April 29, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the fourth consecutive season, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team will retain its home-and-home series with traditional rival DePaul, as part of the 2008-09 BIG EAST Conference schedule matrix that was released Tuesday. In addition to the Blue Demons, the Irish also will welcome NCAA Elite Eight participant Rutgers and Sweet 16 qualifier Louisville to the Joyce Center as part of their 16-game conference slate, which has featured eight home and eight road contests (with schools playing every other institution once and one team twice) since the BIG EAST expanded to 16 teams prior to the 2005-06 season.
With their respective campuses separated by less than 100 miles, the rivalry between Notre Dame and DePaul has offered exceptional theater in recent seasons, with the two sides splitting their last 10 regular-season meetings. In addition, five of the past seven games in the series have been decided by single digits, highlighted by both matchups last season (DePaul 81-80; Notre Dame 66-64), when the visiting teams won for the first time since 1992 and each losing squad had a look at a game-winning shot in the final seconds.
All told, Notre Dame will play six of its eight conference home games next year against teams that advanced to the postseason in ’07-08, led by Rutgers and Louisville. The other visitors to the Joyce Center next season will be: Cincinnati, Georgetown, St. John’s (WNIT quarterfinals), Syracuse (NCAA first round) and West Virginia (NCAA second round).
Likewise, six of Notre Dame’s eight road contests in BIG EAST play next season will come against ’07-08 postseason qualifiers. The featured BIG EAST road trip for the Irish next season will be Connecticut, with the Huskies coming off a trip to the ’08 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa (where UConn fell to Stanford, 82-73 at the St. Pete Time Forum). Notre Dame also will travel to Marquette (WNIT champion), Pittsburgh (NCAA Sweet 16), Providence, Seton Hall, South Florida (WNIT first round) and Villanova (WNIT third round) during the coming year.
In terms of locations, Notre Dame’s conference docket for next season is the exact opposite from the 2007-08 ledger (and the same format from the previous two seasons). The ’08-09 non-conference schedule for the Irish will be announced at a later date, following approval from the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics. A complete list of dates and tip times for all of Notre Dame’s games next season also will be released at that point.
In addition, for the first time since 2004 (and the sixth time in school history), Notre Dame will be playing host to NCAA Championship first- and second-round games at the Joyce Center in 2009. The tournament is returning to a 16-site format (four teams per location) for the coming season, with the first two rounds to be played from March 21-24, 2009 (exact dates and tip times will be released by the NCAA at a later date).
The Irish recently capped off a stellar 2007-08 season that saw them post a 25-9 record, make the program’s seventh NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in the past 12 years, and earn a top-15 ranking in the final Associated Press (15th) and ESPN/USA Today (13th) polls. In addition, Notre Dame recorded its sixth 25-win season in the past 12 years and 14th 20-win season in the past 15 years, while also ranking among the top 25 teams in the nation in six NCAA statistical categories, including scoring offense (8th – 76.2 ppg) and scoring margin (10th – +14.6 ppg).
The Irish will have three starters and seven monogram winners back in uniform next season, as well as four talented freshmen that make up the nation’s No. 8 incoming class (according to Dan Olsen Collegiate Girls Basketball Report) — it’s the 12th consecutive year Notre Dame has signed a top-20 rookie group.
— ND —
Notre Dame Women's Basketball -- 2008-09 BIG EAST Conference ScheduleHome (Overall, BIG EAST Record) '07-08 ND ResultCincinnati (12-16, 3-13) W, 73-41*DePaul (20-12, 8-8) L, 80-81/W, 66-64Georgetown (15-14, 5-11) W, 104-86*Louisville (26-10, 10-6) W, 82-74*Rutgers (27-7, 14-2) L, 51-57^St. John's (18-15, 7-9) L, 51-61*Syracuse (22-9, 10-6) W, 79-67*West Virginia (25-8, 12-4) L, 50-56
Road (Overall, BIG EAST Record) '07-08 ND Result*Connecticut (36-2, 15-1) L, 64-81*DePaul (20-12, 8-8) L, 80-81/W, 66-64^Marquette (21-14, 8-8) W, 99-76*Pittsburgh (24-11, 10-6) W, 81-66/L, 53-64Providence (12-17, 2-14) W, 85-54Seton Hall (13-15, 3-13) W, 70-55^South Florida (16-16, 5-11) W, 92-49^Villanova (17-16, 5-11) W, 69-58
* = NCAA participant // ^ = WNIT participant // all ’07-08 results at opposite site from ’08-09 schedule (DePaul listed home/away; Pittsburgh listed home/neutral)