Nov. 10, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
The No. 1/2 Notre Dame women’s basketball team begins its highly-anticipated 2016-17 season at 7 p.m. on Friday night when they play host to Central Michigan at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Here are some things to know about the game.
Preseason WNIT Information
Notre Dame is opening its 2016-17 season by competing in the 16-team Preseason WNIT. So long as they advance, the Irish would play host to each of the tournament’s four games with a quarterfinal on Monday night, a semifinal next Thursday night and a championship game at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20.
This is the fifth time that Notre Dame has played in the Preseason WNIT, highlighted by winning the event’s championship in 2004 with wins over No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Ohio State. The Irish last played in the Preseason WNIT in 2011, defeating Akron, Indiana State and Hartford, all at home, before falling on the road to eventual NCAA champion Baylor.
About the Chippewas
Central Michigan will pose an immediate test for the Irish in their season opener. The Chippewas are the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference after a 2015-16 season where they claimed the MAC West Division title and came within a championship game upset loss to Buffalo of reaching the NCAA Championship. Led by preseason All-MAC selections Presley Hudson and Tinara Moore, the Chippewas return plenty of punch for a team that went on to compete in last year’s postseason WNIT.
A familiar face leads Central Michigan in head coach Sue Guevara. Entering her 10th year in Mount Pleasant, Guevara previously spent seven years at Michigan. She has faced the Irish five times before as a head coach, most notably when the Irish downed the Wolverines, 88-54, in the second round of the 2001 NCAA Championship en route to the national title.
The Irish are 4-1 all-time against Central Michigan, and 4-0 under the guidance of Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw. The lone Notre Dame loss came in the first meeting between the teams, a 72-69 defeat at the Joyce Center on Dec. 21, 1983. The last meeting between the sides resulted in a 106-72 Irish win on Dec. 22, 2013, also at Notre Dame.
Opening at Home
The Irish have been tough to beat in home openers, including last year’s 85-54 triumph over Bucknell. The Irish ride a 21-game winning streak in home openers into Friday night’s contest. Notre Dame has not lost its home opener since 1994 when No. 13 Purdue came away from the Joyce Center with an 87-83 victory on Nov. 30. Notre Dame has not lost a season opener played at home since an 86-70 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Penn State on Nov. 22, 1991, a run of 16 consecutive victories.
It is the second time the Irish have opened the season at home against Central Michigan, also doing so on Nov. 10, 2006, with an 88-66 win.
Irish Sharp in Exhibition Win
Notre Dame’s exhibition game on Nov. 3 proved to be a crisp display for the Irish in a 129-50 win over Roberts Wesleyan. Six players scored in double-figures while three eclipsed the 20-point plateau in Marina Mabrey (28), Kristina Nelson (24) and Erin Boley (22). The Irish shot 61.5% from the floor (56-of-91) while holding the Redhawks to a 25.0% clip (16-of-64). Notre Dame produced 38 assists (including 10 from Lindsay Allen) against just four turnovers. The Irish had 19 steals (led by four each from Kathryn Westbeld and Mabrey) while having the ball stolen from them just once on the night.
How to Watch/Listen
The first official steps towards creation of an ACC Network began this summer in conjunction with ESPN. All non-televised home games which used to be streamed live online through WatchND (including Friday night’s) will now be streamed under the banner of ACC Network Extra. Games are available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Friday night’s game is available here.
Bob Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish with his radio call also being picked up for these ACC Network Extra webcasts. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app.
If the Irish defeat Central Michigan, they would welcome either Fordham of Furman to Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m. on Monday night. The Rams and Paladins also play at 7 p.m. on Friday night on Fordham’s historic home court of the Rose Hill Gym in Bronx, New York. Fordham went 14-17 and 8-8 in Atlantic 10 Conference action a year ago while Furman went 15-16 and 9-5 in Southern Conference play. The contest is the 2016-17 season opener for both teams.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.