,'' she said, "I couldn't leave.''
She is the gym rat who also loved singing in the choir and taking gigs as a disc jockey, before she grew too busy being an All-American. "It's rhythm,'' she said of music. "Just like the game.''
She is a merciless competitor on the court, and unabashedly feminine off it. She'll eagerly go for the jugular of Tennessee or Connecticut, but the hands doing it have polished nails.
Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins waits to be introduced before the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Purcell Pavilion earlier this season.(Photo: Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports)
The Irish were 0-20 all-time against Tennessee when she arrived, but they have won three in a row against the Volunteers. They were once 4-28 against Connecticut, but they have now taken six of the last seven, becoming Geno Auriemma's worst nightmare.
Her story includes a state championship in high school, two Final Four trips for the Irish, and glowing tweets from the likes of singers Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. It was about then that her Twitter account exploded.
She signed up Maurice for Twitter and tweeted out that her dad now had an account. "I had 300 followers in literally five minutes,'' he said. "I wasn't ready for that, so I had to cut it off.''
From Maurice, who coached her much of her young life, Skylar said she got her approach to the game. Always find a way to get better. From her mother, the drive to never back off. Renee Scott banned the use of the word "can't'' from her children's vocabulary.
"She'd tell us, 'Don't say I can't. Say I'll try.' " Diggins said. "We didn't have to be the best in everything, but we had to be our best. I found it that sometimes if I was my best, I was close to being the best.''
So has Skyler used the word "can't'' lately?
"Not in front of her.''
It'll be over for her soon at Notre Dame. Maurice said Monday he was trying not to cry. "Years from now,'' he said, "My grandkids will come back and I'll be able to say, 'Your mom put it down right here.'
On Tuesday, Skylar paused to consider her legacy.
"I just want to be remembered as someone who loved her city and everything in it, who took pride in her university and her team, who loved her teammates and had an unexplainable love for her family. Just someone who worked hard.''
She wouldn't mind a national championship, either. Baylor whipped the Irish by 19 points in last spring's national championship game and by 12 earlier this season. Conventional wisdom holds the Bears can't be beaten.
The Notre Dame star with – let's update now – 302,310 Twitter followers doesn't understand that word.