Jan. 13, 2006
2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 15
#20/19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-4 / 1-2 BIG EAST) vs.
Louisville Cardinals (11-3 / 2-1 BIG EAST)
|DATE:||January 14, 2006|
|TIME:||1:00 p.m. ET|
|Freedom Hall (18,865)|
|SERIES:||Louisville leads 2-1|
|1ST MTG:||3/22/91 (UL 80-75)|
|LAST MTG:||2/21/94 (ND 69-54)|
|RADIO:||ESPN Radio 1580 AM|
|Sean Stires, p-b-p|
- Notre Dame makes just its second visit ever to the state of Kentucky when it travels to Louisville Saturday for a 1 p.m. (ET) game with the Cardinals at historic Freedom Hall.
- The Irish are 13-1 (.929) in their first BIG EAST game against a new conference opponent.
Riding the emotional wave of a hard-fought 67-65 overtime victory over Marquette on Tuesday evening, the No. 20/19 Notre Dame women’s basketball now focuses on another strong BIG EAST newcomer when the Irish pay a visit to Louisville Saturday at 1 p.m. (ET). The Irish (10-4, 1-2 BIG EAST) snapped a rare three-game losing streak by rallying from a pair of 11-point first half deficits to defeat Marquette. Notre Dame used a 10-3 run late in regulation to seemingly take the win before the Golden Eagles’ Krystal Ellis banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime. Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy scored a career-high 32 points for the Irish, including the game-winning coast-to-coast layup as time expired in the extra session. Sophomore guard Charel Allen also provided a boost off the bench for the second consecutive game, tossing in 15 points, including a crucial three-pointer in the final three minutes of regulation.
- Notre Dame is ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 19th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
- Louisville currently is receiving votes in both polls.
- Notre Dame: http://www.und.com
- Louisville: http://www.uoflsports.com
- BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments (including the past 10 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship. In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 585-258 (.694).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
- 19th season at Notre Dame
- 421-159 (.726) at Notre Dame.
- 509-200 (.718) in 24 years as head coach.
- 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
- Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
- Four-time conference Coach of the Year
- BIG EAST Conference (2001)
- Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
- North Star Conference (1988)
- East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
The 2005-06 season was expected to be a unique one for Notre Dame and it has lived up to that assessment thus far. Despite losing two of their top three scorers and their two primary rebounders from a year ago, the Irish bolted to a 9-1 record, highlighted by two wins over Top 25 teams (USC and Utah) as well as the championship at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas.
However, Notre Dame has seen its fortunes reversed of late, as the Irish have dropped three of their last four, including their first three-game losing streak in eight years. That 1997-98 season also marked the last (and only) time Notre Dame began BIG EAST Conference play with consecutive losses. Yet, the Irish have found themselves facing difficult challenges numerous times this season and with the schedule just now reaching the midway point, there is plenty of time to recover from this current dry spell and continue the tradition of success that has been the hallmark of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
One of the keys for the Irish this season has been their offensive balance. In 11 of 14 games to date, Notre Dame has had at least three players scoring in double figures, and eight separate players have cracked double digits at least twice this year. Additionally, five different players have led the team in scoring at some point.
The Irish also have the benefit of strong leadership in senior All-America point guard and two-year team captain Megan Duffy. The 5-foot-7 Dayton, Ohio, native spent last summer as a co-captain and starter on the United States World University Games Team that rolled to the gold medal with a 7-0 record. Duffy herself directed an American offense that averaged 97.4 points per game and set a USA World University Games record with a scoring margin of +43.1 ppg.
Back stateside, Duffy continues to make improvements in her game each night out and has been a strong all-around contributor and leader for Notre Dame once again this year. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 16.0 points, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game, with a 1.62 assist/turnover ratio, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in all four categories. In addition, she leads the league and is 19th in the nation in foul shooting (.905). She also has led the team in scoring eight times and in assists nine times this year. Duffy has been tapped for the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll three times this season, and she earned a spot on the Duel in the Desert All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 assists in piloting the Irish to the tourney title. In her last outing on Tuesday night vs. Marquette, Duffy almost single-handedly shot the Irish past the Golden Eagles, scoring a career-high 32 points, including the game-winning layup as time expired in overtime.
Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico has proven to be a solid complement in the post to Duffy’s perimeter presence. A prime candidate for the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award, D’Amico is second on the team in scoring (8.9 ppg.) and third in rebounding (5.4 rpg.), while setting the pace in both blocked shots (1.5 bpg., fifth in the BIG EAST) and field goal percentage (.526). Those figures are a far cry from her rookie season, when she logged 1.9 ppg. and 1.4 rpg. with a .438 field goal percentage in 26 games. The pre-Christmas Duel in the Desert was D’Amico’s best performance to date, as she averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with an .824 field goal percentage (14-of-17) en route to tournament Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week honors.
Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader also has shown tremendous promise in her first season with the Irish. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also averaged 13.5 points per game and shot 80 percent from the field (12-of-15) in wins over Iona and Wisconsin, going 6-of-6 in the latter contest. Those marks earned Schrader a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. She also tacked on her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame’s win over No. 22/21 Utah at the Duel in the Desert, before leading all players with 13 points and seven rebounds against Valparaiso. Schrader is third on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and second in rebounding (5.9 rpg.), as well as third in field goal percentage (.450).
Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish
- Notre Dame’s No. 20 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 28th consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 137 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
- With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). Notre Dame has spent a total of 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
- The Irish have won 57 of their last 61 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004), with the other coming back on Dec. 31 vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
- The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score 61.0 ppg.
- The Irish have posted 39 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 22/21 Utah, 68-55 on Dec. 18 in the championship game of the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) out in Las Vegas. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 11-3 (.786) at home against Top 25 competition.
- Drawing 5,281 fans to Tuesday’s game vs. Marquette, the Irish now have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 72 of their last 74 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
- The capacity crowd of 11,418 for the Dec. 31 home game vs. top-ranked Tennessee was the third sellout in program history and the 19-day advance sellout was the quickest in the 29-year history of Irish women’s basketball. As of Jan. 9, it also was the 17th-largest crowd in the nation. For the season, Notre Dame ranks eighth in the country in average home attendance with 6,746 fans per game.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by ESPN.com. Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
- With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach.
A Quick Look At Louisville
Adjusting well to life in a new conference, BIG EAST rookie Louisville has jumped out to an 11-3 start (2-1 in league play) and has been receiving votes in both major national polls throughout this season. Coming off a 22-9 finish and NCAA Tournament berth in 2004-05, the Cardinals have four starters and nine letterwinners returning with the intention of taking UL to even greater heights this year. The Cardinals are coming off a 99-73 loss at West Virginia on Tuesday night, a contest in which WVU shot a blistering 62.3 percent from the field (71.4 in the first half) and 10-of-19 three-pointers (.526). Freshman forward Angel McCoughtry scored 21 points and junior guard Helen Johnson added 14 points for Louisville, which won the rebounding battle, 37-32. UL has been paced this season by two of its junior forwards – Jazz Covington and Missy Taylor. Covington, a preseason all-BIG EAST selection and candidate for several national honors, is averaging a team-high 11.9 points per game, along with 6.9 rebounds per game and a .527 field goal percentage. Meanwhile, Taylor is carding 11.7 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per night. As a team, Louisville shoots .458 from the field and owns a +5.3 rebound margin. Tom Collen is in his third year as the Cardinals’ head coach with a 53-22 (.707) record. He also spent five seasons (1997-2002) as the skipper at Colorado State and has a career mark of 182-55 (.768). Collen is 1-0 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Louisville Series
As one might expect from the addition of a new conference member, there isn’t a whole lot of history between Notre Dame and Louisville on the hardwood. In fact, the Irish and Cardinals have met only three times previously, with UL holding a 2-1 series lead. Curiously, each side has won on the other’s home court, with the third matchup coming on neutral ground.
Notre Dame first played Louisville on March 22, 1991 at the old National Women’s Invitation Tournament (NWIT) in Amarillo, Texas, with the Cardinals edging the Irish, 80-75. In that game, Notre Dame shot 47 percent from the floor, but was done in by Louisville’s 26-13 edge at the foul line. Current Irish associate head coach Coquese Washington turned in a stellar all-around effort in that contest, posting 18 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
The teams faced off again the next season, with UL once again prevailing, 64-53 on Jan. 15, 1992 at the Joyce Center. Margaret Nowlin had perhaps the best night of her career with 30 points (12-15 FG) and 14 rebounds, but she didn’t get much help, as the Irish shot just 28.4 percent in the contest.
Notre Dame earned its first win over Louisville in their most recent encounter, collecting a 69-54 victory on Feb. 21, 1994 at UL’s Cardinal Arena. Future All-American Beth Morgan scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Irish in that outing.
Other Notre Dame-LouisvilleSeries Tidbits
- Notre Dame’s last series visit to Louisville (Feb. 21, 1994) is the only prior time the Irish have played in the state of Kentucky. That contest took place at UL’s on-campus Cardinal Arena, and thus, Saturday’s game will mark Notre Dame’s first-ever appearance at historic Freedom Hall.
- While it’s been nearly 12 years since the Irish and Cardinals tangled on the hardwood, Notre Dame has played a Tom Collen-coached team more recently. On Nov. 21, 2001, Collen’s Colorado State club defeated the Irish, 72-66, in Fort Collins, Colo.
- Notre Dame senior guard Megan Duffy and Louisville junior forward Jazz Covington both participated in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials this past summer in Colorado Springs. Duffy and Covington also are candidates for several national player-of-the-year honors, including the Naismith Award.
- Duffy and Louisville junior forward Missy Taylor played on the same AAU team (the Dayton Lady HoopStars) in 2001 that won the national championship. Taylor is a native of Connersville, Ind., and spent one season at Purdue (2002-03) before transferring to UL. In that one year at Purdue, she played against Notre Dame once, grabbing two rebounds in two minutes on Jan. 4, 2003.
- Although the Notre Dame women’s team has never played at Freedom Hall, the Irish men regularly battled Kentucky at the facility from 1960-88. The Notre Dame men, under the guidance of renowned coach Digger Phelps, also played at Freedom Hall in the 1976 NCAA Tournament, falling to Michigan, 80-76 in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
- Since joining the BIG EAST Conference for the 1995-96 season, Notre Dame is 13-1 (.929) when it plays an opponent for the first time in league play, including a 6-0 record when that initial BIG EAST matchup comes on the road. The only loss was an 87-64 setback at the hands of third-ranked Connecticut on Jan. 18, 1996 at the Joyce Center.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Louisville Met Beth Morgan scored nine of her game-high 21 points during a 16-0 second-half run as Notre Dame pulled away in the final 20 minutes for a
69-54 victory over Louisville on Feb. 21, 1994 at UL’s Cardinal Arena. In a 4:29 span midway through the second half, Morgan canned three three-pointers and assisted on two other baskets (a Kara Leary three-pointer and a Katryna Gaither layup) to help the Irish erase a one-point deficit and earn their first-ever win over Louisville.
Tootie Jones chipped in with 16 points, while Sherri Orlosky had a game-high 13 rebounds and Letitia Bowen added 10 boards for Notre Dame, which held a sizeable 53-36 edge on the glass. The Irish also limited the Cardinals to a .290 field goal percentage, including an 0-for-16 mark from three-point range.
Latasha Glanton had 13 points and Dayna McGrath came off the bench to contribute 12 points for Louisville. Kristin Mattox, who ended her career as UL’s No. 2 all-time scorer, was held largely in check, finishing with only six points on 1-of-11 shooting, although she did grab a team-high 11 rebounds.
The first half was tightly-contested, with neither side leading by more than one possession for much of the period. Behind five points from Bowen, Notre Dame used a 10-2 run late in the stanza to take a 30-22 before a late UL bucket whittled the margin to six at halftime.
The teams traded scores for the first six minutes of the second half before the Cardinals put together an 8-2 run, culminating with a steal and layup by McGrath that gave the hosts a 40-39 lead with 12:02 to play.
That’s when Morgan went to work, sparking the Irish on their game-changing run. Down the stretch, Louisville would get as close as 57-50 with 3:49 left, but Leary, Jones and Kristin Knapp combined to go 8-of-9 at the free throw line in the final two minutes, preserving the victory.
Beasts Of The BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 138-33 (.807) in regular-season competition against the rest of BIG EAST Conference, owning the best conference winning percentage of any current member of the BIG EAST since joining the circuit for the 1995-96 campaign. The Irish also have won 94 of their last 117 regular-season conference games, have finished among the top three in the BIG EAST nine times in their 10-year membership, and claimed a share of their first-ever regular-season conference championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 152-43 (.779) vs. league opponents – factoring in 23 postseason tilts, the Irish are 77-9 (.895) at home, 61-27 (.693) on the road and 14-7 (.667) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.
Duffy Joins Irish 1,000-Point Club …
Senior co-captain and All-America guard Megan Duffy became the 21st member of Notre Dame’s 1,000-Point Club with her 13-point night at St. John’s on Jan. 4. Duffy eclipsed the milestone on an old-fashioned three-point play with 14:01 left in the game.
Duffy now has 1,045 career points, moving her past Mollie Peirick for 19th on the Irish career scoring chart.
… With LaVere Knocking On The Door
Senior co-captain and forward Courtney LaVere is poised to join Duffy as a 1,000-point scorer at Notre Dame, currently having piled up 999 points since coming to campus in 2002. Only four times in school history have teammates reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same season, with Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon the last to do so in 2000-01. Duffy and LaVere also could have the shortest span between hitting the mark – the current school record is eight games, the term between Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates scoring their 1,000th points in the 1984-85 season.
When The Game Is On The Line …
The Irish have posted a .676 free throw percentage (48-of-71) in the final two minutes and overtime of games this season. Leading the way is senior guard Megan Duffy, who has made 24 of her 26 foul shots (.923) in crunch time.
In seven of their 10 victories this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to either take control or battle their way back into the contest. Five times, the Irish trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, rallied to take the win.
The Irish got off to a 6-0 start for the second time in as many seasons, marking the first time in the 29-year history of the program Notre Dame has put together back-to-back 6-0 starts (the Irish began last year with a 7-0 record). All told, Notre Dame has won the first six games of the season only four times, all in the Muffet McGraw era (and all in the past eight seasons beginning in 1998-99). In the three previous 6-0 starts, the Irish went on to win at least 25 games and reach the NCAA Tournament every time.
In The Light Of Day
Notre Dame has enjoyed playing in the afternoon this season, posting a 6-2 record in games when the tip comes before 6 p.m. local time. Dating back to last year, the Irish are 15-4 in day games.
Game #14 Recap: Marquette
Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy hit a running layup as the buzzer sounded to give No. 20/19 Notre Dame a 67-65 overtime victory over Marquette on Tuesday at the Joyce Center, snapping a three-game Irish losing streak.
Duffy finished with a career-high 32 points, including the tying three-point basket with 26 seconds left in the extra period as the Irish (10-4, 1-2 BIG EAST) beat the Golden Eagles at the buzzer for the second straight season.
Marquette (10-4, 1-2), which has lost 10 straight to Notre Dame, also has dropped three in a row for the first time since losing their last five games of the 2001-02 season.
The Golden Eagles forced the overtime when Krystal Ellis banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to tie the score at 57. Ellis then hit a three to start the overtime and MU led in overtime until Duffy, who scored 17 points in the second half, tied it with her trey. After she hit the game-winning basket, the Irish mobbed Duffy and senior forward and Duffy’s co-captain, Courtney LaVere picked up her teammate.
The Golden Eagles had a chance to go ahead in the closing seconds of overtime, but Christina Quaye missed inside in traffic. Duffy then came up with the loose ball and took off for the game-winning shot.
Danielle Kamm led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, but had just six after halftime. Jasmine McCullough had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Carolyn Kieger had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Quaye had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Noting The Marquette Win
- Notre Dame now leads the all-time series with Marquette, 27-4, including a 16-1 mark at the Joyce Center.
- The Irish have won 10 in a row and 26 of the past 27 meetings with the Golden Eagles.
- The past four games in the series have been decided by an average of 5.0 points per game, with the last two ending on buzzer-beating shots (three-pointer by Jacqueline Batteast in 2004-05; Megan Duffy’s running layup in overtime in 2005-06); actually, going back to Batteast’s shot, the past four periods of play between Notre Dame and Marquette have featured buzzer beaters (Batteast in 2004-05; MU’s Carolyn Kieger hit a 15-foot baseline jumper at the halftime horn on Tuesday; Ellis made her three at the regulation siren, and Duffy settled matters with her coast-to-coast layup in overtime).
- Prior to Batteast’s shot last year, the Irish had gone nearly a decade since the last time they won a game on a buzzer-beating shot (Letitia Bowen’s putback at Detroit on Jan. 14, 1995).
- Tuesday was the first OT win for the Irish since March 21, 2004, when Notre Dame downed Southwest Missouri State, 69-65 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at the Joyce Center; it also was the first regular-season overtime victory for Notre Dame since Feb. 19, 2000, when the Irish won at No. 8/11 Rutgers, 78-74, behind a memorable 7-for-7 three-point shooting night from Alicia Ratay (still a BIG EAST freshman record for field goal percentage and three-point accuracy).
- Notre Dame’s rally from two 11-point first-half deficits was its first double-digit comeback since Feb. 15, 2005, when the Irish climbed out of a pair of 15-point first-half holes at Boston College and wound up winning, 54-47.
- Notre Dame continues to show remarkable resiliency when coming off a double-digit loss – in such a scenario, the Irish are 39-6 (.867) in the past 11 seasons, including a 24-1 (.960) record when that next game is at home.
- Notre Dame committed just 11 turnovers vs. Marquette and has only 20 giveaways in its last two games combined following a season-high 24 turnovers at St. John’s on Jan. 4.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy scored a career-high 32 points, the most by a Notre Dame player since Jacqueline Batteast also had 32 vs. No. 10/9 Ohio State in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Nov. 20, 2004 at the Joyce Center; Duffy’s 32 points also tied her for the 10th-highest single-game scoring performance in school history.
- Duffy connected on a career-high 12 free throws and tied her personal best with 13 attempts (she went 11-of-13 at St. John’s on Feb. 17, 2004).
- Sophomore guard Charel Allen posted her second consecutive double-figure scoring game (and fifth of the year) with 15 points off the bench (her season high is 16 in the season opener vs. Michigan on Nov. 18).
- Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader registered her third double-digit rebounding night of the season with a team-best 10 boards (the fifth time this year she’s led the team in that category).
- Junior forward Crystal Erwin had eight rebounds vs. Marquette and is averaging 7.6 rebounds in her last eight games (8.7 rpg. in BIG EAST play).
Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 509-200 (.718) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (421-159, .726). Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
- She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
- McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
- She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.
Join The Club
The Irish women’s basketball team became the sixth Notre Dame squad this year to be ranked in the top 10 in its respective sport at some point during the season when it earned the No. 10 spot in the Dec. 5 AP poll. The other top-10 Irish teams include (highest rank listed): women’s cross country (3rd), football (5th AP), men’s cross country (5th), women’s soccer (5th) and volleyball (7th).
In addition, all six of Notre Dame’s fall sports teams advanced at least as far as the round of 16 (or its equivalent) in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish cross country teams both finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships (men – 3rd; women – 7th), while the women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals (lost at eventual champion Portland), and the men’s soccer squad made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 before bowing by a 1-0 count at College Cup participant Clemson.
The Irish volleyball team reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1997, falling to Wisconsin in five games down in College Station, Texas.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame football team advanced to its first Bowl Championship Series game since 2000, dropping a 34-20 decision to No. 4 Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
On the strength of their success to date, the Irish were first in the final fall standings for the NACDA/USSA Directors’ Cup (released Jan. 10) with 412 points, outpacing Penn State (308.5) and Stanford (282).
This marks the second consecutive year that Notre Dame has ranked atop the final fall standings, and its 412 points are its highest-ever fall total.
Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 105-10 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 33 of their last 37 such contests. Notre Dame has won seven games this season when it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their win over USC).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense …
During the past 11 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 155-9 (.945) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame had added five more tallies to this ledger with wins over Michigan (55-45), Iona (74-55), Arkansas State (77-54), Utah (68-55) and Valparaiso (58-50).
… 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 decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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 is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).
The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).
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 Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 132 of their last 145 games (.910) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 77-9 (.895) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the 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 Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 57 of their last 61 non-BIG EAST contests (.934) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss 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 Joyce Center, posting a 282-74 (.792) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 6,746 fans in its seven home games this season, and is eighth in the latest unofficial national attendance rankings, released each Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office.
What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 72 of their last 74 home games, including 13 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first three sellouts in the program’s history.
The most recent sellout in Notre Dame women’s basketball history took place on Dec 31, when 11,418 fans packed the Joyce Center for the Irish matchup with No. 1 Tennessee, the 17th-largest crowd in the nation this season (as of Jan. 9). The game sold out 19 days in advance, making its the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of the program.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – are serving as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 (and including games to date this year), Notre Dame has played in 63 televised games, including 38 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.
Notre Dame is 2-1 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated both Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit). Most recently, Notre Dame fell to No. 1 Tennessee (62-51 on Dec. 31) in a game aired nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV).
Five of the remaining six televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule also are slated for national broadcasts. The final two of three Irish appearances on CSTV will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center next Tuesday, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired nine Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past four seasons (2002-03 to present), with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).
The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4:40 p.m. CT (5:40 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.
Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.
Notre Dame On The Airwaves
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his sixth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
Check Out The New Digs
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program recently relocated its first-floor offices at the Joyce Center to the west wing of the facility, adjacent to Gate 1. Renovations are being completed on the suites, which will include plasma televisions in each coach’s individual office (as well as one in the main conference room), a stand-alone video editing facility and tape library (complete with the latest in video editing technology and software), and spacious meeting facilities. The centerpiece of the offices is the main reception area, which features a hardwood floor comprised entirely of the exact court upon which the Irish won the 2001 NCAA Championship at the Saavis Center in St. Louis.
The new women’s basketball offices are part of a series of relocations and renovations of office space within the Joyce Center. The Irish men’s basketball program – which previously filled the space where the women now reside – has moved to the opposite corner of the first-floor west wing offices, taking over the Gate 2 area formerly occupied by the Notre Dame football program (which now operates out of the 95,840-square foot Guglielmino Athletics Complex that opened last summer and is located northeast of the Joyce Center).
Riley Named One Of ESPN.com’s Top 25 Players Of The Past 25 Years
Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley has been selected as one of the top 25 women’s college basketball players of the past 25 years, according to ESPN.com. The list of all-time greats was released Jan. 10 in conjunction with the silver anniversary celebration of the inaugural NCAA women’s basketball season in 1981-82.
A native of Macy, Ind., Riley was tapped as one of the legends of the sport in part because of her contributions in the NCAA Tournament, where she led Notre Dame to three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and the 2001 national championship. In the ’01 NCAA title game vs. Purdue, Riley tallied 28 points (on 9-of-13 shooting), 13 rebounds and seven blocks, not to mention the two game-winning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining which snapped a 66-66 tie. It was an effort that ESPN.com termed as “the third-best all-time championship game performance in NCAA history.” That outing capped a six-game NCAA tourney stretch in which the 6-foot-5 post averaged 23.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting at a .632 clip (48-of-76).
Riley was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-America selection and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America choice, earning Academic All-America Team Member of the Year honors in 2001. In addition, she was a three-time first team all-BIG EAST selection, earning the league’s Player of the Year award in 2001 and the conference Defensive Player of the Year hardware three consecutive years. The only player in school history to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career (2,072 points/1,007 rebounds), Riley also is the Irish all-time leader in seven statistical categories, including blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history).
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note – additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
- Jan. 17 vs. DePaul – Renaissance Festival … special halftime exhibition bout by national champion Notre Dame women’s fencing team … inflatable flags to first 1,000 fans … post-game autographs with selected Irish players.
Next Game: DePaul
The Irish return home Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) matchup with another BIG EAST Conference newcomer, DePaul at the Joyce Center. The game will be broadcast live nationally by CSTV as part of that network’s BIG EAST Game of the Week package.
Notre Dame and DePaul have a long history that dates back to the 1978-79 season and includes a prior shared membership in the old North Star Conference. The Blue Demons leads the all-time series with the Irish 14-9, although the teams have split 10 prior meetings in South Bend.
No. 11/10 DePaul has achieved the highest ranking in school history behind a 15-1 start (2-1 in BIG EAST games) and a high-powered offense that leads the BIG EAST and ranks fifth in the nation (82.6 ppg.). The Blue Demons currently are riding an eight-game winning streak, most recently taking a 67-52 victory at Marquette on Jan. 7. DePaul will play host to Villanova Saturday afternoon in Chicago before turning its attention to Notre Dame.