Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Head To West Virginia To Take On Mountaineers

Jan. 7, 2003

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(#16 AP/#13 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3, 0-0) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-0, 0-0)

The Date and Time: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003, at 7 p.m. EST.

The Site: WVU Coliseum (14,000) in Morgantown, W.Va.

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. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at

Websites: Notre Dame (, West Virginia (


The second portion of the 2002-03 season gets underway for No. 16 Notre Dame Wednesday night, as the Irish open BIG EAST Conference play with a 7 p.m. (EST) game against undefeated West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum. Notre Dame owns the best regular-season winning percentage in BIG EAST history (.850, 102-18), but it will face a stern test from the Mountaineers, who are one of only four teams in the nation that are still unbeaten.

The Irish are looking to bounce back from a 71-54 loss at home to No. 7 Purdue on Saturday. Notre Dame led by five (22-17) with six minutes remaining in the first half, but the Boilermakers went on an 18-1 run that crossed over into the second half and they never trailed again. The loss snapped a 33-game Irish winning streak at home against non-conference opponents, and it was only the fifth time in 77 career games that Notre Dame had lost at the Joyce Center when it came out as a ranked team.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere continued her strong play of late, tallying her third consecutive double-double with game highs of 23 points (on 8-of-11 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast added 14 points, and junior guard Le’Tania Severe chipped in with 10 points and season bests of seven rebounds and six assists for the Irish. As a team, Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the floor (20-40), reaching that mark for the seventh time this season.

West Virginia (10-0) has not played in 10 days, following a 55-43 win at Missouri-Kansas City on Dec. 29. Junior guard Kate Bulger scored a game-high 26 points, hitting 10-of-14 shots, and junior forward Michelle Carter contributed eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds to lift the Mountaineers to the win.

Bulger leads a quartet of WVU players scoring in double figures this season, ranking sixth in the BIG EAST at 17.7 ppg. She also is first in the conference in three point percentage (.558). Carter is the Mountaineers’ top rebounder (7.8 rpg.), while sophomore guard Yolanda Paige averages a league-best nine assists per game.

Head coach Mike Carey is in his second season at West Virginia with a 24-14 (.632) record. He is 0-1 all-time against Notre Dame.


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 350-130 (.729) record (438-171, .719 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 earned her 350th victory at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve at Marquette, joining Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to win 350 games at Notre Dame.

Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (10.4 ppg., 3.1 rpg., .429 3FG%, .900 FT%) 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, 1,489 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .477) and free throw percentage (1st, .871). 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) vs. IPFW. Ratay also showed leadership and poise in crunch time against Colorado State, coolly knocking down two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to give the Irish a narrow victory.

In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 15.8 ppg., team-high 7.7 rpg., 2.4 apg., 1.2 bpg., three double-doubles) 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 10 games this season, including two 20-point efforts. 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 (10-15 FG) at Arizona State and added her second double-double (18 points, game-high 10 rebounds) vs. Colorado State. She tacked on her third double-double at Marquette, posting a game-high 23 points (career-best 11-17 FG) and 11 rebounds.

Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (10.4 ppg., 3.6 rpg., team-high 3.7 apg., 2.0 spg., .515 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 seven 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 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe turned her the best offensive performance of her career at Marquette, scoring a career-high 20 points (5-5 FG, 10-11 FT) and dishing out six assists. She then added 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists vs. Purdue. Severe is averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds in her last three games. She is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.4 ppg., 2.4 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 six points at Marquette, hitting the first two three-pointers of her career. Duffy left the Purdue game with an injured right knee and is questionable for the West Virginia contest.

At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (3.1 ppg., 2.6 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 scored a season-high 12 points against Temple, her third career double-digit game and best-ever outing at home.

Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (1.5 ppg., 0.3 spg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.7 ppg., 0.4 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 seven games, grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW and canning her first career three-pointer vs. Tennessee. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.

Sophomore center Teresa Borton (7.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg., team-high .574 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (9.5 ppg., 4.7 rpg., .485 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, and later added 14 points and a career-best four blocked shots against Tennessee. 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. Her five double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year. She missed the Marquette game with a lower back injury, but returned to action in a reserve role vs. Purdue, scoring four points.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (12.4 ppg., 6.5 rpg., .521 FG%) 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 playing extremely well of late, averaging 15 ppg. and 7.6 rpg. in her last seven games, including 20 points vs. IPFW and the first three double-doubles of her career vs. Tennessee (game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds), Marquette (16 points, game-high 12 rebounds) and Purdue (game highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds). She also made the first two starts of her career vs. Marquette and Purdue.


Notre Dame and West Virginia had never met prior to the 1995-96 season, when both schools joined the BIG EAST Conference. Since then, the Irish have won all nine meetings with the Mountaineers, including four previous engagements at the WVU Coliseum.

Notre Dame won the only matchup between the two teams last season, registering a 72-63 victory on Feb. 19, 2002, at the Joyce Center. Despite missing the services of BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Jacqueline Batteast (knee injury), the 22nd-ranked Irish got solid play out of two holdovers from the 2001 national championship team. Guard Alicia Ratay pumped in a season-high 31 points (including 11-13 free throws) and forward Ericka Haney added 15 points for Notre Dame, which led by eight (34-26) at the half. The Mountaineers closed the gap to three points twice in the second half, the last coming at 59-56 with 4:42 to play. However, Ratay drilled a three-pointer on the next possession, added an old-fashioned three-point play moments later, and the Irish made 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch to hold off a pesky WVU club. Kate Bulger led four Mountaineers in double figures with 17 points.

The last time they faced off in Morgantown, Notre Dame downed West Virginia, 87-64, on Jan. 24, 2001. Ruth Riley scored a game-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and Ratay added 24 points and eight rebounds for the Irish. The pair also combined for 12 points in an 18-3 run midway through the first half which helped Notre Dame jump out to the double-digit lead it would maintain the rest of the night. Darya Kudryavtseva registered 21 points, eight rebounds and five steals in 40 minutes for the Mountaineers.


The rebirth of the West Virginia women’s basketball program has been taken to a new level this season, as the Mountaineers have jumped out to a school-record 10-0 start. WVU is one of only four teams in the country without a loss two months into the season, and the Mountaineers have been rewarded by receiving votes in both major polls this week. All of this success comes less than two years after West Virginia finished with a 5-22 record and missed out on the BIG EAST Conference Tournament all together.

The Mountaineers should be a well-rested crew by the time they take the floor Wednesday night against Notre Dame. WVU has not played since Dec. 29, when it closed out the non-conference season with a 55-43 victory at Missouri-Kansas City. Junior guard Kate Bulger scored a game-high 26 points, hitting 10-of-14 shots (including four three-point field goals) to pace the Mountaineers to their fifth road win this year. Junior forward Michelle Carter added eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds for West Virginia, which limited UMKC to only 29.2 percent shooting in the game, including a woeful 3-of-17 (.176) from the three-point line.

The Mountaineers have displayed a balanced offensive attack this season with four players scoring in double figures. Bulger leads the way at 17.7 points per game, good for fifth in the BIG EAST. She also is a superb perimeter shooter, leading the conference with a .558 three-point percentage (29-52) and ranking sixth in the league with a .532 overall field goal percentage.

Junior guard Sherell Sowho is second on the WVU roster in scoring at 14.9 ppg., and she is shoting 54.3 percent from the floor. Carter is third at 11.9 ppg., along with a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game, and sophomore forward Liz Holbrook, a transfer from Clemson, ranks fourth at 10.3 ppg. and has a team-high .600 field goal percentage. In addition, the Mountaineers have been piloted by one of the top point guards in the conference in sophomore Yolanda Paige, who is dishing out nine assists per game, tops in the BIG EAST and among the top five in the nation.

The architect of the resurrection in Morgantown is second-year head coach Mike Carey, who owns a 24-14 (.632) record at WVU. Prior to taking over as the Mountaineers’ skipper, Carey spent 13 seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Salem International University in Salem, W.Va., amassing a 288-102 (.738) record with the Division II Tigers. He has faced Notre Dame just once in his coaching career, losing a 72-63 decision last season at the Joyce Center.


  • West Virginia is one of five BIG EAST Conference opponents against whom Notre Dame has never lost, going 9-0 all-time against the Mountaineers. The others are Pittsburgh (11-0), Providence (10-0), St. John’s (11-0) and Virginia Tech (4-0).
  • Notre Dame have scored at least 70 points against West Virginia in all nine games in the series. Conversely, the Mountaineers have topped the 70-point mark just twice against Notre Dame.
  • The Irish have scored 100 points in a game twice against WVU, making the Mountaineers the only BIG EAST opponent to see Notre Dame crack triple digits more than once.
  • Only two games in the series have been decided by less than 10 points (ND 86-78 on Jan. 14, 1998, and ND 72-63 on Feb. 19, 2002) with the Irish winning all nine series games by an average margin of 21 points. In a curious twist, the margins have been slightly larger for Notre Dame in Morgantown, where the Irish have won by more than 22 points per game (all four by double figures).
  • From 1999-2001, West Virginia director of basketball operations Aukse Harris was an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth, where she served under former Notre Dame assistant coach and seventh-year VCU head coach David Glass.


  • Notre Dame will win its BIG EAST Conference opener for the fourth consecutive season and the sixth time in its eight-year affiliation with the league.
  • The Irish will improve to 10-0 all-time against West Virginia, making the Mountaineers one of five BIG EAST teams Notre Dame has never lost to.
  • Notre Dame will own a double-digit series winning streak against WVU, making the Mountaineers one of six opponents on this year’s schedule against whom the Irish currently have won at least 10 consecutive games (others are Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall).
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 351-130 (.730) in 16 seasons, and her overall ledger will jump to 439-171 (.720) in 21 years.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 515-229 (.692) in 26 seasons of varsity competition.


Junior G Jeneka Joyce leg injuries, out indefinitely
Freshman G Megan Duffy right knee injury vs. Purdue, questionable
Sophomore F Katy Flecky lower back injury vs. Tennessee, questionable (played vs. Purdue)


Notre Dame is 5-2 (.714) in BIG EAST Conference openers since it joined the league for the 1995-96 season. The Irish have won their last three BIG EAST lidlifters, most recently carding a 69-65 victory at Miami on Jan. 2, 2002 in Coral Gables, Fla. This will be only the third time Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST play on the road in addition to last season’s win at Miami, the Irish lost at Rutgers, 80-67, on Dec. 3, 1997.


Notre Dame is 102-18 (.850) 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 58 of their last 66 regular-season conference games, and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 114-25 (.820) against league opponents – when factoring in these 19 postseason tilts, the Irish are 56-4 (.933) at home, 46-17 (.730) on the road and 12-7 (.632) at neutral sites all-time against BIG EAST foes.


With a 75-68 Irish win at Marquette on New Year’s Eve, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw joined Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to collect 350 victories at the school. McGraw is 350-130 (.729) in 16 seasons at Notre Dame, while Phelps posted a 393-197 (.666) mark in 20 years at the helm of the Irish men’s basketball program.

In addition, McGraw has the third-highest winning percentage of any basketball coach at Notre Dame (men’s or women’s) with at least five years of service, and her ratio is the best by any coach in the last 60 years. Only men’s coaches Bertram G. Maris (.794 from 1907-12) and George Keogan (.771 from 1923-43) have had more success at Notre Dame over an extended period than McGraw.


The Irish pulled out a narrow 46-45 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 23, but a close game shouldn’t come as any surprise to Notre Dame fans. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have played 12 games that were decided by five points or less, splitting those dozen contests. However, the Colorado State nail-biter was the first one-point win for Notre Dame since a 63-62 squeaker over Villanova on Dec. 12, 1998 at the Joyce Center.

During the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw, the Irish have posted a 32-38 (.457) record in games decided by five points or less, including a 14-12 (.538) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.


With its win over Marquette on Dec. 31, Notre Dame improved to 8-2 this season, matching the third-best 10-game start in school history. The Irish went 10-0 to open the 2000-01 campaign, and started off 9-1 in 1998-99. This year’s 8-2 debut also marked the fourth time in the last five seasons the Irish have won eight of their first 10 games.


Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast scored the 500th point of her career on Dec. 31 at Marquette. She now has 532 points in only 37 career games, making her the fourth-fastest player to reach the 500-point mark in school history. A total of 13 players have scored their 500th point in less than two seasons at Notre Dame, although only five have done so in less than 40 career games (including Batteast and senior guard Alicia Ratay, who did it in 35 games).

ROAD WARRIORS 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, Arizona State and Marquette – Notre Dame didn’t pick up its fourth road win last season until the 11th contest away from home on Feb. 5, 2002 at Pittsburgh.

The Irish have won 10 of their last 14 regular-season games outside the Joyce Center, including eight of their last 10. Of those last 10 games in hostile territory, the only blemishes on that record came earlier this season with losses at DePaul and at a neutral site vs. Tennessee.


Notre Dame has raced out to a 8-3 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least three players score in double figures in 10 of 11 games (and seven of eight wins). In addition, the Irish have had four players reach double digits in five games this season (Cleveland State, USC, Valparaiso, Arizona State, Temple) and had five double-figure scorers on three occasions (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 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 15.8 ppg., followed by freshman forward Courtney LaVere, who has come on of late and moved up 12.4 ppg. Last year’s leading scorer, senior guard Alicia Ratay and junior guard Le’Tania Severe are tied for third at 10.4 ppg. Sophomore forward Katy Flecky is lurking not far out of double figures at 9.5 ppg.(more than double last year’s scoring average of 4.9 ppg.).


Despite having to adjust to the faster college game, not to mention the unfamiliar winter weather of South Bend, freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made a significant impact in her first two months at Notre Dame. The Ventura, Calif., native ranks second on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg.), rebounding (6.5 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.521), ranking 14th in the BIG EAST Conference in rebounding. She also has three double-doubles to her credit, all in the last three Irish games, with two of her double-dips coming against top-10 opponents (No. 5 Tennessee and No. 7 Purdue).

LaVere began the season in fine fashion, coming off the bench to score 18 points in Notre Dame’s 107-65 rout of Cleveland State. That was the highest-scoring debut for an Irish freshman since current senior guard Alicia Ratay tallied 18 points at Toledo in 1999. As it turned out, that would be just the beginning for LaVere, who has scored in double figures seven times and earned game-high scoring honors three times this season.

The last seven games have seen LaVere at her best. She is averaging 15 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game over that time, along with a solid .513 field goal percentage. Among her top performances over the last three weeks have been a 20-point day vs. IPFW (Dec. 21), a 17-point/11-rebound effort against Tennessee (Dec. 28), a 16-point/12-rebound afternoon at Marquette (Dec. 31), and a 23-point/10-rebound outing vs. Purdue (Jan. 4).


Junior guard Le’Tania Severe has evolved into a major contributor at both ends of the floor for Notre Dame this season. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., product leads the Irish and ranks 13th in the BIG EAST Conference in assists (3.73 apg.) and she stands 12th in the league in steals (2.0 spg.). However, she also has displayed a nose for the basket, tying for third on the team with 10.4 points per game, more than double her career scoring average of 4.6 ppg. entering this season. In addition, Severe has scored in double figures seven times this year, after reaching double digits seven times in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

Severe has been especially sharp in her last three games, averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds per contest, along with a superb .579 field goal percentage. She scored a career-high 20 points (5-5 FG, 10-11 FT) and dealt out a season-high six assists at Marquette on New Year’s Eve. She then added a season-best seven rebounds and another six-assist effort four days later against Purdue.


Senior guard Alicia Ratay added another chapter to her ever-growing legend at Notre Dame on Dec. 23 when she buried two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to defeat Colorado State, 46-45. It wasn’t the first time the Lake Zurich, Ill., product had stepped up in the clutch. Playing as a freshman at No. 8 Rutgers in 2000, Ratay set a BIG EAST Conference record by going 7-for-7 from three-point range, including two treys in the final 16 seconds of the contest with the Irish trailing by six. She went on to finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame pulled out a 78-74 overtime win.

Last season, Ratay nearly topped herself in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals vs. Syracuse. With the Irish trailing by 16 points and only 3:52 left, Ratay scored 17 of the next 19 Notre Dame points, including nine in a span of 18 seconds, to single-handedly spark a 19-5 run that pulled her team within 81-79 with 18 seconds remaining. However, Syracuse finally forced a Ratay miss and hit three free throws to save the victory.


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 108 of 109 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). With her start vs. Tennessee, Ratay moved past Mary Gavin (1984-88) into sixth place on Notre Dame’s career games started list. Ratay is now 16 starts away from the school record of 124, currently held by Ruth Riley. At her current pace, Ratay would break Riley’s mark 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 1,489 points, 543 rebounds and 209 assists.

Ratay also is 25 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 1,489 points, but she needs only 100 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 109 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 16 starts and 23 games played this season.

Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.871) and three-point field goal (.477) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, if her career ended today, Ratay’s three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history, and her free throw ratio would be sixth in NCAA annals. 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 was ranked 16th in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the ninth 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 71-5 (.934) all-time at the Joyce Center when they appear in the AP poll at tipoff, including 45 wins in their last 48 games and a 4-1 mark this season.

The Irish were ranked 13th in the Dec. 31 ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their eighth 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 top ranking 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 three other teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 3/2 Connecticut, No. 5/5 Tennessee and No. 7/6 Purdue). In addition, Villanova is 22nd in the most recent AP poll, while DePaul was ranked 24th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Seven other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls – Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado State, Miami, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.


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 third place in the latest NACDA Directors’ Cup standings (see note on page 11).


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 1,489 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.477) and free throw percentage (.871), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 25 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 108 of a possible 109 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 three seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 54-1 (.982) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. In that span, the only time Notre Dame didn’t win with a halftime lead was Jan. 12, 2002 at Villanova, when the Irish took a 31-25 advantage at the intermission, only to see the Wildcats claim a last-second 60-59 victory.


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 106-2 (.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 four wins to that count this season with victories over USC, Arizona State, IPFW and Colorado State.


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 this year 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). Not one to bow to superstition, Duffy chose the No. 13 because she was born on Friday the 13th.

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 1,489 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .477 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 87.1 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 80 of their last 84 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.

Notre Dame also owned a 33-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center (dating back more than six years) before it was snapped on Jan. 4 with a loss to No. 7 Purdue. This streak included 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 ’98-99. Prior to the Purdue loss, Notre Dame’s last non-conference defeat at home came way 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 243-67 (.784) 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 93-6 (.939) 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 7,043 fans for five home games this season, placing them sixth in the country (through games of Jan. 5). Notre Dame drew the fifth-largest crowd in school history on Jan. 4 for its nationally-televised game with Purdue, attracting 9,483 fans to the Joyce Center.

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.

Besides the regular-season conference television deal, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 also will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

The Irish are 1-2 on television this season, defeating Arizona State and falling to DePaul and Purdue.


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 350-130 (.729) record (438-171, .719 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.


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.


The Irish will return to the Joyce Center to play three of their next four BIG EAST Conference games in front of the home crowd. That stretch begins Saturday with a noon (EST) game against Miami, a contest that will be broadcast regionally as part of the BIG EAST television package.

Miami is 9-3 this season (1-0 in conference play) as it prepares to visit Syracuse Wednesday night. The Hurricanes opened their BIG EAST season on a high note, coming from behind to defeat Georgetown, 60-57, last weekend in Washington, D.C. Freshman guard Tamara James notched her fourth double-double of the year with 24 points and 10 rebounds to pace UM to the victory. James, a four-time conference Rookie of the Week, has been the Hurricanes’ top threat this season, leading the BIG EAST in scoring (24.2 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.600), and ranking third in rebounds (9.5 rpg.).

Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Miami, 12-2, including a 5-1 mark at the Joyce Center. The Irish currently own a series-best six-game winning streak over the Hurricanes, a run that was extended with a narrow 69-65 victory last season in Coral Gables. Alicia Ratay tied her career high by burying seven three-point field goals and Notre Dame set a school record with 13 treys (on 25 attempts, a .542 clip) in the win.