Nov. 21, 2004
(#11 AP/#10 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) vs. Colorado State Rams (1-0)
The Date and Time: Monday, Nov. 22, 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: Monday’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 Colorado State game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Colorado State (www.csurams.com).
#11/10 NOTRE DAME FACES QUICK TURNAROUND AS COLORADO STATE ARRIVES MONDAY Fresh off an emotional win over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT, No. 11/10 Notre Dame will look to remain focused and added to its early-season momentum when it plays host to Colorado State Monday at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center. It will mark the fifth game in 11 days for the Irish, who are expected to move up in the national rankings when the newest polls come out early this week. Notre Dame (4-0) had to rally from eight-point deficits in both its WNIT semifinal win over No. 6 Duke and its championship game triumph over Ohio State, although the latter game provided higher drama. The Irish were down, 62-54 with just over five minutes to play before scoring the game’s final 12 points and holding the efficient Buckeyes at bay. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT after scoring a career-high 32 points in the championship game, including seven in the game-ending 12-0 run. Junior guard Megan Duffy also earned all-tournament team honors after tallying 15 points and six assists against Ohio State. Colorado State (1-0) defeated San Francisco, 72-64 at home in its season opener last Friday night. The Rams erased their own eight-point second-half deficit and went on a 12-2 run during the final four minutes to register the victory. Junior forwards Melissa Dennett (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Lindsay Thomas (13 points, 12 rebounds) led the way for CSU in the victory. Head coach Chris Denker has a 39-25 record early in his third season at Colorado State.
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 were ranked 11th in last week’s Associated Press poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today survey. Notre Dame could not have gotten off to a better start this season, going 4-0 and winning the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State on Saturday night. It was the second consecutive win over a top-10 opponent for the Irish, who vanquished No. 6 Duke, 76-65 on Nov. 17. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was a major catalyst in the early-season charge for the Irish, averaging 21.5 points per game with a .507 field goal percentage. She was named the Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player after logging a career-high 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In fact, in both the semifinal win over Duke and the title game victory over OSU, Batteast went on personal 10-point runs and scored key baskets down the stretch to preserve those conquests. Her defense also was critical in the championship game, as she raced nearly 25 feet deep into the corner to block a potential game-tying three-pointer by the Buckeyes with two ticks left. Batteast is one of three Notre Dame players currently scoring in double figures this season. Junior guard Megan Duffy is registering 13.0 points and 6.0 assists per game, serving as the focal point on an Irish offense that has raised its scoring average by more than 12 ppg. from last year. Duffy also leads Notre Dame with a .600 three-point percentage (9-15) this season. Junior forward Courtney LaVere rounds out the double-digit trio at 11.3 points per game, along with 5.0 rebounds per night. Off the bench, freshman guard Charel Allen has been a major contributor early on, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Her play was critical in the WNIT semifinal win over Duke, as she scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help the Irish come back from an eight-point deficit and eliminate the Blue Devils.
SOME POTENT NOTABLES ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH
- Notre Dame currently owns a 24-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 51 of its last 53 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
- The Irish have posted 32 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), including two in its first four games this year (76-65 vs. No. 6 Duke and 66-62 vs. No. 10 Ohio State).
- The Irish have defeated 20 top-10 opponents in their history, adding to that total with their victories over sixth-ranked Duke and 10th-ranked Ohio State in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT.
- The Ohio State game represented the 800th game in the 28-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish have an all-time record of 552-248 (.690) in 28 seasons since they began playing at the varsity level in 1977-78.
- 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 six 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 388-149 (.722) record, which also puts her just 12 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.
A QUICK LOOK AT COLORADO STATE After posting a 17-12 record and narrowly missing out on a trip to the NCAA Tournament last season, Colorado State is looking to leave no doubt about its intentions in 2004-05. The Rams have been a perennial contender in the Mountain West Conference since that league was founded and are expected to challenge UNLV, Utah and New Mexico for conference supremacy this year. CSU (1-0) opened its season at home Friday night with a 72-64 victory over San Francisco. The Rams actually trailed by seven (58-51) after USF opened the second half on an 18-5 run, and the Lady Dons still held a scant 62-60 lead with just under four minutes to go. However, Colorado State righted the ship and closed out the game with a strong 12-2 run to register the opening-night victory. Junior forwards Melissa Dennett (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Lindsay Thomas (13 points, 12 rebounds) paced a Ram-tough post game that won the rebounding battle by a 45-31 count. Redshirt junior guard Vanessa Espinoza added 15 points and freshman guard Sara Hunter had a successful college debut with 12 points, including four three-pointers. Chris Denker is in his third season as the head coach at Colorado State, holding a 39-25 (.609) record at the school. Previously, he spent two years at Santa Clara and he has a overall coaching record of 80-43 (.650).
THE COLORADO STATE SERIES Notre Dame has faced Colorado State three times before (all in the past three years), owning a 2-1 series lead over CSU. The three previous matchups have been especially tight, with all three decided by a combined total of 11 points (3.7 ppg.) and each game has been doubt almost up until the final horn. The Irish and Rams first met in the 2001-02 season, as CSU registered a 72-66 victory at Moby Arena in Fort Collins. Ram forward Angie Gorton scored 13 of her 14 points in the second half and Elizabeth English knocked down four three-pointers to help the hosts pick up the win. Alicia Ratay had 16 points, Le’Tania Severe added 15 points and Jacqueline Batteast chipped in with her first career double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) for Notre Dame. The Irish trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, but cut the lead to 69-66 when Severe made a layup and was fouled with 36 seconds to go. However, Severe could not convert on the old-fashioned three-point play and CSU hit three free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Notre Dame returned the favor last season at the Joyce Center, pulling out a 46-45 win. Ratay canned two free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining, capping a wild final two minutes that saw the Irish take a six-point lead, only to have the Rams rally and go ahead, 45-44 on Ashley Augspurger’s two free throws with 26 seconds left. Notre Dame held the ball for the final shot, but Batteast was intentionally fouled by CSU’s Shannon Strecker on a drive to the basket with 10 seconds to go. Batteast missed both of her free throws, but the Irish got the ball back and a second life when Ratay was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass. Still, Notre Dame had to survive a furious last-second rush by English, whose three-point try clanged off the rim at the buzzer. Batteast wound up with a double-double, collecting 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Irish. Augspurger led all scorers with 19 points and added eight rebounds for Colorado State. Notre Dame shot just .298 from the floor, but held CSU to 12 first-half points and a .310 field goal percentage while forcing the Rams into 20 turnovers. Last year, the Irish picked up their first victory in Fort Collins, defeating CSU at Moby Arena, 63-59 on Dec. 29, 2003. The Irish used an 18-7 second-half run to take the lead for good and then held off several Ram charges to come away triumphant. Teresa Borton turned in her best performance of the 2003-04 season at CSU, chalking up team highs of 14 points (on six of 10 shooting) and nine rebounds. Le’Tania Severe also was a key contributor for Notre Dame, scoring 13 points. She was nine of 11 at the free throw line and made all six of her foul shots in the second half, including two big charities with 3.1 seconds left to seal the win. One of the more overlooked aspects of the win was the production of the Irish bench. The Notre Dame reserves outscored their Ram counterparts, 20-3, with Crystal Erwin and Breona Gray combining for 10 points and nine rebounds in the victory. Batteast has had more success against Colorado State than any other current Irish player, averaging 13.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in three games against the Rams. The senior All-America forward also has collected double-doubles in two of her previous three encounters with CSU.
NOTRE DAME-COLORADO STATE CONNECTIONS
- Irish senior center Teresa Borton is the cousin of former CSU forward Katie Borton. Both hail from Yakima, Wash., and spent their prep days at West Valley High School.
- Notre Dame sophomore guard Susie Powers (Centennial, Colo.) graduated from Highlands Ranch High School, while CSU redshirt junior guard Vanessa Espinoza is a Highlands Ranch, Colo., native who attended HRHS for three years before transferring to Douglas County High School for her final prep season. The pair were not teammates during their high school careers.
- Three California natives will suit up for Monday’s game. Notre Dame junior forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura/Buena HS) and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin (Rancho Cucamonga/St. Paul HS) are from the Golden State, as is Colorado State sophomore guard Molly Nohr (Moraga/Miramonte HS).
- Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2003 WNBA Finals MVP Ruth Riley has signed on for a second season with the Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL), who are play their games not far from the CSU campus at the Budweiser Events Center. Last season, Riley averaged 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Chill, who finished with a league-best 15-6 record. However, Colorado lost in the NWBL title game to Dallas, 72-69, despite 19 points and 21 rebounds from Riley. Three of Riley’s teammates with the Chill are former CSU standouts Becky Hammon (now with the WNBA’s New York Liberty), Katie Cronin and Teresa Hinz.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE Notre Dame doesn’t have a whole lot of experience to call on when it comes to facing the Mountain West Conference. The Irish have played just seven games against the current MWC alignment, going 5-2 (.714) overall (1-0 home, 1-1 road, 3-1 neutral). Notre Dame has faced five of the eight Mountain West members at some point with Colorado State being the only MWC team the Irish have seen more than once (2-1 entering Monday’s game). The Rams also are the only Mountain West member to visit the Joyce Center, dropping a 46-45 decision in 2003. Besides CSU, Notre Dame has won its only meetings with BYU, New Mexico and Utah, while falling to San Diego State in their lone matchup.
POLLING PLACE Notre Dame is 165-40 (.805) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish were 11th in last week’s AP poll, but are likely to move up after defeating No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Ohio State to win the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 77-8 (.906) as a ranked host at the Joyce Center after sweeping four games to win the Preseason WNIT.
IRISH DEFEAT OHIO STATE IN PROGRAM’S 800TH ALL-TIME GAME The Notre Dame women’s basketball program achieved an important milestone last Saturday, playing its 800th game as the Irish downed No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. Notre Dame has an overall record 552-248 (.690) in 28 seasons of varsity competition, starting with the 1977-78 campaign
SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT REWIND Punctuated by emotional second-half rallies in the semifinal and final, Notre Dame won four consecutive games to claim the 2004 Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship. The Irish capped off their season-opening charge with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the title game, scoring the final 12 points of the contest to erase an eight-point Buckeye lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. That win came on the heels of a 76-65 semifinal conquest of No. 6 Duke, a victory that also saw Notre Dame come back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a .507 field goal percentage in the four-game series. Batteast was at her best in the final two games, scoring a game-high 17 points vs. Duke (including a personal 10-0 run that put the Irish ahead for good) and then rolling up a career-best 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In that latter contest, she had another 10-point run in the first half and later scored seven of her team’s last 12 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:45 to play. However, her biggest contribution came with two seconds remaining, when she raced from the top of the key all the way to the corner, blocking OSU’s potential game-tying three-pointer to cement Notre Dame’s title. Not to be overlooked, junior guard Megan Duffy earned a place on the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after recording 15.0 points and 6.0 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage (.600 from beyond the arc). She was the catalyst for an Irish offense that averaged nearly 77 points per game and dished out better than 20 assists per night in the tournament, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists in the first round vs. Illinois State.
IRISH PLAYING EARLY AND OFTEN Monday’s game with Colorado State wraps up a rugged early-season stretch for Notre Dame that will see the Irish play five times in 11 days. The last time Notre Dame had such a compressed start to the season was 2000-01, when the Irish played their first five games in a 10-day span. They wound up winning all five contests, highlighted by victories over No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 6 Georgia at the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.
THE SEASON FOR SHARING One of the key elements in Notre Dame’s early success has been its penchant for distributing the ball well. In fact, the Irish have averaged 20.3 assists in their first four games, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State. Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way, averaging 6.0 assists per game with at least six dimes in three of her first four outings.
PROTECTING THE PILL The Irish have doen a solid job of limiting their turnovers through this initial stretch of the season. Notre Dame is giving the ball up less than 16 times per game, notably registering only 11 turnovers against Nebraska on Nov. 14. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has only six turnovers this season (1.5 per game), with half of those coming on offensive fouls. Meanwhile, freshman guard Charel Allen also has shown good discipline early on, also with just six giveaways. Junior point guard Megan Duffy should be included in the mix, committing only six turnovers in her first three games before an uncharacteristic nine-turnover night in the Preseason WNIT championship game vs. Ohio State.
LOTS OF FREE STUFF When given the opportunity, Notre Dame has taken advantage of its trips to the free throw line this season. The Irish are shooting 76.5 percent from the charity stripe, led by junior guard Megan Duffy (.944, 17-18) and freshman guard Charel Allen (.889, 8-9). What’s most impressive is the fact Notre Dame is connecting on 85 percent of its foul shots (17-20) in the final five minutes of regulation, often times with the game in the balance (see chart on page 4).
A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER Notre Dame has been very successful in the month of November over the past decade. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 33-8 (.805) in November games, including wins in 15 of their last 20 games in the month.
THE OHIO STATE RECAP Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored seven points in Notre Dame’s game-ending 12-0 run as the No. 11 Irish rallied to beat No. 10 Ohio State 66-62 in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship game Saturday night. Batteast finished with 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and blocked a potential tying three-pointer by OSU’s Caity Matter with two seconds left. The Irish, who beat No. 6 Duke in the semifinal last Wednesday, beat top-10 teams in back-to-back games for the first time since beating No. 1 Connecticut and No. 9 Purdue in the Final Four to win the national championship in 2001. The Irish (4-0) were trailing 62-54 with 4:39 left when Batteast, who was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, made a pair of free throws to start the comeback. She then converted a three-point play with 3:59 left to cut the lead to 62-59. Junior guard Megan Duffy, who had 15 points and was named to the all-tournament team, hit a three-pointer to tie it and Batteast put the Irish ahead for good at the 2:45 mark on a 12-foot jumper that bounced twice off the rim before falling in. The Buckeyes (3-1), who set a Preseason WNIT single-game record with 13 three-pointers against Bowling Green and set a tournament mark with 27 treys in the four-game tournament, missed their final two three-point attempts. First, Matter missed an attempt from the top of the key, then had her final shot blocked by Batteast, who raced from the top of the key deep into the corner to get a hand on Matter’s try. Batteast also scored 10 straight points midway through the first half to give the Irish a 21-12 lead. She averaged 21.5 ppg. in the Preseason WNIT and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. But Ohio State, which trailed 29-25 at halftime, appeared to have the game under control as Jessica Davenport, who joined her teammate Matter on the all-tournament team, scored 14 of her 23 points in the second half and dominated in the middle. She also was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, but was held without a point after scoring inside over senior center Teresa Borton with 6:42 left. Ashley Allen hit a 3-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 60-54 lead, and Matter, who had 13 points, drove in for a layup to make it 62-54. But Ohio State missed its final eight shots down the stretch and turned the ball over four times.
NOTING THE OHIO STATE VICTORY
- With the victory, Notre Dame wins its first regular-season tournament title since the 2001 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.
- Notre Dame also earns the third Preseason WNIT title for a BIG EAST Conference team in the event’s 11-year history, joining Connecticut’s crowns in 1997 and 2001.
- The Irish have won 10 of their last in-season tournament games, only losing at 20th-ranked Colorado, 67-63 in the title game of the 2003 WBCA Classic.
- Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT, while junior guard Megan Duffy earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
- Notre Dame stretches its home winning streak to 24 consecutive games (sixth-longest active run in the nation) and has won 51 of its last 53 non-conference home games.
- The Irish have now played back-to-back top-10 opponents twice in their history and have won all four games in that scenario (vs. #1 Connecticut and #9 Purdue at the 2001 NCAA Final Four; vs. #6 Duke and #10 Ohio State in the 2004 Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT).
- Notre Dame has recorded 32 victories over ranked opponents in the past six-plus seasons.
- the Irish also have 20 wins over top-10 opponents in their history (three in the past 23 games alone, after also besting #4 Connecticut, 66-51 in January at the Joyce Center).
- Notre Dame is 10-4 (.714) all-time when it is ranked and playing host to another ranked team.
- Notre Dame played its 800th game this season, improving its all-time record to 552-248 (.690) in less than 28 seasons of varsity action.
- The Irish are 80-7 (.920) since 2000-01 when they have the lead at halftime.
- Batteast’s 32 points were not only a career high, but the most by an Irish player since March 26, 2001, when Ruth Riley had 32 points vs. Vanderbilt in the NCAA Midwest Regional final.
- Batteast also moved into 10th place on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,401 points, passing Shari Matvey (1,373 from 1979-83).
- Duffy had six assists tonight, giving her six-or-more assists in three of her first four games.
- Borton recorded her 100th career block, becoming the seventh Notre Dame player to reach that milestone (she now has 101 in her career).
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw now needs just six wins to pass Digger Phelps for the most victories ever by an Irish basketball coach (men’s or women’s) – McGraw has a 388-149 (.723) record in 17-plus seasons under the Golden Dome.
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 80-7 (.920) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame has added three wins to that count this season (Illinois State, Nebraska and Ohio State).
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE … During the past decade, 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 this season’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 decade (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 another win to that ledger with its opening-night 92-73 win over Illinois State.
SWEET SUCCESS 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 206 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 117 of their last 126 games (.929) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 24-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and the sixth-longest active run in the nation (as of Nov. 20). 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 51 of their last 53 non-BIG EAST contests (.962) 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 267-70 (.792) 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 53 of the past 55 games with at least 5,000 fans in the house.
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN The Irish are scheduled to make at least eight appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date). Notre Dame made its TV debut this season last Saturday night when it defeated No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. That contest was shown globally via broadband Internet connection at www.sportsview.tv, as well either live or delayed on several Comcast SportsNet outlets nationwide. The American Forces Network, which broadcasts to more than one million U.S. service men and women in 176 countries, also aired the game. The Irish return to the airwaves on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV). That’s the first of three Notre Dame games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which has 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) airs 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.
IRISH ADD TWO PLAYERS DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has announced that Lindsay Schrader, a 6-0 guard from Bartlett, Ill., and Chandrica Smith, a 6-1 forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing National Letters of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2005. With the additions of Schrader and Smith, Notre Dame’s newest recruiting class is ranked 16th in the nation by Blue Star Index. That marks the ninth consecutive year the Irish have had a top-20 class, according to that publication, which makes Notre Dame one of only three schools in the nation that can claim that distinction (Connecticut and Tennessee are the others). 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 this past August. Smith currently attends Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where she transferred prior to her senior season. Previously, she was a standout at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she averaged 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game with a .620 field goal percentage. She also was a key component in the Jaguars’ run to a 32-1 record and the Georgia 5A state championship last year. In fact, during her first three prep seasons, her teams posted a combined 89-7 (.927) record with three trips to the Georgia state championship and one state title. Smith herself has received numerous accolades during her high school career. She is a two-time honorable mention All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a Student Sports All-American in 2004. In addition, she attended the adidas Top Ten Camp three consecutive years and was named to its prestigious all-star team all three years (Underclass All-Star in 2002 & 2003; Upperclass All-Star in 2004). Last season, she was an honorable mention 5A all-state selection and a first-team all-county choice. She is ranked as high as 29th in the nation among high school seniors by All-Star Girls Report. Like Schrader, Smith also attended the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the South Team, she averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, scoring a personal-best 13 points in the bronze-medal game victory over the East squad.
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).
BIG EAST CONFERENCE APPROVES BASKETBALL STRUCTURE FOR 2005-06 The Presidents of the BIG EAST Conference institutions have approved all recommendations by the league’s athletic directors relating to the structure of men’s and women’s basketball beginning in the 2005-06 academic year. The approvals were made at the Presidents’ annual meeting held in Philadelphia on Nov. 9. The recommendations include maintaining a 12-team postseason conference championship tournament and a one-division regular season structure. The men’s and women’s teams will continue to play 16-game regular season league schedules. In 2005-06, the BIG EAST will include 16 schools. The new members will be: University of Cincinnati, DePaul University, University of Louisville, Marquette University and University of South Florida. While the tournament format will be the same for the men and women, the formula for regular season scheduling will be different. The men’s teams will play 13 opponents with three repeat matchups to reach 16 league games. The women’s teams will meet each opponent once and have one repeat opponent. BIG EAST men’s teams have captured the last two NCAA crowns and three of the last six. BIG EAST women’s teams have won the last five NCAA titles. The BIG EAST conducts its men’s championship at Madison Square Garden in New York. The women’s championship is played at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Conn. For regular season scheduling, the conference office will determine prior to each season which matchups will be repeated. The factors in making the repeat games will be television, rivalries and geography.
PROMOTIONAL CORNER 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: USC After a season-opening five-game homestand, Notre Dame will hit the road for the first time this year when it pays a visit to USC Friday for a 7 p.m. (PT) contest at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The game will take place just yards away from Memorial Coliseum, where the Irish and Trojan football teams will tangle the next evening. Under first-year head coach Mark Trakh, USC (1-1) is off this week after splitting its first two games of the year at the Moran Realty Classic in Chicago. The Women of Troy opened their season with a 55-49 victory over Massachusetts, forcing 31 turnovers in the victory. However, the next evening, USC fell to the host school, No. 20 DePaul, 99-77, although the margin was just six points at halftime. Notre Dame and USC will be playing one another for the seventh time, with the Irish holding a 5-1 edge in the series. In fact, since the rivalry resumed on an annual basis in 1999, Notre Dame has won all five matchups, including a pair of victories in Los Angeles (70-61 in 2000 and 69-57 in 2002). Last year, the Irish downed the Women of Troy, 73-62 at the Joyce Center, holding USC to only 18 first-half points and forcing the visitors into 24 turnovers.