Nov. 16, 2004
SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT – SEMIFINAL
(#11 AP/#11 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0)
vs. (#6 AP/#6 ESPN/USA Today) Duke Blue Devils (2-0)
The Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 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: Wednesday’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 standout Sara Liebscher (analysis) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, are available for the Duke game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Duke (www.goduke.com).
#11 NOTRE DAME HOSTS #6 DUKE WEDNESDAY IN PRESEASON WNIT SEMIFINAL
One of the premier early-season matchups in women’s college basketball will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) when No. 11 Notre Dame plays host to sixth-ranked Duke in the semifinals of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame (2-0) is coming off an efficient 73-57 victory over Nebraska in quarterfinal action at home on Sunday night. The Irish went on a 12-2 run that crossed between halves to bump their advantage well into double digits and opened up no less than six 20-point leads in the second half.
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was strong in all phases of the game, finishing with a game-high 24 points, six rebounds and a career-high tying seven assists. Senior center Teresa Borton registered her third career double-double with 13 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Breona Gray logged new career bests with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Like the Irish, Duke (2-0) easily won its first two WNIT games, defeating Davidson (89-69) and South Florida (82-50). Junior guard/forward Monique Currie has been the Blue Devils’ leading scorer thus far, averaging 18.5 points per game, while freshman guard Wanisha Smith also has played well, logging 17.0 points per night.
Head coach Gail Gostenkors is in her 13th season at Duke with a 304-88 (.776) record at the school.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIGHTING IRISH
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, were a consensus top-15 selection in many preseason publications and currently are ranked 11th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls.
Balanced offensive production has been the recurring theme for Notre Dame through its first two games of the season. The Irish had six players crack double figures on Friday night against Illinois State, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1999, followed by four players scoring in double digits two nights later against Nebraska. In addition, Notre Dame showed good patience in its offensive sets, distributing a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists against Illinois State (the highest total for the Irish since the second game of their national championship season in 2000-01).
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has gotten off to a solid start in her final college season, averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game with a .552 field goal percentage this season. In her last outing, she had a superb all-around effort with a game-high 24 points (on 10-18 FG), a career-high tying seven assists and six rebounds. Senior center (and fellow captain) Teresa Borton also was strong in the post, chalking up her third career double-double with 13 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds.
One fact that might get lost in the shuffle of Notre Dame’s first two victories – the Irish have trailed for a total of 31 seconds in those game. In fact, in both cases, Notre Dame fell behind by only a single basket and the deficit lasted only as long as it took the Irish to come back down floor on the ensuing possession.
SOME POTENT NOTABLES ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH
- Notre Dame currently owns a 22-game homecourt winning streak entering Wednesday’s game with Duke. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and it’s the sixth-longest active run in the nation.
- Notre Dame has won 49 of its last 51 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
- The Irish have won eight of their last nine 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 win over Nebraska was No. 550 in the 28-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- 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.
- The Irish have defeated 18 top-10 opponents in their history, most recently ousting No. 4 Connecticut, 66-51 on Jan. 13, 2004 at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame is 8-4 (.667) all-time when it is ranked and playing host to another ranked team (as will be the case against No. 6 Duke on Wednesday).
- Wednesday’s game will mark the first time two top-11 women’s basketball teams have played one another at the Joyce Center since No. 3 Notre Dame defeated top-ranked Connecticut, 92-76 on Jan. 15, 2001. That victory helped propel the Irish to their first-ever No. 1 ranking and eventually, their first national championship.
- The Duke game also will represent the 799th game in the 28-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish have an all-time record of 550-248 (.689) since they began playing at the varsity level in 1977-78.
- Notre Dame has an active streak of 53 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 eight 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 386-149 (.721) record, which also puts her just 14 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.
A QUICK LOOK AT DUKE
One of the superpowers of women’s college basketball, Duke is the five-time defending Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champion and has made three NCAA Final Four appearances in the past six years, including a national runner-up finish in 1999. Although the Blue Devils no longer have the services of All-America forward Alana Beard (now with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics), the cupboard is hardly bare for head coach Gail Goestenkors.
Ranked sixth in the nation in both major polls, Duke is 2-0 this season following wins over Davidson (89-69) and South Florida (82-50) in the first two rounds of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. The Blue Devils shrugged off slow starts in both contests with overpowering second-half efforts that left both opponents helpless.
Junior guard/forward Monique Currie is one of four Duke players averaging in double figures through the first two games of the season, averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game to go along with 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per night. Freshman guard Wanisha Smith has adjusted well to the college game thus far, averaging 17.0 ppg. and 4.0 apg. in the early going, while junior center Mistie Williams has been a steady presence in the post, logging 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds with a .667 field goal percentage.
As a team, the Blue Devils have found their biggest success in the paint, shooting .547 from inside the three-point line (.462 overall) while owning a sizeable +15 rebounding margin (49-34). Duke is scoring 85.5 points per game while holding opponents to 59.5 ppg. and a .313 field goal percentage.
Gostenkors is in her 13th season with the Blue Devils, owning a 304-88 (.776) record in Durham. She will be facing Notre Dame for the third time, having split her previous two games against the Irish.
THE DUKE SERIES
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Duke, 3-1, including a 1-0 record when the scene shifts to the Joyce Center. The Irish and Blue Devils met for the first time late in the 1985-86 season in Amarillo, Texas, at the National Women’s Invitation Tournament (NWIT), an eight-team postseason event that was the precursor to today’s WNIT. Notre Dame won that first matchup, 74-67, to finish third at the NWIT, at the time the best postseason finish for the Irish since they moved to the Division I level in 1980-81.
Notre Dame and Duke played again two years later in 1987-88, which also was the first season for new head coach Muffet McGraw. The Irish traveled to Durham, N.C., and came away with the first win over a ranked opponent in school history, downing the 17th-ranked Blue Devils, 78-66. Lisa Kuhns and Sara Liebscher scored 19 points apiece in pacing Notre Dame to the historic victory.
A full decade passed before the Irish faced Duke, once again heading to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a contest early in the 1997-98 campaign. With very few of the same players who helped the program reach its first NCAA Final Four less than a year earlier, Notre Dame was no match for the 19th-ranked Blue Devils, who posted an 80-62 win.
The most recent matchup in the series came on Nov. 21, 1998, at the Joyce Center and saw No. 11/19 Notre Dame pull away in the second half to record an 84-57 victory over No. 6/4 Duke. Ruth Riley had a monster game with 20 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots, while Danielle Green almost mirrored her teammate with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Michele VanGorp led three Duke players in double figures with 17 points before fouling out with just under seven minutes to play.
Notre Dame looked like it was going to run away and hide from the Blue Devils in the first half, opening the game on a 16-3 run and widening the margin to 30-10 at the seven-minute mark of the period. However, Duke closed the half on a 20-6 run, getting back within six points by the intermission and apparently taking the momentum with it.
The Blue Devils trimmed their deficit to four points twice in the second half, the second coming at 38-34 on VanGorp’s short jumper a minute into the period. That would be as close as Duke would get, with Notre Dame slowly shaking free of their highly-ranked counterpart. Leading by 10 points (51-41) at the 14-minute mark of the second half, the Irish fashioned a 21-5 run during the next nine minutes that essentially iced the victory.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-DUKE SERIES NOTES
- Notre Dame (6) and Duke (7) are two of just five teams in the nation to have made six NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances in the past eight seasons. The other three are Connecticut (8), Tennessee (8) and Louisiana Tech (7).
- The Irish and Blue Devils have two of the top 10 win totals in the country during the past nine seasons (1996-97 to present). Duke ranks fourth with 228 wins in that span, while Notre Dame is eighth with 204 victories over that time.
- Including this season, either one or both of the teams has been ranked in four of the five series games between Notre Dame and Duke.
- The Irish have scored 74 or more points in three of their previous four games against Duke.
- Wednesday’s game will mark the first time two top-11 women’s basketball teams have played one another at the Joyce Center since No. 3 Notre Dame defeated top-ranked Connecticut, 92-76 on Jan. 15, 2001. That victory helped propel the Irish to their first-ever No. 1 ranking and eventually, their first national championship.
- Sara Liebscher, who scored 19 points to play a key role in Notre Dame’s 1988 victory over Duke (the first-ever for the Irish vs. a ranked opponent), will be courtside for Wednesday’s game. She will provide color commentary on the Notre Dame radio broadcast, which can be heard in South Bend on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) as well as via the Internet at www.und.com.
NOTRE DAME-DUKE CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame junior guard Megan Duffy and Duke sophomore center Alison Bales are both natives of Dayton, Ohio, and are no strangers to one another. During their high school days, Duffy’s Chaminade-Julienne squad and Bales’ Beavercreek team met on numerous occasions, but the teams’ much anticipated matchup during Duffy’s senior season (2001-02) didn’t quite materialize as planned when Duffy suffered a season-ending knee injury.
- Duke freshman guard Laura Kurz is the sister of Notre Dame men’s basketball freshman forward Rob Kurz. Unlike his sister, Rob has not yet made his collegiate debut, which will come Friday night vs. Harvard at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey spent eight seasons (1987-95) as an assistant coach at Duke under legendary mentor Mike Krzyzewski, helping the Blue Devils compile a 216-65 (.769) record with six Final Four berths, four NCAA championship game appearances and national championships in 1991 and 1992.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?
Wednesday’s game against Duke will hold a number of similarities to the last time the teams met in 1998. Consider the following:
- Entering the 1998 game, the Irish were ranked 11th and Duke was ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll ? those are the exact same rankings both teams have this week.
- In 1998, Notre Dame played its third game of the year against Duke ? now, the Irish will be playing for the third time in 2004, also against the Blue Devils.
- Notre Dame and Duke last played on Nov. 21? this year’s game will be just four days earlier.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
Notre Dame has a record of 27-10 (.730) all-time against the present alignment of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with the majority of those games (22) coming against Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech, who joined the ACC this season after formerly residing in the BIG EAST Conference along with the Irish. Notre Dame also is 10-4 (.714) in home games against current ACC teams, with 11 of those 14 games coming against either Miami or Virginia Tech.
Excluding matchups with UM or VT, the last time the Irish played an ACC school was Dec. 3, 2000, when No. 4 Notre Dame rolled to a 78-55 win over North Carolina at the Honda Elite 4 Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Niele Ivey had game highs of 18 points and six assists, while Ericka Haney notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Irish jumped out to a 42-19 halftime lead and never looked back.
In an interesting twist, Duke is the last ACC team (outside of Miami or Virginia Tech) to visit the Joyce Center, coming to town on Nov. 21, 1998. On that night, No. 11/19 Notre Dame pulled away in the second half to defeat No. 6/4 Duke, 84-57.
Notre Dame has a record of 34-25 (.576) 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 22-11 (.667) in such tournament games in the McGraw era, including an 11-4 (.733) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
What’s more, Notre Dame has won eight of its last nine 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 163-40 (.803) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are 11th in the AP poll entering Wednesday’s game with Duke). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 75-8 (.904) as a ranked host at the Joyce Center, including wins over Illinois State (92-73) and Nebraska (73-57) in the first two rounds of this year’s Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT.
Wednesday’s game with No. 6 Duke also marks the 13th time a ranked Notre Dame team has played host to a ranked opponent. The Irish are 8-4 (.667) at home when both teams are in the AP poll at tip time.
One interesting side note: Notre Dame is 6-0 (1.000) all-time when it is ranked exactly 11th in the Associated Press poll. The last time the Irish were No. 11 in the AP rankings was the week of Dec. 13, 1999 – Notre Dame played just once that week, claiming a 68-62 win at Florida International.
SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT REWIND
For the first time since 1996, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame is taking part in the Sportsview.tv Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
The Irish last played in the Sportsview.tv 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.
With their semifinal berth this year, the Irish have continued the BIG EAST Conference’s run of success in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have now reached the semifinals seven times in the 11-year history of the tournament, with Connecticut winning titles in 1997 and 2001. Last year, Rutgers made its second trip to the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship game before bowing to Texas Tech, 73-45.
A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER
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 31-8 (.795) in November games, including wins in 13 of their last 18 games in the month.
THE NEBRASKA RECAP
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 24 points and senior center Teresa Borton added 13 points and 11 rebounds Sunday to lead No. 10/11 Notre Dame to a 73-57 victory over Nebraska in the second round of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT.
Batteast, who was in foul trouble in the opener and played just 17 minutes, dominated inside against the Cornhuskers and repeatedly overpowered defenders. She was 10-of-18 from the field and matched her career high with seven assists in 36 minutes. Sophomore guard Breona Gray added career highs of 12 points and seven rebounds for the Irish, and Borton had her third career double-double.
Junior forward Courtney LaVere added 10 points as the Irish outscored Nebraska 38-24 inside and outrebounded the Cornhuskers 49-37. The Irish held Nebraska to 32 percent shooting, while making 43 percent of their shots.
Chelsea Aubry led the Cornhuskers with 16 points, and Jessica Gerhart added 13. Kiera Hardy, who had a career-high 28 points in Nebraska’s opening-round victory, was held to four on 2-of-16 shooting. Notre Dame (2-0) was in control though most of the game against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers went on a 13-7 run midway through the first half to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 17-16. But the Irish answered with a quick 6-0 spurt and led 35-26 at halftime. Nebraska (1-1) didn’t threaten again and the Irish led by 20 points several times in the second half.
NOTING THE NEBRASKA VICTORY
- With Sunday’s victory over Nebraska, the Irish extended their home winning streak to 22 games, the sixth-longest active run in the nation.
- Notre Dame also has now won 40 consecutive home games and is 44-2 (.957) at home all-time when it is ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll.
- Batteast’s 24 points marked the 22nd time in her career she has scored 20 or more points in a game. She now has 1,352 career points, putting her just 22 points away from passing Shari Matvey for 10th place on the Irish career scoring list.
- Batteast’s seven assists tied her career high, last set against Cleveland State on Nov. 26, 2002.
- Borton’s double-double was the third of her career and first since Feb. 5, 2002 at Pittsburgh (10 points, 10 rebounds).
- Borton’s 11 rebounds also tied her career high, set twice before (last time was at St. John’s on Feb. 17, 2004).
- Gray’s 12 points and seven rebounds both were career highs – she had 11 points on March 2, 2004 vs. Syracuse, and twice had six rebounds in a game, most recently last Friday night vs. Illinois State.
- Notre Dame improved to 130-6 (.956) in the past 10 seasons when it holds opponents to less than 60 points (that stretch coincides exactly with its membership in the BIG EAST Conference).
- When the Irish have the lead at halftime, they are now 79-7 (.919), dating back to the start of the 2000-01 season.
- Notre Dame has won eight of its last nine in-season tournament games and is 11-4 in regular-season tournaments during the past 10 seasons.
- With Sunday’s attendance of 5,370 at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame extended its streak to 53 consecutive home games with a crowd of 5,000 fans or more.
- The win over Nebraska was the 550th victory in the 28-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish have an all-time record of 550-248 (.689) since moving to the varsity level in 1977-78.
BATTEAST RAKES IN PRESEASON HONORS
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 underway. 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 Gballmag.com 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.
BATTEAST, DUFFY EARN PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS
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.
NOTRE DAME DEBUTS 10TH IN AP POLL, 11TH IN ESPN/USA TODAY COACHES’ POLL
For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame was ranked in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Irish were tabbed 10th in this year’s first AP poll and 11th in the initial coaches’ poll, marking the sixth consecutive year that Notre Dame was 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 its placement in the two major national polls, Notre Dame also was ranked high in the polls by several preseason media outlets (see chart at right).
NOTRE DAME RANKED SECOND IN PRESEASON BIG EAST POLL
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.
HALF AND HALF
Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 79-7 (.919) 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.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
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 130-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. That count includes Sunday night’s 73-57 win over Nebraska.
… 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. 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 ledger with last 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 GOLD STANDARD
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 AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 204 games over the past nine seasons, which stands as the eighth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
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 115 of their last 124 games (.927) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 22-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and the sixth-longest active run in the nation (as of Nov. 16). 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 49 of their last 51 non-BIG EAST contests (.961) 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 265-70 (.791) 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.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
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 53 consecutive games with at least 5,000 fans in the house (which continued with Sunday’s crowd of 5,370 fans for the win over Nebraska).
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
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.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
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 (www.und.com) 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.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
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.
Muffet McGraw SIGNS CONTRACT EXTENSION THROUGH 2010-11 SEASON
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)
NEXT GAME: TBA
Notre Dame’s next opponent depends upon the outcome of Wednesday’s game with Duke. Should the Irish defeat the Blue Devils, they would advance to the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT against the winner of the other semifinal game between No. 10/9 Ohio State and No. 22/24 Arizona (also being played Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio). The championship game would take place Saturday night, and will be televised live on the Internet at www.sportsview.tv.
The Irish lost their only previous game against Ohio State, a 74-67 decision on Jan. 4, 1997 in Columbus. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time against Arizona, most recently having dispatched the Wildcats, 59-47 in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Manhattan, Kan.
If Duke defeats Notre Dame on Wednesday night, the Irish will be off until next Monday, 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 past two matchups with the Rams, including a 63-59 victory last season in Fort Collins.