Junior guard Natalie Novosel is averaging 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals in exhibition play during her college career.

#12 Irish Open Exhibition Slate Wednesday Against Michigan Tech

Nov. 2, 2010

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2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Exhibition 1
#12/12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Michigan Tech Huskies (0-0 / 0-0 GLIAC North)

DATE: November 3, 2010
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
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  • Notre Dame is 30-1 in exhibition games since the 1993-94 season, including an active 25-game winning streak.
  • The Irish will be playing an NCAA Division II opponent in the preseason for the 10th time since 2001, as well as the ninth time in the past six seasons.

No. 12 Irish Open Exhibition Slate Wednesday Against Michigan Tech
After one of the most successful seasons in the program’s 34-year history, No. 12 Notre Dame gets set to do it all over again, as the Irish step on the hardwood for the first time in 2010-11 at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday with an exhibition game against NCAA Division II power Michigan Tech at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the lone preseason contest for Notre Dame this year, with the regular season set to tip off nine days later.

The Irish return eight monogram winners, including two starters, from last year’s squad that posted a 29-6 record (third-most wins in school history) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth time in the past 14 years. Notre Dame also mixes in a solid freshman class (ranked eighth in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz), as the Irish face a challenging schedule that includes five games against last year’s Sweet 16 participants and at least one opponent from each of the top six RPI conferences.


  • Notre Dame is No. 12 in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
  • Michigan Tech is not ranked in the Division II polls.

Quick Hitters

  • With its No. 12 preseason ranking in the Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for 59 consecutive weeks, tying the program record first set from preseason 1998-Dec. 3, 2001.
  • The Irish now have been voted into the preseason AP poll in 11 of the past 12 seasons (since 1999-2000), something only seven other schools in the country can match.
  • Notre Dame has a rugged 2010-11 schedule lined up, with games against at least one team from each of the top six RPI conferences (BIG EAST, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC), and five matchups against four other teams that advanced to last year’s NCAA Sweet 16 (Connecticut twice, Baylor, Gonzaga and Kentucky).
  • The Irish will play a school-record 17 regular-season home games this year, incuding their first regular-season tournament (outside of the Preseason WNIT) since the 1983 Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic. The three-day, round-robin WBCA Classic (also featuring IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler) comes to Purcell Pavilion Nov. 26-28.
  • There will be lots of new faces on the Irish schedule this season, with Notre Dame playing seven first-time opponents as part of its 13-game non-conference slate. Those new opponents include: New Hampshire (Nov. 12), Morehead State (Nov. 15), Kentucky (Nov. 21), Wake Forest (Nov. 27), Baylor (Dec. 1), Gonzaga (Dec. 29) and Southeast Missouri State (Jan. 2).
  • Notre Dame is closing in on the 1,000th game in the program’s 34-year history, with that milestone contest set for Dec. 5 when the Irish play host to in-state rival Purdue at Purcell Pavilion in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2. Notre Dame is 689-302 (.695) all-time entering the ’10-11 season.
  • The Irish have only one true senior on this year’s roster — forward Becca Bruszewski. Guard Brittany Mallory and forward Devereaux Peters both are listed as seniors on the roster based on their academic standing, but each player has the option to petition for a fifth year of eligibility after both suffered season-ending knee injuries (torn ACL) within the first seven games of the 2008-09 campaign.
  • Notre Dame welcomes a three-player freshman class that includes the program’s first-ever international player (Canadian National Team forward Natalie Achonwa), a 2010 McDonald’s All-American (Erie, Pa., native Kayla McBride) and a two-time Michigan Player of the Year (Ariel Braker from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.). Collectively, this group has been ranked as high as eighth in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
  • The Irish made a shift on their coaching staff during the offseason, as former longtime assistant and post coach guru Carol Owens (who previously served as Notre Dame from 1995-2005) returns to the program as associate coach following a successful five-year run as the head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. In addition, Angie Potthoff has moved into the newly-created role of associate director of operations & technology, a position that has seen her help direct Notre Dame’s emergence as one of the nation’s leaders in social media development among women’s college basketball programs.

Other Notre Dame Notables

  • Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 343 victories.
  • Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. Last year, the program finished fourth in the final NCAA attendance rankings with 8,377 fans per game, both setting new school records in the process. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 141 of their last 143 home games, logging 12 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (including a school-record six last year, including four of the final five regular-season home games, most recently on March 1, 2010 vs. top-ranked 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 decade. 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. Ruth Riley (San Antonio) was active in the league during the ’10 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. 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 fifth year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2010. What’s more, 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 earned her bachelor’s degree (a 62-for-62 success rate), with all three members of this year’s senior class on target to earn their diplomas.

A Quick Look At Michigan Tech
The 2010-11 season will open a new chapter in Michigan Tech women’s basketball, as the Huskies welcome a new head coach and five new starters to the fold following back-to-back NCAA Division II Midwest Regional titles, a two-year record of 58-10 and consecutive top-10 rankings in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) year-end poll.

Last season, MTU went 31-3 (20-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division), was ranked No. 1 in Division II for the first half of the year and rolled to the NCAA Elite Eight before a six-point loss to eventual national champion Emporia State.

The Huskies’ top returning scorer this season is junior forward Lindsey Lindstrom, who averaged 4.4 points per game with a .380 three-point percentage (19-of-50) in 30 games last year. MTU also brings back senior forward Lisa Staehlin who logged 4.3 ppg., and shot .505 from the floor (53-of-105) in all 34 games (and making four starts) a year ago.

Although beginning her first season as the head coach at her alma mater, Kim Cameron is no stranger to the Michigan Tech women’s basketball program, first playing for the Huskies from 2001-05 and then spending the past five years as an assistant coach.

The Notre Dame-Michigan Tech Series
Wednesday will mark the first time Notre Dame and Michigan Tech have played in the sport of women’s basketball.

Other Notre Dame-Michigan Tech Series Tidbits

  • Although this is their first meeting on the hardwood, Notre Dame and Michigan Tech are no strangers to one another on the ice, having faced off 59 times beginning in 1921 and continuing through their most recent meeting in 2005 (a 6-2 MTU win at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.). The Huskies lead that all-time series, 35-22-2.

Notre Dame vs. the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Notre Dame has faced four different members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) during exhibition play since the 2005-06 season, going 4-0 in those contests.

The Irish started their GLIAC preseason clashes in 2005 with a 96-45 win over Ferris State. Notre Dame then faced a pair of schools from that conference in 2006, downing Lake Superior State (82-55) and Northwood (82-35).

Most recently, the Irish defeated Hillsdale, 96-64 in their second exhibition of the 2007-08 preseason. The current Notre Dame seniors came off the bench as rookies that fall, with guard Brittany Mallory scoring 11 points, forward Devereaux Peters adding seven points, nine rebounds and five blocks, and forward Becca Bruszewski chipping in four points and three rebounds.

Exhibition Excellence For The Irish
Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in exhibition games during the past 17 seasons. Since the 1993-94 campaign, the Irish are 30-1 (.968) in these preseason tilts and own an active 25-game exhibition winning streak. During that time, Notre Dame has outscored its preseason opponents by an aggregate score of 2,716-1,806, which is good for an average score of 88-58.

The last squad to defeat the Irish in exhibition play was the Lithuanian National Team, which edged Notre Dame, 94-89 in 1996-97. However, the Irish were not fazed by that loss — they went on to reach their first NCAA Final Four that season.

New NCAA rules in recent years have allowed Division I teams to play exhibitions against Division II, III or NAIA institutions. The Irish are 9-0 against these College Division programs, having downed nine NCAA Division II schools since 2001 (Christian Brothers in 2001-02, Indianapolis and Ferris State in 2005-06, Lake Superior State and Northwood (Mich.) in 2006-07, Southern Indiana and Hillsdale in 2007-08, Gannon in 2008-09 and Indianapolis again last year).

Here’s a look at how Notre Dame has fared since 1993-94 in exhibition games (college opponents in italics):

2009-10 – W, 97-53 vs. University of Indianapolis
2008-09 – W, 96-30 vs. Gannon University
2007-08 – W, 90-38 vs. University of Southern Indiana; W, 96-64 vs. Hillsdale College
2006-07 – W, 82-55 vs. Lake Superior State University; W, 82-35 vs. Northwood (Mich.) University
2005-06 – W, 84-59 vs. University of Indianapolis; W, 96-45 vs. Ferris State University
2004-05 – W, 84-52 vs. Premier Sports; W, 80-61 vs. Hoosier Lady Stars
2003-04 – W, 85-65 vs. Northwest Sports; W, 78-45 vs. Team Concept
2002-03 – W, 87-50 vs. Houston Jaguars; W, 70-60 vs. OGBM Legends
2001-02 – W, 76-62 vs. OGBM Legends; W, 87-39 vs. Christian Brothers University
2000-01 – W, 98-53 vs. Finnish Select Team; W, 91-56 vs. Ohio All-Stars
1999-00 – W, 76-51 vs. EOS Malbas (Slovakia); W, 94-85 vs. Premier All-Stars
1998-99 – W, 88-37 vs. Estonian National Team; W, 111-82 vs. Visby Ladies (Sweden)
1997-98 – W, 66-34 vs. Slavyanka (Russia); W, 103-92 (3OT) vs. Brisbane Blazers (Australia)
1996-97 – W, 74-54 vs. Dutch National Team; L, 89-94 vs. Lithuanian National Team
1995-96 – W, 90-83 (OT) vs. Hoosier All-Stars; W, 93-85 vs. Sopron (Hungary)
1994-95 – W, 80-63 vs. Athletes in Action; W, 84-65 vs. Australian Institute for Sport (AIS)
1993-94 – W, 109-59 vs. BK Strakonice (Czechoslovakia)

Other Exhibition Game Tidbits

  • Notre Dame has won their last four exhibition games (dating back to 2007-08) against Division II schools by an average of 48.5 points per game, while scoring 94.8 ppg., in those contests.
  • In their last two preseason games, the Irish have forced a combined total of 82 turnovers (46 vs. Gannon in 2008-09, 36 vs. Indianapolis in 2009-10).
  • For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame potentially could set a new school record for exhibition game attendance. The current high-water mark for a preseason game is 7,508, set on Nov. 3, 2009, for a 97-53 win over Division II member Indianapolis.

Warming Up Quickly
In addition to Notre Dame’s team success in exhibition games, several Irish players also have performed well during preseason play. Here’s a brief thumbnail on how the returning Notre Dame players have done in exhibition games during their careers:

  • Becca Bruszewski – 5.8 ppg., 3.0 rpg., 12 pts. and 5 stls. vs. Gannon in 2008.
  • Skylar Diggins – 17 pts., 4 rebs., 3 stls. vs. Indianpolis in 2009.
  • Brittany Mallory – 8.8 ppg., 3.3 apg., 1.3 spg., 12 pts. vs. Indianapolis in 2009.
  • Fraderica Miller – 3.5 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 2.0 spg., 5 pts. vs. Gannon in 2008.
  • Natalie Novosel – 13.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 4.0 spg., 14 pts., 4 rebs., 5 stls. vs. Gannon in 2008.
  • Devereaux Peters – 11.5 ppg., 8.0 rpg., 3.5 bpg., 16 pts. and 7 rebs. vs. Southern Indiana in 2007.
  • Erica Solomon – 12.5 ppg., 7.0 rpg., 2.5 bpg., 17 pts., 6 rebs., 4 stls. vs. Indianapolis in 2009.
  • Kaila Turner – 2 pts., 3 stls. vs. Indianapolis in 2009.

Notre Dame Picked Fourth In 2010-11 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll
Notre Dame was selected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference in 2010-11, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released on Oct. 21 during the annual BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.

The Irish picked up 177 points in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only two-time defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points, West Virginia (207 points, one first-place vote) and Georgetown (186 points) — St. John’s rounded out the top five with 173 points.

Diggins Earns 2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors
Along with picking Notre Dame to finish fourth in the conference this year in their preseason poll, the BIG EAST coaches unanimously voted sophomore guard Skylar Diggins to the 10-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

A preseason candidate for both the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award, as well as a consensus preseason All-American by most major media outlets, Diggins is coming off one of the finest rookie seasons in the 33-year history of Irish women’s basketball as the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first Irish rookie in 16 years to top 100 assists in her debut season. What’s more, she finished as just the third player in program history (and the first freshman) to log 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season, joining a pair of All-Americans and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior in the nation 5-foot-8 and under) recipients — current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (2000-01) and Megan Duffy (2004-05) — in achieving that distinction.

A 2009-10 honorable mention All-America selection by both the Associated Press and WBCA, Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring (13.8 ppg.), steals (2.6 spg.) and assists (tied – 3.2 apg.) last season, while ranking third on the squad in three-point percentage (.350) and free throw percentage (.782). She also chalked up a team-high 24 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings, capped by a season-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. That scoring effort was the highest ever recorded by an Irish rookie in NCAA postseason play, while her 13 field goals made tied the program record for an NCAA tournament game.

In 2009-10, Diggins set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028), while ranking among the top five on the Irish rookie charts for points (3rd – 484), scoring average (tied/4th – 13.8 ppg.), field goals made (3rd – 169), field goals attempted (3rd – 385), three-point field goals made (4th – 35), three-point attempts (5th – 100), three-point percentage (5th – .350), assists (3rd – 112), steals per game (2nd – 2.6 spg.), games started (tied/2nd – 30), games played (2nd – 35) and minutes per game (5th – 29.4).

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked 12th in the 2010-11 preseason Associated Press poll, released on Oct. 29. That marks the 59th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, tying a program record first set from 1998 (preseason poll) to Dec. 3, 2001.

This year’s No. 12 ranking also represents the 11th time in the past 12 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only eight schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 12 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Irish with 11 preseason AP poll berths.

Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 198 weeks during the program’s 34-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 is 22nd all-time in that category.

In addition, the Irish are ranked 12th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll that was released Tuesday. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ survey for 59 of the past 60 weeks, falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 190 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).

More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 28 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 198 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 28 people on this list, 15 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart in PDF file), including former Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington (’92), who helped Notre Dame to its first-ever AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her third season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions into the AP poll at No. 23 on Jan. 25, 2010.

Six of the 16 active coaches in this group — including McGraw — led their teams to this year’s NCAA Championship, while McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and also coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).

2009-10 Exhibition Recap: Indianapolis
Sophomore forward Erica Solomon and freshman guard Skylar Diggins each came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points, leading six Notre Dame players in double figures as the fourth-ranked Irish rolled past Indianapolis, 97-53, in an exhibition game on Nov. 3, 2009, before a record-setting crowd of 7,508 fans (the largest ever to witness a Notre Dame preseason contest) in the first women’s basketball game at the newly-refurbished Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

Solomon also shared game-high honors with six rebounds and snared a game-best four steals, all in just 16 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Diggins connected on 6-of-10 shots from the floor (including her lone three-point attempt), grabbed four rebounds, all on the offensive glass, and added three steals for good measure. Sophomore guard Natalie Novosel made the most of her first starting assignment, getting the Irish off on the right foot in the first half before finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow tossed in 12 points, as did junior guard Brittany Mallory, the latter tacking on a game-high four assists while playing a team-high 23 minutes in her first action since missing all but seven games in 2008-09 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader rounded out Notre Dame double-digit scoring parade with 10 points and six rebounds.

Katie Dewey led Indianapolis with 16 points, and Samantha Meissel added 12 points for the Greyhounds, who were ranked fourth in the 2009-10 preseason Division II polls and were coming off a 67-56 exhibition win at Division I member Valparaiso two nights earlier.

Notre Dame’s renewed sense of urgency on the defensive end of the floor showed in its lone preseason tilt, as the Irish forced 36 turnovers, coming up with 22 steals. They also easily won the rebounding battle by a 44-30 margin (allowing just five offensive boards) and held Indianapolis to a .389 field goal percentage (14-of-36). In fact, the Greyhounds did as much of their offensive damage at the foul line, trying almost as many free throws as field goals (20-of-31 at the stripe).

On offense, the Irish shot .444 from the floor (32-of-72), including a sharp 8-of-16 from the three-point line. Notre Dame also worked its way to the free throw line, making 25-of-33 charities (.758) on the night.

After taking the first few minutes to shake loose the rust from the off-season, Notre Dame went on an 11-0 run, fueled by five steals and a pair of transition layups, to take a 15-4 lead and force Indianapolis to burn a timeout with 14:23 left in the first half. The Greyhounds then answered back with their best offensive push of the evening, mounting a 10-2 charge that was capped by Dewey’s three-pointer with 9:47 remaining. Although neither side knew it at the time, UIndy wouldn’t make another shot from the field for the rest of the first half.

Leading 20-16, the Irish blew the game wide open by closing the period on a 22-6 run. Novosel knocked down a pair of three-pointers during the spurt, while junior forward Becca Bruszewski scored all five of her points in that stretch. Notre Dame forced five turnovers along the way, and the only saving grace for Indianapolis seemed to be the respite it enjoyed at the foul line, going 6-of-11 from the charity stripe over the final eight minutes, but still trailing by a 42-22 count.

However, the feisty Greyhounds weren’t about to go quietly, as they ended a field goal drought of 10:18 with Jessica Canary’s three-pointer 31 seconds into the second half. Meissel followed with a jumper in the lane to trim the lead to 15 points and McGraw quickly used a timeout to settle her troops. Out of the break, the Irish briskly scored seven points (five from Barlow) and Indianapolis never got closer than 19 points the rest of the way.

Noting The Indianapolis Game

  • Notre Dame’s 97 points were the fifth-most ever scored by the Fighting Irish in exhibition play, and the most they have scored in the preseason since Nov. 14, 2000, when they knocked off Tapiolan Honka, an all-star team from Finland, by a 98-53 score.
  • Notre Dame and Indianapolis also had played a preseason game on Nov. 5, 2005, when the Fighting Irish winning that night, 84-59.
  • The crowd of 7,508 was the largest ever to see a Notre Dame women’s basketball exhibition game, topping the old record of 6,996 set on Nov. 13, 2001, for an 87-39 win over Christian Brothers University (from Memphis, Tenn.).
  • Had it been a regular season game, Solomon’s 17 points and four steals would have been a career best, topping her 15 points at Boston College on Nov. 23, 2008, and the three steals at Valparaiso on Dec. 13, 2008; interestingly, that BC game also saw Solomon post a “point-a-minute” performance with 15 points in 14 minutes.
  • The 17 points from Solomon and Diggins were the most by a Notre Dame player in an exhibition game since Nov. 1, 2007, when Erica Williamson scored 18 points in a 90-38 win over Southern Indiana; Williamson did not dress against Indianapolis while she continues to rehabilitate an ankle injury.
  • Novosel’s off-season work on her three-point shot seemed to pay dividends, as she went 2-of-4 from distance after going 1-for-10 on three-pointers as a freshman.
  • All 11 Notre Dame players that dressed for the exhibition not only played, but got in the scoring column, with freshman guard Kaila Turner capping the night with two free throws in the final minute; Turner had two points, three steals and one rebound in 17 minutes.

We’re Getting The Band Back Together
Nearly a decade has passed since one of the signature moments in Notre Dame athletics history, when the Irish women’s basketball team defeated Purdue, 68-66, at the Savvis Center in St. Louis to win the program’s first NCAA national championship. Now, 10 years later, the members of that historic squad will be back on campus to celebrate that accomplishment once again.

During the weekend of Nov. 12-14, the 2000-01 Notre Dame women’s basketball team will take part in a variety of public and private events designed to commemorate that national championship season. The public centerpiece of this celebration takes place at Notre Dame’s season-opening game at 4 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 12 against New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion, with the `00-01 players and coaches signing autographs (limit one item per person) for fans in Heritage Hall on the upper concourse of the arena from 2:45-3:45 p.m. (ET).

The team then will watch the current Fighting Irish squad take on New Hampshire, returning to the Purcell Pavilion hardwood collectively for the first time since that national championship game victory for a special halftime celebration. A similar ceremony will be held the next afternoon at halftime of the Notre Dame football game against Utah at Notre Dame Stadium.

In addition to the autograph session, fans will have the chance to watch this year’s season opener with the 2000-01 team from the new Club Naimoli at Purcell Pavilion, with tickets for this special offer available for $25 each (which includes unlimited food and soft drinks, with a separate game ticket also required for admission) by contacting the Murnane Family Ticket Office by phone (574-631-7356) or in person (Gate 9 in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays.

What’s more, commemorative 2001 women’s basketball reunion t-shirts will be on sale in Heritage Hall on gameday at a cost of $15 each, with proceeds going to Notre Dame’s 2011 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Pink Zone initiative.

McGraw Is Simply Legendary
The announcement on July 10, 2010, may have made it official, but it really only confirmed what Notre Dame fans have known for a very long time — head coach Muffet McGraw is a Hall of Famer.

McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of more than 600 games in her illustrious career, was one of six people — and the lone coach — named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class, as announced in Uncasville, Conn., during the “WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game” that was televised live nationally on ESPN from Mohegan Sun Arena.

The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist).

The ’11 class offically will be introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., when Connecticut and Baylor meet at 6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. The group then will be enshrined June 10-12, 2011, during the 13th annual Induction Weekend at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

McGraw becomes the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Irish skipper also is the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. First-year Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion.

McGraw also will be the ninth active college head coach to enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this notable list are: Pat Summitt (1999 – Tennessee), Van Chancellor (2001 – LSU), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina), Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia) and Debbie Ryan (2008 – Virginia).

Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 188-17 (.917) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 116 of their last 127 such contests.

Notre Dame led at the break in 25 games last season and went on to earn victories each time.

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 16 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 208-15 (.933) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 13-1 record last season.

The lone loss? A 59-44 setback to top-ranked Connecticut in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on March 8, 2010, in Hartford, Conn.

…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 16 seasons (since 1995-96), the Irish are 140-4 (.972) 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.

Last season, Notre Dame was 17-0 when it scored at least 80 points, including four games when it topped the 90-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 189 of their last 214 games (.883) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 106-18 (.855) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the former 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 85 of their last 92 non-BIG EAST contests (.924) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the seven losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — 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 former Joyce Center, posting a 339-86 (.798) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, which was the school record for home victories in a season prior to last year, when Notre Dame went 16-1, capped by an 84-66 triumph over Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The 2009-10 season saw an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth), highest average attendance (8,377 fans per game) and most sellouts (six) in a single season. And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

For the second consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans have all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that will have the Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.

Part of the appeal of Notre Dame women’s basketball can be traced to the renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, which has yet another new feature this season with the addition of a four-sided LCD video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LCD auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps.

Irish On Your Radio Dial
Beginning with the 2008-09 athletics year, 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 originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 91 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 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 (www.UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.

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 for his third season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Irish.

Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 21 regular season games televised during the 2010-11 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are seven nationally- or regionally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including the program’s fourth-ever appearance on network television (Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut on CBS), two showings on the ESPN family of networks, and three others on CBS College Sports.

In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.

This year’s TV slate continues an emerging trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through the end of last season, Notre Dame has played in 167 televised games, including 113 that were broadcast nationally.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory will serve as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2010-11 season. Both players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.

And Two Makes A Baker’s Dozen
Notre Dame has added two walk-on players to its 2010-11 roster, with both earning their way onto the squad through preseason workouts.

Junior guard Veronica Badway (Pittsburgh, Pa.) was a standout prep player at Fox Chapel Area High School, averaging 9.0 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior in 2007-08, leading the team to its first section title in the program’s 24-year history.

Badway currently is enrolled in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business as an accounting major. She has made the dean’s list each semester at Notre Dame and was a recipient of Notre Dame’s Accountancy Excellence Scholarship.

Senior forward Mary Forr (Altoona, Pa.) has been a member of the Irish practice squad off and on for the past three seasons, following a successful career at Bishop Guilfoyle High School. As a senior in 2006-07, she earned first-team all-state honors after averaging 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and helping BGHS to a 30-1 record and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class A state title.

Forr presently is enrolled in Notre Dame’s College of Arts & Letters, where she is pursuing a double major in political science and philosophy. She also is active with the St. Joseph County chapter of the Special Olympics.

Next Game: New Hampshire
Notre Dame will tip off the 2009-10 season for real on Friday, Nov. 12, when it welcomes New Hampshire to Purcell Pavilion for a late-afternoon 4 p.m. (ET) contest. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Irish and Wildcats, who went 9-22 last year and finished ninth in the America East Conference with a 3-13 record. UNH will play host to Bentley College in an exhibition game on Nov. 8 before heading to South Bend for its season opener with Notre Dame.

The Nov. 12 lidlifter will have added significance for Irish fans as Notre Dame will hold special ceremonies before the UNH game and at halftime to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 2001 NCAA national championship. Many of the members from that team will return to campus for the celebration, which will include a pre-game autograph session (2:45-3:45 p.m. ET) for the public in Heritage Hall at Purcell Pavilion.

— ND —