Dec. 6, 2008
2008-09 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 7
#11/8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #17/20 Purdue Boilermakers (5-2 / 0-0 Big Ten)
DATE: December 7, 2008
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: PUR leads 14-7
1ST MTG: PUR 62-59 (11/26/84)
LAST MTG: ND 61-48 (12/8/07)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: None available
- Notre Dame and Purdue will play in front of a sold-out on-campus crowd for the first time in their 22-game series.
- The Irish will face their third ranked opponent of the season, the first time since 2003-04 they will play three Top 25 teams in their first seven games of the season.
No. 11/8 Irish Tangle With No. 17/20 Purdue Sunday At Sold-Out Joyce Center
No non-conference rivalry on the Notre Dame schedule takes as much significance as the annual matchup between the Irish and Purdue, and this year’s meeting should prove no different as No. 11/8 Notre Dame plays host to the No. 17/20 Boilermakers Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET) inside a sold-out Joyce Center (the sixth sellout in program history and third in the past two seasons).
Notre Dame (6-0) battled through a cold shooting night to remain unbeaten this season with an 83-63 victory at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night. The Irish shot a season-low .389, but made up for it with 60 rebounds, their highest total in more than seven years.
For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame was led in scoring by a freshman, as guard Natalie Novosel came off the bench to tally a game-high 18 points and add season bests of eight rebounds and four assists.
- Notre Dame is ranked 11th in the latest Associated Press poll and eighth in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
- Purdue is ranked 17th in the latest Associated Press poll and 20th in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Following two seasons of impressive growth and development, Notre Dame has constructed a firm foundation upon which to build its next championship contender. The Irish enter the 2008-09 season on the heels of a seventh trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a highly-competitive effort in that regional semifinal that has players, coaches and followers optimistic that even greater success may be on the horizon.
Notre Dame has three starters and seven monogram winners returning this season from a squad that ranked among the top 10 in the country in scoring offense (8th – 76.2 ppg) and scoring margin (10th – +14.6 ppg) a year ago. The Irish also have many of the pieces back from the ’07-08 club that led the BIG EAST in steals for the second consecutive year (school-record 397, 11.68 per game) and forced an opponent-record 737 turnovers.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Notre Dame’s present upward mobility has coincided with the arrival of its current junior class, including guards and co-captains Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner. Barlow earned honorable mention all-BIG EAST status last year and is the team’s top returning scorer (12.1 ppg), while also setting the defensive tone with a team-high 68 steals last season. Meanwhile, Lechlitner (5.5 ppg, 2.6 apg) assumes the mantle of leadership from the point guard position after two consistent years as a reliable understudy to Tulyah Gaines.
The Irish also should benefit from the veteran experience and guidance of senior guard and co-captain Lindsay Schrader, who joined Barlow on last year’s BIG EAST honorable mention squad after logging 10.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. She earned similar status this fall in preseason voting by the conference coaches and gives Notre Dame a unique blend of toughness and determination that has become the common thread running through the team’s recent resurgence.
The Irish sophomore class proved to be an exceptional complement to their predecessors last season, led by forward Devereaux Peters (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg), who was a BIG EAST All-Freshman Team choice despite missing the final 11 games of the year with a knee injury. Guard Brittany Mallory (6.3 ppg, 34 3FG) joined Peters on the conference’s all-rookie squad, while forward Becca Bruszewski (5.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) may be the team’s most improved player heading into this season after a scintillating three-game NCAA Tournament performance that included a season-high 16 points against both SMU and Tennessee.
Potent Notables About The Irish
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 12 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 298 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past eight seasons. This year, the program has averaged 6,199 fans for its first three home games. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 113 of their last 115 home games, including five Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Jan. 27, 2008 vs. Connecticut).
- The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past eight seasons. Charel Allen was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Allen, Megan Duffy (New York) and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) all were active in the league during the ’08 season, with all three teams making the playoffs (San Antonio made the WNBA Finals, while New York was the Eastern Conference runner-up). Three of Notre Dame’s eight WNBA alums have won a total of four league championships — Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the ’06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the third year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2008. Notre Dame also was one of only four teams with a perfect ’07 GSR to advance to the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 (joining Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt). Furthermore, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has graduated (a 57-for-57 success rate).
A Quick Look At Purdue
Building off last season’s late surge that included a Big Ten Tournament title and a run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Purdue is off to a 5-2 start this season and is ranked in both major national polls this week (17th by the Associated Press, 20th in the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll).
The Boilermakers are coming off a 70-59 loss to No. 8/11 Maryland on Thursday night in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge at Mackey Arena. Purdue led by as many as seven points in the early stages of the second half before the Terrapins rallied for the win. Redshirt senior forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton rang up team highs of 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals for the Boilermakers, who shot 37.1 percent from the floor (2-of-17 from the three-point line).
Wisdom-Hylton also sets the season pace for Purdue in most statistical categories, including scoring (14.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.1 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.592). Redshirt senior forward Lakisha Freeman is second on the team in scoring (9.7 ppg.), while junior guard FahKara Malone delivers 8.9 points and a team-best 4.4 assists per game.
Head coach Sharon Versyp is in her third season at the helm of her alma mater, owning a 55-23 (.705) record at Purdue. She is in her ninth season as a collegiate head coach, including prior stops at Maine (five years) and Indiana (one year), amassing a 172-88 (.662) career record. She is 0-3 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Purdue Series
Notre Dame and Purdue will meet for the 22nd time on Sunday, with the Boilermakers owning a 14-7 series advantage on the Irish. However, Notre Dame has won three of the past four games in the series, which became much tighter once the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 (8-7 in Purdue’s favor).
The teams also have split eight prior meetings at the Joyce Center, although Notre Dame has won four of the past five times it has played host to Purdue.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Purdue Met
Ashley Barlow scored 19 of her career-high 22 points in the second half and No. 16 Notre Dame rallied to beat Purdue 61-48 on Dec. 8, 2007, at Mackey Arena.
Danielle Campbell had 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for Purdue (3-5), but she was 5- for-13 from the field. Kalika France scored 11 points and Lakisha Freeman had five points and 11 rebounds.
Notre Dame won its sixth straight and claimed its first win over the Boilermakers in nine tries at Mackey Arena. The Irish shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, while the Boilermakers shot just 26 percent.
Purdue led 36-32 early in the second half before Barlow made back-to-back three-pointers to give the Irish a 38-36 edge with 12:07 left.
Barlow made another three-pointer, then Devereaux Peters scored on a putback to make it 49-41 with 5:46 to play. The Irish led by at least six points the rest of the way.
Notre Dame led 15-14 before Purdue went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a three-pointer from France, to take a 21-15 lead with 4:48 left in the first half. The Boilermakers led 25-20 at halftime, despite shooting 36 percent from the field. Purdue held Notre Dame to 35 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Other Notre Dame-Purdue Series Tidbits
- Sunday’s game will mark the first time in 18 on-campus series games that the teams will play before a sellout crowd. Notre Dame announced Wednesday that all 11,418 tickets at the Joyce Center had been exhausted for the annual rivalry game, signalling the sixth sellout in school history and third in the past two seasons.
- For the first time in three seasons, both teams will enter Sunday’s game ranked. The last time that happened was Dec. 7, 2005, at Purdue, when the No. 24/23 Boilermakers ousted the 10th-ranked Irish, 65-54. However, Notre Dame is 4-3 all-time against Purdue when both squads are ranked at tipoff, including a 2-1 record at home.
- The 70-point mark seems to be a magic figure in the series. One or both teams have scored 70 points in 14 of the 21 matchups, with the first team to reach that milepost winning each time. However, neither team has scored that many points in the past three series meetings since an 86-69 Irish win on Jan. 16, 2005, at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame has held Purdue to its lowest series point totals in the past two matchups (67-58 in 2006-07 at the Joyce Center; 61-48 last year at Mackey Arena).
- Notre Dame’s most frequent NCAA Tournament opponent has been Purdue. The Irish and Boilermakers have played one another four times in NCAA postseason competition, with each team winning twice (ND in 1996 and 2001; Purdue in 1998 and 2003).
- The Irish and Boilermakers also remain the only teams from the same state ever to play for the NCAA championship.
- Notre Dame is 112-32 (.778) all-time against in-state opponents, with a 54-11 (.831) record at home. The Irish also have won 12 of their last 15 games against other Indiana schools, including a 96-61 win over Evansville earlier this season (Nov. 19) at the Joyce Center.
- Third-year Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp grew up in Mishawaka (minutes from the Notre Dame campus) and was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984 while attending Mishawaka High School.
- Irish senior guard Lindsay Schrader and Purdue senior center Danielle Campbell were AAU teammates with the Chicago Flames, while Schrader and Boilermakers’ redshirt senior forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton faced off regularly in the Illinois Upstate Eight Conference (Schrader at Bartlett High School, Wisdom-Hylton at Neuqua Valley High School).
- Notre Dame junior guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner were teammates with Purdue junior guard FahKara Malone on the 2006 Indiana All-Star Team that swept a two-game series from its Kentucky counterparts.
- Irish sophomore forward Devereaux Peters and Purdue sophomore forward Samantha Woods were teammates at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill., from 2003-04 through 2004-05 before Woods transferred to Bolingbrook High School for her final two prep seasons. Ironically, neither player will suit up for Sunday’s game — Peters is out for the season with a torn ACL in her left knee (suffered Nov. 23 at Boston College), while Woods is sitting out this season to focus on the demanding class load related to her chemical engineering major.
Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference
Notre Dame is 37-46 (.446) all-time against the Big Ten Conference, including a 21-16 (.568) record at the Joyce Center. The Irish also are 30-32 (.484) against the Big Ten in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), with a 16-11 (.593) home slate.
What’s more, Notre Dame has won 10 of its last 14 games against Big Ten schools, including a 78-72 win over (then) No. 24 Michigan State on Nov. 29 at the Joyce Center.
Purdue is the second of three Big Ten opponents for the Irish this season, all coming in a four-game stretch. Notre Dame will visit Michigan Wednesday night to close out this Big Ten portion of its 2008-09 schedule.
Last year, the Irish tied a school record with 10 wins by 30-or-more points. It would seem Notre Dame is intent on challenging that mark this season, having won three games this season by at least 35 points — a first in school history.
Late in November, the Irish posted two of the larger winning margins in the program’s record books, rolling to a 48-point victory at Boston College (102-54), followed by a 49-point win at home over Georgia Southern (85-36).
In fact, the only time Notre Dame logged a larger combined margin of victory in consecutive games than this past week’s 97-point spread was Nov. 24-25, 1989, at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando, Fla., when the Irish downed Liberty (113-35) and host Central Florida (81-61) by a combined 98 points.
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Notre Dame reeled off a 27-0 run in the second half of its Nov. 25 win over Georgia Southern, marking the second-longest string of consecutive points in school history. On Jan. 18, 1997, the Irish used a 31-0 spurt midway through the first half to seize control and take a 65-49 over Pittsburgh at the Joyce Center.
Piping Hot Turnovers
After forcing an opponent-record 737 turnovers (21.7 per game) last season, Notre Dame is at it again early this year, causing 141 turnovers (23.5 per game) in its first five outings.
The majority of those turnovers have come via Irish steals, with Notre Dame registering 74 thefts (12.3 per game) after leading the BIG EAST Conference in that category each of the past two seasons.
The Upper Hand
In its first six games of the season, Notre Dame has trailed for all of 7:34 and not by more than one possession (three points). LSU had a 20-18 lead on the visiting Irish at the 4:46 mark of the first half of the State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 before senior guard Lindsay Schrader answered with a layup on the ensuing possession.
On Nov. 19, Evansville scored the opening points of the game on an old-fashioned three-point play, but sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski erased that deficit 45 seconds later with a three-pointer.
On Nov. 23 at Boston College, the Irish and Eagles traded buckets over the first three-plus minutes before junior guard Ashley Barlow drained a three-pointer at 16:17 to give Notre Dame the lead for good at 10-8.
On Nov. 25, Notre Dame trailed for combined total of one minute against Georgia Southern after the teams alternated baskets for the first two minutes and prior to Barlow’s fastbreak layup at 17:01 that wound up putting the Irish ahead to stay.
On Nov. 29, Notre Dame and Michigan State battled through five ties and five lead changes in the first 16 minutes before the Irish seized control late in the first half behind a 5-for-5 three-point shooting performance from freshman forward Kellie Watson (with the last three triples coming in a span of 1:32).
Most recently, Notre Dame led from the opening tip to the final horn in an 83-63 win at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame has found its shooting eye from the three-point line in the first six games of the season, connecting at a .434 clip from distance (33-of-76). The Irish were particularly prolific in a four-game stretch from Nov. 19-29, making a combined 29 treys in that span (seven treys each in wins over Evansville and Boston College, six against Georgia Southern and nine vs. Michigan State).
The nine three-pointers and 25 attempts against MSU were the most for Notre Dame in a single game since March 3, 2002, when the Irish went 10-for-26 from beyond the arc in an 84-79 loss to Syracuse in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Piscataway, N.J.
One also has to go back seven years to find the last time Notre Dame made more than 29 combined three-pointers in a four-game span. From Nov. 21-Dec. 2, 2001, Notre Dame was lights-out from the arc at Colorado State (7), at Arizona (7), home vs. Army (10) and at a neutral site vs. Michigan (8).
Watson Named BIG EAST Freshman Of The Week
Freshman forward Kellie Watson has been chosen as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced Monday by the conference office. Watson is the first Irish rookie to earn the award in more than three years, dating back to the selection of current senior guard Lindsay Schrader on Nov. 21, 2005.
Last week, Watson averaged 12.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game with a .529 field goal percentage (9-of-17) and .636 three-point percentage (7-of-11) after helping Notre Dame post wins over Georgia Southern (85-36) and No. 24 Michigan State (78-72).
After registering a (then) season-high seven points against GSU, Watson exploded against MSU for a season-best 18 points, canning 6-of-9 three-point attempts to tie the Notre Dame Joyce Center record for treys in a single game (last set by Megan Duffy on Dec. 4, 2003, against Wisconsin). Watson connected on her first five three-point attempts of the day, including three in a stretch of 1:32 late in the first half, before adding her record-tying sixth triple early in the second half. She also grabbed a season-best (and team-high) six rebounds in only 20 minutes of action.
Becca’s A Bruiser
Sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski showed a hint of the promise to come late last season, chalking up a (then) career-high 16 points in two of her three NCAA Tournament games (first round vs. SMU, regional semifinal vs. Tennessee).
That improvement has carried over into this season, as the Valparaiso, Ind., native has earned her way into the Irish starting lineup and has not disappointed. On Nov. 19 against Evansville, she poured in a career-best 18 points, knocking down 7-of-9 shots from the field, including both of her three-point attempts. The latter statistic was particularly noteworthy, considering she was just 1-of-2 from beyond the arc during her entire freshman season.
Not to be outdone, Bruszewski matched her career high four days later on Nov. 23 at Boston College, connecting for a game-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
In her last nine games (dating back to the start of last year’s NCAA Tournament), Bruszewski is averaging 10.0 points per game with a .515 field goal percentage (35-of-68), including a .550 clip from the floor (22-of-40) in the past five games.
Packed House For Purdue
On Wednesday, the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office announced that Sunday’s game against Purdue is officially sold out, representing the sixth women’s basketball sellout (11,418 capacity) in school history and the third in the past two seasons. It also will be the first time in the 22-game series between the Irish and Boilermakers that an on-campus game has sold out.
Last year, Notre Dame sold out its games against Tennessee and Connecticut, and nearly did the same for the Michigan contest, drawing 10,825 fans for that game.
Notre Dame is ranked a season-high 11th in this week’s Associated Press poll, up three spots from last week’s ranking. It’s the 24th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, who opened last season at No. 24 and rose as high as ninth on March 3, marking the eight time in the past 12 seasons (1996-97 through 2007-08) that the Irish have reached the AP Top 10.
Notre Dame also has been ranked in the AP poll for 163 weeks during the program’s 32-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.
In addition, the Irish earned their 24th consecutive ranking in Tuesday’s ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll, moving to eighth this week (up two spots from last week’s balloting). It’s the highest ranking for Notre Dame in the coaches poll since the week of Feb. 15, 2005, when the Irish checked in at No. 7. The Irish now have appeared in the coaches’ poll for 155 weeks during its history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 23 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Besides her 163 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks rise to No. 3 in the nation. Of the 23 people on this list, 11 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart).
Game #6 Recap: Eastern Michigan
Freshman guard Natalie Novosel scored a career-best 18 points off the bench and senior guard Lindsay Schrader added 17 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday night to help No. 11/8 Notre Dame stay unbeaten with an 83-63 victory over Eastern Michigan.
The Fighting Irish (6-0) led by as many as 19 points early in the second half before the Eagles cut the lead to 59-50 with 9 minutes to play. Notre Dame answered with six points and three steals in the next 2 minutes to push the lead back to double digits for good.
Junior guard Melissa Lechlitner added a season-high 15 points for the Irish, who outrebounded the Eagles, 60-44 and outscored them in the paint, 44-20.
Cassie Schrock had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Eastern Michigan (2-5), which fell to 0-9 against ranked opponents.
Noting The Eastern Michigan Game
- Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan were playing one another for the first time in more than 24 years (Nov. 30, 1984 – a 70-59 Irish win in Ypsilanti).
- The Irish lead the all-time series with EMU, 3-0, with two of those victories coming on the road.
- Notre Dame is off to its best start since a similar 6-0 debut in 2005-06.
- The Irish pick up their 17th consecutive win against current Mid-American Conference schools and are 34-14 (.708) all-time against the present MAC alignment (19-5, .792, in the 22-year Muffet McGraw era).
- Notre Dame also collects its ninth consecutive win over a Michigan school, rising to 52-19 (.732) all-time against the Great Lakes State and 32-7 (.821) in the McGraw era.
- Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan combined for a Convocation Center-record 104 rebounds in the contest.
- The Irish pulled down 60 rebounds in the victory, their highest total on the glass since Nov. 26, 2001, when they also grabbed 60 boards in an 89-57 win over Army at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame’s 40 free throw attempts were the most for the Irish in one game since Dec. 4, 2002, when they went 30-for-40 from the stripe in a 74-68 win at Valparaiso.
- Notre Dame’s +16 rebounding margin was an exact 180-degree turn from its previous game against 24th-ranked Michigan State (32-48).
- Novosel became the fifth different high scorer in six games for the Irish this season; she also was the second Notre Dame rookie in as many games to toss in a game-high 18 points (Kellie Watson vs. Michigan State on Nov. 29).
- In addition, Novosel became the 10th different Irish player to score in double figures at least once this year, with freshman guard Fraderica Miller still aiming to reach that mark.
- Schrader notched her fifth career double-double and first of the year, with season highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds; it was her first double-double since Feb. 27, 2008, when she piled up 17 points and 13 rebounds in a win over South Florida at the Joyce Center.
- Lechlitner added a season-best 15 points, her best offensive day since late in her freshman season (16 points at Providence on Feb. 17, 2007).
- Playing in front of a numerous family members and supporters less than one hour from her hometown of Oak Park, Mich., freshman forward Erica Solomon narrowly missed her first career double-double, “settling” for 12 points and season highs of nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
- Collectively, the four Irish freshmen accounted for 37 points at Eastern Michigan.
- Sophomore guard Brittany Mallory drew her first career starting assignment, becoming the second Irish player to earn her first career start this year (along with sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski).
Irish Fourth In BIG EAST Preseason Poll
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has been projected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches that was announced during the 2008 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day on Oct. 23 at the ESPN Zone in New York City.
The Irish collected 182 points, with Connecticut (14 first-place votes, 224 points), Rutgers (one first-place vote, 201 points) and Louisville (one first-place vote, 200 points) joining Notre Dame in the top four.
In addition, senior guard Lindsay Schrader was chosen as a Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection, one of 14 players to garner preseason all-conference status. Schrader averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game last season while scoring in double figures 21 times.
A 2008 honorable mention all-BIG EAST selection, Schrader is one of three starters and seven monogram winners back for the Irish from last year’s 25-9 club that finished fourth in the BIG EAST and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the past 12 seasons.
Half And Half
During the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 151-14 (.915) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 79 of their last 87 such contests.
This season, Notre Dame is 5-0 when up at the break, doing so in its last five games. Last year, the Irish went 22-2 when they led at the break, failing only to do so in their two postseason losses (BIG EAST quarterfinal vs. Pittsburgh, NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinal vs. Tennessee), although the UT lead marked the first time Notre Dame was up on the Lady Vols at the half in 20 series games.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 14 seasons (1995-96 to present), 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 187-12 (.940) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
Notre Dame has added three more wins to that ledger this season with its victories over LSU, Boston College and Georgia Southern.
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 14 seasons (since 1995-96), the Irish are 118-4 (.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, a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.
Notre Dame has scored at least 80 points in four games this year, winning each time. Last season, the Irish won 14 of 15 games when reaching the 80-point mark.
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
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 165 of their last 186 games (.887) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 93-15 (.861) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 74 of their last 80 non-BIG EAST contests (.925) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT) and Indiana in 2006 (54-51) — with the other two defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63). The Purdue loss also 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 315-82 (.793) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
Irish Have New Home On The Dial
On Aug. 27, 2008, the Notre Dame athletics department announced it had partnered with the LeSEA Broadcasting Network, making Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) the new radio home of Notre Dame women’s basketball in the South Bend market.
LeSEA now originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that the Irish are heard on an FM station. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 89 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame’s new women’s basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.
Women’s basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame’s official athletics Web site (UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.
The new agreement includes extensive Notre Dame athletics promotion aired on a combination of the LeSEA stations.
Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women’s basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program’s first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns as the play-by-play voice of the Irish this season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 19 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2008-09 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are eight nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including four games on the ESPN family of networks (beginning with the Nov. 16 State Farm Tip-Off Classic win at LSU, which aired on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com) and three others on CBS College Sports.
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All 11 Irish regular-season home games that have not been selected for commercial TV coverage will air live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year, Notre Dame has played in 119 televised games, including 69 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Lindsay Schrader and junior guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner are team captains for the 2008-09 season. All three players are serving as captains for the first time in their careers, and each received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Irish In The Pink (Zone) All Season Long
Notre Dame is proud to be a participant in the second annual Pink Zone initiative, created by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in order to heighten breast cancer awareness and raise money for research towards finding a cure for the disease.
Throughout the 2008-09 season, the Irish will take part in several activities centered around the Pink Zone initiative, including:
- Open Practice/Tip-Off Luncheon – On Oct. 19, the Irish open the doors to one of their preseason practice sessions and allowed approximately 600 season ticket holders to watch the team prepare for the upcoming season. A luncheon with the team followed and a total of $3,311 was raised.
- Three-Point Pledge – Fans can pledge an amount to donate for every three-pointer the Irish make this season. Pledge cards are available at the Joyce Center Gate 10 marketing table prior to each home game.
- Beanie Bears/Calendars – The Irish are collecting a $5 donation for every special-edition Notre Dame women’s basketball beanie bear and team calendar sold during the season.
- T-Shirt Sales – Specially-commissioned “Irish Believe” pink t-shirts are on sale in the Hammes Bookstore and Varsity Shop on the Notre Dame campus. Proceeds from the sales of the t-shirt will go to breast cancer awareness and research.
- Brittany and Becca’s Class – Sophomores Brittany Mallory and Becca Bruszewski currently are taking a management class in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business under the guidance of Chuck Lennon, an Irish women’s basketball season ticket holder, as well as Associate Vice President for University Relations and Executive Director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. This class has been focusing on ways to help promote and enhance the Pink Zone initiative on the Notre Dame campus and will debut their ideas at Sunday’s Purdue game.
- Pink Zone Challenge – The Irish women’s basketball program has challenged some of the other top-drawing teams in the country to a friendly fund-raising competition to see which school can raise the most money for breast cancer awareness and research during the WBCA’s designated Pink Zone games (Feb. 13-22, 2009). A total of 15 schools from among the top 20 in last year’s final NCAA attendance rankings have committed for this inaugural challenge — Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. The school raising the most money during their specific Pink Zone game will earn the first-ever Pink Zone Challenge Trophy, to be commissioned by Notre Dame and awarded during the WBCA National Convention, to be held April 3-7, 2009, at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis.
- Game Day (Feb. 8 vs. DePaul) – The Irish have selected their Feb. 8 home game against DePaul as Notre Dame’s Pink Zone game, presented by Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. The Irish will take the court in white, pink and navy uniforms, specially-designed by the school’s official athletics apparel provider, adidas. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free pink Irish t-shirt, compliments of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and pink pom-poms, balloons and posters will fill the crowd. In addition, breast cancer survivors will be recognized on the court during a special halftime ceremony. What’s more, should Notre Dame sell out this game, the Irish will donate an additional $10,000 to the Pink Zone initiative.
Proceeds from all of Notre Dame’s Pink Zone events this season will go to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, as well as three local charities — Women’s Task Force, Young Survivors Group and Secret Sisters Society. For more information on the WBCA’s Pink Zone initiative, log on to the WBCA’s official web site at www.wbca.org.
ND To Host NCAA Tourney Games in 2009
Notre Dame’s Joyce Center will serve as one of 16 host sites for first- and second-round games in this year’s NCAA Championship on March 22 & 24.
All-session tickets for this year’s NCAA Championship games at the Joyce Center are available by contacting the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).
Notre Dame has played in the NCAA Championship on its home floor five times before, most recently defeating Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) and Middle Tennessee in 2004 to make the program’s sixth NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. All told, the Irish are 6-1 in NCAA tourney play at the Joyce Center, winning six in a row since an 81-76 first-round loss to Minnesota in 1994.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
After a wildly-successful debut last season, Notre Dame is bringing back its “Big Mac” promotion for 2008-09, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Irish score at least 88 points in a game.
It hasn’t take long for the burger watch to fire back up again this year, as Notre Dame topped the 88-point mark in both its lone exhibition game (96-30 win over Gannon on Nov. 5) and its regular-season opener (96-61 win over Evansville on Nov. 19).
Last year, the Irish reached the magic number eight times, doing so in both exhibition wins, along with regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College, Canisius, Valparaiso, Marquette and South Florida.
It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most “Big Mac” baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger — sophomore guard Brittany Mallory, who was sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times.
This season, it’s been the Irish freshmen who have taken on the “Big Mac” mantle of responsibility, with guard Natalie Novosel doing the honors in the Gannon exhibition win and forward Erica Solomon putting Notre Dame over the top against Evansville.
Joyce Center Arena Renovation Underway
On Sept. 13, 2008, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Purcell Pavilion, including the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation, were held to kick off the first phase of the two-year project to upgrade the home for Notre Dame basketball and volleyball.
The first phase of the project, that began in September 2008, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new three-story lobby, the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.
Replacement of the existing Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University’s Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The entire project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the basketball season and the end of the volleyball season.
The University announced in October 2007 that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley.
Exterior changes to the Joyce Center that began taking shape in September include a new, three-story addition on the south end of the current structure. The third floor area will include the stadium club/hospitality area. The first-floor addition will include almost 4,500 square feet for ticket offices (including four exterior and 10 interior tickets windows), 3,000 square feet for the varsity shop, as well as a completely new main entrance and lobby situated between Gates 8 and 10. The new entrance will feature graphics and theming that highlight Notre Dame’s competing athletic programs.
Changes to the interior of the Joyce Center arena include:
- New, blue chair-back seating from top to bottom of the arena, including all-new upper-arena sections. All seating will be replaced in the lower bowl (including platform seats), and the wooden bleachers in the upper bowl will be removed and replaced with treads and risers and permanent arena seats. The exchange of the bleacher sections for chair back seats will change the capacity from the current 11,418 to approximately 9,800.
- A stadium club/hospitality area (approximately 16,500 square feet) in the south end of the arena, with a separate, private entry and with premium club seating for nearly 800 fans (that figure is part of the projected 9,800 capacity). Included in this area will be food service and restroom facilities.
- New fixed concession areas, increased numbers of women’s restrooms and increased handicapped seating options.
- The interior seating changes provide an opportunity to consider new options for student seating. Students currently sit in both lower- and upper-arena sections behind the basket on the east end of the arena.
Next Game: Michigan
The Irish head back out on the road for a two-game swing, beginning Wednesday with a 7 p.m. (ET) contest at Michigan — the game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
The Wolverines are 5-3 this season following a 63-52 win over visiting N.C. State on Friday night in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. UM will travel to No. 12/14 Duke Sunday before returning home to take on Notre Dame.
— ND —