Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins has dished out at least five assists in four of Notre Dame's seven games this season, including a pair of seven-assist outings in last weekend's WBCA Classic.

#16 Irish Visit #2/3 Baylor Wednesday Night

Nov. 30, 2010

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2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 8

#16/16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-2 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #2/3 Baylor Lady Bears (7-1 / 0-0 Big 12)

DATE: December 1, 2010
TIME: 7:00 p.m. CT
AT: Waco, Texas – Ferrell Center (10,284)
SERIES: First meeting
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
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  • Notre Dame faces its third top-15 opponent this season, including its second on the road.
  • The Fighting Irish are playing their first game in the state of Texas since December 2001.

No. 16 Irish Visit No. 2/3 Baylor Wednesday Night
This year’s schedule already is proving to be a perfect laboratory for No. 16 Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish will get another opportunity to test their progress against a high-quality opponent as they travel to Waco, Texas, Wednesday for a 7 p.m. (CT) game against No. 2/3 Baylor at the Ferrell Center.

Notre Dame (5-2) is coming off a three-game sweep to the WBCA Classic championship last weekend at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish defeated IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler by an average of 40 points per game and led for all but 1:37 during the weekend, leading start to finish in the first two games and only trailing in the very early stages of Sunday’s finale vs. Butler.

Junior guard Natalie Novosel was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 18.3 points per game and shooting .533 from the field in the three-game series. Senior forward Devereaux Peters (13.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and junior forward Erica Solomon (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) joined Novosel on the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team.


  • Notre Dame is No. 16 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
  • Baylor is No. 2 in the latest Associated Press poll and No. 3 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.

Quick Hitters

  • With its No. 16 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 62 consecutive weeks, extending the program standard that began with the 2007-08 preseason poll.
  • The Fighting Irish have made the AP preseason poll in 11 of the past 12 seasons (since 1999-2000), something just 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 Fighting Irish will play a school-record 17 regular-season home games this year, including their first regular-season tournament (outside of the Preseason WNIT) since the 1983 Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic. Notre Dame won the three-day, round-robin WBCA Classic (also featuring IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler) at Purcell Pavilion from Nov. 26-28.
  • There are lots of new faces on the Fighting Irish schedule this season, with Notre Dame playing seven first-time opponents as part of its 14-game non-conference slate. Those new opponents include: New Hampshire (Nov. 12 – W, 99-48), Morehead State (Nov. 15 – W, 91-28), Kentucky (L, 81-76), Wake Forest (W 92-69), Baylor (Wednesday), 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 Sunday when the Irish play host to in-state rival Purdue at Purcell Pavilion in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2. Notre Dame currently has an all-time record of 694-304 (.695).
  • The Fighting 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 Fighting 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 348 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 147 of their last 149 home games, logging 12 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (including a school-record six last year, including four of the final five home games, most recently on March 1, 2010 vs. top-ranked Connecticut).
  • The Fighting 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 Fighting 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 Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October. What’s more, since Muffet McGraw became head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player who 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 Baylor
One of the nation’s rising powerhouse programs in recent years, Baylor returns 10 letterwinners, including three starters, from last year’s squad that posted a 27-10 record and advanced to the NCAA Final Four (where the Lady Bears fell to eventual national champion Connecticut, 70-50, in San Antonio).

Ranked second in the latest AP poll and third in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ survey, Baylor is off to a 7-1 start this season, with the lone loss being a 65-64 setback at UConn on Nov. 16. Since then, the Lady Bears have reeled off four consecutive wins at home by an average of 46.8 points per game, most recently dispatching Southeastern Louisiana, 106-41 on Sunday afternoon.

It’s no surprise that 6-foot-8 sophomore center Brittney Griner paced BU to that win, notching her fourth career triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in 21 minutes. The Lady Bears also received big contributions from their bench, as junior forward Ashley Field and freshman guard Makenzie Robertson added 12 points, and freshman guard Odyssey Sims chipped in 10 points for Baylor.

Griner leads the team in scoring (23.3 ppg), rebounding (8.4 rpg) and blocks (5.6 bpg) while shooting .591 from the floor. Senior guard Melissa Jones is second in scoring (11.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), while adding team-best marks for field goal percentage (.627) and steals (2.3 spg). Sims (9.9 ppg, 3.3 apg, .462 3FG%, .608 FG%) has stepped into the breach left by the abrupt transfer of last year’s starting point guard Kelli Griffin and the season-ending knee injury to guard Shanay Washington, despite having yet to start a game this season.

Head coach Kim Mulkey is in her 12th season at Baylor with a 271-77 (.779) record at the school.

The Notre Dame-Baylor Series
Notre Dame and Baylor will be meeting in the sport of women’s basketball for the first time on Wednesday night.

Other Notre Dame-Baylor Series Tidbits

  • Baylor is the fifth of seven first-time opponents on Notre Dame’s schedule this year (and fifth in the first eight games of the season). The Fighting Irish are 3-1 against these new foes this season, defeating New Hampshire (99-48), Morehead State (91-28) and Wake Forest (92-69) at Purcell Pavilion, while falling at No. 9/10 Kentucky (81-76).
  • The Lady Bears will be the 185th different opponent in the 34-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
  • Notre Dame is 44-6 (.880) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, including a 24-2 (.923) mark vs. new teams since the start of the 2000-01 season.
  • The Fighting Irish have won 22 consecutive home games against new opposition, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Notre Dame is 7-6 (.538) all-time against Texas schools, most recently defeating SMU, 75-62, on March 23, 2008, in the first round of the NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Ind. The Fighting Irish have not played a game in the Lone Star State since Dec. 28, 2001, when they dropped a 72-61 decision to Rice at Autry Court in Houston.
  • Notre Dame has had four players on its all-time roster from the state of Texas. Kelly Hicks (1977-80; Bandera) was the first Lone Star State product to suit up for the Fighting Irish, followed by Ellen Mauch (1987; Mineral Wells). More recently, two members of Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA national championshp teams came from Texas — Imani Dunbar (1997-2001; San Angelo) and Amanda Barksdale (1999-2002; Friendswood).
  • Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins and Baylor center Brittney Griner are two of the four sophomores on the preseason watch lists for this year’s WBCA/State Farm Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy (along with Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers).
  • Both former college point guards, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only coaches to both play for and coach a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and then also coach that same team to a national championship. McGraw played at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) when it rose to No. 3 in 1977, while Mulkey was the floor general for top-ranked Louisiana Tech in 1982. McGraw then took Notre Dame to the 2001 national championship, while Mulkey did the same with Baylor four years later.
  • McGraw will be enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2011. Mulkey was a 2001 inductee into the Hall, while Baylor assistant coach Leon Barmore (who gained fame as the legendary head coach at Louisiana Tech from 1982-2002) was part of the Hall’s Class of 2003.
  • Baylor sophomore guard Destiny Williams (who transferred to the Waco campus from Illinois last year) is a native of Benton Harbor, Mich., and attend Benton Harbor High School, located less than 40 miles from the Notre Dame campus.

Notre Dame vs. The Big 12 Conference
Notre Dame is 8-10 (.444) all-time against current Big 12 Conference members, including wins in six of its last nine games against that conference. The three losses in that time all came by five points or less — 69-65 to No. 11 Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional semifinals at The Pyramid in Memphis (the Irish led 17-0 to start that game), 67-63 in overtime at No. 20 Colorado in the 2003 WBCA Classic title game (CU forced OT with a 30-foot desperation shot at the regulation horn), and 77-72 in overtime to No. 12 Oklahoma in the 2010 NCAA Kansas City Regional semifinals at the Sprint Center in Kansas City (OU hit game-winning three-pointer with four seconds left in overtime).

Notre Dame also will be playing a Big 12 opponent for the 10th time since that conference was founded in 1996-97. However, in an odd coincidence, the previous nine games all were played in a tournament format, including six in NCAA Championship play:

  • 1997 NCAA East Region second round at Texas (W, 86-83)
  • 1998 NCAA Midwest Region second round at Texas Tech (W, 74-59)
  • 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional semifinal vs. Texas Tech at Memphis (L, 69-65)
  • 2003 NCAA East Region second round at Kansas State (W, 59-53)
  • 2003 WBCA Classic final at Colorado (L, 67-63, ot)
  • 2004 Preseason WNIT quarterfinal at home vs. Nebraska (W, 73-57)
  • 2008 NCAA Oklahoma City Region second round vs. Oklahoma at West Lafayette, Ind. (W, 79-75, ot)
  • 2009 Paradise Jam Island Division championship vs. Oklahoma at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. (W, 81-71)
  • 2010 NCAA Kansas City Regional semifinal vs. Oklahoma at Kansas City, Mo. (L, 77-72, ot)

Game #7 Recap: Butler
Natalie Novosel scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures, and No. 18 Notre Dame beat Butler, 85-54 on Sunday to win the WBCA Classic at Purcell Pavilion.

Novosel, the tournament MVP, scored the first five points of the second half for Notre Dame (5-2), opening up a 20-point lead with a breakaway layup and three-pointer from the corner.

Brittany Mallory hit threes on consecutive possessions later in the half, and Kayla McBride made a slashing reverse layup with 12:36 remaining to give the Irish a 24-point lead.

Brittany Bowen and Terra Burns scored 14 each for Butler (3-3), while Chloe Hamilton had 11.

McBride, Devereaux Peters and Skylar Diggins all had 11 points for Notre Dame, and Becca Bruszewski finished with 10.

Noting The Butler Game

  • Notre Dame wins a regular season tournament title for the 14th time in program history and the second consecutive season following last Thanksgiving’s three-game run to the Paradise Jam Island Division championship in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The Fighting Irish now have won 24 of their last 27 regular season tournament games since the start of the 1996-97 season, with the only three losses coming in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (1996 – 72-59 vs. No. 3/2 Tennessee in Ruston, La.; 2007 – 75-59 at No. 3 Maryland) and the title game of the 2003 WBCA Classic (67-63 in overtime at No. 20 Colorado).
  • Since the Maryland loss, Notre Dame has won six consecutive regular season tournament games.
  • The Fighting Irish were playing Butler for the first time since Dec. 1, 1999, although it was the 26th all-time meeting between the in-state rivals, who played regularly as members of the now-defunct North Star Conference and Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League); it’s the second-most games played against a current non-conference opponent behind the 28-game series with Dayton.
  • Notre Dame improves to 20-6 all-time against Butler and extends its current series winning streak against the Bulldogs to six consecutive games.
  • Butler becomes the ninth Fighting Irish opponent that Notre Dame has defeated at least 20 times in series history, joining Marquette (29), Georgetown (23), Syracuse (23), Valparaiso (23), Dayton (22), Detroit (22), Loyola-Chicago (21) and Xavier (20) on that list.
  • Sunday’s 31-point margin also was the largest in the Notre Dame-Butler series since Feb. 12, 1991, when Notre Dame downed Butler, 94-62 at Purcell Pavilion.
  • The Fighting Irish rise to 119-32 (.788) all-time against other Indiana schools, including an active 14-game winning streak.
  • Notre Dame also moves to 59-11 (.843) all-time against in-state opponents at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Junior guard Natalie Novosel earned the second regular season tournament MVP by a Fighting Irish player in as many seasons, following Skylar Diggins’ selection as the Paradise Jam Island Division MVP last year.
  • Novosel’s all-tournament team selection was the first of her career; she was joined on the squad by teammates Devereaux Peters and Erica Solomon (also the first all-tournament selections of their careers).

Novosel Named To BIG EAST Honor Roll
For the first time in her career, junior guard Natalie Novosel has been named to this week’s BIG EAST Conference Honor Roll, the league office announced Monday. The Fighting Irish wing was one of five players tapped for the award, which recognizes outstanding weekly achievements by conference players who are not chosen as the BIG EAST Player of the Week.

Novosel was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Classic last weekend after averaging 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.3 assists per game with a .533 field goal percentage (16-of-30), a .385 three-point percentage (5-of-13) and an .818 free throw percentage (18-of-22) while leading Notre Dame to wins over IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler at Purcell Pavilion and the tournament championship.

Novosel scored better than 20 points in two of the three Fighting Irish victories, including a career-high 23 points (with a career-best 11-of-12 effort at the free throw line) in a 92-69 win over Wake Forest last Saturday. She currently leads Notre Dame (and is tied for fourth in the BIG EAST) in scoring this season at 17.0 ppg., while adding 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week’s Associated Press poll. That marks the 62nd consecutive AP poll appearance for the Fighting Irish, extending the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08.

This year’s No. 12 preseason ranking also represented 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 201 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 Fighting Irish are ranked 16th in the latest ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ survey for 62 of the past 63 weeks, falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 193 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 201 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), including former Fighting 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 fourth 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 15 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).

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 the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith 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 Fighting Irish women’s basketball history as the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first 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 a Fighting 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).

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 was introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., before the Connecticut-Baylor game (McGraw was not able to attend due to NCAA regulations). The group 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).

Riley’s Double Zero Goes To The Rafters
Ruth Riley, a three-time All-America center at Notre Dame during her storied career from 1997-2001, and the 2001 consensus national player of the year, was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor on Nov. 12 during a pre-game ceremony before the Fighting Irish opened their 2010-11 season against New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion.

A banner honoring Riley’s number 00 was unveiled and now permanently hangs in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion, making her the first women’s basketball player added to the Ring of Honor, and the second player overall following last spring’s induction of men’s basketball All-America forward Luke Harangody.

Beginning in 2010-11, the Notre Dame Athletics Department plans to honor annually additional former and present men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their career while student-athletes at the University. A committee that will consist of Fighting Irish coaches and administrators will be formed to determine future inductees.

The only player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds, Riley ranks as the program’s all-time leader in seven categories, including rebounds (1,007), blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history). What’s more, the Macy, Ind., native ranks third in school history with 2,072 points, and holds the Fighting Irish single-game scoring record with 41 points in a January 1998 win over Providence. Riley also played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s run to the 2001 NCAA national championship, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the title game victory over Purdue, capped by her gamewinning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.

A 10-year WNBA veteran (the past four with the San Antonio Silver Stars), two-time WNBA champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Riley was back on campus with the other members of the 2001 championship team for ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of that milestone achievement in Notre Dame athletics history.

Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 193-17 (.919) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 121 of their last 132 such contests, and 30 in a row since a 58-47 loss to Villanova on March 8, 2009, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Hartford’s XL Center (Notre Dame led 25-21 at intermission).

The Fighting Irish have been up at the break in five games this year, including all three games at last weekend’s WBCA Classic, when they led for all but 1:37 during the entire tournament.

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 Fighting Irish have an amazing 212-15 (.934) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in four contests this season (New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Butler).

…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 Fighting Irish are 145-5 (.967) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.

Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in six of seven games this year (5-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points, including four games when it topped the 90-point mark (a plateau the Fighting Irish already have attained four times in their first seven games this season).

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 Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 194 of their last 220 games (.882) 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 Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 90 of their last 98 non-BIG EAST contests (.918) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the eight 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 defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), and to UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT). 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 344-87 (.798) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Fighting 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 Fighting 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 Fighting Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.

Notre Dame has wasted little time in getting started with that challenge, averaging 8,270 fans for its first six home games this season.

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 LED video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LED auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps and at the scorer’s table.

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 ( 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 Fighting 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 Fighting 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 Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site,, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.

This year’s TV slate continues a trend that has seen the Fighting Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through last Sunday’s Butler contest, Notre Dame has played in 174 televised games, including 120 that were broadcast nationally.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory are serving 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 preseason vote by their teammates.

Next Game: Purdue
Notre Dame reaches a program milestone against a familiar opponent, as the Fighting Irish welcome Purdue to Purcell Pavilion on Sunday for a 2 p.m. (ET) contest that will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPN2.

This weekend’s matchup not only will be the latest installment in the in-state rivalry, but it also will be the 1,000th game in Notre Dame women’s basketball history. The Fighting Irish currently own a 694-304 (.695) all-time record in their 34th season of varsity competition.

Purdue (4-0) won the Preseason WNIT title to open the season, but has not played since its championship game win over DePaul on Nov. 21 when a planned Thanksgiving trip was cancelled due to the hospitalization of redshirt junior forward Drey Mingo with bacterial meningitis. The Boilermakers return to action Thursday night, playing host to No. 22 Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

— ND —