Feb. 17, 2011
2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 27
#8/8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-4 / 11-1 BIG EAST) vs. #2/2 Connecticut Huskies (25-1 / 12-0 BIG EAST)
DATE: February 19, 2011
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Storrs, Conn. – Gampel Pavilion (10,167)
SERIES: UCONN leads 26-4
1ST MTG: UCONN 87-64 (1/18/96)
LAST MTG: UCONN 79-76 (1/8/11)
TV: BIG EAST Network (live) (Bob Picozzi, p-b-p / Kayte Christensen, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: None available – the game is sold out
- Notre Dame will be playing a ranked opponent for the eighth time this season, having gone 3-4 against Top 25 squads to date.
- Three of the four Fighting Irish wins over Connecticut have come when both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.
No. 8 Irish Head To No. 2 Connecticut For Saturday Matinee
As teams in the BIG EAST make the turn for home in the regular season, No. 8 Notre Dame faces arguably its toughest stretch of the year, beginning Saturday with a 2 p.m. (ET) conference rematch against second-ranked Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. The game will be televised on the BIG EAST Network (full list of clearances can be found in PDF format by CLICKING HERE), with ESPN3.com and ESPN Full Court among those outlets carrying the game live, while Comcast SportsNet Chicago will air the contest on a same-day delayed basis at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT.
The Fighting Irish (22-4, 11-1 BIG EAST) are coming off a week-long break following their season-best ninth consecutive win, a 71-49 conquest of Rutgers on Feb. 12 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame shot .519 from the floor and used an 18-4 second-half run to seal the victory.
Senior forward Devereaux Peters paced the Fighting Irish with 21 points, sophomore guard Skylar Diggins chalked up 20 points and senior guard Brittany Mallory added her first career double-double (10 points, 10 assists).
- Notre Dame is No. 8 in both the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
- Connecticut is No. 2 in both the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
- With its season-high No. 8 ranking in the Feb. 14 Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 73 consecutive weeks, extending the program standard that began with the 2007-08 preseason poll.
- The Fighting Irish have posted a school-record nine wins this season by at least 35 points, topping the old program standard of four 35-point victories set in 2008-09.
- Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points in eight games this season, surpassing the school record of seven set in three separate seasons (1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
- Notre Dame has won 12 games by 30 points or more, eclipsing the school record of 10 30-point victories established in 2000-01.
- The Fighting Irish are 3-4 against ranked opponents this season, with those four losses (the only defeats for Notre Dame to date) coming by an average of just 5.5 points per game, and none by more than 11 points. Two of those setbacks came to the nation’s top two squads (76-65 at current No. 1 Baylor on Dec. 1; 79-76 vs. No. 2 Connecticut on Jan. 8), with the latter contest being one of three Top 25 defeats in which Notre Dame led or had a chance to tie in the final 30 seconds of regulation (also 86-83 double-OT loss to No. 15 UCLA and 81-76 loss at No. 9/10 Kentucky).
- The Fighting Irish rank among the top 10 in the country in eight statistical categories, according to the Feb. 14 NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame is second in the nation in field goal percentage (.493), third in scoring margin (+28.1), steals (14.1 spg.) and three-point percentage defense (.241), sixth in scoring offense (81.0 ppg.), assists (18.8 apg.) and turnover margin (+6.54) and seventh in rebounding margin (+10.4). These rankings are ironic for a Fighting Irish team that has no player ranking higher than 57th in any individual category.
- Notre Dame became the 32nd NCAA Division I program to record 700 wins, earning the landmark victory (91-47) vs. Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle. The Fighting Irish are 711-306 (.699) over 34 seasons.
- Notre Dame celebrated another program milestone on Dec. 5 with its 1,000th all-time game (a 72-51 win over Purdue at Purcell Pavilion).
- Part of Notre Dame’s success thus far can be traced to the improvement in two of its veterans, both of whom have exceeded her scoring output from last season by at least 50 percent. Junior guard Natalie Novosel (5.0 to 14.7) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (6.7 to 11.6) also are currently logging career-high scoring averages this year.
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking sixth with 365 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. This year, the program is fifth in the NCAA attendance rankings with 8,516 fans per game, currently topping last year’s single-season school attendance record of 8,377. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 157 of their last 159 home games, logging 16 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Feb. 12 vs. Rutgers).
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past decade. Charel Allen was the most recent Fighting Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Ruth Riley (San Antonio) was active in the league during the ’10 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Three of Notre Dame’s eight WNBA alums have won a total of four league championships — Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 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 62-for-62 success rate), with all four members of this year’s senior class on target to earn their diplomas.
A Quick Look At Connecticut
The cast of characters may change, but the results remain the same, as second-ranked Connecticut is once again among the nation’s elite teams. Although the Huskies had their NCAA-record 90-game winning streak snapped in late December, they have responded with a season-best 13-game run since that lone defeat.
Connecticut (25-1, 12-0) last played on Monday, dispatching No. 14/12 Oklahoma, 86-45 at the XL Center in Hartford. Senior forward Maya Moore dropped in a game-high 27 points to lead four Huskies in double figures, as Connecticut led from the opening tip to the final horn.
Moore, the reigning two-time national player of the year, leads the BIG EAST in scoring (24.2 ppg.), and also leads her team in rebounding (7.9 rpg.), assists (4.3 apg.), blocks (1.2 bpg.) and steals (2.4 spg.). Junior guard Tiffany Hayes is second in scoring (14.7 ppg.), while freshman guard Bria Hartley is third in scoring (12.3 ppg.) with a team-high .419 three-point percentage.
Head coach Geno Auriemma is in his 26th season at Connecticut with a 760-123 (.861) record, going 26-4 to date against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Connecticut Series
Notre Dame and Connecticut will play for the 31st time in their series, with the Huskies holding a 26-4 edge over the Fighting Irish, including an active 10-game series winning streak. Connecticut also is 15-1 all-time at home (Storrs/Hartford) against Notre Dame, with the Fighting Irish earning their lone win to date over the Huskies in Storrs on Jan. 30, 2005 (65-59).
The Last Time Notre Dame And Connecticut Met
Kelly Faris scored a career-high 20 points, including a layup with 14.7 seconds left that allowed No. 2 Connecticut to escape with a 79-76 victory over No. 13 Notre Dame on Jan. 8, 2011, at Purcell Pavilion. Maya Moore added 31 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for the Huskies, whose victory was only their second by single digits this season.
Skylar Diggins missed two shots in the last five seconds for Notre Dame, including a last-ditch three-pointer at the buzzer that sailed way beyond the basket. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Fighting Irish, whose only losses this year have been against ranked teams, and disappointed the 9,149 fans who came out despite a snowstorm that dumped more than two feet of snow on South Bend.
The Huskies picked up four fouls in the first two minutes of the game — including two on Tiffany Hayes — and never seemed in sync. But Faris kept UConn close, making a big layup and a three to tie the game midway through the second half after Notre Dame had matched its largest lead of the game at seven.
Faris was 2 of 3 from three-point range and also made all 10 of her free throws.
Moore made back-to-back three-pointers to put UConn in front 67-64 with 7:29 to play. But the Huskies would go almost four minutes without scoring, and Natalie Novosel continued an impressive second half by capping an 8-0 run with a layup to give the Fighting Irish a 72-67 lead with 4:24 left.
The Huskies wouldn’t lead again until Moore shook off a bump from Devereaux Peters and drilled a pull-up jumper with 50 seconds left.
Stefanie Dolson blocked one Novosel effort with 34 seconds left, but the gritty Fighting Irish guard put up another shot as she fell to the floor and it went in, giving Notre Dame a 76-75 lead with 30 seconds left. But Faris, who hadn’t had a field goal in more than 10 minutes, made the critical layup, grabbing a deflected pass on a backdoor cut and just beating the Fighting Irish defense to the hoop.
After Diggins missed a short jumper, Dolson got the rebound and was fouled by Peters with three seconds left. The freshman, who had made all but two free throws this year, made both for the final margin.
The loss spoiled an outstanding effort by Novosel, who scored Notre Dame’s last six points and all but two of her 16 in the second half. Diggins also had 16 and Peters had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but she was held to just four points and three boards in the second half.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Connecticut Met At Gampel Pavilion
Connecticut got off to a near-perfect start, showing there is a chasm between it and the rest of women’s basketball.
Tina Charles scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the top-ranked Huskies rout No. 3 Notre Dame 70-46 on Jan. 16, 2010, at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., for its 56th straight victory.
Maya Moore added 20 points for the Huskies, who had won every game during their streak to that point by double digits.
Devereaux Peters scored 12 to lead the Fighting Irish, who had been off to the second-best start in school history. Notre Dame started 23-0 en route to the 2001 national title.
The Fighting Irish wore their alternate green road jerseys for a little extra luck, but before the sellout crowd settled into its seats, the Huskies were up 17-2 as four different players scored.
Ashley Barlow finally hit a jumper to end the five-minute scoreless drought for the Fighting Irish, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop the onslaught.
By the time Notre Dame scored consecutive baskets for the first time with 2:53 left in the half, the Fighting Irish trailed 36-14. UConn led 42-19 at the break with Charles scoring 17 points.
Other Notre Dame-Connecticut Series Tidbits
- All four of Notre Dame’s wins in the series have come since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- This will mark the 10th time both teams have been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll at tipoff, with the Fighting Irish earning three of their four series wins to date in these top-10 matchups.
- Saturday’s game also will be the 20th time in the 31-game series that both teams will be ranked at tipoff. At least one team has been ranked in every game of the series.
- Notre Dame’s last win in the series (65-59 at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 30, 2005) snapped Connecticut’s 112-game BIG EAST regular-season home winning streak.
- Connecticut is one of the 12 other former or current NCAA champions Notre Dame has faced in its history. The Irish are 27-80 (.252) all-time against schools that have hoisted the hardware (either before or after they won the title), with records of .500 or better against USC (7-2), North Carolina (2-1) and Texas (1-1).
- Connecticut is one of three BIG EAST Conference opponents to hold a series edge over Notre Dame, leading the Irish, 26-4. The only other league foes with winning records vs. Notre Dame are Rutgers (16-11) and DePaul (18-15; ND leads 6-4 since Blue Demons joined BIG EAST in 2005-06).
- Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points seven times, with nearly half (three) of those losses coming to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
- With four victories over the Huskies, Notre Dame is one of five teams in the nation to defeat Connecticut at least four times in the past 16 seasons (1995-96 to present). During that stretch, the only programs with more wins over the Huskies than the Fighting Irish are Tennessee (nine) and Rutgers (six).
- Notre Dame sophomore guard Skylar Diggins and Connecticut sophomore guard Kelly Faris finished 1-2 in the 2009 Indiana Miss Basketball voting and were teammates on the 2009 Indiana All-Star Team that swept a two-game series from its Kentucky counterpart.
- Diggins also was a teammate of Connecticut juniors guards Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes on the White Team at the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. The trio helped the White squad to a 5-0 record and the gold medal that weekend.
- Notre Dame freshman forward Natalie Achonwa and Connecticut senior forward Maya Moore were two of the three NCAA Division I players (along with Gonzaga’s Janelle Bekkering) to compete at the 2010 FIBA World Championships back in September in the Czech Republic. Achonwa and Bekkering suited up for Team Canada which placed 12th (Achonwa averaged 4.6 ppg. and 3.9 rpg. in eight games at the tournament), while Moore was part of the rotation for the United States squad, which was led to a gold medal by Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma.
- The two head coaches — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma — have more than a few connections. Both are from the Philadephia metro area (McGraw from West Chester, Auriemma from Norristown), both cut their coaching teeth at Saint Joseph’s under current Ohio State head coach Jim Foster (McGraw replaced Auriemma on Foster’s staff in 1980 when Auriemma left to take an assistant position at Virginia), and both currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) — Auriemma as president and McGraw as NCAA Division I Legislative Chair. And as of June 2011, both will be members of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, with McGraw chosen for induction later this year.
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 Fighting Irish are 91-25 (.784) in February games, including a 52-5 (.912) mark at home.
In the 24-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-present), the Fighting Irish are 139-40 (.777) in the month of February, including a 74-11 (.871) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has not had a losing February, and only once did the Fighting Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw’s second season in South Bend).
Celebrating The Bicentennial
With a 199-61 (.765) all-time record in BIG EAST Conference regular season play, Notre Dame is poised to become just the third BIG EAST school to record 200 regular season conference wins, joining Connecticut (378) and Villanova (249) in that elite company.
What makes Notre Dame’s upcoming feat even more impressive is the fact the Fighting Irish have reached their bicentennial in less than 16 seasons (1995-96 to present), while both Connecticut and Villanova were charter members of the BIG EAST when it debuted women’s basketball competition in 1982-83 — 13 seasons before Notre Dame came aboard. Another charter member (Providence) is fourth all-time with 195 BIG EAST victories.
The Fighting Irish also rank second in conference history with a .765 winning percentage, trailing only Connecticut (.817) and joining the Huskies as the only programs in BIG EAST history (current or former) to have won at least 70 percent of their conference games (Rutgers is third at .696).
The current Notre Dame senior class (Becca Bruszewski, Brittany Mallory, Devereaux Peters) is closing in on a collective career milestone, with the trio having led the Fighting Irish to a 98-28 (.778) record since they arrived on campus in 2007-08.
Only five senior classes in program history have registered 100 wins in their four-year tenures, led by the 2000-01 national championship seniors (Imani Dunbar, Meaghan Leahy, Niele Ivey, Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon), who amassed 109 victories from 1997-2001 (Ivey was a fifth-year senior in ’00-01, following a knee injury five games into her rookie season of ’96-97).
The other 100-win Notre Dame classes came in 1998-99 (102 wins), 1999-2000 (106 wins), 2001-02 (107 wins) and 2002-03 (102 wins).
It should be noted that both Mallory and Peters have the option to return for a fifth year of eligibility next season, after both suffered knee injuries early in the 2008-09 campaign.
Notre Dame reached the 20-win mark for the 17th time in the past 18 seasons with its 76-68 victory at South Florida on Feb. 5. The Fighting Irish now have registered 20-or-more wins 21 times in the 24-year Muffet McGraw era and 25 times in the program’s 34-year history.
McGraw herself has coached 23 20-win seasons (adding in two during her five-year tenure at Lehigh from 1982-87), tying her for ninth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches.
For the 15th time in its 16-year membership in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame has posted double-digit league wins. With the exception of 2005-06 (when they went 8-8), the Fighting Irish have never posted fewer than 10 BIG EAST wins in a season, finishing among the top four in the conference 12 times in their first 15 seasons in the league.
Taking it a step further, Notre Dame has registered double-digit conference wins in 21 of head coach Muffet McGraw’s 24 seasons under the Golden Dome, with the only other exceptions coming in 1987-88 (her first season when the Fighting Irish went 7-3 in the now-defunct North Star Conference) and 1991-92 (when Notre Dame went 8-4 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League, then won three in a row at the conference tournament to earn the program’s first-ever NCAA Championship berth, despite a losing overall record of 14-16, becoming the first school ever to pull off that feat).
The Rare Air Up There
For the third consecutive week (and the first time since Dec. 9, 2002), both Notre Dame basketball teams are ranked in the top 10 of their respective Associated Press polls. The Fighting Irish women are ranked eighth this week, while Mike Brey’s men also check in at No. 8.
Notre Dame is one of only two schools in the country with matching top-10 basketball programs, along with Duke (No. 7 women/No. 5 men).
If you want to go one further, this marks the first time in Notre Dame athletics history that both Fighting Irish basketball teams AND the Notre Dame hockey team are ranked in the top 10 at the same time (the Fighting Irish icers currently stand eighth in the nation).
The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame comes into Saturday’s game ranked third in the nation in steals with 14.1 thefts per game. The Fighting Irish also have recorded double-digit steals in 19 games this season, including four contests with 20-plus steals.
Highlighting this year’s takeaway brigade for Notre Dame was a school-record 36-steal performance in the season-opening victory against New Hampshire on Nov. 12 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish followed that up three days later with 26 thefts in a win over Morehead State, and also logged 24 steals at Valparaiso (Dec. 2) and 23 steals against IUPUI (Nov. 26).
Prior to this season, Notre Dame had posted 23 steals in a game just seven times in the first 33 years of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program (and only three games with 25-plus steals in that time, none since a then-record tying 29 steals at Saint Louis on Jan. 31, 1991).
Individually, Notre Dame has 11 different players with double-digit steals this season (four with at least 50 thefts), led by senior guard Brittany Mallory, who has collected a team-high 2.3 steals per game (sixth in the BIG EAST).
Notre Dame also enters Saturday’s game ranked sixth in the country in assists (18.8 apg.), having dished out at least 20 assists in 13 games this season.
Further illustrating the Fighting Irish giving spirit, Notre Dame has assisted on 62.8 percent of its baskets this season, with 489 assists on 779 field goals.
At the head of the Fighting Irish assist company is sophomore Skylar Diggins, who has adapted well to her role as Notre Dame’s primary point guard, ranking fifth in the BIG EAST Conference at 4.8 assists per game, and 13th in the league with a 1.39 assist/turnover ratio. She also has handed out at least five assists in 17 games this season, after tallying seven five-assist games during her entire freshman campaign.
Notre Dame also ranks second in the nation with a .493 field goal percentage, shooting 50 percent or better from the floor in 15 games this season, and at least 45 percent in 22 outings.
Notre Dame also has seen a recent rise in its three-point shooting numbers. During the past 17 games, the Fighting Irish are connecting at a 39.5 percent clip (62-of-157) from beyond the arc. Compare that with the first nine contests of the season, when Notre Dame had a .269 (29-of-108) three-point percentage.
Notre Dame ranks among the top 10 in the nation in eight categories according to Monday’s NCAA statistics report — second in field goal percentage (.493); third in scoring margin (+28.1 ppg.), steals (14.1 spg.) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.241); sixth in scoring offense (81.0 ppg.), assists (18.8 apg.) and turnover margin (+6.54); and seventh in rebounding margin (+10.4 rpg.).
In addition, Notre Dame ranks in the top 15 in the NCAA in 11 of a possible 17 categories (not counting won-loss percentage), adding in scoring defense (12th, 52.9 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (13th, .345) and assist/turnover ratio (14th, 1.09).
Yet for all of these high team statistical marks, no Fighting Irish individual ranks higher than No. 57 in any single category — sophomore guard Skylar Diggins is 57th in the nation in assists (4.8 apg.).
High Octane Offense
Behind one of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses (81.0 ppg., sixth as of Monday), Notre Dame is moving into uncharted territory in the school’s record books.
The Fighting Irish have scored 90 points in a game in eight contests this season, setting a new school record for 90-point games in a season (the previous mark was seven, set on three occasions – 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
Notre Dame also has set a new school record with nine wins by at least 35 points, more than doubling the previous program standard of four 35-point victories set in 2008-09.
What’s more, the Fighting Irish have won 12 games by at least 30 points, topping the school record of 10 30-point victories, which was set during the program’s 2000-01 national championship season.
Last year, Notre Dame averaged 77.2 points per game, the fifth-highest single-season scoring average in school history, and best since the Fighting Irish logged a school-record 81.0 ppg. mark in 1998-99.
One of Notre Dame’s greatest areas of improvement this season has been in the rebounding column, where the Fighting Irish are averaging 42.0 caroms per game, up more than two rebounds from last year’s total at this time (39.8 rpg.) and good enough for third in the BIG EAST.
Notre Dame also is giving up just 31.6 rebounds per game, nearly five caroms better than last year at this time (36.3 rpg.) and placing second in the conference.
With a +10.4 rpg. margin this season, the Fighting Irish rank third in the BIG EAST and seventh in the country as of Monday.
What’s more, Notre Dame has outrebounded its opponent by double digits in 14 games this season, including eight games in which the Fighting Irish posted rebound margins of +15 or better, topped by a season-high +42 mark (66-24) on Jan. 2 against Southeast Missouri State at Purcell Pavilion.
Everyone Gets Into The Act
The Fighting Irish have spread the wealth so far this season, with six different players leading the team in scoring in at least one game thus far, with four different 20-point scorers along the way.
Notre Dame also has seen no fewer than eight different players claim team-high rebounding and assist honors at some point this year.
Missed It By That Much
Notre Dame may hold a 22-4 record coming into Saturday’s game, but the Fighting Irish are oh-so-close to owning a much better mark, with all four losses coming to top-15 opponents by an average margin of just 5.5 points per game (three by single digits and the fourth by 11 points).
What’s more, Notre Dame led inside the final 30 seconds of regulation in two of those losses (No. 15 UCLA, also at the end of the first overtime; No. 2 Connecticut), and the Fighting Irish also had a possession to tie the game in the final 30 seconds at No. 9/10 Kentucky.
The fourth loss (at No. 2/3 Baylor) saw Notre Dame battle to within six points (65-59) with five minutes remaining and have a look at a three-pointer to halve the margin further on their next possession, but the shot rattled out and the Lady Bears managed to put the game away with nine free throws (despite making only one field goal during the final 8:23).
Diggins Named BIG EAST Player Of Week
Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday afternoon, becoming the first Fighting Irish player in four seasons to be named the conference’s Player of the Week. Charel Allen was the last Notre Dame cager to collect the honor on Feb. 12, 2007. With the selection, Notre Dame ties Providence for the second-most weekly player awards in BIG EAST history with 69 honors (39 Players of the Week, 30 Freshmen of the Week).
A two-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll selection in addition to this week’s Player of the Week citation, Diggins averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game last week, as Notre Dame stretched its winning streak to a season-high nine games with home victories over Seton Hall (89-38) and Rutgers (71-49). Diggins shot 52.4 percent from the floor (60 percent from three-point range) in those two contests while also recording at least five points, five rebounds and five assists.
On Feb. 8 against Seton Hall, she packed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven assists, a game-high six rebounds and a season-high five steals with a near-perfect shooting night (4-4 FG, 6-7 FT). Four days later against Rutgers, Diggins tallied 20 points (including 3-of-5 three-pointers), five assists and five rebounds, and had a hand in 13 of Notre Dame’s points (eight points, two assists) during a 16-4 second-half run that clinched the victory.
Diggins Makes Naismith Midseason List
Also on Monday, sophomore guard Skylar Diggins earned a place on the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 List, according to an announcement by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s top player, compiled its midseason candidates based upon individual performance and team results during the 2010-11 season to date.
It’s the second midseason national award candidate list that Diggins has made, following her place on the John R. Wooden Award chart last month, and like that rundown, she is one of only three sophomores to be tapped for the designation along with Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers.
Novosel Is Just Plain Nasty
Nicknamed “Nasty” for her playmaking abilities, junior guard Natalie Novosel is rapidly making a strong case as one of the most improved players in the BIG EAST Conference, if not the entire country.
The Lexington, Ky., native currently leads the Fighting Irish (and ranks ninth in the league) in scoring at 14.7 points per game, nearly tripling her offensive output from a season ago. She also has scored at least 20 points in a game four times this year (after coming into the campaign with a career single-game high of 19 points) and has scored in double figures 22 times after doing so a total of 14 times in her first two seasons combined at Notre Dame.
In addition, Novosel added some hardware to her personal trophy case as well, taking home Most Valuable Player honors at the WBCA Classic, earning a spot on the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic All-Tournament Team and also garnering a place on the Nov. 29 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.
Thus, it’s no surprise that ESPN.com’s Graham Hays tweeted the following comment after Novosel’s career-high 27 points (8-11 FG, 2-2 3FG, 9-9 FT) vs. Gonzaga in a 70-61 Fighting Irish win on Dec. 29 in Seattle:
“Is Natalie Novosel the most improved player in the nation? Gotta be on the short list.”
Peters Showing Her Own Dev-elopment
If Novosel is among the nation’s most improved players, senior forward Devereaux Peters can’t be far behind. The veteran frontliner is playing some of the best basketball of her career this season, putting a pair of knee injuries and three surgeries well in the rearview mirror.
A three-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll selection, Peters currently is averaging career highs of 11.6 points per game (26th in the BIG EAST) and 7.1 rebounds per game (10th), along with a .588 field goal percentage (third), 1.5 blocks per game (tied-sixth), 2.0 steals per game (tied-12th) and a career-high .762 free throw percentage.
Peters’ numbers in BIG EAST play are even more eye-popping, as she ranks among the top five in the league in field goal percentage (second – .620), rebounding (second – 7.9 rpg.) and blocks (fifth – 1.8 bpg.), while ranking 12th in scoring (13.6 ppg.). She also is second in the BIG EAST with four double-doubles in 12 conference games to date.
Like Novosel, Peters regularly has been pulling in accolades this season, earning a spot on the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team and garnering MVP honors at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle. During the latter tournament on Dec. 29-30, she averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game with a .684 field goal percentage (13-of-19) in wins over Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount.
That tournament effort has been the cornerstone of Peters’ post-Christmas surge. In the past 14 games, the Chicago native is averaging 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds with six double-doubles and a .621 field goal percentage (82-of-132).
Peters Is Secretary Of Defense
One of the key factors in Notre Dame’s defensive resurgence this season, senior forward Devereaux Peters is one of only two players in the BIG EAST to rank among the top 15 in the conference in its three major defensive categories (rebounds, blocks, steals).
Peters currently is 10th in the league in rebounding (7.1 rpg.), while tying for sixth in blocks (1.5 bpg.) and 12th in steals (2.0 spg.).
The only other player in the BIG EAST that has shown similar defensive prowess this season is Connecticut’s Maya Moore.
Peters Adds Griner To SWAT Team
Senior forward Devereaux Peters has made a living as a shot blocking presence in the paint for Notre Dame throughout her career, with her 6-foot-2 frame and 77-inch wingspan. However, on Dec. 1 at No. 2/3 Baylor, she added another notch to her belt in historic fashion.
At the 10:22 mark of the second half, the Lady Bears threw an entry pass in to their 6-foot-8 sophomore All-America center Brittney Griner, but as she turned to shoot, Peters rotated perfectly from the weak side and rejected Griner’s shot out of bounds. It was one of the highlights in a 17-2 Fighting Irish run that pulled Notre Dame within six points of Baylor with five minutes left.
It’s believed to be the first time in Griner’s two-year college career that she has had a shot blocked. A video clip of Peters’ block has been posted on the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball YouTube channel (search for “notredameirishhoops” or click the link through the sidebar on the women’s basketball page at www.UND.com).
Bruszewski Joins 1,000-Point Club
With 12 points vs. Syracuse on Feb. 1, senior forward/co-captain Becca Bruszewski became the 27th Notre Dame women’s basketball player to score 1,000 points in her career. She currently ranked 24th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,039 points.
Bruszewski also became the fifth player from Notre Dame’s 2007-08 NCAA Sweet 16 team to hit the 1,000-point mark, joining Charel Allen (1,566 from 2004-08), Ashley Barlow (1,492 from 2006-10), Lindsay Schrader (1,429 from 2005-10) and Melissa Lechlitner (1,005 from 2006-10) in that group.
Five other teams in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history have featured at least five current or future 1,000-point scorers on the same roster — from 1995-96 through 1999-2000, every Notre Dame squad had five or more players who had reached or would reach the 1,000-point plateau during their careers (including a school-record six on the 1996-97 and 1997-98 squads).
Aside from head coach Muffet McGraw and current associate coach Carol Owens, the one common link between those teams was guard Danielle Green, who scored 1,106 points from 1995-2000, missing the 1996-97 Final Four season with a preseason Achilles injury and coming back for a fifth year of eligibility in 1999-2000.
Game #26 Recap: Rutgers
Rutgers could only withstand No. 8 Notre Dame’s pressure for so long.
The Scarlet Knights remained within striking distance for the first 30 minutes, but Notre Dame’s press finally cracked Rutgers and the Fighting Irish went on a 16-3 run midway through the second half for a 71-49 victory on Feb. 12 at Purcell Pavilion.
Devereaux Peters scored 21 points and Skylar Diggins sparked the run that put the Scarlet Knights away, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Fighting Irish (22-4, 11-1 BIG EAST) in the Pink Zone game before a sellout crowd.
The slow pace of the game didn’t favor either team and both tried to apply pressure to increase the tempo, but only Notre Dame succeeded.
Diggins sent the Fighting Irish on their spurt with a few key steals, layups and passes that her teammates converted into buckets.
Notre Dame’s run also featured 3-pointers from Diggins and Brittany Mallory, a senior who recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Usually Notre Dame’s lockdown defender, Mallory is the first Fighting Irish player to earn a double-double with points and assists since 2005.
Notre Dame is 4-0 in “Pink Zone” games, which raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.
Noting The Rutgers Game
- Notre Dame stretches its current winning streak to nine games, the longest BIG EAST regular-season winning streak for the Fighting Irish since the 2004-05 season, when they put together a nine-game conference success string from Jan. 19-Feb. 15, 2005.
- Notre Dame earns its first win over Rutgers at Purcell Pavilion since Jan. 23, 2005 (a 63-47 victory), and its second consecutive win in the series, which RU now leads 16-11 (the Fighting Irish hold a 6-4 edge in South Bend).
- Notre Dame wins back-to-back series games against Rutgers for the first time since March 1, 1999 (68-61 in BIG EAST Championship semifinal) and Feb. 19, 2000 (78-74 in overtime), with both games played in Piscataway.
- The Fighting Irish post their second-largest margin of victory in the 27-game series with the Scarlet Knights, topped only by an 86-58 win over Rutgers on March 2, 1997, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Storrs, Conn.
- Notre Dame scored 70 points against RU for the second consecutive meeting, the first time the Fighting Irish have done that since Feb 19, 2000 (the aforementioned 78-74 OT win in Piscataway) and March 6, 2000 (an 81-72 overtime loss to the Scarlet Knights in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals at Storrs, Conn.) — Notre Dame had never scored 70+ points against Rutgers in consecutive regular season meetings prior to the past two matchups.
- Notre Dame is the second Rutgers opponent to make more than half its shots in a game this season (Tennessee connected at an RU-opponent high .525 from the floor on Dec. 30 in Knoxville, Tenn.).
- Through 12 conference games, Notre Dame has not trailed at any time by more than five points (7-2 with 17:48 left in the first half at Villanova on Jan. 29), and has not trailed at the half in any BIG EAST game this season.
- The Fighting Irish had two 20-point scorers in the same game for the first time since Feb. 24, 2009, against Syracuse (Lindsay Schrader – 23; Becca Bruszewski – 20).
- The Fighting Irish registered their fourth sellout of the season, and 10th in the past two years.
A Defensive Effort Like No Other
Defense has been a major focal point for Notre Dame this season, but in their 97-21 win over Southeast Missouri State on Jan. 2 at Purcell Pavilion, the Fighting Irish took that emphasis to record-setting levels:
- Notre Dame set six school records in the victory — fewest points allowed in a game (21), fewest points allowed in a half (6 – first half), lowest opponent field goal percentage (.125), largest rebound margin (+42, 66-24), most consecutive points scored at any time (36) and most consecutive points scored at the start of the game (36).
- Notre Dame also posted the second-largest margin of victory in school history (76 points), topped only by a 78-point margin in a 113-35 win over Liberty on Nov. 24, 1989, at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando.
- The Fighting Irish pulled down 66 rebounds, the fifth-highest total in school history and most since Nov. 21, 1998, when they had 67 boards against Duke in an 84-57 home win.
Notre Dame is ranked a season-high eighth in the Feb. 14 Associated Press poll. That marked the 73rd 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).
With their current poll position, Notre Dame now has appeared in the top 10 of the AP poll in each of the past four seasons and 11 of the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), as well as 99 weeks overall since the Fighting Irish earned their initial AP top-10 ranking (No. 9 on Nov. 24, 1996).
This year’s No. 12 preseason ranking also represented the 11th time in the past 12 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only eight schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 12 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Fighting Irish with 11 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 212 weeks during the program’s 34-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also is 22nd all-time in that category.
In addition, the Fighting Irish remain at a season-best No. 8 in the Feb. 15 ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 73 of the past 74 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 204 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the third consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll, as well as nine of the past 13 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 30 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 212 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 30 people on this list, 16 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), including former Fighting Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington (’92), who helped Notre Dame to its first-ever AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her fourth season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions back into the AP poll this week at No. 23.
Six of the 16 active coaches in this group — including McGraw — led their teams to this year’s NCAA Championship, while McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).
Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 209-17 (.925) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 137 of their last 148 such contests, and 46 in a row since a 58-47 loss to Villanova on March 8, 2009, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Hartford’s XL Center (Notre Dame led 25-21 at intermission).
The Fighting Irish have been up at the break in 21 games this year, including their Feb. 12 win over Rutgers when they led 29-25 through the first 20 minutes.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 16 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Fighting Irish have an amazing 226-15 (.938) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in 18 contests this season (New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Butler, Purdue, Providence, Creighton, Valparaiso, Loyola Marymount, Southeast Missouri State, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Syracuse, Seton Hall, Rutgers).
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 16 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 153-5 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.
Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in 14 games this year (13-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points.
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 203 of their last 230 games (.883) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 112-19 (.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 Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 93 of their last 101 non-BIG EAST contests (.921) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the eight losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), and to UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 352-88 (.800) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Fighting Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, which was the school record for home victories in a season prior to last year, when Notre Dame went 16-1, capped by an 84-66 triumph over Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The 2009-10 season saw an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth), highest average attendance (8,377 fans per game) and most sellouts (six) in a single season. And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the second consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans have all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that will have the Fighting Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.
Notre Dame has wasted little time in tackling that challenge, averaging 8,516 fans for its 16 home games this season (fifth in the country according to this week’s NCAA attendance report), including sellout crowds of 9,149 for its games against games against Purdue (Dec. 5), Connecticut (Jan. 8), St. John’s (Jan. 23) and Rutgers (Feb. 12).
Part of the appeal of Notre Dame women’s basketball can be traced to the renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, which has yet another new feature this season with the addition of a four-sided LED video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LED auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps and at the scorer’s table.
McGraw Is Simply Legendary
The announcement on July 10, 2010, may have made it official, but it really only confirmed what Notre Dame fans have known for a very long time — head coach Muffet McGraw is a Hall of Famer.
McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of more than 600 games in her illustrious career, was one of six people — and the lone coach — named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class, as announced in Uncasville, Conn., during the “WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game” that was televised live nationally on ESPN from Mohegan Sun Arena.
The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist).
The ’11 class offically was introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., before the Connecticut-Baylor game. The group will be enshrined June 10-12, 2011, during the 13th annual Induction Weekend at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
McGraw becomes the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Fighting Irish skipper also is the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. First-year Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion.
McGraw also will be the ninth active college head coach to enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this list are: Pat Summitt (1999 – Tennessee), Van Chancellor (2001 – LSU), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina), Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia) and Debbie Ryan (2008 – Virginia).
Irish On Your Radio Dial
Beginning with the 2008-09 athletics year, the Notre Dame athletics department announced it had partnered with the LeSEA Broadcasting Network, making Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) the new radio home of Notre Dame women’s basketball in the South Bend market.
LeSEA originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 91 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame’s women’s basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.
Women’s basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.
Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women’s basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program’s first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns for his third season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 26 regular season games televised during the 2010-11 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are seven nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women’s basketball contests, including the program’s fourth-ever appearance on network television (Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut on CBS), two showings on the ESPN family of networks, and three others on CBS College Sports.
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.
This year’s TV slate continues a trend that has seen the Fighting Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through the Feb. 12 Rutgers contest (which was webcast live on UND.com), Notre Dame has played in 187 televised games, including 133 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2010-11 season. Both players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
Notre Dame Sets Pace For Pink Zone
Following last year’s wildly-successful fundraising efforts for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Pink Zone breast cancer initiative, Notre Dame reached even higher this season, as the Fighting Irish already have raised a program-record $116,405 for the initiative, easily the most by any Division I school in the country this year. That also lifts Notre Dame’s combined Pink Zone fundraising total in the last three years to more than a quarter of a million dollars (approximately $260,000).
In 2009-10, the Fighting Irish collected nearly $104,000 for the global unified effort by the WBCA’s membership to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
Notre Dame’s local Pink Zone drive is led by primary sponsor Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, with donations divided between the Foundation for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Task Force and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
This year, Notre Dame brought back some of its more popular fundraising activities, including the Fighting Irish Three-Point Pledge (fans donate a certain amount for every three-pointer made by Notre Dame this season) and the Notre Dame Pink Zone Store (sales of various Pink Zone items, including t-shirts, buttons, tote bags, etc., in the Joyce Center’s Heritage Hall at all Fighting Irish home games). The Notre Dame Gameday Silent Auction also was a huge hit again in 2010-11, with more than 100 items generating $13,000 in bids for this year’s effort.
Some new events added for this year included the Pink Zone Treadmill Campaign (celebrities walked on a courtside treadmill during the Jan. 23, Feb. 1, 8 and 12 games) and the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball SPIN-A-THON (a 24-hour event to ride stationary bikes on Jan. 22-23 at South Bend’s Knollwood Country Club, which raised $30,000 for the cause).
In addition, NBC correspondent Anne Thompson (a Notre Dame alumna and breast cancer survivor) was the keynote speaker at the inaugural “Docs in Pink” luncheon at Club Naimoli in Purcell Pavilion, an event that generated more than $20,000.
For more information, or to make a donation, please visit the Notre Dame Pink Zone web page at www.UND.com/pinkzone.
Nice Threads, Coach
While Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and assistant coach Niele Ivey are well-known for their fashion sense on the sidelines, another Fighting Irish assistant stole the spotlight at Notre Dame’s Pink Zone game on Feb. 12 against Rutgers.
Associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis took the floor wearing a snappy pink blazer, courtesy of none other than former Villanova men’s basketball coach and 1985 NCAA national champion Rollie Massimino.
For the past few years, Tsipis has visited Massimino’s current home at NAIA Division II member Northwood University (West Palm Beach, Fla.) to observe the legendary coach’s practices. Last summer, the Notre Dame coach noticed Massimino wearing a pink sportcoat in one of his school’s media guides and asked where he could obtain one of his own. Massimino quickly offered to loan his jacket to Tsipis, and the rest is “Pink Zone” history.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
It’s year four 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 four-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 26 times, including wins this 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 — 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 eight 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: West Virginia
Notre Dame continues its rugged season-ending road swing Tuesday with a 7 p.m. (ET) visit to No. 21/20 West Virginia. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS College Sports, the second of three appearances on that network for the Fighting Irish this season.
WVU (20-6, 6-6), which has dropped five of its last six games, returns from an off-week on Saturday afternoon with a visit to Pittsburgh before playing host to Notre Dame on Tuesday.
— ND —