Feb. 27, 2011
2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 29
#8/7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-5 / 13-2 BIG EAST) vs. #7/11 DePaul Blue Demons (25-5 / 12-3 BIG EAST)
DATE: February 28, 2011
TIME: 8:00 p.m. CT
AT: Chicago, Ill. – McGrath-Phillips Arena (3,000)
SERIES: DPU leads 18-15
1ST MTG: DPU 82-53 (1/30/79)
LAST MTG: ND 90-66 (2/14/10)
TV: CBS College Sports (live) (Dave Ryan, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
- Monday’s game will decide the No. 2 seed for next week’s BIG EAST Championship.
- The Fighting Irish need one victory to reach the 25-win mark for the second consecutive season and the third time in four years.
No. 8 Irish Visit No. 7 DePaul Monday In BIG EAST Regular Season Finale
It’s a case of saving the best for last, as No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 7 DePaul bring down the curtain on the 2010-11 BIG EAST Conference regular season Monday night when they renew their long-standing rivalry at 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET inside McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS College Sports.
The Fighting Irish (24-5, 13-2 BIG EAST) locked up at least a share of runner-up honors in the BIG EAST, not to mention their 19th win in the past 21 games, with a 66-48 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon in the home finale at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame opened the second half on a 21-0 run to pull away from the Bearcats and nab their eighth top-two BIG EAST finish in 16 seasons as a league member.
Senior forward Devereaux Peters posted her seventh double-double of the year (12 points and 10 rebounds), while senior forward Becca Bruszewski and sophomore guard Skylar Diggins also scored 12 points for Notre Dame.
- Notre Dame was No. 8 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 7 in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll.
- DePaul was No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 11 in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll.
- With its season-high No. 8 ranking in the Feb. 21 Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 74 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 4-5 against ranked opponents this season, with those five losses (the only defeats for Notre Dame to date) coming by an average of just 8.6 points per game, and only one by more than 11 points. Three of those setbacks came to the nation’s top two squads (76-65 at No. 2/3 Baylor on Dec. 1; 79-76 vs. No. 2 Connecticut on Jan. 8; 78-57 at No. 2 Connecticut on Feb. 19), with the first UConn 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 seven statistical categories, according to Friday’s latest NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame ranks third in the nation in scoring margin (+25.5) and field goal percentage (.489); fourth in steals (13.6 spg.); fifth in three-point percentage defense (.257); sixth in assists (18.2 apg.); and seventh in scoring offense (79.3 ppg.) and rebounding margin (+10.1). These rankings are ironic for a Fighting Irish team that has no player ranking higher than 59th 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 713-307 (.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 14.9) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (6.7 to 11.4) 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 367 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 8,553 fans per game, topping last year’s single-season school attendance record of 8,377. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 158 of their last 160 home games, logging 17 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Feb. 26 vs. Cincinnati).
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 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 DePaul
They say there’s no substitute for experience, and DePaul has that in spades, as the Blue Demons have capitalized on the veteran leadership of their five seniors to firmly plant themselves not only near the top of the BIG EAST, but also in the national rankings.
DePaul (25-5, 12-3) is coming off a 60-53 loss at No. 24/22 Marquette on Saturday night, in their second matchup of the season with the Golden Eagles. The Blue Demons rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to tie the game with six minutes left, but MU answered with an 11-2 run to pull out the win.
Junior forward Keisha Hampton, who scored a team-high 17 points at Marquette, leads DePaul in scoring (15.7 ppg.) and steals (1.8 spg.), while also being among the team leaders in rebounding (5.0 rpg.), three-point percentage (.361) and blocks (0.7 bpg.). Senior forward Felicia Chester is second in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and rebounding (6.3 rpg.) and third in the BIG EAST in field goal percentage (team-high .588), while sophomore guard Anna Martin adds 10.7 ppg., and senior guard Sam Quigley does it all with 10.5 points and 4.1 assists per game, as well as a .403 three-point percentage.
Head coach Doug Bruno is in his silver anniversary season at his alma mater, sporting a 483-269 (.642) record during his 25 years in Lincoln Park, including an 11-9 mark against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-DePaul Series
Monday will mark the 34th time Notre Dame and DePaul meet on the hardwood, with the rivalry between the Catholic schools (separated by approximately 100 miles) dating back to the 1978-79 season.
The Blue Demons are 18-15 all-time against the Fighting Irish, although Notre Dame is riding a series-long four-game winning streak. DePaul also is 10-6 in the series when playing in Chicago, but Notre Dame has won its last two games at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Bruszewski scored 19 of her career-high 25 points as the Irish dominated the second half, beating DePaul 90-66 on Feb. 14, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion. The Blue Demons shot 47 percent to keep the game close through much of the first half, but shot just 31 percent in the second half and finished with 25 turnovers.
The Fighitng Irish usually look to Schrader, a 6-foot guard, to get their inside game going. But with Schrader watching from the sidelines in the second half after injuring her ankle when she stepped on a teammate’s foot, the 6-1 Bruszewski took over. She was 7-of-9 shooting against DePaul’s zone in the second half.
Skylar Diggins added 18 points and helped force DePaul’s Sam Quigley into 10 turnovers.
With the game tied late in the first half, Diggins scored eight points during a 12-2 run, including a jumper at the buzzer to give the Fighting Irish a 42-32 halftime lead.
DePaul cut its deficit to 43-36 early in the second half on a jumper by Quigley. But Bruszewski scored inside to spark a 9-2 spurt as Notre Dame went ahead 56-39 and the Irish continued to pull away.
Keisha Hampton led DePaul with a career-high 28 points and eight rebounds. Felicia Chester added 15 points and Quigley had 12.
The Last Time Notre Dame And DePaul Met At McGrath-Phillips Arena
Erica Williamson scored a career-high 20 points to lead No. 12/4 Notre Dame to an 86-62 win over DePaul on Jan. 6, 2009, at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Natalie Novosel added a season-high-tying 18 points, Ashley Barlow had 12 and Lindsay Schrader chipped in 11 for Notre Dame, which held DePaul’s Deirdre Naughton, who averaged about 18 points, scoreless for the first time in her college career on 0-for-8 shooting.
Notre Dame never trailed after going ahead 11-10 about six minutes into the game and led 44-30 at the half.
DePaul shot just 36 percent from the field, compared with 49 percent for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame also outmuscled DePaul underneath, with 20 second-chance points compared with 10 for the Blue Demons. The Fighting Irish outrebounded DePaul 50-29.
Felicia Chester led DePaul with a career-high 20 points. Keisha Hampton added 19 points for the Blue Devils.
Other Notre Dame-DePaul Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame has won its last four games against DePaul, the longest run of success for the Fighting Irish against the Blue Demons in the 33-game series that dates back to the 1978-79 season. The previous series-long winning streak for Notre Dame was three games, set in both 1984-85 and 1985-86 (the latter season being two years before current Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw arrived in South Bend).
- In 12 of the past 14 series games, the winning team has scored at least 75 points. The only exceptions have been the second matchups in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (66-64 Notre Dame win in Chicago in 2008; 62-59 Fighting Irish win at Purcell Pavilion in 2009).
- The Fighting Irish have held DePaul to fewer than 70 points in each of the past four series games after not having held the Blue Demons below that mark in the previous seven series contests (including the first six as members of the BIG EAST Conference).
- The DePaul series is the second-longest in Notre Dame history, with Monday being the 34th game between the clubs. Only the Marquette rivalry (36 games) is longer, with the Fighting Irish having defeated the Golden Eagles, 73-55, back on Jan. 5 at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
- DePaul’s 18 series wins are the third-most by one Fighting Irish opponent, exceeded only by Connecticut (27) and Tennessee (20).
- Combining their memberships in the North Star (1983-88) and BIG EAST (2005-present) conferences, Notre Dame is 11-8 all-time against DePaul in regular-season league games (6-3 in BIG EAST, 5-5 in North Star). The Blue Demons did win the only conference tournament game between the programs, shading the Fighting Irish, 76-71 in the first round of the 2007 BIG EAST Championship in Hartford, Conn.
- Including that BIG EAST tournament matchup, six of the 10 series games between Notre Dame and DePaul since the Blue Demons joined the conference (2005-06) have been decided by single digits, including four of the past six.
- Despite the long history of the Notre Dame-DePaul series (33 games since 1978-79), the aggregate point totals for the two teams are amazingly close — the Blue Demons have scored 2,262 points (68.5 ppg.), while the Fighting Irish have tallied 2,226 points (67.5 ppg.).
- Notre Dame has had 12 players come from the state of Illinois, including 11 from the Chicagoland area. Senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago/Fenwick HS) and sophomore guard Kaila Turner (Joliet/Marian Catholic HS) are the latest additions to a list that includes NCAA career three-point percentage record holder Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich/Lake Zurich HS), two-time honorable mention All-America guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett/Bartlett HS) and 1,000-point scorer/2004 Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (Chicago/Roosevelt HS). The Fighting Irish will add yet another Chicago-area player to their roster next year when guard Whitney Holloway (Plainfield/Montini Catholic HS) arrives on the Notre Dame campus.
- Both head coaches — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and DePaul’s Doug Bruno — have ties to the old Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) which existed from 1978-81; McGraw was a point guard for the California Dreams in 1979 (the franchise’s only year of existence), while Bruno was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Chicago Hustle throughout its incarnation from 1978-80.
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 93-26 (.782) in February games, including a 53-5 (.914) mark at home.
In the 24-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-present), the Fighting Irish are 141-41 (.775) in the month of February, including a 75-11 (.872) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has not had a losing February (including this year’s 6-1 record), 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 its 72-60 win at No. 19/18 West Virginia on Feb. 22, Notre Dame became just the third BIG EAST Conference school to record 200 regular season league wins, joining Connecticut (378) and Villanova (250) in that elite company. The Fighting Irish now have a 201-62 (.764) all-time record in BIG EAST Conference regular season play
What makes Notre Dame’s 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 196 BIG EAST victories.
The Fighting Irish also rank second in conference history with a .764 winning percentage, trailing only Connecticut (.818) 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 .6996).
The current Notre Dame senior class (Becca Bruszewski, Mary Forr, Brittany Mallory, Devereaux Peters) reached a collective career milestone with Saturday’s 66-48 win over Cincinnati at Purcell Pavilion. With that victory, the group has led the Fighting Irish to a 100-29 (.775) record since they arrived on campus in 2007-08.
Only five other 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 Forr joined the Fighting Irish roster as a walk-on prior to this season, while 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 13 times in their 16 seasons in the league, including this year (Notre Dame already has secured a top-four finish and “double bye” for next week’s BIG EAST Championship).
In addition, Notre Dame has collected 13 conference wins this season, the most for the Fighting Irish in a BIG EAST campaign since 2004-05, when they ended up with a 13-3 league record.
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 fourth consecutive week (and the first time since Dec. 9, 2002), both Notre Dame basketball teams were ranked in the top 10 of their respective Associated Press polls. The Fighting Irish women were ranked eighth last week, while Mike Brey’s men checked in at No. 9.
Notre Dame is one of only two schools in the country with two top-10 basketball programs, along with Duke (No. 9 women/No. 1 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 Monday’s game ranked fourth in the nation in steals with 13.6 thefts per game. The Fighting Irish also have recorded double-digit steals in 21 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 2.2 steals per game (sixth in the BIG EAST).
Notre Dame also enters Monday’s game ranked sixth in the country in assists (18.2 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 61.9 percent of its baskets this season, with 527 assists on 851 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 4.6 assists per game, and just outside the top 15 in the league with a 1.26 assist/turnover ratio. She also has handed out at least five assists in 18 games this season, after tallying seven five-assist games during her entire freshman campaign.
Notre Dame also ranks third in the nation with a .489 field goal percentage, shooting 50 percent or better from the floor in 16 games this season, and at least 45 percent in 23 outings.
Notre Dame also has seen a rise in its three-point shooting numbers following a slow start this season. During the past 20 games, the Fighting Irish are connecting at a 40.8 percent clip (73-of-179) 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 seven categories according to last Friday’s NCAA statistics report — third in scoring margin (now +25.5) and field goal percentage (.489); fourth in steals (13.6 spg.); fifth in three-point percentage defense (.257); sixth in assists (18.2 apg.); and seventh in scoring offense (79.3 ppg.) and rebounding margin (+10.1).
In addition, Notre Dame ranks in the top 25 in the NCAA in 11 of 17 categories (not counting won-loss percentage), adding in turnover margin (11th, +5.87), scoring defense (15th, 53.8 ppg.), assist/turnover ratio (20th, 1.03) and field goal percentage defense (21st, .354).
Yet for all of these high team statistical marks, no Fighting Irish individual ranks higher than No. 59 in any single category — sophomore guard Skylar Diggins was 59th in the nation in assists (4.6 apg.).
High Octane Offense
Behind one of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses (79.3 ppg., seventh as of Friday), 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 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 record of four 35-point wins 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 41.5 caroms per game, up more than two rebounds from last year’s total at this time (39.3 rpg.) and good enough for third in the BIG EAST.
Notre Dame also is giving up just 31.4 rebounds per game, nearly five caroms better than last year at this time (36.2 rpg.) and placing second in the conference.
With a +10.1 rpg. margin this season, the Fighting Irish rank third in the BIG EAST and seventh in the country as of Friday.
What’s more, Notre Dame has outrebounded its opponent by double digits in 15 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 24-5 record coming into Monday’s game, but the Fighting Irish are oh-so-close to owning a much better mark, with all five losses coming to top-15 opponents by an average margin of just 8.6 points per game (three by single digits and a fourth by 11 points).
What’s more, Notre Dame led inside the final 30 seconds of regulation in two of those losses, both at home (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 Semifinalist For Nancy Lieberman Award
Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins is among a group of 11 players who have been selected as semifinalists for the 2011 Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the nation’s top point guard, it was announced Feb. 19 by the award’s organizer, the Rotary Club of Detroit. Diggins is the only underclass player among the 11 remaining nominees, joining eight seniors and two juniors in contention for this year’s award.
Diggins is the first Notre Dame player to be chosen as a Nancy Lieberman Award semifinalist since All-American Megan Duffy in 2006, and the third since the award’s inception in 2001 (when another Notre Dame All-American and current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey was a finalist). This year’s 11 nominees were selected by a panel of sportswriters from around the country, based on the criteria of floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame selection Nancy Lieberman during her career. That same sportswriter panel will choose the three finalists and this year’s award recipient during the weekend of the NCAA Women’s Final Four (April 3-5), with the recipient to attend an awards luncheon on April 27 at the Detroit Athletic Club.
Diggins is one of three BIG EAST Conference players among the 11 Lieberman Award semifinalists, along with Sarah Miles (West Virginia) and Sam Quigley (DePaul). The other remaining nominees are: Cetera DeGraffenreid (North Carolina), Dawn Evans (James Madison), Melissa Jones (Baylor), Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford), Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State), Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma), Jasmine Thomas (Duke) and Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga).
Diggins Makes Naismith Midseason List
On Feb. 14, 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 seventh in the league) in scoring at 14.9 points per game, nearly tripling her offensive output from a season ago. She also has scored at least 20 points in a game five times this year (after coming into the campaign with a career single-game high of 19 points) and has scored in double figures a team-high 25 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 11.4 points per game (28th in the BIG EAST) and 7.1 rebounds per game (10th), along with a .593 field goal percentage (second), 1.6 blocks per game (sixth), 1.9 steals per game (15th) and a career-high .769 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 – .625), rebounding (second – 7.9 rpg.) and blocks (tied-third – 1.8 bpg.), while ranking 15th in scoring (12.7 ppg.). She also is tied for second in the BIG EAST with four double-doubles during conference action.
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 17 games, the Chicago native is averaging 12.9 points and 8.5 rebounds with seven double-doubles and a .625 field goal percentage (95-of-152).
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 ranking sixth in blocks (1.6 bpg.) and 15th in steals (1.9 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 23rd on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,069 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 #29 Recap: Cincinnati
Becca Bruszewski made sure it was a sweet Senior Day in South Bend.
Bruszewski scored 12 points in her final home game, and No. 8 Notre Dame cruised past Cincinnati 66-48 on Saturday afternoon before a sellout crowd at Purcell Pavilion.
Devereaux Peters posted her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Skylar Diggins scored 12 points for Notre Dame (24-5, 13-2 BIG EAST), which jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 2 1/2 minutes, pushed it to 15-6 with 8:24 remaining in the first half and then started the second half with a 21-0 run that put the game away.
Kayla Cook had 18 points for Bearcats (8-19, 1-14). Shareese Ulis added 14 points.
Cincinnati trailed only 28-20 at halftime before the Fighting Irish went on their big run. The Bearcats’ bench was hit with a technical foul with 17:19 remaining, and Kaila Turner hit back-to-back three-pointers that made it 61-30 with about nine minutes left as the rout was on.
Noting The Cincinnati Game
- Notre Dame logged its 13th conference win of the season, the most for the Fighting Irish in a BIG EAST campaign since 2004-05, when they went 13-3 during conference play.
- The Fighting Irish senior class earned its 100th victory (now 100-29, .775), becoming the sixth senior class in school history — and first since 2002-03 (Alicia Ratay and Karen Swanson) — to reach the century mark in career wins.
- Notre Dame improved to 28-6 (.824) all-time on Senior Day, including a 21-3 (.875) record during the 24-year Muffet McGraw era.
- The Fighting Irish finished with a 15-2 home record, the second consecutive season and fifth time in program history that Notre Dame has registered 15 home wins in a season.
- Notre Dame attracted its fifth sellout crowd of the season, one shy of last year’s school record.
- The Fighting Irish set a new single-season home attendance average record, welcoming 8,553 fans per game to Purcell Pavilion this season to break last year’s average attendance mark of 8,377.
- Notre Dame rose to 37-7 (.841) all-time against Ohio schools at Purcell Pavilion, including an active 17-game winning streak that dates back to 1993.
- The Fighting Irish moved to 7-0 all-time against Cincinnati (4-0 at Purcell Pavilion), as the Bearcats and Providence (19-0) remain the two current BIG EAST opponents Notre Dame has not lost to.
- The final score was one Bearcat basket away from being identical to the final score in the past two Notre Dame-Cincinnati games (66-50).
- The Fighting Irish forced at least 25 turnovers for the ninth time this season, with UC’s 28 giveaways the most by a Notre Dame opponent since Dec. 8, when Providence also had 28 in the BIG EAST opener for both teams (a 79-43 Fighting Irish win at PC).
- Notre Dame posted double-digit steals for the 21st time this season.
- The Fighting Irish had a double-digit advantage in the rebounding column for the 15th time this season, just missing their ninth game with a rebound margin of +15 or better.
- Notre Dame held its opponent to 50 points or fewer for the 14th time, including the eighth time in BIG EAST play.
- Peters chalked up her seventh double-double of the season (eighth of her career), including her fifth in BIG EAST action.
- Peters also moved into eighth place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list with 127, breaking a tie with Trena Keys (124 from 1982-86) and passing former teammate Erica Williamson (125 from 2006-10).
- Bruszewski rose to 23rd place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,069 points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 from 1981-85).
- Turner dropped in a career-high three three-pointers, after having hit two treys on three occasions, the last on Dec. 20 at Valparaiso — Turner’s nine points also were one off her season high set on Nov. 15 against Morehead State at Purcell Pavilion.
For the fourth consecutive week, Notre Dame was ranked a season-high No. 8 in the Feb. 21 Associated Press poll. That marked the 74th 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 last week’s 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 100 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 213 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 rose to a season-best No. 7 in the Feb. 22 ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 74 of the past 75 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 205 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 213 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 on previous page), including former Fighting Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington (’92), who helped Notre Dame to its first AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her fourth season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions into the AP poll for two weeks in mid-February.
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 211-17 (.925) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 139 of their last 150 such contests, and 48 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 23 games this year, including their Feb. 26 win over Cincinnati, when they led 28-20 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 227-15 (.938) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in 19 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, 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 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&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.
Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in 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 204 of their last 231 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 113-19 (.856) 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 354-88 (.801) 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.
This season, the Fighting Irish tallied 15 victories at Purcell Pavilion, the fifth time in school history they have earned 15 home wins in a single season.
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 all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish make short work of their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.
For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame set a new single-season attendance record, averaging 8,553 fans for its 17 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 Purdue (Dec. 5), Connecticut (Jan. 8), St. John’s (Jan. 23), Rutgers (Feb. 12) and Cincinnati (Feb. 26).
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. 26 Cincinnati contest (webcast live on UND.com), Notre Dame has played in 190 televised games, including 135 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: BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame has earned one of four “double byes” for next week’s BIG EAST Conference Championship, with the Fighting Irish set to open tournament play with a quarterfinal game on Sunday night (March 6) at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
If Notre Dame wins on Monday against DePaul, the Fighting Irish will be the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament and will play their quarterfinal at 6 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Conversely, a loss to DePaul will make Notre Dame the No. 3 tournament seed and lead to an 8 p.m. (ET) quarterfinal — either way the game will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU.
Notre Dame’s opponent for their BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal is still to be determined, with various seeding scenarios still in play heading into Monday’s final day of regular season conference action.
— ND —