Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.
If recent history is any indication, the team that wins the national championship this season is going to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 points.
Watching Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale during the Preseason WNIT, one might think there is extra credit awarded if you get there by Valentine's Day. Whether or not her thirst for points can help the Fighting Irish end up No. 1 in April, they sure helped keep the team there for now.
Named the Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player after she averaged 19.5 points in No. 1 Notre Dame's four wins, including a team-high 17 points in Sunday's 71-60 victory against No. 17 Washington, Ogunbowale is also espnW's first national player of the week for the 2016-17 season. (That distinction in this case encompasses both the past seven days and the season's opening weekend.)
By any measure, Ogunbowale excelled at putting points on the board over the past 10 days.
For sheer artistry, she opened the season with a career-best 30 points against Central Michigan, a performance that required just 13 field goal attempts and 23 minutes.
If scoring in blowouts doesn't do it for you, she also scored a team-best 18 points in a 71-67 semifinal win against Green Bay, each of those points needed against a team that nearly completed a comeback that would have added the Fighting Irish to a long list of giants slayed.
And pitted against one of the nation's proven scoring maestros in Washington's Kelsey Plum in the final, Ogunbowale outscored the All-American 9-3 in the first quarter as Notre Dame jumped to a 25-8 lead and never looked back.
The first time she touched the ball, Ogunbowale hit a 3-pointer from a step behind the line. The second time she touched it, she waited two whole dribbles before taking and making an elbow jumper. The third time she touched it, she missed a 3-pointer. Undaunted, she cut down the lane, took a pass from the teammate who got the offensive rebound and hit a layup. You get the picture.
It was at about this time a year ago that Ogunbowale left little doubt about her intentions. In a game against UCLA in the Bahamas, she suffered through a 1-for-7 shooting performance. Four days later, in her first game against a ranked opponent, she missed all six shots she took in the first half against Ohio State. Then she missed the first shot she took in the second half. She didn't make a shot until the fourth quarter (when they still very much mattered). She finished 2-for-14 from the floor.
Most freshmen would be cowed. Most at some point would stop shooting.
Ogunbowale just kept right on chucking. To her everlasting credit.
With Brianna Turner now the object of every opponent's defensive focus and still rounding into form after offseason shoulder surgery, Notre Dame needs others on a young roster to score. It needs an alpha presence on the court, someone to give the crowd a respite from quietly appreciating Lindsay Allen. Someone to bring them to their feet.
Ogunbowale knows perfectly well that the best way to do that is to put the ball in the basket.
Also considered: Crystal Dangerfield, UConn; Asia Durr, Louisville; Jessica January, DePaul; Teniya Page, Penn State