Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Fighting Irish Set To Take On Rams Of Colorado State

Dec. 21, 2002

Complete Release in PDF Format
dot.gifspacer.gifDownload Free Acrobat Reader

The Date and Time: Monday, Dec. 23, 2002, at 2 p.m. EST.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires handling the play-by-play. For the Colorado State and Marquette games, Sean Lewallen will call the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Colorado State game via the Notre Dame ( athletics website.
Websites: Notre Dame (, Colorado State (

Notre Dame will look to head into the Christmas break on a positive note as it plays host to Colorado State Monday at 2 p.m. (EST) in the finale of a three-game homestand at the Joyce Center. The 12th-ranked Irish will be seeking to move to 7-1 for the third time in the last five seasons, but only the fifth time in school history. They also will be out to extend a 32-game nonconference winning streak at home, a run that dates back more than six years.

After a week-long hiatus for final exams, Notre Dame returned to the court Saturday with an 82-54 victory over IPFW. It was the first game between the Irish and Mastodons in nearly 24 years, but Notre Dame was not in the mood to reminisce. The Irish used an 18-3 first-half run to take control and never led the lead slip below 20 points the rest of the way.

Neither senior guard Alicia Ratay nor freshman forward Courtney LaVere played more than 23 minutes against IPFW, but both players managed to ring up a game-high 20 points. Ratay did her damage from the outside, hitting 6-of-8 shots, including a season-high 5-of-6 from three-point land. Meanwhile, LaVere was a force in the paint, tallying 17 points in the first half en route to her season-best scoring total.

Colorado State is 5-3 this season following a 83-72 loss at Michigan on Saturday. Freshman center Lindsay Thomas scored a season-high 17 points and senior forward Ashley Augspurger chipped in with 14 points and a game-high five assists for the Rams, who lost their second consecutive road game after opening the season at 5-1.

Augspurger leads CSU in scoring at 14.8 points per game, followed by senior center Shannon Strecker at 10.1 ppg. Senior forward Lisa Narkiewicz is pulling down a team-best 6.0 rebounds per game.

Chris Denker is in his first season as the Rams’ head coach with a career record of 46-21 (.687).

Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.

McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 348-128 (.731) record (436-169, .721 in 21 years overall) that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently are coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball. McGraw recently coached the 600th game of her career on Nov. 29, a 69-57 win at USC, and she is only two wins away from her 350th victory at Notre Dame.

Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (13.9 ppg., 3.7 rpg., .558 FG%, .550 3FG%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (6th, 1,472 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .483) and free throw percentage (1st, .870). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA history. She has led the Irish in scoring four times this season, including a game-high 20-point effort (6-8 FG, season-high 5-6 3FG) in Saturday’s win over IPFW.

In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 16.7 ppg., team-high 7.6 rpg., 2.6 spg., one double-double) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast has scored in double figures in all seven Irish games this season. She also nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC. Batteast also contributed a season-best 24 points (career-high 10-15 FG) at Arizona State and registered a career-high five steals vs. Temple.

Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (9.3 ppg., 3.1 rpg., team-high 3.3 apg., 2.6 spg., .548 FG%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in four games this season after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored a season-high 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe also tied her career high with five steals against Temple. She is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.1 ppg., team-high 3.3 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy dished out a game-high seven assists at Arizona State, the most by an Irish rookie since Ratay’s seven handouts against Butler on Dec. 1, 1999. She also scored a season-high five points vs. Temple and collected a season-best four steals vs. IPFW.

At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (4.3 ppg., 2.9 rpg.) offers a unique mix of outside shooting ability and toughness in the paint. The 6-2 native of Gillette, Wyo., connected at a 33-percent clip from the three-point line as a freshman, and she showed no fear in playing some of the nation’s elite teams, scoring in double figures on the road at Connecticut and Tennessee. She has come to life in Notre Dame’s last two games, averaging 8.5 ppg., including a season-high 12 points vs. Temple, her third career double-digit game and best-ever performance at home.

Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (2.0 ppg., 0.5 spg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.4 ppg., 0.6 rpg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State, while Krause has seen action in four games, scoring two points and grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.

Sophomore center Teresa Borton (9.3 ppg., 6.0 rpg., team-high .580 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (11.3 ppg., 4.9 rpg., .571 FG%) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also set new career highs with 11 rebounds and four assists vs. IPFW. At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She already has displayed her improvement this season, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State. She is shooting 61.5 percent (16-26) from the floor in her last five games, and her five double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (11.1 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists vs. Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999. LaVere has been on fire of late, averaging 15.7 ppg. in her last three games, including a season-high 20 points vs. IPFW on Saturday.

The Irish will be facing Colorado State for only the second time in school history, and the first time ever at the Joyce Center. In their only other meeting last season, the Rams came away with a hard-fought 72-66 victory over Notre Dame at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo. Alicia Ratay led three Irish players in double figures with 16 points, and Le’Tania Severe buried a trio of three-point field goals and wound up with 15 points. Jacqueline Batteast also carded her first career double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Notre Dame.

The Irish trailed by six points (39-33) at the break, a margin which remained intact for much of the second half before Notre Dame pulled within two when Severe was fouled making a layup with 35 seconds left. However, she missed the ensuing free throw and CSU knocked down three of their own charity tosses to seal the victory. Angie Gorton led four Rams in double figures with 14 points.

Despite having to adjust to a new coaching staff and new offensive scheme, Colorado State came out of the chute in fine form this season, winning five of its first six games, all within the cozy confines of Moby Arena. However, the road has been unkind to the Rams thus far in 2002-03, as CSU has lost its last two contests, both away from home, and currently stands at 5-3 on the season.

The Rams come to town on the heels of an 82-73 loss at Michigan Saturday afternoon. Freshman forward Lindsay Thomas made the most of her first career start, pouring in a season-high 17 points (more than double her season output at the time) on 8-of-10 shooting. Senior forward Ashley Augspurger added 14 points and a team-high five assists for Colorado State, which shot 48.5 percent from the field in the first half (16-33) and took a slim one-point lead to the locker room.

The second half proved to be the Rams’ undoing, as Michigan shot a blistering 59.3 percent and held CSU to just .375 from the field. Colorado State got within 76-72 with two minutes to play, but the Wolverines iced the contest with some timely shooting down the stretch.

Augspurger is one of two CSU players scoring in double figures this season, notching a career-high 14.8 points per game. She also has been the Rams’ most prolific perimeter shooter, canning a team-best 12 three-point field goals this season. Senior center Shannon Strecker is second on the squad in scoring and rebounding at 10.1 ppg. and 5.1 rpg., respectively, while senior forward Lisa Narkiewicz averages a team-high 6.0 rpg.

As a team, Colorado State is scoring 67.5 ppg., while allowing its opponents just 62.8 ppg. The Rams are shooting 43.6 percent from the field this season, but only 32.4 percent from beyond the three-point line. CSU also is being outrebounded by an average of one carom per contest (33.6 vs. 34.6).

Chris Denker is in his first season as the Colorado State head coach with a career record of 46-21 (.687). He came to Fort Collins after a successful two-year stint at Santa Clara, where he guided the Broncos to a pair of postseason appearances, including an NCAA Tournament berth last season. Monday’s game marks his first matchup as a head coach with Notre Dame.


  • Irish sophomore center Teresa Borton and CSU senior forward Katie Borton are cousins. Both hail from Yakima, Wash., and spent their prep days at West Valley High School. Several members of the Borton family are expected to be in attendance at Monday’s game.
  • Notre Dame sophomore forward Katy Flecky is a native of Lone Tree, Colo., and played at three-time state champion Highlands Ranch High School. One of her teammates at Highlands Ranch was CSU redshirt freshman guard Vanessa Espinoza, who attended HRHS for three years before transferring to Douglas County High School for her final prep season.
  • Colorado State has two Indiana natives on its roster < senior=”” guard=”” elizabeth=”” english=”” is=”” from=”” rushville,=”” ind.,=”” and=”” attended=”” rushville=”” consolidated=”” high=”” school,=”” while=”” senior=”” guard=”” jackie=”” campbell=”” was=”” born=”” from=”” the=”” notre=”” dame=”” campus=”” in=”” michigan=”” city,=”” ind.,=”” grew=”” up=”” in=”” chesterton,=”” ind.,=”” and=”” graduated=”” from=”” chesterton=”” high=”” school.=””>

Notre Dame doesn?t have a whole lot of experience to call on when it comes to facing the Mountain West Conference. The Irish have played just five games against the current MWC alignment, going 3-2 (.600) with wins over BYU, Utah and New Mexico, and losses to San Diego State and Colorado State. Notre Dame went 1-1 against the MWC last season, falling to CSU, but rebounding to defeat New Mexico in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.


  • Notre Dame will improve to 7-1 this season, marking the fifth 7-1 start in school history, and the third in the last five seasons.
  • The Irish will win its 33rd consecutive non-conference home game, dating back to Dec. 9, 1996.
  • Notre Dame will move to 71-4 (.947) all-time when playing at the Joyce Center as a ranked team.
  • The Irish will card their 80th win in the last 83 home games, and their 55th in the last 56 home outings.
  • Irish head coach Muffet McGraw will earn her 349th victory at Notre Dame, lifting her career ledger to 349-128 (.732) in 16 seasons with the Irish, and 437-169 (.721) in 21 years overall. McGraw will be one win away from joining Digger Phelps as the only Notre Dame basketball coaches ever to record 350 wins at the school.

Junior G Jeneka Joyce leg injuries, out indefinitely

Another indication of Notre Dame?s continued rise to national prominence has been its consistent run of success. With its victory over IPFW on Saturday, the Irish are assured of finishing with no worse than a .500 mark in December. Notre Dame now has posted a record of .500 or better in 40 of their last 41 months of action, dating back to December 1994. The only blemish on that record came in March 2002, when Notre Dame went 1-2 during the BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments.

Notre Dame will be looking to post the fifth 7-1 start in school history, and its third in the last five years, when it faces Colorado State on Monday. In their four previous 7-1 debuts, the Irish have finished with a winning record each time, including a pair of 25-win campaigns, two trips to the NCAA Tournament and the 2001 national championship.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will be seeking her third 7-1 start with the Irish on Monday < she=”” also=”” pulled=”” off=”” that=”” feat=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” 2000-01.=”” the=”” other=”” two=”” hot=”” starts=”” came=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” two=”” varsity=”” seasons=”” of=”” irish=”” basketball=”” (1977-78=”” and=”” 1978-79),=”” which=”” were=”” played=”” at=”” the=”” ncaa=”” division=”” iii=”” level=”” under=”” head=”” coach=”” sharon=”” petro.=””>

In terms of point production, Notre Dame’s best performances this season have come in its three home games (Cleveland State, Temple and IPFW). The Irish rolled up 107 points against CSU, their highest output in nearly four years, and shot 60 percent from the field, their best shooting performance since Feb. 27, 2001 at Pittsburgh. The Irish then tallied 84 points against Temple, canning 25-of-32 free throws against the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Owls. Notre Dame tacked on an 82-point night vs. IPFW, hitting 50 percent of its shots, including 60 percent in the first half.

For the season, the Irish are averaging 91 points per game at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame also is shooting .518 from the field, with eight of the 10 players on the roster connecting at a 50-percent clip or better.

Not to be outdone, the Irish defense has been superb in all three home games, allowing just 60 ppg. and a .372 opponent field goal percentage. Notre Dame also has forced an average of 27.7 opponent turnovers per game at home, with 17.3 steals per outing to its credit. The Irish also have owned a sizeable nine-rebound edge on the glass (42-33) on their home court.

Last season, Notre Dame struggled early on to find the winning formula on the road, dropping its first five games away from the Joyce Center before defeating Miami on Jan. 2. It took the Irish a lot less time to earn a road win this season, as Notre Dame claimed its road opener, 69-57 at USC. The Irish then added wins at Valparaiso and Arizona State < notre=”” dame=”” didn’t=”” pick=”” up=”” its=”” third=”” road=”” win=”” last=”” season=”” until=”” the=”” 10th=”” contest=”” away=”” from=”” home=”” on=”” feb.=”” 2,=”” 2002.=””>

The Irish have won nine of their last 12 regular-season road games, including seven of their last eight. Besides a loss at DePaul on Dec. 11, the only other blemishes on that record came last January with a last-second loss at Villanova and a setback at eventual national champion Connecticut.

Notre Dame has raced out to a 6-1 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least four players score in double figures in all five wins. In addition, the Irish have had five players reach double digits in three games this season (Cleveland State, USC, Temple). The last time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers three times in the same year was the 2000-01 season, when the Irish turned the trick against Connecticut (twice) and Alcorn State.

As you might expect, Notre Dame also has four players averaging in double figures for the season as well. Sophomore forward and Naismith Award candidate Jacqueline Batteast has been the pacesetter at 16.7 ppg., followed by fellow Naismith nominee, senior guard Alicia Ratay at 13.9 ppg. Sophomore forward Katy Flecky is third at 11.3 ppg. (more than double her scoring average last season), and freshman forward Courtney LaVere has come on of late, moving up to 11.1 ppg. this year. Two others < junior=”” guard=”” le’tania=”” severe=”” and=”” sophomore=”” center=””>Teresa Borton < are=”” lurking=”” just=”” out=”” of=”” double=”” figures=”” at=”” 9.3=”” ppg.=””>

Another reason for Notre Dame’s early-season success has been its hot shooting from the field. The Irish are eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.508), according to the latest NCAA statistical report released on Dec. 16. Notre Dame has shot 50 percent or better in five of its six victories this year, including a season-high 60 percent (42-70) in the opener against Cleveland State. That marked the first time the Irish shot 60 percent from the floor in a game since Feb. 27, 2001, when they connected at a 63.5-percent clip (33-52) in an 82-63 win at Pittsburgh (the victory clinched a share of Notre Dame’s first BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship).

Individually, no less than six Irish players are shooting 49 percent or better from the floor this year. Sophomore center Teresa Borton is tops on the team at .580 (29-50), followed by sophomore forward Katy Flecky at .571 (28-49). The hot shooting isn’t limited to the post players either < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay is making 55.8 percent of her shots this season (29-52), including a red-hot 55 percent (11-20) from three-point range.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made good use of her time on the floor this season. Although she is averaging just 17 minutes per game, the Ventura, Calif., product is collecting 11.1 points per game (fourth on the team) and 5.4 rebounds per game (third on the team). If LaVere were to average 40 minutes played, she would be logging 26.2 ppg. and 12.8 rpg., both tops on the squad. By comparison, Notre Dame’s leading scorer and rebounder, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast, would be registering 23.1 ppg. and 10.4 rpg. if she averaged a full 40 minutes.

Proof of LaVere’s effectiveness on the floor was shown in Saturday’s win over IPFW. She scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting in just 19 minutes of action!

Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached a milestone at Valparaiso, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native now has started 104 of 105 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 104 starts put her in seventh place on Notre Dame’s career games started list, one behind Mary Gavin (105 from 1984-88) for sixth place and 20 away from the school record. Ruth Riley set the school standard with 124 career starting assignments, a mark Ratay could reach by the time the BIG EAST Championship rolls around in early March.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several other career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark at Valparaiso, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to attain that feat, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,472 points, 535 rebounds and 207 assists.

Ratay also is 26 three-point field goals away from tying the Notre Dame career record of 249, currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay averaged more than 70 treys per season during her first three years at Notre Dame.

Two other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks sixth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,472 points, but she needs only 117 counters to move into the top five on that chart, catching Keys (1,589 from 1982-86). In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 105 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with another 20 starts and 27 games played this season.

Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.870) and three-point field goal (.483) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, her three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history if her career ended today. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame record books, please see the charts on page 9 of these notes.

Notre Dame is ranked 12th in the most recent Associated Press poll, marking the sixth consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the AP poll this season. Notre Dame was among the top 10 for the first five weeks of the season, and the Irish have spent 56 weeks in the top 10 in the 26-year history of the program (two weeks in 1996-97, 16 in 1998-99, 15 in 1999-2000, 18 in 2000-01 and five in 2002-03).

Notre Dame has been extremely successful at home when playing as a ranked team. The Irish are 70-4 (.946) all-time at the Joyce Center when they appear in the AP poll at tipoff, including 44 wins in their last 46 games and a 3-0 mark this season.

The Irish are ranked 11th in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their sixth consecutive week in that survey. Notre Dame spent two weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today poll earlier this season, marking its first foray into the top 10 since finishing No. 1 after winning the 2001 NCAA championship. That also capped a string of 52 consecutive weeks in the coaches’ top 10 for the Irish, who appeared in the poll’s upper division continuously from Nov. 22, 1998-April 2, 2001.

Notre Dame is slated to face four teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 3/2 Connecticut, No. 4/4 Tennessee, No. 6/6 Purdue and No. 19/18 Boston College). In addition, eight other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” depaul,=”” pittsburgh,=”” rutgers,=”” temple,=”” villanova=”” and=”” west=”” virginia.=””>

Notre Dame is one of only four schools in the country to have both of its basketball teams ranked in the top 15 in the latest Associated Press poll, with the Irish men checking at No. 9. The other schools in this elite group are Duke, Connecticut and Oklahoma. In addition, Notre Dame is one of only two schools in the nation to have both basketball teams in the AP top 15 and its football team ranked in the top 10 in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings (Oklahoma is the other).

Irish teams have turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships, an NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team, and a Gator Bowl berth and No. 9 BCS ranking for the football team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.

Thanks to its successful finishes in the fall, Notre Dame has moved into fourth place in the latest NACDA Directors’ Cup standings, which were released Dec. 19 (see note on page 12).

Senior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks sixth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,472 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.483) and free throw percentage (.870), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 26 treys to match Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.

Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 102 of a possible 103 contests to date.

Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.

Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group.

Over the last seven seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame?s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 105-2 (.981) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn?t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), and Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45). Notre Dame has added three wins to that count this season with victories over USC, Arizona State and IPFW.

Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the last seven seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 85-3 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has added four wins to that total with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State, Temple and IPFW.

Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).

The 11 players on this year?s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster < michigan=”” (14)=””>< is=”” not=”” represented=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.

This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86).

In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.

For the first time in its eight-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame was picked to finish first in the league’s preseason coaches poll that was released Oct. 24 at BIG EAST Media Day. The Irish shared top billing with defending national champion Connecticut, with each team earning seven first-place votes and 161 total points in the balloting. Boston College (143 points), Villanova (128 points) and Virginia Tech (110 points) round out the top five.

Individually, Notre Dame was the only school to place two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Senior guard Alicia Ratay earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors for the second time in her career last season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. She is the top returning scorer for the Irish, averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in ’01-02. She also led the BIG EAST and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record .882 from the charity stripe. Ratay also was named one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award, her third selection in as many seasons.

Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast also was recognized by the conference coaches after being named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year. The South Bend native averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She also registered 11 double-doubles (second in the conference) and was a second-team all-league selection, the only freshman to make an all-BIG EAST squad in ’01-02. In addition, Batteast was a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection last year and like Ratay, she was chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay was selected as one of 30 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation?s senior Player of the Year by the Senior CLASS Organizing Committee. Ratay is one of three BIG EAST Conference student-athletes on the list of Senior CLASS Award ?Players to Watch,? joining Villanova?s Trish Juhline and Brianne Stepherson of Boston College. Connecticut guard Sue Bird received the inaugural award last year.

Ratay is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection last season. She ranks sixth in school history with 1,472 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .483 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 87 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history.

Ratay also is an exemplary student, owning a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average while pursuing a double major in psychology and education. She has been named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three years, and she has garnered Dean?s List honors three times.

The Senior CLASS Award < the=”” acronym=”” stands=”” for=”” celebrating=”” loyalty=”” and=”” achievement=”” for=”” staying=”” in=”” school=””>< is=”” based=”” on=”” a=”” number=”” of=”” factors,=”” the=”” most=”” important=”” being=”” that=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” have=”” exhausted=”” their=”” four=”” years=”” of=”” eligibility=”” and=”” have=”” fulfilled=”” their=”” commitment=”” to=”” their=”” respective=”” university.=”” in=”” addition,=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” be=”” working=”” toward=”” their=”” degree,=”” be=”” in=”” good=”” academic=”” standing=”” and=”” be=”” of=”” sound=”” moral=”” character.=”” the=”” award=”” was=”” developed=”” last=”” season=”” in=”” response=”” to=”” the=”” recent=”” trend=”” of=”” college=”” basketball=”” players=”” leaving=”” early=”” to=”” turn=”” professional.=””>

The performances of the 30 ?Players to Watch? will be tracked during the season, and from that pool of players, a group of 10 finalists will be selected by a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters that cover Division I college basketball. The finalists then will appear on the official ballot which will be voted upon in March by the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the Women?s Final Four April 6-8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Courtney LaVere was a consensus All-America selection and one of the top 25 prep players in the country following her senior season at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. One media outlet believes LaVere will continue that success in her initial campaign at Notre Dame. Women’s College chose the 6-3 freshman forward as one its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact” for the 2002-03 season.

LaVere joins the Irish after averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during her senior season. She finished her high school career with 1,897 points (second in school history), 1,029 rebounds (third in school history) and 303 blocks (first in school history). She also holds school single-game records for points (45) and blocks (9), as well as BHS single-season marks for points (741), scoring average (26.5) and blocks (99). LaVere was named the 1999 California Freshman of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports, and she helped lead Buena to the top spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings for much of the 2000-01 season.

One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 79 of their last 82 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 56-4 (.933) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale. Besides the Wildcats, Connecticut (three times) is the only other BIG EAST school to successfully conquer the Irish on their home floor.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame still owns a 32-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center that dates back more than six years < a=”” stretch=”” that=”” includes=”” victories=”” over=”” a=”” trio=”” of=”” sixth-ranked=”” teams=”” (ucla=”” and=”” duke=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” purdue=”” in=”” 2000-01),=”” as=”” well=”” as=”” no.=”” 19=”” illinois=”” in=”” 8-99.=”” notre=”” dame?s=”” last=”” non-conference=”” loss=”” at=”” home=”” came=”” back=”” on=”” dec.=”” 9,=”” 1996,=”” when=”” 19th-ranked=”” wisconsin=”” toppled=”” the=”” irish,=”” 81-69.=””>

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 242-66 (.786) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 92-5 (.948) at the Joyce Center.

For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame is ranked among the top 10 in the nation in attendance, according to the latest unofficial rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office. The Irish have averaged 6,366 fans for two home games this season, placing them eighth in the country (through games of Dec. 15).

Notre Dame averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. The 2001-02 season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for a 60-44 win over 16th-ranked Boston College.

Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last four seasons.

Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. The Irish will play no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.

Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least seven times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2). In addition, Notre Dame appears three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games will be telecast in South Bend on WHME-TV on a tape-delayed basis as part of the league?s TV deal. WHME-TV also broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago. In addition to the regular-season package, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a wide variety of Irish events on radio for only $6.95 per month.

Muffet McGraw?s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays through the completion of the 2002-03 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation?s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.

Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.

Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player — she played with sophomore forward Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships.

With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.

University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph?s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph?s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph?s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.

McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor?s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women?s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since.

Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 346-128 (.730) record (434-169, .720 overall in 21 years), guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women?s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.

When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women?s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.

During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.

A matchup of former national championship teams is on the horizon when Notre Dame and Tennessee tangle Saturday, Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. (EST) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tickets still remain for this battle of college basketball powers — $14 for lower level seats, and $10 for club level seats. Fans can also register to attend a post-game “Meet ‘N Greet” with Indiana Fever standouts Tamika Catchings (Tennessee ’01) and Niele Ivey (Notre Dame ’01), as well as purchase discounted tickets for the NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets which will follow at 7 p.m. (EST).

For more information on this game, or to buy tickets, call the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office at (317) 917-2500, or visit the Conseco Fieldhouse website at

Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish.

Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.

Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night.

All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.

Following the Christmas holidays, Notre Dame will face its first ranked opponent of the season when it takes on No. 4 Tennessee Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It will mark the first time the Irish and Lady Vols have met in the regular season since 1996, and it will be only the third neutral site contest between the two women’s basketball powers. Tennessee is 8-2 this season following a last-second 63-62 loss at No. 21 Texas last Saturday. The matchup with Notre Dame is the second in a string for four consecutive road contests for UT against former NCAA champions.