Nov. 12, 2011
2011-12 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 2
Preseason WNIT — Quarterfinal
#2/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Indiana State Sycamores (1-0 / 0-0 MVC)
DATE: November 13, 2011
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
WEBCAST: UND.com (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE CHAT: UND.com/blog
- Notre Dame will face its 21st different in-state opponent in program history, with the Fighting Irish owning an active 16-game winning streak against other Indiana schools.
- Head coach Muffet McGraw needs one victory to tie former Fighting Irish baseball skipper Jake Kline (558 wins from 1934-75) for third on the Notre Dame athletics all-time wins list (for all sports).
No. 2 Irish Host Indiana State Sunday In Preseason WNIT Quarterfinal
For the second time in less than 48 hours, No. 2 Notre Dame will take the court, as the Fighting Irish welcome first-time opponent Indiana State to Purcell Pavilion to town at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday for a quarterfinal matchup in the Preseason WNIT. The game will be webcast live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com.
The Fighting Irish (1-0) earned their 17th consecutive season-opening win with an 81-61 victory over Akron on Friday in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. Notre Dame led almost the entire way, holding a double-digit edge for nearly the final 30 minutes while riding an aggressive defense that forced 46 turnovers (29 on steals).
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
- Indiana State is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked second in the preseason version of both major national polls. That’s the highest debut for the Fighting Irish in either poll, topping their No. 4 AP ranking to open 2009-10, and their No. 5 ESPN/USA Today position to start 2000-01.
- With its No. 2 preseason ranking in the Associated Press poll, Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 78 consecutive weeks, extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll. In fact, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a ranked Notre Dame squad throughout her career, with more than half that time (40 weeks) spent in the AP Top 10.
- The Fighting Irish now have made the preseason AP poll in 12 of the past 13 years (since 1999-2000), something only seven other schools in the country can match.
- Notre Dame could play as many as half (12) of the other 24 teams in the preseason AP poll if they meet No. 1 Baylor (would be in Preseason WNIT final Nov. 20) and No. 8 Duke (Junkanoo Jam on Nov. 26).
- Senior guards Fraderica Miller and Natalie Novosel helped Notre Dame win 82 games in their first three years, the second-most victories by a Fighting Irish class in that time, trailing only the one-player 2001-02 senior class of Ericka Haney, who was a part of 87 wins through the end of her junior year (including the 2001 national championship).
- Head coach Muffet McGraw is fourth on Notre Dame’s all-time coaching wins list (across all sports), trailing only men’s/women’s fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 from 1962-95), men’s tennis/wrestling coach Tom Fallon (579-268-4 from 1957-87) and baseball skipper Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75).
- McGraw also is just the ninth Fighting Irish coach in the 125-year history of Notre Dame athletics to lead her team for 25 seasons, and the first to solely coach a women’s sport (Joe Piane is in his 37th year as men’s/women’s track & field coach, while Michael DeCicco guided both Fighting Irish fencing teams during his 34-year career). Four of the nine members of this Silver Anniversary coaching club currently are active at Notre Dame — Piane (37 years), Tim Welsh (28th year with men’s swimming & diving), McGraw and Bob Bayliss (25th year with men’s tennis).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 16 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking fifth with 375 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 11 seasons. Last year, the program finished fifth in the NCAA attendance rankings with a school-record 8,553 fans per game, topping the previous year’s mark of 8,377. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 159 of their last 161 home games, logging 17 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Feb. 26, 2011, vs. Cincinnati).
- 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 11 seasons. 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 ’11 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fifth 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 2006 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 64-for-64 success rate). The Fighting Irish also are one of only four schools in the past four years to record a 100-percent GSR and play for a national championship in the same season.
A Quick Look At Indiana State
Indiana State is seeking to build upon a late surge last season that culminated with a 16-16 record and the program’s first trip to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals since 2005-06. The Sycamores have four starters and eight letterwinners back from that club, with ISU pegged to finish in the upper half of the MVC with a fifth-place showing in that league’s preseason poll.
Indiana State got off on the right foot Friday night, outlasting visiting Detroit, 64-62 in the closest of the eight Preseason WNIT first-round games. Junior guard Taylor Whitley dropped in a team-high 16 points, while senior center Shannon Thomas (a preseason all-MVC pick) added 15 points and a team-best six rebounds.
As a team, the Sycamores made up for a 40-24 rebounding deficit with some sharpshooting, hitting at a .452 clip from the field and .815 from the foul line.
Head coach Teri Moren is in her second season at Indiana State with a 17-16 record. Adding her seven-year stint at Division II Indianapolis, Moren has a 147-89 (.622) career record entering her first matchup with Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Indiana State Series
Notre Dame and Indiana State will be meeting for the first time on Sunday afternoon.
Other Notre Dame-Indiana State Series Tidbits
- Indiana State is the second of potentially six first-time opponents on Notre Dame’s schedule this year. The Fighting Irish opened the season Friday with an 81-61 win over new foe Akron.
- The Sycamores will be the 189th different opponent in the 35-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Indiana State will be the 21st different Fighting Irish in-state opponent, and eighth Division I foe. The only other current Division I Indiana school that Notre Dame has yet to play is Ball State.
- While Sunday marks the first matchup between Notre Dame and Indiana State in women’s basketball, the two schools have tangled twice on the men’s side, most recently last season, when the Fighting Irish earned their second win in as many tries over the Sycamores (81-72 on Nov. 30, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion).
- Notre Dame is 47-7 (.870) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, including a 27-3 (.900) mark vs. new teams since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- The Fighting Irish have won 24 consecutive home games against new opposition, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- It’s no surprise that Notre Dame’s home state of Indiana has produced more Fighting Irish women’s basketball players than any other in the country. A total of 19 Indiana residents have suited up for Notre Dame in the program’s 35-year history, including current junior guard (and South Bend native) Skylar Diggins.
- Although she has never faced Notre Dame at the Division I level, Indiana State head coach Teri Moren led Division II member Indianapolis into an exhibition against the Fighting Irish on Nov. 1, 2005, at Purcell Pavilion (Notre Dame posted an 84-59 victory).
Notre Dame vs. The Missouri Valley Conference
Notre Dame is 26-2 (.929) all-time against the current alignment of the Missouri Valley Conference, including a 13-1 (.929) record at home against MVC schools. Indiana State is the first of two Valley teams on this year’s Fighting Irish schedule, with Notre Dame slated to visit Creighton on Dec. 4 (the Fighting Irish defeated the Bluejays, 91-54, on Dec. 11, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion).
In the 25-year tenure of Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, the Fighting Irish are 17-1 (.944) against the Missouri Valley Conference, going 10-0 at home, 5-1 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites.
Her only setback also represents the last time a current MVC squad defeated Notre Dame. Evansville pulled off that feat on Jan. 28, 1993, when the Purple Aces handed the visiting Fighting Irish a 73-69 loss. Since then, Notre Dame has won eight consecutive games against current MVC schools.
Notre Dame also has an active 12-game home winning streak against MVC teams, since Illinois State edged the Fighting Irish, 61-59, on Feb. 8, 1984, at Purcell Pavilion.
Indiana State is the second MVC opponent for Notre Dame in Preseason WNIT action. The Fighting Irish opened their run to the 2004 title with a 92-73 win over Illinois State on Nov. 12, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion.
Indiana State is the first of two in-state opponents on Notre Dame’s schedule this season, with the Fighting Irish penciled in to visit Purdue on Dec. 10.
The Fighting Irish are 121-32 (.791) all-time against other Indiana schools, with a 60-11 (.845) record at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame also has won 16 consecutive games against in-state foes since a 54-51 loss to Indiana on Dec. 3, 2006, at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 16 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Fighting Irish have won 27 of their last 30 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including runs to the title in last year’s WBCA Classic at Purcell Pavilion (three games) and the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle (two games).
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a pair of defeats to third-ranked teams in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at Maryland in 2007) and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic — a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
Notre Dame is playing its first regular-season tournament of the 2011-12 campaign, with a trip to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam on tap for the Fighting Irish over Thanksgiving weekend. It will mark the second consecutive year Notre Dame has competed in multiple tourneys.
The Fighting Irish are playing in the Preseason WNIT for the fourth time, winning the tournament title in 2004 and reaching the semifinals in 1996 and 2007. The Fighting Irish are 10-2 all-time (8-0 at home) in Preseason WNIT games, including a 64-53 victory over No. 8/12 North Carolina State in the now-discontinued third-place game on Nov. 20, 1996, in Ruston, La.
Novosel Closing In On Milestone
Senior guard Natalie Novosel is nearing an important career milestone, needing only nine points to become the 29th Notre Dame women’s basketball player to score 1,000 career points. She would join junior guard Skylar Diggins (24th with 1,090 points) in that elite Fighting Irish club, with Notre Dame’s two fifth-year seniors also having the chance to reach the scoring millennium later this season — forward Devereaux Peters has tallied 870 points to date, while guard Brittany Mallory has 757 career points.
Should all four players hit the 1,000-point mark, it would be the first time in the 35-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball that a quartet of active 1,000-point scorers were on the roster at the same time. In both 2000-01 and 2009-10, Notre Dame had three 1,000-point players on the roster, with the third reaching that total in her final career game (Kelley Siemon in 2001 NCAA national championship game vs. Purdue, Melissa Lechlitner in 2010 NCAA Sweet 16 game vs. Oklahoma).
Game #1 Recap: Akron
With its offense struggling to get in synch, No. 2 Notre Dame turned up its defensive to put away Akron.
Skylar Diggins scored 21 points and the Irish forced 46 turnovers to beat the Zips 81-61 on Friday night in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT.
Rachel Tecca had 13 points and Carly Young added 10 for the Zips.
Notre Dame forced five turnovers on the first six Zip trips down the floor but some lackadaisical play allowed Akron to stay in the game early. The Irish kept the pressure on the experienced Zips, a team that returned 10 letterwinners and four starters from last year, and forced 11 turnovers in the first eight minutes to establish an Irish 17-12 edge at the 11:46 mark. The turnovers continued and the Irish ran off a 12-1 run over the next five minutes for a 29-13 edge with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
Akron closed back to within nine, 35-26 on two free throws by Natasha Williams with 3:15 remaining but the Irish tightened up the defense and led at halftime, 44-30.
It was more of the same in the second half. A three-pointer by McBride was followed by a layup by Brittany Mallory to set the score at 53-34 with 15:54 remaining and Notre Dame held on from there. The Irish established their largest lead, 25, twice midway through the second half. The Zips closed the gap to 16, 65-49 with seven minutes to go but were unable to mount a serious challenge after that.
Noting The Akron Game
- Notre Dame improves to 27-8 (.771) all-time in season openers, including a 22-3 (.880) record in the 25-year Muffet McGraw era.
- The Fighting Irish have won 17 consecutive season openers, matching up with their membership in the BIG EAST Conference.
- Notre Dame moves to 74-16 (.822) all-time against schools from the state of Ohio, including a 38-7 (.844) record at Purcell Pavilion and an active 18-game home winning streak against Ohio schools, stretching back to March 1993.
- Notre Dame improves to 36-14 (.720) against the current Mid-American Conference membership and extends its winning streak against MAC opponents to 19 games.
- The Fighting Irish have a 22-4 (.846) record against the MAC at Purcell Pavilion, as well as a 21-5 (.808) mark in the McGraw era and 13-1 (.929) home record vs. the MAC since McGraw came to Notre Dame in 1987-88.
- For the third time in four Preseason WNIT appearances, Notre Dame opened at home against a MAC opponent, having won all three times (66-41 vs. Kent State in 1996; 98-50 vs. Miami-Ohio in 2007).
- The Fighting Irish forced 46 Akron turnovers, third-most by a Fighting Irish opponent in school history behind the 49 giveaways by New Hampshire in last year’s season opener (Nov. 12, 2010 at Purcell Pavilion), and 48 turnovers by SIU-Edwardsville on Jan. 11, 1980 (in DeKalb, Ill.).
- The 29 Notre Dame steals tied for second in school history, topped only by the 36 thefts in last year’s win over New Hampshire.
- Fraderica Miller had a career-high seven steals (previous high was five on four occasions, the last vs. Southeast Missouri State on Jan. 2, 2011 at Purcell Pavilion), the most by a Notre Dame player in a single game since Novosel had seven steals in the win over New Hampshire.
- McBride registered a career-high seven rebounds (previous high was six on four occasions, the last on Jan. 12, 2011, vs. Louisville at Purcell Pavilion) and a career-best four steals (previous best was three on two occasions, the last on Nov. 26, 2010, vs. IUPUI at Purcell Pavilion).
- Diggins dished out a game-high eight assists, the most by a Notre Dame player in a season opener since Nov. 18, 2005, when Megan Duffy had eight assists in a 55-45 win over Michigan at Purcell Pavilion (a game better known for being McGraw’s 500th career win).
Notre Dame Claims Top Spot In 2011-12 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll
For the first time in its 17-year membership in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame has been selected as the outright No. 1 team in the annual BIG EAST preseason women’s basketball poll, according to a vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released Oct. 20 during the 2011-12 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.
In the closest vote since Notre Dame shared top honors with Connecticut in the 2002-03 BIG EAST preseason poll, the Fighting Irish picked up 219 points and nine first-place votes in the balloting (coaches are not permitted to select their own teams), edging out Connecticut, which collected the remaining seven first-place votes and finished with 216 points. Louisville (191 points) was chosen third, while Rutgers (176 points) finished a close fourth ahead of Georgetown (175 points).
The complete 2011-12 BIG EAST preseason coaches’ poll can be found in the sidebar on page 3 of the PDF version of this notes package.
Fighting Irish Trio Earns Numerous 2011-12 Preseason Honors
Along with picking Notre Dame to finish first in the conference this year in their preseason poll, the BIG EAST coaches voted junior guard Skylar Diggins as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. Diggins is just the second Fighting Irish player to earn that honor, and the first since fellow South Bend Washington High School graduate and Notre Dame All-American Jacqueline Batteast did so prior to her senior season (2004-05).
Diggins also joined a pair of her teammates — senior guard Natalie Novosel and fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters — on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, with Novosel and Peters making the preseason squad for the first time, while Diggins was a unanimous choice for the preseason all-conference team for the second consecutive year.
Notre Dame’s three Preseason All-BIG EAST honorees (who also have been named preseason candidates for this year’s Wade Trophy and Wooden Award, both of which go to the national player of the year) were more than any school, with three others having two selections (Connecticut had a third player earn honorable mention status).
Diggins — who added Associated Press Preseason All-America honors to her trophy case on Nov. 1 (the second Fighting Irish player to collect that status and first since Batteast in 2004-05) — put together one of the finest sophomore seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history in 2010-11 while sparking the Fighting Irish to their second NCAA title game berth and third NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance. The crafty southpaw made a nearly-seamless transition to the point guard position, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.0 ppg.), assists (team-high 4.8 apg.) and steals (1.9 spg.), posting career highs in all three areas. What’s more, her 585 total points and 186 total assists were the second-most ever accrued by a Notre Dame sophomore — Katryna Gaither scored 590 points in 1994-95, while Mary Gavin dished out 205 assists in 1985-86 — and her 75 steals were fourth on the Fighting Irish sophomore charts (just eight off the school record), while her 1,226 total minutes were just one shy of Beth Morgan’s school record set in 1996-97.
A State Farm Coaches’ All-America and third-team AP All-America selection last year, Diggins also ranked second on the team with 32 double-digit scoring games, leading the squad in scoring 14 times and rolling up 10 20-point outings, including the last three NCAA Championship games against Tennessee (24), Connecticut (season-high 28) and Texas A&M (23). She added at least five assists in 22 different games (after having seven five-assist games her entire freshman season), capped by a career-high 12 assists against Oklahoma in the NCAA Dayton Regional semifinal, the most helpers ever for a Fighting Irish player in the NCAA tournament, and most in any game since 2000.
A unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST selection, the NCAA Dayton Regional Most Outstanding Player and a member of the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team, as well as being a finalist for the three major national player-of-the-year awards (Wooden Award, Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy) and the Nancy Lieberman Award (top point guard), Diggins also made history in that regional final win over Tennessee, becoming just the second Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points in less than two seasons with the Fighting Irish (Morgan had exactly 1,000 points at the end of her sophomore season of 1994-95), and doing so in 72 games, tying for the fourth-fastest run to the scoring millennium in program history. Diggins currently ranks 24th on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,090 points.
Meanwhile, Novosel was easily one of the nation’s most improved players in 2010-11, nabbing State Farm Coaches’ honorable mention All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST laurels, as well as the BIG EAST’s Most Improved Player award, after more than tripling her scoring average from a year ago from 5.0 points to a team-high 15.1 points per game. She also scored in double figures a team-best 33 times, the second-highest single-season total in school history (Gaither had 37 double-digit games in 1996-97) and nearly doubled her combined total of 17 from her first two years. What’s more, Novosel had seven 20-point games (her career high entering the season was 19 points) and posted a team-best .413 three-point percentage, in addition to being second on the squad in steals (tied-1.9 spg.) and third in assists (1.9 apg.).
In 2010-11, Novosel set a new school record with 183 free throws made and 39 games started (tying with Peters and Becca Bruszewski), while her 232 free throw attempts were second-most in school history. In addition, she placed among the top 10 on the program’s single-season charts for total points (7th – 588) and minutes played (9th – 1,102).
Peters (who garnered honorable mention preseason All-America status from the AP on Tuesday) also enjoyed her finest season at Notre Dame in 2010-11, having fully recovered from a pair of knee injuries earlier in her career. Peters set new career highs in virtually every category, ranking third on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg.) and tops in double-doubles (10), rebounding (7.5 rpg.), field goal percentage (.593), and blocked shots (1.7 bpg.), not to mention fourth in steals (1.7 spg.). Furthermore, she placed fifth in the country in field goal percentage, and ranked among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (22nd), rebounding (6th), field goal percentage (2nd), blocked shots (4th) and double-doubles (2nd). As if that weren’t enough, she was one of just two players in the nation to record at least 60 blocks and 60 steals last season (she had 68 blocks and 66 steals), joining Illinois’ Karisma Penn (78/62) in that select company.
Like Novosel, Peters was named a State Farm Coaches’ honorable mention All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST selection in 2010-11, while also taking home BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year honors. She scored in double figures 25 times and tied the school record by starting all 39 games during Notre Dame’s run to the NCAA national championship game. In that title clash against Texas A&M, Peters rang up a double-double with 21 points (on 8-of-10 shooting) and a game-high 11 rebounds, securing her place on the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in the 2011-12 preseason Associated Press poll, released on Oct. 29. It’s the highest the Fighting Irish have ever been ranked in the AP preseason survey, topping their No. 4 debut in 2009-10.
Notre Dame also received six first-place votes in the 2011-12 AP preseason poll, the first time it has received consideration for the top spot since March 11, 2001, when the Fighting Irish earned five first-place votes (they were ranked No. 2 after falling at Connecticut, 79-76 in the BIG EAST tournament final). The previous week, Notre Dame had 33 first-place votes in its sixth week with the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll.
This latest preseason ranking marks the 78th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Fighting Irish, extending the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001). In fact, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a ranked Fighting Irish squad throughout her career, spending more than half (40) of those appearances in the AP Top 10.
This year’s No. 2 ranking also represents the 12th time in the past 13 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only nine schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 13 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Fighting Irish with 12 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 217 weeks during the program’s 35-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 11th 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 No. 2 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll, and like the AP poll, it’s Notre Dame’s best-ever preseason ranking, topping its No. 5 placement to begin the 2000-01 campaign. The Fighting Irish also collected five first-place votes in this year’s preseason coaches’ survey, their first nods for the top spot since the final ’00-01 balloting, when they received all 40 first-place votes after winning the national championship.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 79 of the past 80 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 210 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll, as well as 10 of the past 14 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 31 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 217 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 to No. 3 in the nation.
Of the 31 people on this list, 16 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart in PDF version of this notes package), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).
Half And Half
During the past 11 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 217-18 (.923) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 145 of their last 157 such contests.
What’s more, in the past three seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 54-1 when leading at the half, with the only loss coming on April 5, 2011, in the NCAA national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (Notre Dame led Texas A&M, 35-33 at intermission before falling 76-70).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 17 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 231-15 (.939) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
…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 17 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 154-5 (.969) 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.
In the past three years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 31-1 when topping the 80-point mark, including a victory over Akron in Friday’s season opener.
Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The past two seasons have seen 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 in 2009-10), highest average attendance (8,553 fans per game in 2010-11) and most sellouts in a single season (six in 2009-10). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the third consecutive year, Notre Dame fans exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Jan. 23 game with Tennessee, push the Jan. 7 Connecticut game to a virtual sell-out, and put four other games (Dec. 20 vs. Central Florida, Feb. 5 vs. DePaul, Feb. 12 vs. West Virginia and Feb. 25 vs. South Florida) within striking distance of a sell out.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games during the 2010-11 regular season.
Hall of Fame Coach Muffet McGraw
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of nearly 650 games in her illustrious career, offically was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame during a gala ceremony on June 11, 2011, at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn.
McGraw was one of six people — and the lone coach — named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class. The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class included 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).
In addition, the legendary All-American Red Heads, one of the nation’s first women’s basketball teams which barnstormed around the country from 1936-86, were honored for their contributions to the game with a display at the Hall entitled “Trailblazers of the Game,” that was unveiled during the 2011 Induction Weekend.
McGraw is the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Fighting Irish skipper also became 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. Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in for her efforts as a player at Old Dominion.
McGraw also was the seventh 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), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina) and Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia).
Fighting 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 1.4 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 Fighting 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 Digital Media 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), is now in the fourth season of 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 23 regular season games televised during the 2011-12 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are 11 nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women’s basketball contests, including the program’s fifth-ever appearance on network television, and second in as many years (Jan. 7 vs. Connecticut on CBS) and six showings on the ESPN family of networks, including three appearances on that entity’s famed “Big Monday” telecast.
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. For the sixth consecutive season, all Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage (as well as the Nov. 2 exhibition vs. Windsor) will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, via the site’s free Fighting Irish Video Channel.
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 Friday’s game vs. Akron (webcast live on UND.com), Notre Dame has played in 202 televised games, including 147 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Fifth-year senior guard Brittany Mallory, senior guard Natalie Novosel and fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2011-12 season. Mallory is in her second season as team captain, while Novosel and Peters received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
Notre Dame Breaks New Ground With “Heart of the Irish” Service Initiative
For the third consecutive year, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team will be front and center in the South Bend and greater Michiana communities with its groundbreaking outreach program (renamed “Heart of the Irish”), which will involve numerous interactive events during the 2011-12 season. The goal of this year’s “Heart of the Irish” program is to highlight community leaders who are making a difference, as well as encourage fans to give back to their community and make an impact through a variety of special initiatives.
The first of five cornerstone events for the 2011-12 “Heart of the Irish” drive will take place on Dec. 2, when Notre Dame plays host to Pennsylvania in a 7 p.m. (ET) game at Purcell Pavilion. During that game, the Fighting Irish will hold their annual Teddy Bear Toss, collecting new teddy bears and other stuffed animals for patients at Riley Children’s Hospital, which serves many Michiana children, as well as local youth patients. The highlight of the event comes at halftime, when fans are invited to toss their stuffed animals onto the court, where they are then collected by volunteers.
Less than one week after the Teddy Bear Toss, Notre Dame will have a second outreach event called Food For Friends, to be held in conjunction with the Fighting Irish BIG EAST Conference opener against Marquette at 7 p.m. (ET) on Dec. 7 at Purcell Pavilion. Fans can bring to the game a variety of non-perishable food items that will be collected and delivered as part of the Food Drive for the St. Joseph Country chapter of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
Notre Dame’s next special “Heart of the Irish” event is entitled Reading One on One and it’s scheduled for Jan. 17, when the Fighting Irish play host to Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion. The That evening, the team will collect children’s books for the South Bend Community School Corporation in support of the Public Education Foundation.
The Fighting Irish will hold their annual fund-raising game in support of breast cancer awareness and research on Feb. 12 (3:30 p.m. ET vs. West Virginia) at Purcell Pavilion. Known locally as the Pink Zone game (and nationally renamed as Play4Kay), it will feature numerous informational booths and donation opportunities for fans to contribute to the fight against breast cancer, with the highlight being the always-memorable halftime ceremony to honor those who have been touched by (and in many cases, conquered) the disease. Last year, Notre Dame raised more than $130,000 through its Pink Zone game for the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, lifting its three-year donation total to more than a quarter of a million dollars.
The last event in the “Heart of the Irish” series comes on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), when Notre Dame welcomes Providence to Purcell Pavilion for a 7 p.m. (ET) tipoff. This will be the inaugural Splish Splash, in which fans can bring towels, wash cloths or toiletries such as small bottles of shampoo, soap or toothpaste for the YWCA of St. Joseph County.
Throughout the season, the Fighting Irish also will recognize community leaders who have made exceptional contributions.
In addition to this five-event series, Notre Dame women’s basketball will take part in a cooperative effort with the University’s Office of Sustainability as the Fighting Irish encourage all fans to recycle in their daily lives, particularly when they attend Notre Dame basketball games at Purcell Pavilion.
Originally called the “Spirit of Giving” program, Notre Dame’s community outreach efforts began in earnest during the summer of 2009. Since then, Fighting Irish players, coaches, staff and fans have taken part in hundreds of hours of service projects designed to give back to the South Bend and greater Michiana communities.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team was honored for its community outreach efforts in 2008-09, receiving the Trophy Award (symbolic of the Fighting Irish program with the most service hours in one academic year) from the Notre Dame athletics department.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
It’s year five of Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in a home game.
In the five-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 26 times, including wins last year over Michigan Tech (exhibition), New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Wake Forest, Creighton and Southeast Missouri State and Seton Hall.
It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most “Big Mac” baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger — fifth-year senior guard Brittany Mallory, who has sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) five times, including four during the promotion’s inaugural run in 2007-08.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “media relations director has too much time on his hands”), 15 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including five current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 26 Big Mac games to date, 13 have been reached on two-point baskets, nine on free throws, and four on three-pointers.
Next Game: Preseason WNIT Third Round
Notre Dame will be back in action at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday, playing in either the semifinal or consolation rounds of the Preseason WNIT at Purcell Pavilion. Should the Fighting Irish defeat Indiana State on Sunday, they would meet the winner of the Hartford-Long Island game (to be played at the same time Sunday in Hartford, Conn.) in the semifinals, while a loss would send Notre Dame against an opponent to be determined in the consolation bracket.
If the Fighting Irish advance to the Preseason WNIT semifinals, they would be facing their third consecutive first-time opponent, as they have never played either Hartford or Long Island.
— ND —