Feb. 26, 2010
2009-10 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 28
#7/8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-3 / 11-3 BIG EAST) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (9-18 / 1-13 BIG EAST)
DATE: February 27, 2010
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: South Orange, N.J. – Walsh Gymnasium (2,600)
SERIES: ND leads 17-4
1ST MTG: SHU 62-55 (12/11/93)
LAST MTG: ND 66-60 (1/3/09)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (Chris Masters, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (973) 275-4255
- Notre Dame makes its second consecutive trip to Seton Hall, where the past five series games all have been decided by six points or fewer.
- The Irish need one victory to reach the 25-win mark, something they last reached in the regular season in 2004-05 (ironically also at Seton Hall).
#7/8 Irish Play Final Regular Season Road Game Saturday At Seton Hall
With a week to go until the BIG EAST Conference Championship gets underway, No. 7/8 Notre Dame plays its final road game of the regular season Saturday with a 2 p.m. (ET) visit to Seton Hall. The Irish currently hold a one-game lead over St. John’s for fourth place in the conference standings (and the corresponding double-bye in the league tourney).
Notre Dame (24-3, 11-3) got back into winning form on Tuesday with a near wire-to-wire 82-67 victory over Marquette at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish used an 18-2 run early in the first half to grab the upper hand for good, and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner knocked down her first six shots of the game on the way to a career-high 23 points, while fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader returned from a two-game injury absence to score 17 points (8-10 FG) in 20 minutes.
- Notre Dame is No. 7 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 8 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Seton Hall is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is in the midst of a 54-week run in the Associated Press poll, the second-longest streak in school history (56 from 1998-2002).
- The Irish appeared in the top five of the AP poll for the first 15 weeks this season, marking the second-longest string of consecutive AP Top 5 rankings in program history behind only the final 17 weeks in 2000-01.
- Notre Dame’s 15-game winning streak earlier this season tied for the third-longest in school history, and longest since a school-record 23-game run from Nov. 17, 2000-Feb. 14, 2001.
- At 15-0, the Irish posted the second-best start in program history, topped only by a 23-0 debut in 2000-01 (the season in which Notre Dame won its first NCAA title).
- The Irish have secured their 16th 20-win season in the past 17 years, as well as the 20th in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present) and the 24th in the program’s 33-year history.
- Notre Dame has defeated five ranked opponents (Michigan State, San Diego State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, West Virginia) in eight tries this season, including three wins away from home.
- The Irish won the 2009 Paradise Jam Island Division title (their first regular-season tourney crown since the 2005 Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas), with freshman guard Skylar Diggins capturing MVP honors and senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner making the all-tournament team.
- At least seven different players have led the Irish in scoring, rebounding and assists this season. In addition, 11 of the 13 players on the Notre Dame roster have scored in double figures at least once this year.
- In Monday’s NCAA statistical rankings, Notre Dame appears among the top 25 in eight categories, including top-10 rankings in five areas — steals (4th at 13.1 spg.), assists (6th at 18.2 apg.), turnover margin (8th at +6.44), scoring offense (8th at 78.8 ppg.) and won-loss percentage (8th at .889).
- Conversely, Notre Dame has no player ranked higher than 58th in any NCAA statistical category — senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow is 58th in the land in steals at 2.48 per game.
- Notre Dame is forcing 23.4 turnovers per game this season, including 25.9 at home. The Irish also have caused at least 20 takeaways in 21 games, with no fewer than 25 opponent turnovers in 10 games (and six 30-takeaway nights) this year.
- Notre Dame is averaging 8,643 fans per game this year (with five sellouts), unofficially ranking fifth in the nation and showing a 20.6-percent increase from last year (7,168). The Irish also are the only school from the top 25 of the final 2008-09 NCAA attendance rankings to see an increase in attendance this year.
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 14 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 338 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past nine seasons. Last year, the program finished ninth in the country for the second year in a row with an average of 7,168 fans for its 13 home games (the second-highest single-season attendance average in school history). The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 138 of their last 140 home games, including 11 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Feb. 23, 2010 vs. Marquette).
- 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 nine seasons. 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 ’09 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the third 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 fourth year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2009. 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 graduated (a 58-for-58 success rate), with all five members of this year’s senior class on target to graduate by May 2010 (Erica Williamson earned her undergraduate degree one semester early in January 2010).
A Quick Look At Seton Hall
It’s been a rocky road for Seton Hall this season, as the Pirates have been challenged by injuries and youth, on top of tackling the always-tough BIG EAST schedule.
Seton Hall (9-18, 1-13) has lost five in a row coming into Saturday’s game, most recently dropping a 72-49 decision at home to Louisville on Wednesday night. Junior guard Ebonie Williams had a team-high 16 points for the Pirates, while freshman forward Terry Green added 12 points.
Williams leads SHU in scoring (13.3 ppg.), steals (1.3 spg.), three-point percentage (.372) and free throw percentage (.820) this season. Sophomore forward Kandice Green (no relation to Terry) is second in scorin (13.0 ppg.) and tops in both rebounding (8.7 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.393).
Head coach Phyllis Mangina is in her 25th season at her alma mater with a 352-365 (.491) career record, including a 4-17 mark against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Seton Hall Series
Notre Dame and Seton Hall will face off for the 22nd time on Saturday, with the Irish holding a 17-4 series edge over the Pirates. Notre Dame also is 17-2 all-time (16-2 in the regular season) against SHU since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
What’s more, Notre Dame is 8-2 against Seton Hall at Walsh Gymnasium, with one of those two Pirate wins coming in non-conference play.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Seton Hall Met
Ashley Barlow scored 14 points, including a clutch jumper with 90 seconds left, leading No. 12/6 Notre Dame to a 66-60 victory over Seton Hall in the BIG EAST opener for both schools on Jan. 3, 2009, in South Orange, N.J.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Irish (12-1) and the third straight on the road. Seton Hall, off to its best start since the 1994-95 season, dropped to 11-2 overall.
Notre Dame scored the first two points of the game and never trailed, surviving a few late scares to come away with the victory.
After trailing by as many as 12 in the second half, the Pirates managed to cut the lead to 56-55 with 2:28 left on a three-point play from Ebonie Williams, who led all scorers with 18 points. However, Seton Hall never got any closer.
With Notre Dame holding a 58-56 lead and the shot clock winding down, Barlow connected on a jumper that pushed the lead to 60-56 with 1:36 remaining. Williams nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 60-59 with 1:01 left, but Melissa Lechlitner made a fall-away jumper from beyond the free throw line that gave Notre Dame a 62-59 lead with 46.2 seconds left.
Barlow then added two free throws with 22.5 seconds left, before Lechlitner and Lindsay Schrader each sank a foul shot in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory. Schrader added 11 points and came up with a rebound (one of her team-high six caroms) and steal in the closing minutes.
Besides Barlow and Schrader, Notre Dame got 13 points off the bench from Erica Solomon.
Nicole Emery had 15 points for Seton Hall and Noteisha Womack, the nation’s leading rebounder at 13.9 per contest, had 11 points and 13 boards for the Pirates.
Other Notre Dame-Seton Hall Series Tidbits
- Six of the past nine series matchups have been decided by six points or less, including the past two matchups (a 64-61 victory on Jan. 2, 2007, and last year’s 66-60 win).
- The past five series games in South Orange each have been decided by six points or less, with Notre Dame winning four out of five.
- The Irish have limited the Pirates to 61 points or less in 17 of the past 18 series games, with the lone exception being SHU’s 74-61 win on Jan. 7, 2006, at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is visiting Seton Hall for the second consecutive year, a scheduling quirk brought about by the change in “repeat” BIG EAST opponents assigned by the conference this past summer. The Irish had their repeat foe switched from DePaul to Connecticut (the Pirates kept St. John’s as their repeater), and like all BIG EAST teams, both Notre Dame and Seton Hall play two opponents at the same location as last year, rather than alternating sites as usual. This also was the reason why the Irish played host to West Virginia for the second consecutive season back on Jan. 24 (a 74-66 ND win).
- This will mark just the second time Notre Dame has ever made back-to-back trips to Seton Hall, and the first since Nov. 26, 1994 (a non-conference game won by the Pirates, 65-60 in overtime) and Jan. 2, 1996 (a conference matchup won by the Irish, 88-79 in overtime).
- The last time Notre Dame closed out its BIG EAST road schedule at Seton Hall was March 1, 2005 (a 41-35 Irish win). That game turned out to be notable, as it set new school records for the fewest points allowed in a BIG EAST road game, and the fewest points scored in any road game.
- The coaching matchup between Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina dates back more than a quarter century to McGraw’s previous tenure at Lehigh (1982-87), when her teams split a pair of games with Mangina’s SHU clubs.
- Irish junior guard Brittany Mallory and Seton Hall sophomore forward Kandice Green are no strangers to one another, having played regularly during their high school days in Baltimore — Mallory’s McDonogh School and Green’s St. Frances Academy (also the alma mater of Providence junior guard Mi-Khida Hankins) were in the same conference, with the schools playing a minimum of twice annually; McDonogh and St. Frances also met in the 2007 IAAM A Conference title game with St. Frances pulling out a 68-63 win.
Peaking When It Counts
When the regular season enters its stretch run in the month of February, Notre Dame historically seems to raise its level of play. Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, the Irish are 86-25 (.775) in February games, including a 49-5 (.907) mark at home.
In the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-present), the Irish are 134-40 (.770) in the month of February, including a 71-11 (.866) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has not had a losing February, and only once did the Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw’s second season in South Bend).
Notre Dame reached the 20-win mark for the 16th time in the past 17 seasons with its 75-63 victory at Rutgers on Feb. 1. The Irish now have registered 20-or-more wins 20 times in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era and 24 times in the program’s 33-year history.
Notre Dame also hit the 20-win plateau in its 21st game this season, reaching that milestone faster than all but one Irish team — the 2000-01 squad that opened 23-0 and earned its 20th victory at Providence on Jan. 31, 2001 (one calendar day earlier than this year’s club).
Notre Dame already has faced a rigorous schedule through 27 games of the 2009-10 season, taking on eight ranked opponents. The Irish also have risen to that challenge quite well, winning five of those eight contests (Michigan State, San Diego State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and West Virginia), including three victories away from home (MSU, SDSU and OU).
In addition, two of the three losses to ranked opponents (at St. John’s and at Georgetown) came by 10 points or fewer and occurred while fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader was sidelined with a sprained left ankle (the first two games Schrader missed in her college career).
Four of Notre Dame’s five wins over ranked opponents this season came during the non-conference portion of the schedule, marking the second consecutive year in which the Irish defeated four Top 25 non-conference foes.
Notre Dame has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win three times this season. The Irish erased a 10-point first-half margin at Purdue on Jan. 4, followed by a 12-point first-half spread at Louisville on Jan. 19, and most recently, they wiped out a 13-point second-half gap at home against West Virginia on Jan. 24.
The three double-digit comeback victories are the most for Notre Dame in a single season since 2002-03, when it came back to win at West Virginia (trailed by 14), at Providence (trailed by 10) and home vs. Seton Hall (trailed twice by 12).
Spread The Wealth
Notre Dame has seen at least seven different players led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists this season. That has been even more evident in the past five games, with five different players leading the Irish in scoring during that time.
In addition, 11 of the 13 players on the Irish roster have scored in double figures at least once this season, including sophomore guard Fraderica Miller, and freshman guards Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner, who each topped the 10-point mark for the first time in their careers.
What’s more, five different players have scored at least 20 points in a game this year. Diggins has five 20-point games (San Diego State, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, St. John’s), while senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner (Purdue, Marquette) has reached that mark twice. Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Georgetown), junior forward Becca Bruszewski (DePaul) and junior guard Brittany Mallory (Valparaiso) have one 20-point game apiece.
Stat Sheet Stuffers
Another sign of Notre Dame’s versatility is seen in the number of “5-5-5” games (5 or more in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and/or steals) posted by its players this year. In fact, no fewer than six Irish players have pulled off this feat at least once during the current campaign.
Freshman guard Skylar Diggins (UAPB, Charlotte, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Marquette) has a team-high five 5-5-5 games, while senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Iona, South Florida, DePaul, St. John’s) and junior guard Brittany Mallory (Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, DePaul) both have four 5-5-5 games. Junior forward Becca Bruszewski (Louisville), sophomore guard Natalie Novosel (Eastern Michigan) and junior forward Devereaux Peters (St. John’s) each have one.
Barlow took it to another level in the Feb. 14 DePaul win with her first “5-5-5-5” game, piling up nine points, a career-high eight assists, six rebounds and five steals. Mallory nearly duplicated that trick in that same game with six points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Taking What We Can Get
Fueled by a renewed attention to defense this offseason, Notre Dame has been in the taking mood this year, forcing its opponents into at least 20 turnovers in 21 of 27 games thus far, with Irish foes averaging 23.4 giveaways per game, and Notre Dame chalking up a +6.44 turnover margin that is eighth-best in the nation (as of Monday).
In a two-game stretch bookending the Christmas holiday, Notre Dame harassed its opponents into a combined 79 turnovers (43 by Charlotte on Dec. 20 and 36 at UCF on Dec. 29).
Charlotte’s 43 turnovers tied for the second-most opponent giveaways in a game in school history and the most since Dec. 8, 1981, when the Irish forced sister school Saint Mary’s (Ind.) into 43 turnovers during the program’s second season at the Division I level. The Notre Dame record for opponent turnovers in a game is 48 by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Jan. 11, 1980, at DeKalb, Ill.
The Irish also are making even the most disciplined teams fall victim to their aggressive defensive style. Villanova came into its Jan. 9 game with Notre Dame ranked second in the nation with just 12.6 turnovers per game, but the Irish dogged the Wildcats into 34 turnovers (17 in each half).
Notre Dame has been especially hard on opponents in 14 home games this season, forcing 25.9 turnovers per game and collecting at least 25 in eight Purcell Pavilion contests thus far.
The Five-Finger Discount
According to Monday’s NCAA statistical report, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in steals (13.1 spg.). The Irish have posted double-digit steal totals in 19 of their 27 games this season, including five 20-steal efforts.
Individually, Notre Dame has five players with at least 35 steals this year, led by senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow with 67 steals (also good for 58th in the nation at 2.48 spg.). In fact, Barlow now has topped the 60-steal mark in each of her four seasons under the Golden Dome, making her just the third Irish player ever to accomplish that feat, along with Coquese Washington (1989-93) and current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (1997-2001).
Freshman guard Skylar Diggins is second on the squad with 61 thefts, making her the sixth Irish rookie to record at least 60 steals in her freshman season, and the first to do so since 2006-07, when (ironically enough) Barlow registered 63 steals.
Notre Dame is 27-12 (.692) in true road games since the start of the 2007-08 season, including a 7-3 record this year.
In addition, nine of the past 10 road losses for the Irish have been decided by an average of 8.2 points per game (all by 12 points or fewer), including two of three road setbacks this season (average margin of 7.5 ppg.).
Notre Dame posted 10 wins on the road in each of the past two years, marking just the second time in school history the Irish have logged double-digit win totals away from home in consecutive seasons (11 wins in 1989-90; 10 wins in 1990-91).
Notre Dame and Connecticut are the only two BIG EAST teams with at least three current players having 500+ career rebounds. Irish fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader is seventh all-time at Notre Dame with 782 boards, while senior guard tri-captain Ashley Barlow has 615 caroms and senior center Erica Williamson has 513 career rebounds.
Notre Dame is ranked seventh in this week’s Associated Press poll, ending a run of 15 consecutive weeks in the top five — it was the second-longest run in the AP Top 5 in program history, and the longest for the Irish since the 2000-01 season, when Notre Dame was a top-five fixture for the final 17 weeks.
However, their current poll appearance run of 54 consecutive weeks is the second-longest in school history behind a 56-week stretch from 1998-2002). The Irish also spent a total of seven weeks this year at a season-high No. 3 ranking, which was Notre Dame’s highest poll position since the week of Nov. 29, 2004, when the Irish also were ranked third.
What’s more, Notre Dame’s No. 4 preseason ranking on Oct. 30 was its the highest ever, topping its No. 6 debut in the 2000-01 poll.
With this week’s poll position, the Irish now have appeared in the top 10 of the AP poll during 10 of the past 14 seasons (1996-97 through 2009-10).
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 194 weeks during the program’s 33-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 eighth in this week’s ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame reached its season high in the ESPN/USA Today poll with a No. 3 ranking in eight of the previous 10 weeks, whch also was the highest it has been ranked in the coaches’ survey since the 2004-05 season, when the Irish were third for two separate weeks (Nov. 30 and Jan. 5) during the year.
What’s more, it was the first time Notre Dame was in the top three in consecutive weeks since the final 14 weeks of the 2000-01 season (capped by a No. 1 ranking in the final poll after winning the national championship).
This marks the second consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll, as well as eight of the past 12 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
Notre Dame was ranked in the coaches’ survey for 38 consecutive weeks before falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of last season. With their No. 8 ranking this week, the Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for 186 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 194 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, 16 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), 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 Jan. 25 AP poll at No. 23.
Game #27 Recap: Marquette
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw sat down at her post-game news conference and let out a sigh of relief.
“Welcome back Lindsay Schrader,” she said.
The Fighting Irish (24-3, 11-3 BIG EAST), who had lost two straight road games against ranked opponents with Schrader sitting out with a sprained left ankle, beat visiting Marquette 82-67 on Tuesday night as Schrader had 17 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play and Melissa Lechlitner had a career-high 23 points. McGraw said Schrader was only allowed to play 20 minutes by the team trainers.
“We squeezed every second we could get out of her,” McGraw said. “She had a fantastic game.”
McGraw was concerned when Marquette hit 3 of 4 shots to open the game and the Irish defense looked like it did in the losses at St. John’s and Georgetown last week.
“I thought, `Well, gosh, we look like we’ve looked the last couple of games where our feet were in mud defensively,”‘ she said.
Lechlitner, though, helped the Irish get going. After turning the ball over on Notre Dame’s initial possession and then missing their first three shots, the Irish made eight straight during an 18-2 run that gave it an 18-6 lead.
Lechlitner made back-to-back baskets during the run, hitting a three, then a jumper to give the Irish a 12-6 lead. She later drove inside for another score during the run. The Golden Eagles narrowed the lead to 24-19 when Courtney Weibel made a three-pointer. But a three-point play by Lechlitner and another three-pointer by her helped spark a 15-3 spurt, giving the Irish a 41-24 lead at halftime.
An 11-2 run by the Golden Eagles early in the second half cut the lead to 48-37, but the Irish quickly answered with a 10-2 spurt that included another three-pointer by Lechlitner.
“She shot the ball extremely well,” McGraw said. “She just did some really good things to get us going.”
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said the Golden Eagles lost track of Lechlitner at times.
“She made us pay for it,” she said.
Lechlitner was 8 of 13 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. She credited Skylar Diggins, who had a career-high nine assists, with getting her open looks.
She said she wasn’t surprised the Irish struggled without Schrader even though they are a veteran team.
“Lindsay’s been our go-to player all year,” McGraw said. “I was disappointed, honestly that other people haven’t stepped up in her absence.”
The Irish held their Senior Night Tuesday even though they still have a game remaining at home Monday against top-ranked Connecticut. McGraw said the decision to switch Senior Night had more to do with the game Monday being televised than the opponent.
“It’s hard to do it on a night of a TV game,” she said. “There’s going to be enough hype that night that we don’t have to worry about the seniors. We thought this was a good idea.”
Ashley Barlow added 11 for the Irish. Weibel and Jessica Pachko had 15 points each for Marquette and Angel Robinson had 11.
McGraw wasn’t totally happy with her team’s play, especially about being outrebounded again and with Notre Dame’s defense.
“We were up 20 and they got back in the game,” she said. “We just needed to settle down a little bit. I think it was a good win for us.”
Noting The Marquette Game
- Notre Dame continues its uncanny success on Senior Night, improving to 27-6 (.818) all-time, including a 20-3 (.870) record in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present); in fact, after McGraw’s first Fighting Irish club lost on Senior Night in 1988, Notre Dame has won 20 of its last 22 Senior Night games, with only losses in 2002 (Villanova) and 2007 (Rutgers).
- The Fighting Irish rise to 29-6 in the all-time series against Marquette, with the wins and 35 games played extending program records against one opponent (the series dates back to the first varsity season of Notre Dame women’s basketball in 1977-78).
- The Fighting Irish also move to 18-1 all-time against Marquette at Purcell Pavilion, including an active 17-game winning streak (the Golden Eagles’ lone win in South Bend came on Feb. 2, 1980 – a 67-46 decision in Notre Dame’s final season as an AIAW Division III program).
- The Fighting Irish topped the 70-point mark for the 23rd time in the Marquette series, all in the past 29 games.
- Once more, Notre Dame displayed its resiliency, improving to 54-14 (.794) in their first game after a double-digit loss since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 — the Fighting Irish are 2-0 in such games this season, having also won at Louisville, 78-60 on Jan. 19.
- Notre Dame chalks up another February home win, jumping to 49-5 (.907) at Purcell Pavilion in the month of February during its BIG EAST era (overall record of 86-25, .775, in that 15-year span).
- In the 23-year McGraw era, Notre Dame is 134-30 (.817) in February, with a 71-11 (.866) home record, and the Fighting Irish have never had a losing record in the month of February under McGraw (and just one .500 record, that being a 4-4 mark in 1988-89, McGraw’s second season in South Bend).
- Notre Dame forced 20+ opponent turnovers for the 21st time in 27 games this season, and logged double-digit steals for the 19th time.
- The Fighting Irish shot better than 50 percent from the field for the eighth time this year.
- Wearing jersey number 23 and playing on the 23rd of February, senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner scored a career-high 23 points, one more than her output at Purdue on Jan. 4 of this year.
- Lechlitner also tied her career highs with eight field goals, four three-pointers and seven three-point attempts (marks she most recently set at Purdue on Jan. 4), and matched her season best with six assists.
- Freshman guard Skylar Diggins dished out a career-high nine assists (previous high was six on two occasions, most recently vs. Pittsburgh on Feb. 6), the most dimes for a Notre Dame rookie since Lechlitner had a career-high nine assists on Jan. 16, 2007, in a win over St. John’s at Purcell Pavilion.
- Diggins also collected her team-leading fifth “5-5-5” game of the season, adding eight points and six rebounds to her nine assists.
- Junior forward Devereaux Peters narrowly missed her second “5-5-5” game in three outings, finishing with seven points, a game-high nine rebounds and season-high-tying four steals.
- Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader wound up one point shy of her season high (which she’s done three times, most recently vs. Pittsburgh on Feb. 6).
- Schrader made her 116th career start, tying Karen Robinson (1987-91) for fifth place on the Notre Dame all-time list.
- Senior walk-on guard Alena Christiansen earned her first career start, and closed out the scoring with a jumper in the final seconds, as all 10 Fighting Irish players who saw action got into the scoring column (first time since Feb. 6 Pittsburgh game).
- The Fighting Irish attracted their school-record fifth sellout crowd of the season (9,149) and 11th in program history.
Getting The Jump
At 15-0, Notre Dame got off to the second-best start in the program’s 33-year history. The only time the Irish opened with a better record that this season was in 2000-01, when they reeled off a school-record 23 consecutive wins en route to a 34-2 final record and the program’s first national championship.
Notre Dame’s season-opening 15-game winning streak tied for the third-longest success string in program history (at any time), and it was the longest since the school-record 23-game run to begin the 2000-01 season.
McGraw Earns 600th Career Win
Irish head coach Muffet McGraw reached her second important career milestone of the season on Jan. 19, as she became the 19th Division I coach to record 600 career wins when the Irish posted a 78-60 victory at Louisville.
McGraw earned the milestone win in her 839th career game (she now has a 28-year mark of 608-241, .716), tying her with former Saint Peter’s coach Mike Granelli as the 10th-fastest to the 600-win plateau in Division I history.
In honor of the historic 600th victory, Notre Dame fans at Purcell Pavilion held up signs with the number “600” on them when McGraw and her staff took the floor prior to the Jan. 24 win over No. 16/11 West Virginia. The visibly-moved Irish coach later called the scene “one of the top five moments” of her Notre Dame career.
McGraw Joins Elite Notre Dame Club
With a 84-79 win over No. 23/24 San Diego State on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw reached a personal milestone, becoming the fourth coach in school history (in any sport) to register 500 victories while coaching under the Golden Dome. McGraw now has a record of 520-200 (.722) in 23 seasons at Notre Dame (1987-88 to present) and a 608-241 (.716) record in 28 seasons overall — including a five-year stint at Lehigh from 1982-87.
Fencing’s Michael DeCicco (680-45 from 1962-86) and Yves Auriol (525-33 from 1986-2002), and baseball’s Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75) are the only other members of the “Fighting Irish Five Hundred Club,” with one able to connect 75 years of Notre Dame athletics history and success via just four degrees of separation (Kline to DeCicco to Auriol to McGraw).
McGraw reached two other mileposts on Dec. 2 vs. Eastern Michigan, as she coached her 700th game at Notre Dame, as well as her 300th at Purcell Pavilion.
As it turned out, that EMU game also saw the school honor McGraw with an on-court post-game celebration for her 500th win, capped by a visit from her 19-year-old son, Murphy, who secretly drove four hours from his college campus at Indiana University in Bloomington to surprise his mother with a bouquet of flowers and the game ball from her milestone win.
Keeping It Close To Home
Although Notre Dame has traditionally had a national reputation in recruiting circles, in recent seasons, the Irish have found their strongest talent comes from right in their own backyard. In fact, of the 13 players on this year’s Notre Dame roster, four are from Indiana, while five others are from states that border Indiana (including sophomore forward Erica Solomon, who lived in Oak Park, Mich., and graduated from Detroit Country Day School in 2008 before her family moved back to her birthplace of Charleston, W.Va., this past summer).
What’s more, of the five current Notre Dame starters, four are from the state of Indiana — senior guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis), junior forward Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso) and the all-South Bend backcourt of senior guard Melissa Lechlitner and freshman guard Skylar Diggins — while the fifth starter (fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader) is from Bartlett, Ill., located right outside Chicago.
As if that weren’t enough, the quartet of Barlow, Lechlitner, Bruszewski and Schrader have been mainstays in the Irish lineup for the past two seasons and have a combined total of 321 career starts between them.
Schrader reached a personal milestone on Dec. 12 against Valparaiso, becoming the 12th player in school history with 100 starting assignments in her career. Schrader now is tied for fifth in school history with 116 career starts, and had a streak of 73 in a row from Jan. 16, 2008-Feb. 14, 2010 (also sixth-best in school history) before missing the Feb. 16 game at St. John’s with an ankle injury.
For the first time in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, four players have hit the 100 games played mark in the same season. Senior guards/tri-captains Ashley Barlow, Melissa Lechlitner and Lindsay Schrader, along with senior center Erica Williamson, all reached the century mark during the Thanksgiving weekend at the Paradise Jam (Lechlitner and Williamson on Nov. 26 vs. San Diego State, Barlow and Schrader on Nov. 27 vs. South Carolina).
Current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey holds the school record with 132 games played from 1996-2001, while the current Irish senior quartet is closing in on 10th place (127) in that category (Lechlitner at 123, Barlow and Williamson at 122, Schrader at 120).
Two of Notre Dame’s senior guards and tri-captains — Ashley Barlow and Lindsay Schrader — are already members of the program’s 1,000-Point Club, and will spend this season trying to work their way up the Irish all-time scoring ladder.
Barlow currently ranks 12th in school history with 1,423 career points, while Schrader is 14th with 1,346 points. They could be joined by their fellow senior guard and tri-captain, Melissa Lechlitner, who has 935 points to date.
Only one other time in program history has Notre Dame fielded three 1,000-point scorers on its roster at the same time — and it literally happened for less than one game. Ruth Riley, Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon all reached the millennium mark and played on the 2000-01 Irish national championship squad, with Siemon reaching the milestone after scoring 10 points in her final collegiate contest — Notre Dame’s 68-66 title-game victory over Purdue in St. Louis.
Barlow Tapped For Naismith Trophy Midseason Candidate List
Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow was one of 30 players who were named midseason candidates for the 2010 Naismith Trophy, it was announced Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Barlow, who also is a midseason prospect for the this year’s John R. Wooden Award, earned her spot on Naismith Trophy candidate list by virtue of her on-court performances to date during the `09-10 campaign, and she is one of four BIG EAST Conference players to be chosen for this distinction (putting the BIG EAST behind only the Big 12 Conference for the most honorees from one league).
Barlow, a preseason Associated Press honorable mention All-America and all-BIG EAST Conference selection, and a two-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice this year, is one of three Notre Dame players this season to earn a place on a national player-of-the-year award watch list. Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader was a midseason addition to the State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List, while freshman guard Skylar Diggins joined Barlow on this year’s preseason Naismith Trophy candidate slate.
One of the most versatile players in the BIG EAST, if not the country, Barlow currently leads Notre Dame in steals (2.48 spg.), ranks second on the team in scoring (11.7 ppg.), three-point percentage (.376) and free throw percentage (.805), and is third in assists (2.44 apg.) and rebounding (5.3 rpg.). She also ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (24th), steals (3rd), free throw percentage (9th), three-point percentage (9th) and three-pointers per game (14th – 1.6).
For her career, Barlow ranks 12th all-time at Notre Dame with 1,423 points, and stands among the top 10 in school history in eight categories. What’s more, she is one of only two Fighting Irish players ever to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in three career (Charel Allen was the other from 2004-08), and she recently became the third Notre Dame player ever to record 60+ steals in all four seasons under the Golden Dome, joining Coquese Washington (1989-93) and current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey (1997-2001) in that elite company.
A two-time all-BIG EAST selection, including a second-team honoree in 2008-09, Barlow is in her second season as a team captain for the Fighting Irish. She is finishing up work on her bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business as a double major in management-entrepreneurship and sociology, having earned recognition on the 2008-09 BIG EAST All-Academic Team for her success in the classroom.
The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is one of the most prestigious national basketball awards and is given annually to the women’s college basketball player of the year. This year, the award will be presented at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, scheduled for April 4 & 6 in San Antonio, Texas.
Schrader Added To State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List
Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader was one of seven players added to the 2009-10 State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List, it was announced Jan. 28 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Schrader and her fellow mid-season additions earned their spots on this year’s Wade Watch List by virtue of their on-court performances to date during the ’09-10 campaign, and they expand the player pool for this season’s national player-of-the-year award to 32, as selected by the State Farm Wade Trophy Committee.
Schrader, a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection and three-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice this year, becomes the fifth Notre Dame player named to the Wade Watch List in the past seven seasons, and the first since Charel Allen in 2007-08.
In addition, Schrader is the third Notre Dame player this season to earn a place on a national player-of-the-year award watch list. Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow was both a preseason and midseason Naismith Trophy candidate, as well as a midseason John R. Wooden Award Top 20 choice, while freshman guard Skylar Diggins joined Barlow on the preseason Naismith Trophy candidate slate.
Lechlitner Named Second-Team Academic All-District
Senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner has been named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team, it was announced Feb. 4 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
It’s the first time Lechlitner has earned the award, and she is the first Fighting Irish player to garner academic all-district status since 2006, when former Notre Dame point guard Megan Duffy received her second consecutive district award and parlayed that into first-team Academic All-America honors. What’s more, Lechlitner becomes the eighth Fighting Irish women’s basketball player in the past 12 seasons to be an academic all-district selection.
Lechlitner currently maintains a 3.377 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned dean’s list honors in the spring of 2007 with a 3.75 semester GPA, and is coming off a stellar fall 2009 term that saw her post a 3.583 GPA. In addition, she is a three-time BIG EAST Conference All-Academic Team selection and is a prime candidate to make that squad once again this year.
Pomp And Circumstance
On Jan. 3, senior center Erica Williamson received her bachelor’s degree in film, television & theater from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. Williamson, who also serves as the president of the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), graduated a full semester early and began graduate studies this spring.
With Williamson collecting her diploma, all 58 Notre Dame women’s basketball student-athletes who have completed their athletic and academic eligibility under head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present) have earned their degrees.
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 14 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Irish have won 21 of their last 24 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), most recently capping a three-game run to the 2009 Paradise Jam Island Division championship over the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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.
High Value Freshman
Freshman guard Skylar Diggins was named the most valuable player in the Island Division of the 2009 Paradise Jam after averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game with a .538 field goal percentage (21-of-39) and a .545 three-point ratio (6-of-11) at the tournament.
Diggins, who also earned a spot on the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll for her efforts, was the first Notre Dame rookie in a decade to collect all-tournament team honors in a regular-season event. Alicia Ratay was the last to do so, garnering a place on the 1999 Wachovia Women’s Basketball Invitational all-tournament team after helping Notre Dame to wins over No. 9/12 North Carolina (99-86) and Liberty (85-68) in Richmond, Va.
With its 102-57 season-opening win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame topped the 100-point mark for the 13th time in school history, and the third time in less than two years (104-86 at Georgetown on Jan. 19, 2008; 102-54 at Boston College on Nov. 23, 2008).
Notre Dame also hit the century mark at home for the first time since Nov. 26, 2002, when the Irish toppled Cleveland State, 107-65 in the 2002-03 season opener.
Freshman guard Skylar Diggins had 14 points in the Nov. 15 season opener vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the fifth-most by an Irish rookie in her debut game during the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), and the most since Courtney LaVere began her career with 18 points in a 2002 win over Cleveland State.
Eight Is Enough (For Now)
Notre Dame had a school-record eight players score in double figures in its 102-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion. That eclipsed the old standard of seven double-digit scorers that was first set on Feb. 6, 1997 vs. Syracuse (90-73 win at the Joyce Center) and matched on Jan. 19, 2008, in a 104-86 win at Georgetown.
Dishing Thirty-One Flavors
Notre Dame’s 31 assists against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15 were the most for the Irish in a single game since Nov. 20, 2000, when they also recorded 31 assists in a 95-65 win over Arizona at the Joyce Center.
Leading the way for Notre Dame on that night was current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey, who had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists.
Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 184-17 (.915) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 112 of their last 123 such contests.
Notre Dame has led at the break in 21 games this season and has gone on to earn victories each time.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 15 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 205-14 (.936) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
Notre Dame has added 10 more wins to the ledger this season with victories over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Iona, South Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Valparaiso, Charlotte, UCF, Villanova, Providence and Cincinnati.
…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 15 seasons (since 1995-96), the Irish are 137-4 (.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.
Notre Dame already has added 14 more wins to this ongoing record with its conquests of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Iona, No. 23/24 San Diego State, No. 20/17 Oklahoma, IPFW, Valparaiso, Charlotte, UCF, Villanova, South Florida, Providence, Pittsburgh, DePaul and Marquette.
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 187 of their last 211 games (.886) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 106-17 (.862) 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 83 of their last 90 non-BIG EAST contests (.922) 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 337-85 (.799) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
It’s Fan-Demonium At Notre Dame
If the preseason was any indication, Notre Dame women’s basketball is easily the hottest ticket in South Bend. For the first time in school history, all Irish women’s basketball season ticket packages (close to 7,500) have been sold, including more than 1,000 packages to first-time season ticket purchasers when they went on sale Aug. 14. Furthermore, fans were waiting in line at the Purcell Pavilion ticket office as early as 4:30 that morning, more than four hours before the ticket windows opened. Those early birds were rewarded with a visit from Irish head coach Muffet McGraw, who delivered coffee and bagels, courtesy of McGraw and athletics director Jack Swarbrick.
While it’s likely that some tickets will be made available for individual games during the weeks and days prior to the contests, there’s a very real possibility that Notre Dame could approach a sell out for every one of its regular-season home games at the newly-refurbished 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion. In fact, the crowd of 9,080 for the Nov. 15 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff was the largest season-opening audience in program history, more than 1,100 higher than the old mark set in 2001-02 (7,960 vs. Valparaiso).
Through 14 home games this season, Notre Dame is averaging 8,643 fans per game, putting the Irish more than 800 fans ahead of their school-record attendance average of 7,825 fans per game, also set in 2001-02.
Notre Dame has posted 11 sellouts in program history, the most recent coming on Tuesday night, when the Irish drew 9,149 fans to Purcell Pavilion for their win over Marquette — it also was the fifth women’s basketball sellout since the renovated arena opened this fall (the other capacity crowds coming on Dec. 31 vs. No. 18/16 Vanderbilt, Jan. 24 vs. No. 16/11 West Virginia, Feb. 6 vs. Pittsburgh and Feb. 14 vs. DePaul), setting a new school record for sellouts in one season (Notre Dame had two each in 2000-01 and 2007-08).
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. 89 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 second 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 18 games televised during the 2009-10 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are 11 nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including at least six games on the ESPN family of networks and four others on CBS College Sports (check schedule on page 1 of these notes for exact broadcast coverage).
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 (with the exception of the Nov. 15 game vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff) 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. And, the Thanksgiving weekend Paradise Jam was webcast in its entirety through Fox College Sports Broadband on a pay-per-view basis.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year, Notre Dame has played in 160 televised games, including 107 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader and senior guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner all return for their second year as team captains for the 2009-10 season. All three players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
This marks the first time in program history that the same players are serving as captains in consecutive seasons.
Irish Sign Three For 2010-11 Season
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 13 that three of the country’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish, each signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2010.
Natalie Achonwa (last name pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh), a 6-3 forward from Guelph, Ontario (St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School/National Elite Development Academy), Ariel Braker, a 6-1 forward from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. (Grosse Pointe North High School) and 2010 McDonald’s All-American Kayla McBride, a 5-11 guard from Erie, Pa. (Villa Maria Academy) all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish during the early signing period, which ended Nov. 18.
All three student-athletes are rated among the top 50 players in the country by various national recruiting services. As a group, this trio is ranked as the No. 10 recruiting class in the country by All-Star Girls Report (and a consensus top-16 class by other recruiting services), giving Notre Dame a Top 25 recruiting class for the 14th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match. It’s also the third consecutive top-10 recruiting class for the Fighting Irish.
“I’m very excited about the class that we’re signing this year,” McGraw said. “I think we really addressed our needs, with three very good players coming in. They’re going to change the way we do some things at both ends of the floor next year. We’re going to be able to be more aggressive on defense because we’re adding athleticism, length and speed, and on offense, we’ll look at ways that we can take advantage of the size that we’re going to have. It will probably be a whole new look, going from the more guard-oriented team that we have now, to next year when we’ll have some depth in the post as well.”
“Notre Dame emphasized strengthening their perimeter game and did so with size, athleticism and versatility,” said Dan Olson, director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
The full press release, with a complete look at the newest members of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, is available on-line at http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111309aab.html.
Irish Signee Kayla McBride Named McDonald’s All-American
Notre Dame incoming freshman guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) is one of 24 student-athletes who have been named to the 2010 McDonald’s Girls’ High School All-America Team, it was announced Feb. 11. With the selection, McBride will compete for the East team in the McDonald’s High School All-America Game, which is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on March 31 and will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU from Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
“This is an incredible honor and we are so proud of Kayla,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She put in so much time and effort during the off-season to improve her game, and it’s such a thrill to see that kind of hard work and dedication pay off. We’re looking forward to following Kayla throughout the rest of her high school career, and excited to have her joining us next season.”
The 5-foot-11 McBride is the sixth future Notre Dame women’s basketball player, and third in four seasons, to earn McDonald’s High School All-America recognition since the girls’ team was first created in 2002. Other incoming Fighting Irish cagers who played in the McDonald’s game have included Courtney LaVere (2002), Crystal Erwin (2003), and a trio of current Notre Dame players — Lindsay Schrader (2005), Devereaux Peters (2007) and Skylar Diggins (2009). Diggins shared Most Valuable Player honors at last year’s McDonald’s game in Coral Gables, Fla., after collecting a game-high 18 points, five rebounds and three steals for the East team in a 69-68 loss to the West squad.
McBride, who also earned a spot on the ESPN Hoopgurlz All-Star Team that likewise was released Feb. 11, has been ranked as one of the top 25 players in the nation in the Class of 2010 by both ESPN Hoopgurlz (20th) and All-Star Girls Report (22nd). She recently became the all-time scoring leader in Villa Maria Academy history and has helped VMA — the defending Pennsylvania Class AA state champion — to a No. 1 ranking in the state in Class AA. The Victors also have been ranked among the top 15 teams in the East Region by several national media outlets this year.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
It’s year three 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 Irish score at least 88 points in a home game.
In the three-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 18 times, including wins this year over Indianapolis, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, IPFW, Valparaiso, Charlotte and DePaul.
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 — junior guard Brittany Mallory, who sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times during the promotion’s inaugural run in 2007-08.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “SID has too much time on his hands”), 10 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including nine current members of the Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 18 Big Mac games to date, nine have been reached on two-point baskets, six on free throws, and three on three-pointers.
Notre Dame Lends A Hand For Haiti Earthquake Relief
Fundraising efforts held in conjunction with two University of Notre Dame home basketball games have resulted in more than $250,000 in donations that will go toward relief efforts in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation on Jan. 12.
Through the generosity of fans and alumni, as well as contributions from the University and the Notre Dame Monogram Club, the money was raised at the men’s and women’s basketball games that were played Jan. 23 and 24, respectively, at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame donated full gate receipts and net concession revenue from both games to the relief effort. In addition, a collection organized by the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) — led by president and current Irish women’s basketball senior center Erica Williamson, as well as baseball player Ryan Connolly and rower Emily Crosby — raised more than $25,000 from fans and alumni who contributed during the games. The Monogram Club added a $10,000 matching gift to the student total.
Money raised will benefit short-term needs and long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti and will be distributed to the Notre Dame Haiti Program, which works to eradicate the debilitating mosquito-borne disease lymphatic filariasis; the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has served in Haiti since 1944 and was heavily affected by the earthquake; and Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.
Next Game: Connecticut
Notre Dame wraps up the 2009-10 regular season Monday with a 7 p.m. (ET) game against top-ranked Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion. The contest will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “Big Monday” package.
The Huskies (28-0, 14-0) earned their 67th consecutive victory on Wednesday with an 87-66 win at Syracuse. Connecticut will play host to No. 13/11 Georgetown Saturday in Hartford before heading to South Bend for Monday night’s game with the Irish.
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