March 25, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the fourth time in school history, and the first since 2005, two Notre Dame women’s basketball players have been named finalists for the State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Thursday by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) and fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) are among a group of 40 players from around the country who remain in contention for a place on the prestigious 10-member State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, with the Fighting Irish being one of only six programs in the country (along with Connecticut, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee and Xavier) to have multiple finalists this year.
From the slate of 40 finalists — who were selected from an initial roster of 52 all-region honorees (including Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow) chosen across the WBCA’s eight regions — this year’s State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team will be unveiled at 1:05 p.m. CT (2:05 p.m. ET) on April 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, between open practices for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Notre Dame has had two players earn a place on the prestigious squad — Ruth Riley (2001) and Jacqueline Batteast (2005).
The 30 finalists not chosen for the 10-member State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team will be designated as State Farm Coaches’ All-America Honorable Mentions, a status earned by seven Fighting Irish players, all in the past two decades — Karen Robinson (1991), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997), Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Riley (1999, 2000), Batteast (2002, 2004), Megan Duffy (2005, 2006) and Charel Allen (2007).
“This is such a well-deserved and hard-earned honor for both Skylar and Lindsay,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Skylar certainly has been a major contributor to our success this season, both at the offensive and defensive ends of the court, while Lindsay has been an exceptional leader for our team on and off the floor, and her presence can’t be understated, as we discovered when she was out with her ankle injury last month. What makes this even more special is that Skylar and Lindsay are such high-quality people and tremendous representatives of not only our program, but the entire University of Notre Dame. We couldn’t be happier for their success and are excited to see what lies ahead for both of them.”
Diggins is one of only three freshmen in the nation to be named one of this season’s 40 finalists, along with Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne and Baylor center Brittany Griner. What’s more, Diggins is just the second Notre Dame rookie ever to be named a State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team finalist, following Batteast’s selection in 2002. A second-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection and unanimous choice to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team, Diggins leads the Fighting Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.) and steals (2.5 spg.), and she recently became just the third player in Notre Dame history (and first rookie) to amass 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season (she currently has 474 points, 108 assists and 84 steals).
Meanwhile, Schrader’s selection is the latest highlight on a remarkable career path for the Fighting Irish veteran, who missed her entire sophomore season (2006-07) with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee, then returned to emerge as one of the most versatile players in Notre Dame and BIG EAST history. A two-time first-team all-conference honoree, Schrader is one of only four players in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history with 1,400 career points and 800 rebounds (1,410 points/820 rebounds), joining Gaither, Riley and Batteast in that elite company, and she holds the school records for double-doubles by a guard in both a single season (7) and career (17), despite spending the better part of this year as a post player.
Diggins and Schrader headline a contingent of six BIG EAST players among the 40 finalists for this year’s State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, with a trio of Connecticut players (Tina Charles, Kalana Greene and Maya Moore) and St. John’s standout Da’Shena Stevens also on the list. Only the Southeastern Conference (SEC) fielded more finalists with seven, while the Big 12 Conference joined the BIG EAST with six honorees.
Seventh-ranked Notre Dame (29-5) has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship for the eighth time in program history (all in the past 14 seasons) and will take on No. 12 Oklahoma in a Kansas City Regional semifinal game at 6:34 p.m. CT (7:34 p.m. ET) Sunday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. ESPN2HD and ESPN360.com will broadcast the game live, while a select number of tickets are available through Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Ticket Office, open weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) in the arena’s new Rosenthal Atrium (accessible via Gate 9 or by calling 574-631-7356). In addition, tickets may be purchased through all Ticketmaster outlets, in person at Sprint Center Box Office, on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
— ND —