Senior forward Courtney LaVere rolled up 17 points, seven rebounds and a season-high four blocks, helping Notre Dame to a 75-66 overtime win at Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.

#10/11 Irish Play Host To Nebraska Sunday In Preseason WNIT Quarterfinal

Nov. 13, 2004

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SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT – QUARTERFINAL (#10 AP/#11 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0)

The Date and Time: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.

The Tickets: Still available through the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).

The Radio Plans: Friday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) and former Irish All-American Ruth Riley (analysis) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at

Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, are available for the Nebraska game, via the Notre Dame ( athletics web site.

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Nebraska (

Less than 48 hours after a strong season-opening victory, the No. 10/11 Notre Dame women’s basketball team returns to action against Nebraska in the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT. The Irish and Huskers will tangle Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) inside the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame (1-0) tipped off its 2004-05 season in impressive fashion in Friday night with a 92-73 win over Illinois State at the Joyce Center. Six different Irish players scored in double figures and Notre Dame bolted out to a double-digit lead midwaty through the first half. The Irish kicked their lead up to 29 points by the final media timeout of the game before ISU made a late run to cut into the game-ending margin.

Junior forward Courtney LaVere led the potent Notre Dame offense with 18 points, while junior guard Megan Duffy contributed 15 points and a game-high eight assists. The Irish ended up shooting 52.9 percent for the game and had 29 assists, the most by a Notre Dame squad in nearly four years.

Nebraska (1-0) also opened its season on Friday, ousting Western Illinois, 74-71 in first-round WNIT action. The Huskers led by 15 points at the half and remained steady despite a furious WIU rally. Sophomore guard Kiera Hardy had a career-high 28 points for NU.

Connie Yori is in her third season as the head coach at Nebraska with a 27-32 (.458) record.

With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.

The Irish, who have just two seniors and four upperclassmen on their 11-player roster, have been a nearly unanimous top-15 selection, checking in at No. 10 in the preseason Associated Press poll and 11th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. In addition, numerous publications have placed Notre Dame as high as 10th by SLAM and and no lower than No. 17 (Women’s Basketball News Service) in their respective preseason polls.

Balanced offensive production has been the recurring theme for Notre Dame through its two exhibition games and the first regular-season contest of the year. The Irish had six players crack double figures on Friday night, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1999, and six different players also came away with five or more rebounds in the game. In addition, Notre Dame showed good patience in its offensive sets, distributing 29 assists (its highest total since the second game of the Irish national championship season in 2000-01).

Junior guard Megan Duffy has shown the most consistency of any player during the early going, averaging a combined 15.7 ppg. through two exhibition games and one regular-season contest. Her shooting also has been exceptional (.592, 16-of-27) in those three outings, as has her cool and composed demeanor on the floor. In fact, in those three appearances at the Joyce Center this season, Duffy has 17 assists (5.7 apg.) with only five turnovers, good for a 3.4 assist/turnover ratio.

Duffy is just one cog in the potent Irish starting lineup that saw four of its five members score in double figures on Friday night against Illinois State. Junior forward Courtney LaVere tossed in a team-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast had 13 points despite playing only 17 minutes due to foul trouble.


  • The No. 10 ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll and No. 11 placement in the ESPN/USA Today poll represents the eighth time in the past nine seasons the Irish have appeared in both preseason national polls. Notre Dame also has been ranked 16th or higher in both polls during each of the past six seasons, peaking in 2000-01 with a No. 6 ranking in the AP poll and a No. 5 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today survey.
  • Notre Dame currently owns a 21-game homecourt winning streak entering Sunday’s game with Nebraska. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and it’s tied with Delaware State and Southwest Missouri State for the sixth-longest active run in the nation (both DSU and SMS have yet to tip off their seasons).
  • The Irish have won 39 consecutive home games when they are ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll at tipoff. Notre Dame is 43-2 at home all-time when it’s a top-10 club.
  • Notre Dame has won 48 of its last 50 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
  • The Irish have won seven of their last eight regular-season tournament games, with their only loss being a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado in the championship game of last year’s WBCA Classic.
  • Notre Dame’s 29 assists against Illinois State were its highest total since Nov. 20, 2000, when the Irish had 31 handouts in a 95-65 rout of Arizona at the Joyce Center.
  • The Irish have posted 30 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past six seasons (1998-99 to present), an average of five per year. Notre Dame set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents in 2003-04.
  • Notre Dame has an active streak of 52 consecutive home games with at least 5,000 fans in attendance (including 12 games with crowds of 8,000 fans or more).
  • Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been named a preseason All-American by six sources, including Basketball News, which tabbed her as its Preseason National Player of the Year.
  • Batteast and junior guard Megan Duffy both have earned preseason all-conference honors. Batteast is the 2004-05 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year (the first non-Connecticut player to be chosen in 12 years) and was a unanimous first-team all-league choice. Meanwhile, Duffy is a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST pick on the heels of her selection as the conference’s Most Improved Player last year.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw needs nine victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 385-149 (.721) record, which also puts her just 15 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.

Big doings are on the horizon in Lincoln, as Nebraska continues its return to contention in the Big 12 Conference this season. The Huskers took several large steps in that direction last year, going 18-12 and advancing to the second round of the postseason WNIT. Now, the Husker Nation is hungry for more and it appears this year’s crew might be poised to do just that.

Nebraska opened the 2004-05 season with a thrilling 74-71 home victory over Western Illinois on Friday night in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. Despite losing four starters and half their letterwinners from last season, the Huskers didn’t seem to miss a beat against the Westerwinds. Sophomore guard Kiera Hardy stepped into the void and scored a career-high 28 points, while classmate Jessica Gerhart capably manned the post to the tune of a career-best 17 points and nine rebounds.

As a team, Nebraska kept its turnovers to a minimum (10) and shot exceptionally well at the foul line (90.5 percent), offsetting a .426 field goal percentage and a minus-10 rebounding margin (33-43). The Huskers opened up a 15-point halftime lead and seemed to have matters well in hand before WIU came charging back to challenge the hosts. In the end, NU had enough left to hold off the Westerwinds and advance to the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT.

Nebraska head coach Connie Yori is starting her third season in Lincoln, with a 27-32 (.458) record in hand. She took over as the Husker boss in 2002 after a successful 12-year run at her alma mater, Creighton, where she piloted the Blue Jays to a 195-140 record. Overall, she has a 222-172 (.563) record in her 15th season as a collegiate head coach.

Sunday night’s game will mark just the second time the Irish and Huskers have met in women’s basketball. Nebraska took the only game in the series, defeating Notre Dame, 98-88 in double overtime on Feb. 25, 1982 at the Joyce Center. Irish center Mary Beth Schueth scored a team-high 28 points, making 12 of 15 shots before fouling out at the end of the first overtime. Debra Powell led all scorers with 34 points and added 12 rebounds for the Huskers.

Each team shot better than 50 percent from the floor (Notre Dame – .537; Nebraska – .519) in the marathon contest, but as one might imagine, turnovers were plentiful with the two sides combining for 50 miscues. Despite the sketchy ballhandling, the game itself was wildly exciting. The Huskers opened up a pair of 13-point leads in the first half, but the Irish fought back and finally took their first lead at 67-66 on a bucket by Schueth at the 3:18 mark. Nebraska came right back with six of the next nine points and grabbed a 72-70 lead on Terri Parriott’s long jumper with 1:01 left. However, Notre Dame’s Theresa Mullins assured the Joyce Center faithful of seeing bonus basketball when she canned two free throws with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Irish carried that momentum into the first overtime, opening up a five-point lead on three occasions, the last at 82-77 on two free throws by Mullins with 1:08 to go. Now, it was Nebraska’s turn to battle back, as the Huskers scored the next six points in 28 seconds, suddenly putting the visitors in front. That lead didn’t last long, as Schueth drove for a baseline layup with 11 seconds to play. However, the veteran Irish post canceled out her go-ahead bucket by fouling Powell with one second to go – it no only dismissed Schueth, but also gave Powell a one-and-one opportunity to essentially win the game. The Nebraska standout hit the first, but missed her second charity and the game dramatically headed for another overtime.

The Huskers quickly took control in the second extra session, scoring the first six points. Crystal Coleman came off the bench and wound up tallying six of her 22 points in the period as Nebraska finally put away the pesky Irish and claimed the victory. It was the first of only three double-overtime games in Notre Dame’s 28 seasons of women’s basketball, and it was also one of only seven overtime women’s games ever to be played at the Joyce Center (the first of two 2-OT games, with a 1992 meeting between the Irish and Dayton also requiring 10 extra minutes).

For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame is facing an opponent for the first time in more than 20 years. Prior to Friday’s matchup with Illinois State, the Irish hadn’t seen the Redbirds on the hardwood since Feb. 8, 1984, a hiatus of 20 years, nine months and four days.

Sunday’s game against Nebraska will do that rivalry one better, as Notre Dame will get its first look at the Huskers since Feb. 25, 1982 (a 98-88 double-overtime Nebraska win) – that will be a span of 22 years, eight months and 20 days! However, this still won’t be the longest hiatus between series games in Irish history. That distinction belongs to Notre Dame’s series with IPFW (Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne), which saw a gap of 23 years, 10 months and 27 days between games (Jan. 24, 1979 to Dec. 21, 2002).

For some perspective, here’s a look at the way things were the last time the Irish and Huskers played one another:

  • The NCAA was in its first year of sanctioning women’s athletics – and the first NCAA women’s basketball tournament didn’t begin until three weeks after that Notre Dame-Nebraska game.
  • No current player on the Irish women’s basketball team was even born the last time Notre Dame faced Nebraska. The oldest current player – senior center Teresa Borton – would not be born for another 10 months and six days.
  • Current Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw was in her second season as a assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) University, where she worked on the staff of head coach Jim Foster (now Ohio State’s skipper).
  • The revolutionary space shuttle Columbia embarked on its maiden flight, marking the first successful round trip for the world’s first “re-usable” space vehicle.
  • “Chariots of Fire” garnered the Academy Award for Best Picture, nosing out several other notable films, including “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial” and “Gandhi”.
  • The world’s first successful artificial heart transplant takes place when a 61-year-old dentist, Dr. Barney Clark, receives the device at a Salt Lake City hospital.
  • One of the hit songs of the day was “867-5309 (Jenny)” by Tommy Tutone.

The Irish are 5-9 (.357) against current Big 12 Conference teams, although Sunday’s game with Nebraska will mark just the third time a Big 12 team has ever visited the Joyce Center. On Feb. 25, 1982, the Huskers defeated the Irish, 98-88 in double overtime, before Notre Dame defeated Iowa State, 60-53 on Feb. 6, 1983.

Notre Dame last played a Big 12 team on Nov. 15, 2003, when it dropped a 67-63 overtime decision at No. 20 Colorado in the championship game of the WBCA Classic. The Irish led that game throughout regulation and had a chance to ice it at the foul line in the final 25 seconds, before the Buffaloes rallied and forced overtime with a desperation three-pointer. Another trey with 11 seconds left in the extra period completed CU’s comeback win.

Besides Colorado (0-2), Iowa State (1-0) and Nebraska (0-1), Notre Dame has played six other Big 12 teams – Kansas State (1-0), Missouri (1-0), Oklahoma (0-1), Texas (1-1), Texas A&M (0-1) and Texas Tech (1-2). The majority of those matchups have occurred in NCAA Tournament play, with Notre Dame pulling off memorable wins on the home floors of Texas (86-83 in 1997), Texas Tech (74-59 in 1998) and Kansas State (59-53 in 2003).

The Irish still have yet to match up with Baylor, Kansas or Oklahoma State on the hardwood.

While it’s been more than three and a half years since Ruth Riley last donned a blue and gold Notre Dame jersey, the beloved former Irish All-America center is still helping her alma mater find that winning edge. In fact, Riley has joined the radio broadcasts of Irish basketball games three times in the past three seasons – and Notre Dame is 3-0 when she is behind the microphone (2002 at Miami; 2003 vs. USC; 2004 vs. Illinois State).

For those who are wondering, she’s scheduled to be courtside for Sunday’s game with Nebraska, capping off a whirlwind weekend in South Bend that also featured her participation in a ceremony honoring all of Notre Dame’s 2004 Olympians (Riley won a gold medal with the undefeated U.S. women’s basketball team in Athens).

Notre Dame has a record of 33-25 (.569) when playing in a regular-season, multi-game tournament. However, more than half of those losses (14) came before head coach Muffet McGraw arrived on the scene in South Bend 18 seasons ago. In fact, the Irish are 21-11 (.656) in such tournament games in the McGraw era, including a 10-4 (.714) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.

What’s more, Notre Dame has won seven of its last eight in-season tournament games, claiming titles at the 1996 Comfort Inn Downtown Classic and the 2001 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge. The only blemish in that span is a narrow 67-63 overtime decision at 20th-ranked Colorado in the championship game of last year’s WBCA Classic.

Notre Dame is 162-40 (.802) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are 10th in the AP poll entering Sunday’s game with Nebraska). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 74-8 (.902) as a ranked host at the Joyce Center, including Friday’s season-opening 92-73 victory over Illinois State.

Notre Dame has been very sharp when it’s ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. The Irish are 89-15 (.856) as a top-10 squad, including a 43-2 (.956) record at home. In fact, Notre Dame currently has a 39-game home winning streak when it is ranked in the AP top 10, ever since the No. 6 Irish lost to top-ranked Connecticut, 106-81 on Dec. 8, 1998.

One interesting side note: Notre Dame is 9-1 (.900) all-time when it is ranked exactly 10th in the Associated Press poll, including a current nine-game winning streak. Prior to this year’s preseason poll, the last time the Irish were No. 10 in the AP rankings was the opening week of the 2002-03 season, when they defeated Cleveland State (107-65) and USC (69-57).

For the first time since 1996, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame is taking part in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

The Irish last played in the Preseason WNIT eight years ago, advancing to the semifinals with victories over Kent State (66-41) and No. 6 Iowa (61-50). Following a 72-59 loss to third-ranked Tennessee in the semifinals, Notre Dame bounced back to defeat No. 8 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the consolation game (which no longer exists). Katryna Gaither earned a spot on the all-tournament team after making a tournament-record 42 field goals in the four-game set (a record that still stands). Notre Dame went on to log a 31-7 record in 1996-97, advancing to its first NCAA Final Four.

The Irish will be looking to continue the BIG EAST Conference’s run of success in the Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have reached the semifinals six times in the 10-year history of the tournament, with Connecticut winning titles in 1997 and 2001. Last year, Rutgers made its second trip to the Preseason WNIT championship game before bowing to Texas Tech, 73-45.

Notre Dame has been very successful in the month of November over the past nine seasons. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 30-8 (.789) in November games, including wins in 12 of their last 17 games in the month.

Notre Dame had one of its best offensive games of the past two seasons. Coach Muffet McGraw still wasn’t completely happy.

She was pleased to see six players score in double figures for the 10th-ranked Irish in their 92-73 victory over Illinois State on Friday night in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT. She wasn’t happy to see the Redbirds score that many points or shoot 45 percent.

“I don’t care how many points we score. It’s all about the defense,” McGraw said.

The Irish did play some good defense in the first half, forcing 18 turnovers that led to numerous easy baskets.

“They scored so many points off our turnovers, it seemed like every turnover led to a fastbreak or layup with them,” Illinois State coach Robin Pingeton said.

Junior forward Courtney LaVere led the Irish with 18 points and junior guard Megan Duffy added 15 points and eight assists. Freshman guard Charel Allen scored 14 points in her first college game, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast added 13, senior center Teresa Borton had 11 and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin added 10 as the Irish had six players in double figures for the first time since 1999.

“It’s great to see the rest of them score like they did, especially Courtney,” McGraw said.

Every Irish player who played scored except freshman guard Tulyah Gaines, who played just 5 minutes after being fouled and hitting her head on the floor. She was held overnight at the campus infirmary as a precautionary measure.

Katie Donovan led Illinois State with 25 points, while Holly Hallstrom had 23 and Ashley Sandstead added 11.

The Irish scored more than 90 points just once last season, a 93-58 win over Miami on Feb. 25. But like their coach, the Irish were more concerned about their defense.

“We focus on defense here,” LaVere said. “To allow them to have that many, we’re not too happy with that.”

Notre Dame had five players 6-foot-1 or taller playing at least eight minutes, while the Redbirds had just three women that height play that much. The Irish, who shot 53 percent, outscored the Redbirds 48-32 in the paint and had a 40-34 rebounding advantage.


  • Notre Dame had six players score in double figures for the first time since Jan. 23, 1999 (a 99-60 win vs. St. John’s at the Joyce Center).
  • Notre Dame’s 29 assists in Friday’s season-opening win over Illinois State were the most for an Irish club since Nov. 20, 2000, when they had 31 assists in a 95-65 victory over Arizona at the Joyce Center.
  • The Irish also made 37 field goals in Friday’s triumph over Illinois State, their highest total since Nov. 26, 2002, when Notre Dame had 42 baskets in a 107-65 rout of Cleveland State, also at the Joyce Center.
  • Notre Dame scored 48 points in the first half, its highest output in the opening 20 minutes of a game since Nov. 26, 2002, when the Irish rang up a school-record 61 points to tip off a 107-65 win over Cleveland State.
  • Duffy’s eight assists were one shy of her career, set last season on Dec. 7 at Washington.
  • LaVere’s five assists tied her career high, previously set in that 2002 win over Cleveland State.
  • Erwin picked up her second career double-figure scoring game, complementing the career-high 13-point effort she had last season on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton; she also had a career-high six rebounds, one more than her previous best that she set four times last year.
  • Allen’s 14 points are the most by an Irish freshman in her debut game since LaVere had 18 against Cleveland State in 2002.
  • Sophomore guard Breona Gray made her first career start and tied her career high with six rebounds (vs. Marquette on Jan. 1, 2004).
  • The Irish won their ninth consecutive season opener and are 15-3 in season openers during the 18-year Muffet McGraw era.
  • The Irish have now won 10 consecutive games over current Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) teams and are 24-2 all-time against that league (11-1 at home).
  • Notre Dame has won 48 of its last 50 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season.

The Irish drew 6,190 fans to their season opener, their 52nd consecutive home game with at least 5,000 fans in attendance.

Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets closer. In fact, no less than seven different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 8 for complete rundown of honors).

The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, also putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.

Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.

In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.

The web-based publication also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.

Earlier this week, two more honors came Batteast’s way. The Associated Press named her to its exclusive five-player preseason All-America team, while the Naismith Trophy placed her on its 50-player preseason watch list for the award, which goes to the nation’s top player.

However, Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.

Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.

Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.

Batteast is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.

Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame is ranked in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Irish are tabbed 10th in this year’s first AP poll and 11th in the initial coaches’ poll, marking the sixth consecutive year that Notre Dame is ranked 16th or higher by both polls to start the season.

The Irish achieved their highest preseason ranking in 2000-01, when they debuted at No. 5 in the coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll. In addition to the two major polls, every preseason publication also has the Irish ranked nationally. The chart to the right details those rankings.

According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish second in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 28 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 105 points, including two first-place votes, which placed them behind only three-time defending national champion Connecticut (120 points, 10 first-place votes). Boston College was third, followed by Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. All six of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut and Boston College all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Notre Dame is beginning its 10th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2004-05. The Irish have gone 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .778 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings eight times in its first nine seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.

Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 78-7 (.918) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame added another tally to that count with Friday’s win over Illinois State.

Over the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 129-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game.

Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the past 10 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 89-3 (.967) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame tacked on another win to that tally with Friday’s night 92-73 win over Illinois State.

Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (28), Texas Tech (15), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (11).

Notre Dame has won 203 games over the past nine seasons, which stands tied for the eighth-most wins of any school in the country during that time. Here’s where the Irish rank in terms of their wins since the start of the 1996-97 campaign (totals through games of Nov. 13):

TEAM ’96-’97 ’97-’98 ’98-’99 ’99-’00 ’00-01 ’01-’02 ’02-03 ’03-04 ’04-05 Total
1. Connecticut 33 34 29 36 32 39 37 31 0 271
2. Tennessee 29 39 31 33 31 30 33 31 0 257
3. Louisiana Tech 31 31 30 31 31 25 31 29 0 238
4. Duke 19 24 29 28 30 31 35 30 1 227
5. Old Dominion 34 29 28 29 21 28 21 25 0 215
6. Purdue 17 23 34 23 31 24 29 29 0 211
7. UC Santa Barbara 24 27 26 30 22 26 27 27 0 209
8. (tie) NOTRE DAME 31 22 26 27 34 20 21 21 1 203
(tie) Texas Tech 20 26 30 28 25 20 29 25 0 203

One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 114 of their last 123 games (.927) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 21-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and tied for the sixth-longest active run in the nation (as of Nov. 13). Notre Dame also has a 69-7 (.908) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 48 of their last 50 non-BIG EAST contests (.960) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 264-70 (.790) record at the venerable facility. In three of the past five seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 15 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years. The Irish extended that streak in 2003-04, ranking 12th with an average of 6,650 fans per game.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the past six seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and an active streak of 52 consecutive games with at least 5,000 fans in the house (which continued with Friday’s season-opening crowd of 6,190 fans).

The Irish are scheduled to make at least seven appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date).

Notre Dame makes its TV debut this season on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV).

That’s the first of three games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which recently signed an agreement with the BIG EAST Conference to carry a national women’s basketball Game of the Week eight times in 2004-05. The Irish also will face Connecticut on Jan. 12 at the Joyce Center and visit Boston College on Feb. 15 in front of the CSTV cameras.

In addition, Notre Dame is scheduled to play twice on ESPN2 this season. On Jan. 16, the Irish will battle Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Joyce Center. Two weeks later on Jan. 30, Notre Dame travels to Storrs, Conn., to meet Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.

The BIG EAST also has added two Irish games to its regional television package this season. Notre Dame will visit Villanova on Jan. 9 and will play host to Rutgers on Jan. 23, both on BIG EAST Television. Among those affiliates carrying the BETV package are Comcast SportsNet outlets in Chicago, Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Fox Sports Net outlets in New York, New England and Pittsburgh. Exact clearances will be made available closer to game time.

Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fifth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site ( by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.

LINDSAY SCHRADER SIGNS NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT TO ATTEND NOTRE DAME Head coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 10 that Lindsay Schrader, a 6-0 guard from Bartlett, Ill., has chosen to continue her career with the Irish, signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2005. Schrader is the first player to commit to the Irish during the early signing period, which continues through Nov. 17.

Schrader has been widely regarded as one of the top all-around players in the state of Illinois while attending Bartlett High School the past three seasons. She is a three-time all-state selection, a two-time Illinois Miss Basketball finalist, and a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America selection who has averaged 20.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in her prep career. Her finest all-around season came as a junior in 2003-04, when she averaged 20.8 ppg., 10.8 rpg. and 2.0 bpg. while earning first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette. She also was a sixth-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a finalist for Illinois Miss Basketball honors, an award she will likely contend for once again this season.

On the summer camp circuit, Schrader was an Underclass All-Star at the 2002 adidas Top Ten Camp, before attending the Nike All-America Camp in both 2003 and 2004. She is ranked among the top 30 high school seniors in the nation by three separate recruiting services – Blue Star Index (14th), All-Game Sports (21st) and All-Star Girls Report (26th overall – eighth among shooting guards).

In addition, Schrader made a significant impact at the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the North Team that won the silver medal, she ranked third at the Festival in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and rebounding (8.6 rpg.), as well as second in field goal percentage (.542). All three figures were team highs, as were her 2.2 steals per game. For her efforts, Schrader was invited to attend the 2004 USA Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team Trials, where she was one of 17 finalists for the 12-player team that won the gold medal in Puerto Rico in August.

On Nov. 6, Notre Dame announced that Muffet McGraw has signed a two-year extension to continue as head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program through the 2010-11 season.

McGraw, who is now in her 18th season with the Irish, most recently signed a four-year contract extension in July 2002 that took her through the 2008-09 season. Her first 17 seasons at Notre Dame have been highlighted by 15 20-win campaigns (including a current string of 11 straight), 11 NCAA tournament appearances (including a current streak of nine straight) and the 2001 NCAA title. Entering the 2004-05 season, she has a 384-149 (.720) record at Notre Dame.

In 2003-04, McGraw skillfully guided her team to a 21-11 record and a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (the fourth for the Irish in five years). McGraw’s charges placed second in the BIG EAST Conference, their eighth top-two finish since joining the league nine years ago. In addition, the Irish went 15-0 at home, their third perfect record at the Joyce Center in the past five seasons, and extended their overall home win streak to 20 games, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active string in the nation heading into the 2004-05 campaign.

McGraw has continued to enhance her reputation as one of the nation’s outstanding big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to a school-record seven wins over top 25 teams during the 2003-04 regular season. During her 17-year tenure with the Irish, McGraw has compiled 40 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 30 in the past six seasons (an average of five per year).

Under McGraw’s guidance, the past nine years have been the most successful in Notre Dame’s history as the Irish have compiled an impressive 225-69 (.765) record, including a sparkling 124-28 (.816) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play, the best winning percentage in league history. Notre Dame also has averaged 25 victories per campaign during that span, with two 30-win seasons to its credit. The Irish have won at least one NCAA tournament game every season over that time, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen six times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and the Final Four twice (1997 and 2001).

Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):

  • Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule posters (first 5,000 fans)
  • Dec. 2 vs. Michigan State – Notre Dame women’s basketball rally towels (first 1,500 fans)
  • Dec. 11 vs. Washington – Notre Dame women’s basketball glow balls (first 2,000 fans)

Notre Dame’s next opponent depends upon the outcome of Sunday’s game with Nebraska. Should the Irish defeat the Huskers, they would advance to the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT against the winner of the quarterfinal game between No. 6 Duke and South Florida (also being played Sunday). That quarterfinal would take place Wednesday night, with the site and time to be determined by WNIT officials after the completion of quarterfinal action.

Notre Dame has a 3-1 edge in the series with Duke, having last played the Blue Devils on Nov. 21, 1998 (an 84-57 Irish win at the Joyce Center). Meanwhile, Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time against South Florida, having defeated the Bulls in both 1997 (73-50 at Notre Dame) and 1998 (83-63 in Tampa). Regardless of Sunday’s outcomes, the Irish will get a regular look at USF beginning next season when the Bulls join the BIG EAST Conference.

If Nebraska defeats Notre Dame on Sunday night, the Irish will be off until Nov. 22, when they will return to the hardwood for a 7 p.m. (ET) game against Colorado State at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has won the last two matchups with the Rams, including a 63-59 victory last season in Fort Collins.