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Irish Host No. 21 Miami In Critical Big East Matchup

Feb. 24, 2004

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-8, 10-3) vs.
(#21 AP/#19 ESPN/USA Today) Miami Hurricanes (20-4, 9-4)

The Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004, at 8 p.m. ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356).
The TV Plans: College Sports Television (CSTV) live broadcast with Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Debbie Antonelli (analysis), Chris Lincoln (producer) and Rick Beczynski (director). CSTV is available nationwide to DirecTV subscribers on Channel 610. In addition, live streaming video from the Miami game is available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at
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 (play-by-play). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Miami game through the Notre Dame ( and Miami ( athletics web sites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Miami (

An important piece of the BIG EAST Championship picture could be decided Wednesday when Notre Dame plays host to No. 21/19 Miami at 8 p.m. (ET) in a nationally-televised contest at the Joyce Center. The Irish currently are in second place in the conference standings, holding a one-game lead over three teams, including UM, with three games remaining in the regular season.

  • Notre Dame (17-8, 10-3 BIG EAST) picked up its eighth win in nine outings Saturday with a 72-68 victory at Pittsburgh. The Irish led most of the way, but the Panthers nudged ahead with two minutes to go before Notre Dame hit five free throws in the final 91 seconds to pull out the win.
  • Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast posted team highs of 17 points and eight rebounds at Pittsburgh, while senior guard Jeneka Joyce continued her recent surge with a career-high 16 points, hitting five of eight from three-point range. Joyce has now tied or set new career highs for points and three-pointers made in each of her last three games.
  • Miami (20-4, 9-4) earned its fourth straight win Saturday with an 81-43 win over Seton Hall. Sophomore guard/forward Tamara James led four UM players in double figures with 22 points. She is fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring at 16.9 ppg.
  • Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Miami, 13-3, including a 5-2 record at the Joyce Center.

Throughout the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame has found itself in acquisition mode, picking up the knowledge and experience it will need to be highly competitive in the postseason. The Irish have played a rugged schedule that has been ranked in the Top 20 in the nation all year long, and they have faced nine Top 25 teams, setting a school record with six regular-season wins against those ranked foes. In addition, Notre Dame endured some early rough patches on the road, but lately, it has begun to learn how to win in hostile environments and seems poised for big things when March Madness rolls around.

  • Junior forward and Naismith Award finalist Jacqueline Batteast (14.5 ppg., 8.2 rpg., .448 field goal percentage, eight double-doubles) has lived up to her accolades this season, ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots (1.28 bpg.). She was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against 22nd-ranked Auburn. She then piled up back-to-back double-doubles vs. No. 20 Colorado (13p, 10r) and Valparaiso (15p, 10r) before logging team bests of 16 points and seven caroms at No. 3 Tennessee, 19 points at Washington and a game-high 13 points with six assists vs. Dayton. She then chalked up her third double-double vs. USC (20p, 13r) to earn the first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor of her career. Last weekend at Pittsburgh, Batteast tossed in a team-high 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and hit the go-ahead free throw with 41.3 seconds remaining. Since BIG EAST play began, she has been superb, averaging 14.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with a .467 field goal percentage and five double-doubles (along with four other near double-doubles). She now has 65 double-figure scoring games and 27 double-doubles in her three-year Irish career. Batteast also became the 20th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points when she tallied 14 points vs. Virginia Tech on Jan. 10, making her the fourth-fastest ever to reach that milestone (72 games).
  • Junior center Teresa Borton (6.6 ppg., 4.6 rpg., .523 FG%) and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (9.0 ppg., 4.4 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Borton has recovered well from off-season heel surgery and was at her best vs. Colorado State and Marquette, ringing up 14 points on both occasions. Borton then added 11 points and eight rebounds at Georgetown, followed by 14 points and six boards against Virginia Tech, before scoring 10 points (4-4 FG) vs. Georgetown and adding 11 points (4-4 FG) against Providence. She also piled up a season-best 11 rebounds at St. John’s, tying her career high in that category. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last year, has had an up-and-down second season. She tied Batteast for team-high scoring honors with 12 points at Michigan State before rising up and carding season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds vs. Wisconsin. She once again cracked double figures on Jan. 1 vs. Marquette, tossing in 16 points on six of 11 shooting. LaVere has looked solid in her last 11 outings, averaging 10.2 ppg. and breaking into double digits seven times, including a 13-point effort (6-7 FG) last Saturday at Pittsburgh.
  • Sophomore Megan Duffy (11.0 ppg., team-high 4.4 apg., .411 3FG%, .819 FT%) is in her first season as the everyday point guard for the Irish and she is proving to be a key cog in the Notre Dame offensive arsenal. After averaging only three points and 2.3 assists per game last year, the Dayton, Ohio, native has more than tripled her scoring output, ranking eighth in the BIG EAST in assists and owning a team-best 1.49 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 39 three-pointers this season. She also has 14 double-figure scoring games to her credit this year, including a career-high 25 points vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4, and 22 points at Georgetown on Jan. 7. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she also has registered five or more assists in 13 games, including a career-high nine assists on Dec. 7 at Washington. Most recently, she was stellar at St. John’s, collecting a game-high 17 points while knocking down a personal-best 11 of 13 foul shots, including eight of 10 in the final three minutes.
  • Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (7.5 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 3.1 apg., .479 FG%, .807 FT%) has slid over to the shooting guard position in place of the NCAA’s all-time three-point queen, Alicia Ratay, and Severe has filled the role admirably. While not putting up the three-point numbers Ratay had in her remarkable career, Severe is getting her points as a slasher, driving to the basket and creating havoc for opposing defenses. She also leads the team with 1.44 steals per game and has been a vital piece of Notre Dame’s transition game. She has scored in double digits eight times this year, including a season-high 15 points against Purdue and Boston College, as well as 12 points against Connecticut. Severe also picked up her first career double-double at St. John’s (10 points and 10 rebounds), and she came up with a critical steal and two game-clinching free throws in closing seconds Saturday at Pittsburgh.

In its final season in the BIG EAST Conference, Miami is set on going out with a bang. Coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998, the Hurricanes have raised the bar higher this season, winning 16 of their first 17 games to vault into the national rankings. A loss to Notre Dame in late January triggered a three-game losing streak, but Miami appears to have recovered nicely with four consecutive wins, including an impressive 81-43 thrashing of Seton Hall last Saturday. In that game, the ‘Canes scored the first 12 points of the contest and opened the second half with a 22-1 charge to quickly sink the Pirates’ ship.

Sophomore guard/forward Tamara James led a quartet of Miami players in double figures against Seton Hall, scoring 22 points on eight of nine shooting. Subsequently, James was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the second time this season on Monday. She is the Hurricanes’ top scorer, ranking fourth in the conference at 16.9 ppg., and she is UM’s best three-point shooter (.391). Her backcourt mate, junior Yalonda McCormick has been a threat at both ends, leading the BIG EAST with 3.21 steals per game and ranking second in the loop with 5.42 assists per night. She also is 20th in scoring (12.0 ppg.), having made a team-best 40 three-pointers this year.

On the inside, the Hurricanes are paced by a pair of veterans in seniors Chanivia Broussard and Shaquana Wilkins. Broussard is third in the league in field goal percentage (.488), 10th in scoring (14.6 ppg.) and 14th in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), while Wilkins is fourth in double-doubles (seven) and fifth in rebounding (8.0 rpg.) with a team-best .517 field goal percentage (she doesn’t have enough attempts to appear in the BIG EAST rankings in that category).

Ferne Labati is in her 16th season as the head coach at Miami, sporting a 288-176 (.621) record in Coral Gables. She also spent five years as the skipper at Trenton State (1979-84) and four more at Fairleigh Dickinson (1984-88) and has a career record of 424-298 (.587) in 25 seasons on the sidelines. Labati is 2-11 all-time against Notre Dame.

Wednesday’s game will mark the 17th time Notre Dame and Miami have met on the hardwood, with the Irish owning a 13-3 advantage in the series (11-2 in BIG EAST play). Notre Dame also has won five of the seven previous times the two clubs have played at the Joyce Center, although UM won on its last visit to South Bend (80-70 on Jan. 11, 2003).

The Irish have outscored the Hurricanes by an average of more than 12 points per game in the series, with a 16.2 ppg. margin when the scene shifts to the Joyce Center. However, the last three games in the rivalry all have been decided by 10 points or less, including the most recent matchup, a 59-50 Notre Dame win back on Jan. 28 in Coral Gables (see recap in next note). The Irish won that game despite matching their lowest point total ever against Miami.

Among current Irish players, sophomore forward Courtney LaVere has had the most success against Miami, averaging 13.5 points in two games with a .600 field goal percentage (12 of 20) vs. the Hurricanes, including a team-high 15 points in the win last month. Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast also has played well against Miami, averaging a double-double with 11.0 points and 11.3 rebounds with two double-doubles and a near double-double in three career matchups with the Hurricanes. A complete rundown of the statistics active Notre Dame players have compiled against Miami can be found on page 20 of this notes package.

Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere scored 15 points, and Notre Dame rode a strong run at the start of the second half to a 59-50 victory over No. 17/16 Miami on Jan. 28, 2004, at the Convocation Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

After falling behind early, Notre Dame went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 20 on a layup by freshman guard Breona Gray with 7:31 left in the first half. Miami responded with back-to-back three-pointers from Yalonda McCormick and Melissa Knight and led 28-26 lead at halftime.

The Irish went on an 11-2 run after the break to take a 37-30 lead, and Miami managed just three baskets while turning the ball over seven times in the first 12:47. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy hit two free throws to push the lead to 45-37 with 6:23 left, but the Hurricanes rallied and pulled within three points on a Shaquana Wilkins layup with 3:28 remaining. However, junior forward Katy Flecky quashed the UM comeback by burying a short jumper with 2:07 to go, giving the Irish a 51-46 lead. Notre Dame then went nine for 10 from the line in the final 1:18 to seal the victory, with Duffy canning five of six charities over that stretch.

Tamara James had a game-high 16 points for Miami, which lost for the first time since Jan. 7 and only the second time all year. The Hurricanes also came into the game ranked 19th in the country in scoring (75.3 ppg.), but were held to their lowest offensive output of the season.

Tamara James scored 27 points and Chanivia Broussard had 16 points and eight rebounds as Miami beat No. 16 Notre Dame, 80-70 on Jan. 11, 2003, at the Joyce Center. The Hurricanes outrebounded the bigger Irish, 47-39, including 24 offensive rebounds and forced 28 turnovers (14 coming on steals). As a result, UM beat Notre Dame for just the third time ever and the first time in South Bend since 1987.

The score was tied at 44 at halftime, but Meghan Saake hit a three-pointer to start the second half and the Hurricanes never trailed again. The Irish were down just 57-56 after Jacqueline Batteast scored on a layup with 8:43 left, but Notre Dame didn’t score another basket from the floor until Alicia Ratay hit a three-pointer with 39 seconds left to cut the lead to 75-66.

Melissa Knight started the decisive 15-5 run by the Hurricanes by hitting a three-pointer. James hit a pair of three-pointers as Miami continued to pull away. Shaquana Wilkins added 10 points for Miami and Yalonda McCormick had nine assists, seven in the first 13 minutes. She also had four steals.

Teresa Borton led the Irish with 13 points on six of seven shooting, while Batteast had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Le’Tania Severe scored 12 points, but she also turned the ball over 11 times.


  • Of the 16 games in the series, six have been decided by single-digit margins, including two of the last three. Notre Dame has come out on top in four of those six close affairs.
  • Miami has scored more than 70 points against Notre Dame four times in their 16-game series. Conversely, the Irish have topped the 70-point mark 10 times in their history with the Hurricanes.
  • Notre Dame has one Florida native on this year’s roster. Senior guard Le’Tania Severe, a resident of Pembroke Pines (outside of Fort Lauderdale), earned third-team all-state honors in 2000 as a senior at Fort Lauderdale High School.
  • The two head coaches in Wednesday’s game rank among the all-time BIG EAST Conference leaders in career regular-season victories. Miami head coach Ferne Labati stands fourth with 127 all-time league wins, trailing Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (267), Villanova’s Harry Perretta (206) and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina (135). Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is tied for sixth on the BIG EAST all-time wins list with 122 conference victories, matching the total of Georgetown’s Patrick Knapp.
  • In addition to their win totals, the two head coaches are among the longest-tenured active skippers in the BIG EAST. Miami’s Ferne Labati is third among league mentors, having coached at the collegiate level in 722 games over 25 seasons, trailing only Rutgers’ C.Vivian Stringer (926 games in 32 years) and Villanova’s Harry Perretta (751 games in 26 years). Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw has coached 655 games in 22 collegiate campaigns overall, guiding the Irish in 526 games over the last 17 seasons. Her career total is good for fourth in the BIG EAST, behind Stringer, Perretta and Labati.
  • Both head coaches are products of the vaunted ?Cradle of Coaches? in metropolitan Philadelphia. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, a native of Pottsville, Pa., graduated from Saint Joseph’s, served as an assistant at SJU under current Ohio State skipper Jim Foster, and later became head coach at Lehigh before moving on to lead the Irish. Meanwhile, Miami head coach Ferne Labati hails from Camden, N.J., and graduated from East Stroudsburg University. She began her coaching career as an assistant at legendary Immaculata College before taking over as the head coach at Trenton State and Fairleigh Dickinson prior to her current post with the Hurricanes. Some of the other coaching legends to come out of the Philadelphia/South Jersey area include Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (also a former Foster assistant at SJU), Illinois’ Theresa Grentz (McGraw’s coach during her playing days at SJU), Villanova’s Harry Perretta, Penn State’s Rene Portland and former Old Dominion mentor Marianne Stanley.

UND.COM AND CSTV TO OFFER LIVE VIDEO FOR VARIOUS IRISH CONTESTS, the official web site for Notre Dame athletics, and CSTV: College Sports Television, the fastest growing independent cable network, will present Fighting Irish fans with live streaming video action featuring Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team and men’s ice hockey squad, both games of which will be televised live on CSTV.

On Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT), will stream live the CSTV telecast featuring the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team (17-8) against nationally-ranked BIG EAST rival Miami in a contest with significant BIG EAST Championship implications. On Friday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT), will stream live the CSTV men’s ice hockey telecast of Notre Dame (15-11-4) against No. 4 Michigan in a battle that will affect CCHA Tournament seedings.

The broadcasts will be available live to subscribers to’s College Sports Pass, which features year-round premium content for a monthly fee of $6.95. Quarterly and annual subscriptions are also available. Fans can go to to subscribe. is produced through a partnership between Notre Dame Athletics and the Official College Sports Network (OCSN), which is the most popular college sports destination on the Internet. OCSN provides online brand management, content delivery and Internet business solutions to 148 university athletic departments, conferences and associations, through the publishing of Official Athletic Sites.

Notre Dame is 122-27 (.819) 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 78 of their last 95 regular-season conference games (.821), 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 134-35 (.793) against league opponents < when=”” factoring=”” in=”” these=”” 20=”” postseason=”” tilts,=”” the=”” irish=”” are=”” 67-7=”” (.905)=”” at=”” home,=”” 55-23=”” (.705)=”” on=”” the=”” road=”” and=”” 12-5=”” (.706)=”” at=”” neutral=”” sites=”” all-time=”” vs.=”” big=”” east=”” foes.=””>

The Irish have played eight times on Feb. 25 in their history, going 7-1 on this date, with a 4-0 record in the Muffet McGraw era and a 2-1 mark at home. Notre Dame also has won its last six games on Feb. 25, including an 80-67 victory in its most recent outing in 1997. The only time the Irish lost on this date came in 1982, when Nebraska defeated Notre Dame, 98-88 in double overtime at the Joyce Center. It is one of only three multiple-OT games the Irish have ever played, with two of those occurring in South Bend (the other was a 76-70 win over Dayton on Jan. 9, 1992).


  • Notre Dame will sweep its season series with Miami and rise to 14-3 all-time against the Hurricanes (6-2 at the Joyce Center). In addition, the Irish will pick up their 17th win in 20 career games against teams from the state of Florida (7-2 at home).
  • The Irish will extend their current home winning streak to 17 games, collect their 110th win in their last 119 home games (.924) and move to 68-7 (.907) all-time at home against BIG EAST opposition.
  • Notre Dame will card its 15th win in the last 19 games since opening the year at 3-4.
  • The Irish will improve to 123-27 (.820) all-time in regular-season games against the BIG EAST Conference, maintaining the best winning percentage in conference history.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 381-146 (.723) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 469-187 (.715) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 545-245 (.690) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 17 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 41.3 seconds remaining as Notre Dame fought back a determined challenge from Pittsburgh, 72-68, before a raucous crowd of 7,814 at the Petersen Events Center. The Irish shot 56.5 percent from the floor (26 of 46) to record their eighth win in the last nine games and their fourth road win in five tries. Notre Dame also remained perfect in 14 series meetings with the Panthers, and opened up a one-game lead for second place in the BIG EAST Conference standings.

Senior guard Jeneka Joyce lit up the skies with a career-high performance for the third consecutive game, scoring 16 points and tying her personal best with five three-point field goals. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere chipped in with 13 points on six of seven shooting. LaToya Kincaid led all scorers with 24 points for Pittsburgh, which suffered its 10th consecutive loss.

Notre Dame (17-8, 10-3 BIG EAST) jumped out to an early 8-2 lead behind a pair of treys from Joyce. The Irish pushed their advantage to seven points on two occasions, the second at 21-14 on a fastbreak layup by LaVere with 9:19 to go in the first half. Boosted by their largest crowd of the season, the Panthers (6-18, 2-12) battled back with a 9-4 spurt, getting within 25-23 on a bucket by Stacy Moore with six minutes left in the frame.

From there, the teams traded baskets over the next four minutes before Kincaid scored 10 straight points for her team, giving them their first lead at 35-32 at the 1:58 mark. Joyce then closed out the first half like she had opened it, banging home two triples to highlight an 8-2 Notre Dame run as the Irish took a 40-37 lead to the locker room.

Notre Dame continued its sharp offensive play early in the second half, opening the period on a 15-4 run to take its largest lead of the day at 55-41 with 16:01 to play. All told, the Irish had ripped off a 23-6 run in 5:28 spanning the two halves and the visitors were seemingly in control at the first media time-out of the second half.

However, as quickly as Notre Dame built its edge, Pittsburgh came roaring back with a 16-3 charge, including seven points from Jennifer Brown, and cut the margin to a single point (58-57) with 8:29 still to play. With its collective backs against the wall, the Irish regained their footing as freshman forward Crystal Erwin hit a layup and Batteast converted an old-fashioned three-point play to rebuild a 63-57 advantage at the 6:36 mark. But, that only served as a temporary break in the Pittsburgh comeback, as the Panthers then scored 11 of the next 15 points and took their first lead of the second half when Amy Kunich nailed a desperation three-pointer over two Irish players as the shot clock expired for a 68-67 edge with 2:18 remaining.

Notre Dame’s resolve was tested even further after misfiring on its next possession, but Pittsburgh couldn’t expand its lead, missing a shot of its own and Joyce was fouled on the rebound. She would hit one of two foul shots to tie the game at 68-68 with 1:31 remaining. After forcing the Panthers into a shot clock violation on their next possession, the Irish got the ball to Batteast and she was fouled by Brown with 41.3 seconds left. The Naismith Award finalist canned the first of her two charities, putting her team back in front, but she missed the second free throw, giving Pittsburgh a chance. That opportunity was squashed when LaVere swatted away Kunich’s 10-foot jumper and sophomore guard Megan Duffy was fouled after collecting the loose ball with 16 seconds to play.

Duffy kept things interesting by making just the second of her two free throws for a 70-68 Notre Dame lead. However, with the crowd at a fever pitch and time winding down, senior guard Le’Tania Severe stepped into the passing lane and picked off Kunich’s pass before she was fouled with 4.7 seconds left. The Irish captain calmly knocked down both of her free throws and Notre Dame’s victory was secure.

With its win at St. John’s on Feb. 17, Notre Dame clinched a winning record for the 2003-04 season, marking the 23rd time in the 27-year history of the program (and the 12th consecutive season) that the Irish have finished above .500. The success has been even more impressive under current head coach Muffet McGraw < notre=”” dame=”” has=”” had=”” just=”” one=”” losing=”” season=”” during=”” her=”” 17-year=”” tenure=”” (14-17=”” in=”” 1991-92),=”” and=”” still=”” advanced=”” to=”” the=”” ncaa=”” tournament=”” that=”” season=”” after=”” winning=”” the=”” midwestern=”” collegiate=”” conference=”” tournament.=””>

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been chosen as one of 20 finalists for the 2004 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award, it was announced Feb. 17 by Jackie Bradford, President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. With her selection, Batteast remains poised to become the second Irish player in four years to win college basketball’s most coveted award, following in the footsteps of All-America center Ruth Riley, who claimed the honor in 2001.

Batteast is averaging 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with eight double-doubles this season, while leading Notre Dame to a 17-8 record and a second-place standing in the BIG EAST Conference with a 10-3 mark. The talented Irish wing has been at her best against top competition this year, averaging 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds with three double-doubles and three near double-doubles against nine ranked opponents. Batteast’s best effort against a Top 25 team came on Jan. 13 when she piled up 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Notre Dame knock off No. 4 Connecticut, 66-51 at the Joyce Center.

Batteast currently ranks among the Top 11 in the BIG EAST in scoring (11th), rebounding (fourth), field goal percentage (ninth), blocked shots (fifth) and double-doubles (third). She also was a preseason all-BIG EAST First Team selection and was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds with a .529 field goal percentage against nationally-ranked Auburn and Colorado.

For her career, Batteast ranks 16th in school history in scoring (1,166 points), sixth in scoring average (14.0 ppg.), 10th in rebounding (677) and second in rebounding average (8.2 rpg.). She also owns an active streak of 57 consecutive games started, dating back to the beginning of last year, and she has started 79 of a possible 83 games in her college career.

The Naismith Award winner will be honored in Atlanta on April 9. The Naismith Awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and is in its 36th year of recognizing top college basketball players in the United States.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has referred to the aftermath of her team’s 76-73 loss at Georgetown on Jan. 7 as the turning point of the season for the Irish. Upon returning to campus the day after the disheartening setback, the Irish coaches began preparing for practice in their office and then headed for the gym floor, only to find the team already working out on its own.

Since that time, Notre Dame has won 10 of 12 games, including five against Top 25 opponents. One of the key reasons for that run of success has been an increased focus on defense < the=”” irish=”” are=”” giving=”” up=”” just=”” 50.3=”” points=”” per=”” game=”” and=”” holding=”” opponents=”” to=”” a=”” .346=”” field=”” goal=”” percentage=”” (.231=”” three-point=”” ratio)=”” over=”” that=”” stretch.=””>

Notre Dame’s offense has come alive during its current three-game winning streak, averaging 74.0 points per game with a .476 field goal percentage and a .425 three-point ratio. Prior to this run, the Irish had gone nine games without topping the 70-point mark, but they have reached that plateau in two of their last three games (81 vs. Providence, 72 at Pittsburgh). In addition, Notre Dame had shot 50 percent or better three times in its first 22 games this season, but has exceeded that threshold in two of its last three games (.541 vs. Providence, .565 at Pittsburgh).

Notre Dame has stepped up its play thanks in large measure to the added pressure applied by its defense. During BIG EAST play, the Irish rank among the top three in the conference in most major defensive categories, including scoring defense (2nd – 52.3 ppg.), scoring margin (2nd – +8.4 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (1st – .353), three-point field goal percentage defense (1st – .234), rebounding (3rd – 37.9 rpg.), rebounding defense (3rd – 32.4 rpg.), rebounding margin (2nd – +5.5 rpg.) and blocked shots (2nd – 4.46 bpg.).

However, that’s just the start when it comes to noting Notre Dame’s defense. Here are some other tidbits about the Irish defensive lockdown:

  • During an eight-game stretch from Jan. 21-Feb. 17, Notre Dame gave up an average of just 47.6 ppg. In fact, the 381 points allowed by the Irish in that stretch represented the best eight-game defensive run in school history. The previous record was 393 points (49.1 ppg.) from Jan. 21-Feb. 10, 1982, in wins over Valparaiso, Michigan, Ball State, Marquette, Mount St. Joseph, Taylor and Cincinnati, as well as a loss to Miami (Ohio).
  • Notre Dame set a new school record by limiting seven consecutive opponents to 52 points or less from Jan. 21-Feb. 14. The old record stood from Dec. 13, 1997 to Jan. 8, 1998, when Notre Dame had a streak of five consecutive games allowing 52 points or less.
  • The Irish held back-to-back opponents (Syracuse and Villanova) to less than 40 points for only the second time in school history (and first in the program’s Division I era, which began in 1980-81. The first time came on Jan. 24 & 31, 1978, when the Irish defeated IPFW (68-39) and Grace College (68-25).
  • In 26 halves of BIG EAST action (13 games), Irish opponents have scored 30-or-more points just seven times, with Georgetown and Pittsburgh accounting for four of those in games on Jan. 7 and Feb. 21, respectively.
  • Notre Dame has limited nine of its last 12 opponents to field goal percentages of less than .400, going 7-2 in those contests. In addition, Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown (second game) all shot less than 30 percent from the floor. For the season, the Irish are 12-3 when they hold their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
  • Notre Dame held Syracuse to 35 points on Jan. 21, setting a school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a BIG EAST road game and the second-fewest yielded in any road game (84-27 at Valparaiso on Jan. 21, 1982).

Notre Dame has fought through a brutal schedule that has included playing nine games against Top 25 opponents. The Irish have handled the challenge very well, going 6-3 in those contests with victories over No. 22/25 Auburn (77-64), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50). Notre Dame narrowly missed a seventh win over a Top 25 foe, as No. 20/20 Colorado rallied to defeat the Irish, 67-63 in overtime in the championship game of the season-opening WBCA Classic in Boulder, Colo. Nevertheless, Notre Dame has set a school record with six regular-season wins over ranked opponents this season, topping the old mark of five by the 2000-01 national championship squad (that team had nine total Top 25 wins, but four came in the NCAA Tournament).

By comparison, in the previous two seasons combined (2001-02 and 2002-03), Notre Dame had a total of five wins over ranked opponents, with three of those coming in the regular season (Virginia Tech and Boston College in ’01-02, and Villanova in ’02-03).

The rugged Irish schedule has not gone unnoticed by the national media. Four major outlets < sagarin/collegiate=”” basketball=”” news=”” (7th),=”” massey=”” (8th),=”””” (13th)=”” and=”” wbca/summerville=”” rpi=”” (16th)=””>< have=”” pegged=”” the=”” notre=”” dame=”” docket=”” among=”” the=”” top=”” 20=”” hardest=”” schedules=”” in=”” the=”” nation=”” this=”” season.=””>

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has taken her game to another level against BIG EAST Conference opponents this year. In 13 conference games this year, Batteast is carding 14.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with five double-doubles. She currently is third in the conference in rebounding and ninth in scoring during league play. In addition, she has the fourth-best field goal percentage in the BIG EAST during league play (.467) and just missed double-doubles in four other conference outings (14 points and nine rebounds vs. Villanova; nine points and 10 rebounds at Miami; 20 points and nine rebounds vs. Georgetown; 17 points and eight rebounds at Pittsburgh).

Some of Notre Dame’s success this season can be traced to the contribution provided by the Irish bench. Notre Dame’s reserves are averaging 19.6 points per game (491 total) this season, compared to 14.6 ppg. (364) by the opposition, an average margin of 5.0 points per game.

Since the start of the BIG EAST Conference season on Jan. 7, Notre Dame has received critical support from its reserves. The Irish bench has scored 271 points (20.8 ppg.) in 13 conference games this year, compared to its opponent’s reserves who have logged 146 points (11.2 ppg.) over that same time, good for a +9.6 ppg. scoring margin.

In addition, the Notre Dame second unit has rung up at least 30 points on four occasions this season, three during conference play (season-high 46 points vs. Dayton, 38 points vs. Providence, 35 points at Syracuse and 33 points at Miami).

Senior guard Le’Tania Severe and junior forward Jacqueline Batteast have the longest active streaks of consecutive games started among Irish players. Severe has earned 68 consecutive starting assignments, a streak which began on Notre Dame’s last visit to Pittsburgh (Feb. 5, 2002). Meanwhile, Batteast has been in the starting lineup for 57 straight games, beginning with the first game of the 2002-03 campaign (Nov. 26, 2002 vs. Cleveland State). The South Bend native actually started the first 22 games of her Irish career before suffering a knee injury that relegated her to a supporting role for the remainder of the 2001-02 season. The school record for consecutive games started is 95, which Katryna Gaither established from 1994-97.

Notre Dame’s 66-51 victory over No. 4/4 Connecticut on Jan. 13 at the Joyce Center was historic for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • Notre Dame’s win over Connecticut snapped the Huskies’ 121-game winning streak against unranked opponents, a string that dated back to Jan. 23, 1999 (a 78-66 loss at Boston College).
  • Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points only three times and each time, those losses have come to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
  • Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation (and the first BIG EAST squad) to defeat Connecticut more than once in the past 11 seasons (1993-94 to present). During that 11-year stretch, Tennessee is the only other program with multiple wins over the Huskies.
  • In the past four seasons (2000-01 to present), half of Connecticut’s six losses have come at the hands of Notre Dame.
  • Over the past five seasons (1999-2000 to present), the Joyce Center is the only arena to see multiple losses by Connecticut.

Notre Dame has pulled off a rare feat this season, becoming just the fourth school since the inception of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1982 to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams defeat the defending national champions in the same season. The Irish women did their part by ousting Connecticut (66-51) on Jan. 13, while the Notre Dame men completed the double with an 84-72 win at Syracuse on Feb. 16.

The only other schools who can lay claim to this accomplishment are Duke (1998-99), Tennessee (1999-2000) and Michigan State (1999-2000), with Notre Dame and Michigan State being the only institutions to turn the trick in the regular season (Duke’s women beat Tennessee in the ’99 NCAAs, while Tennessee’s men downed Connecticut in the ’00 NCAAs).

Saying January was a crazy month for Notre Dame would probably be a bit of an understatement. To begin with, the Irish had 10 games on the schedule last month, its fullest slate since January 1997, when Notre Dame also played 10 times, posting a 9-1 record en route to its first NCAA Final Four appearance. However, that 1997 docket saw the Irish go the entire month without facing a ranked opponent. This year’s Notre Dame squad didn’t have that kind of luck, facing six Top 25 foes during the month.

This January didn’t start out well for Notre Dame, as the Irish lost two of their first three games, including a heartbreaking 76-73 setback at Georgetown in which the Hoyas scored seven points in the final 14 seconds to steal the victory. Unfazed, Notre Dame bounced back with wins in six of its last seven games, highlighted by victories over No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50).

Notre Dame put together one of the best defensive performances in school history on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton, rolling over the Flyers, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. In that game, the Irish held UD to just 11 first-half points, which matches the third-lowest mark in school history and equals the lowest opponent total ever at the Joyce Center (11 in the second half by Grace College on Jan. 31, 1978 < pre-ncaa=”” era).=”” the=”” fewest=”” points=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” ever=”” allowed=”” in=”” one=”” half=”” is=”” seven=”” (first=”” half)=”” at=”” maryland=”” on=”” jan.=”” 9,=”” 1985.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” gave=”” up=”” just=”” 10=”” first-half=”” points=”” to=”” georgetown=”” on=”” march=”” 4,=”” 2001,=”” in=”” a=”” big=”” east=”” conference=”” championship=”” quarterfinal=”” game=”” at=”” storrs,=”” conn.=””>

In addition, Notre Dame limited Dayton to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) in the first half, breaking the old Irish opponent record of .115 (three for 26), which had been set twice < in=”” the=”” first=”” half=”” of=”” the=”” aforementioned=”” maryland=”” game,=”” and=”” by=”” depaul=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” half=”” on=”” dec.=”” 31,=”” 2001=”” at=”” the=”” joyce=”” center.=””>

The Irish have often opened games in strong fashion, but nothing like what they turned out on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton. Notre Dame began the game on a 26-0 run, the largest game-opening surge in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. The previous record for the best start to a game was 17-0 vs. Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional Semifinal in Memphis.

The 26 unanswered points also tied for the second-longest run of consecutive markers by Notre Dame. The school record is 31 straight points, which the Irish achieved on Jan. 18, 1997 vs. Pittsburgh < notre=”” dame=”” trailed=”” 14-2,=”” but=”” went=”” on=”” a=”” 31-0=”” run=”” over=”” the=”” next=”” 13:14=”” to=”” seize=”” control=”” of=”” the=”” game.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” had=”” a=”” 26-point=”” spree=”” on=”” jan.=”” 31,=”” 1998=”” against=”” seton=”” hall,=”” turning=”” a=”” 56-29=”” score=”” into=”” an=”” 82-29=”” margin=”” over=”” a=”” 9:44=”” span=”” in=”” the=”” second=”” half.=””>

Based on her play this season, sophomore point guard Megan Duffy is making a strong case to be named the BIG EAST Conference Most Improved Player. Last year, the Dayton native averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 assists per game while still shaking off the rust caused by off-season knee surgery. She also struggled to find her shooting touch, hitting at a .242 clip from the floor and making only seven of 35 three-point attempts (.200).

Fast forward to this season, where Duffy has been an impact player from the outset. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg., which more than triples her production from last year. However, her biggest improvement has come in her shooting numbers, where she’s connecting at a .411 percentage (39-95) from the three-point line and would be third in the BIG EAST if she had made enough treys to qualify (min. 2.0 per game). She’s also has more than five times as many treys as she sank all of last year and after cracking double digits just twice in 2002-03 (career high was 12 points), she has 14 double-figure games this season, with two topping the 20-point mark. Her best outing to date was a 25-point outburst on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin, where she shattered her career standard from beyond the arc, going six for 10 from downtown.

But lest we forget her primary duties at the point, Duffy is leading the Irish and ranks eighth in the BIG EAST with 4.40 assists per game, nearly doubling last year’s output. She also has just 74 turnovers, giving her a healthy 1.49 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). She has dished out at least five assists 13 times this year, including a career-high nine dimes on Dec. 7 at Washington.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast scored a game-high 14 points on Jan. 10 against No. 16/15 Virginia Tech, becoming the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She also was the fourth-fastest Irish player ever to reach that milestone, doing so in her 72nd career game.

Batteast also is one of only five Irish players to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, joining Morgan, Matvey, Riley and Ratay. For her career, the South Bend native ranks sixth in school history with a 14.2 ppg. scoring average, and 16th in total points (1,166), needing 29 points to pass Krissi Davis (1,194 from 1987-91) for 15th place all-time.

One of the supposed question marks surrounding this year’s Notre Dame squad was its perimeter shooting. Through the first two-thirds of the season, the Irish have had an emphatic response to that question. Notre Dame is third in the BIG EAST with a .370 three-point percentage, hitting 98 of 265 shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy has been a major contributor from beyond the arc, connecting at a .411 clip (39-95), which also would rank third in the BIG EAST, but she has not made enough field goals to qualify for statistical ranking (minimum of 2.0 per game).

Another long distance specialist for Notre Dame has been senior guard Jeneka Joyce, which is a pleasant surprise when you consider the Topeka, Kan., native has spent the better part of the past two seasons trying to recover from leg injuries. Joyce has knocked down 36 of 79 treys for a team-high .456 three-point percentage, but she also has not yet made enough field goals to qualify for the rankings. Still, she is 11th in the BIG EAST with 1.80 triples per game, and fifth with 2.10 three-pointers per night in conference play.

The veteran sharpshooter has been at her best in Notre Dame’s last three outings vs. Providence, St. John’s and Pittsburgh. Against the Friars, she tied her (then) career high with 14 points and four treys, scoring all of her points in the final 6:25 of the first half. Three days later against the Red Storm, Joyce outdid herself, ringing up a career-best 15 points while making a career-high five three-point field goals (on 10 tries), including the last with the shot clock expiring and 4:40 remaining to help seal an Irish victory. Then, last Saturday at Pittsburgh, the Kansas gunner did it again, rolling up a career-high 16 points, hitting five of eight three-point attempts. Overall, Joyce is averaging 15.0 ppg. with a .538 three-point percentage (14 of 26) in her last three games.

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

Notre Dame is receiving 46 votes in the latest Associated Press poll after spending four weeks in the Top 25 earlier this season. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also is earning 25 votes in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches poll after appearing in the Top 25 for the first three weeks of 2003-04. The Irish were pegged No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll, also the seventh time in eight years that they had shown up in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

This season, Notre Dame has faced or will face no less than seven teams that were ranked in both major polls this week (No. 1/1 Connecticut, No. 2/2 Tennessee, No. 4/4 Purdue, No. 14/13 Colorado, No. 18/20 Auburn, No. 21/19 Miami and No. 22/22 Michigan State). In addition, Boston College is ranked 24th and Virginia Tech is 25th in this week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Also, four other Irish opponents < rutgers,=”” usc,=”” villanova=”” and=”” west=”” virginia=””>< were=”” receiving=”” votes=”” in=”” one=”” or=”” both=”” of=”” the=”” polls=”” this=”” week.=””>

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 73-6 (.924) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including an 11-2 mark this year. The two rare losses this season came on Nov. 15 at Colorado (led 37-33 at half; lost 67-63 in overtime) and at Seton Hall (led 23-17; lost 51-45).

Over the last nine 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 126-5 (.962) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has added 12 more wins to that ledger this season by holding down Valparaiso (74-57), Dayton (78-41), Colorado State (63-59), Virginia Tech (53-40), Connecticut (66-51), Syracuse (64-35), Villanova (38-36), Miami (59-50), Boston College (52-50), Georgetown (66-52), Providence (81-51) and St. John’s (69-56).

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 nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 87-3 (.967) 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 tacked on two more wins to that tally this year with victories over Wisconsin (82-64) and Providence (81-51).

Notre Dame is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue continues to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

In January, Notre Dame unveiled new championship banners which now hang in the Joyce Center. The NCAA title flag won by the Irish women in 2001 and the Helms Foundation national championship banners won by the Notre Dame men in 1927 and 1936 now have been converted to gold with blue lettering, reversing the look of the other banners currently on display. In addition, the Irish basketball and volleyball teams have added blue flags for Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

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 109 of their last 118 games (.924) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 16-game winning streak. Notre Dame also has a 67-7 (.905) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 45 of their last 47 non-BIG EAST contests (.957) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). 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 259-70 (.787) 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.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in attendance each of the past three years. The Irish are looking to extend that streak to a fourth straight season, averaging 6,702 fans for their 11 home games, including a season-high 8,760 fans on Feb. 14 vs. Providence, the seventh-largest crowd in school history. According to the latest unofficial national attendance rankings compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office (as of Feb. 23), Notre Dame ranks 11th in the country in attendance.

The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for their second consecutive eighth-place finish in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last year also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4, 2003.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 17-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 five seasons.

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season will be no exception. The Irish are slated to play on the small screen no less than 11 times this year, including four appearances on national television.

Notre Dame made its ’03-04 television debut on Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that was shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish returned to coast-to-coast television on Jan. 4 when they visited Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame has been selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish already have taken on Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home, and will travel to Rutgers (Feb. 28) for games in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games may be seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV (Channel 46) will show the Virginia Tech, Villanova and Rutgers games on a same-day, tape-delayed basis at 7 p.m. (ET).

Furthermore, the Jan. 13 BIG EAST matchup between Notre Dame and two-time defending national champion Connecticut was televised by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) with College Sports Television (CSTV) picking up the broadcast and airing it nationally.

Both Notre Dame-Miami games also will be televised this season. The Jan. 28 matchup in Coral Gables, Fla., was picked up by the Sunshine Network on a tape-delayed basis. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s rematch at the Joyce Center will be broadcast live to a nationwide audience on CSTV. That contest will tip off at 8 p.m. (ET) < some=”” early=”” schedules=”” initially=”” had=”” this=”” game=”” listed=”” one=”” hour=”” earlier.=””>

Two other Irish road games (at West Virginia and Syracuse) were broadcast locally in those markets.

In addition, the semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. WHME-TV in South Bend will carry those games live. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (ET).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Full-session ticket books for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available to the general public (one ticket for both Sunday games, one ticket for Tuesday’s only game). Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Notre Dame subregional, contact the Irish athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or visit the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center at Gate 1.

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=”” 1620)=”” and=”” wndv-am=”” (1490)=”” in=”” south=”” bend.=”” veteran=”” broadcaster=”” and=”” amp=”” sports=”” director=”” sean=”” stires=”” is=”” now=”” in=”” his=”” fourth=”” 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=”” variety=”” of=”” irish=”” athletics=”” events=”” on=”” radio=”” for=”” only=”” $6.95=”” per=”” month.=””>

THE Muffet McGraw SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its seventh season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and airs at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturdays through the end of the 2003-04 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and freshman forward Crystal Erwin both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 18 that three 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 2004. Charel Allen, a 5-10 guard from Monessen, Pa., Melissa D’Amico, a 6-5 forward/center from Manorville, N.Y., and Tulyah Gaines (pronounced too-LIE-uh), a 5-8 guard from North Las Vegas, Nev., all committed to the Irish during the early signing period, which lasted from Nov. 12-19.

Allen will arrive at Notre Dame next fall as one of the top college prospects from western Pennsylvania. She is a three-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American who averaged 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game last season at Monessen High School. She also is a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state pick and was named the 2003 AP Class A Player of the Year. In addition, she is a two-time all-Pittsburgh metro area selection and a ’03 AAU 16-and-under All-American. As a freshman in 2001, she was a fifth-team AP all-state choice when she averaged 23.6 points per game. In her first three seasons at MHS, Allen has piled up 2,302 points (26.2 ppg.), 995 rebounds (11.3 rpg.), 600 steals (6.8 spg.), 426 assists (4.8 apg.) and 102 blocks (1.2 bpg.). She was ranked 27th in the nation by Blue Star Index and she will be the fourth Pennsylvania native to play for the Irish (the first in 13 seasons).

At 6-5, D’Amico will be the tallest player on the Irish roster when she sets foot on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 2004. A versatile post player, she averaged 16.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season for William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (located on Long Island). She burst onto the national scene this past summer at the adidas Top Ten Camp in Suwanee, Ga., and is considered by most recruiting services to be one of the top players on the rise in this year’s class. She currently is ranked 47th in the country by All-Star Girls Report and 91st by Blue Star Index , and she follows in the footsteps of another talented New Yorker who came to Notre Dame < two-time=”” honorable=”” mention=”” all-american=”” and=”” mount=”” vernon,=”” n.y.,=”” product,=”” katryna=”” gaither=”” (1993-97).=””>

Gaines is a playmaking guard who will give the Irish solid depth in the backcourt. Last summer, she moved to North Las Vegas and is attending Cheyenne High School, where she will play for the Desert Shields this year. Gaines previously lived in Burbank, Calif., where she was a three-year starter at John Burroughs High School. She averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game last season and was a first-team all-CIF SS (Southern California) Division 2A First Team selection. In addition, she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American and won a bronze medal with the West Team at the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Gaines averaged 6.0 points per game during the five-game tournament, which featured the top prep players from around the country. She is ranked 25th nationally by All-Game Sports, 52nd by Blue Star Index and 61st by All-Star Girls Report , and she is the second Las Vegas area resident in as many years to sign with Notre Dame < current=”” irish=”” freshman=”” guard=””>Breona Gray graduated from Bishop Gorman High School last May.

With the addition of Allen, D’Amico and Gaines, Notre Dame has assembled the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class according to Blue Star Index. This marks the eighth consecutive year in which the Irish have attracted a Top 20 class, making Notre Dame one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have such a consistent run of recruiting success.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native has won 363 games at Notre Dame, has a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success < on=”” and=”” off=”” the=”” court.=”” it=”” provides=”” lessons=”” for=”” those=”” aspiring=”” toward=”” success=”” in=”” basketball,=”” and=”” in=”” life,=”” while=”” illustrating=”” why=””>Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Notre Dame will hit the open road for the final time during the 2003-04 regular season when it visits Rutgers Saturday for a noon (ET) game that will be broadcast live as part of the BIG EAST Conference television package. The Scarlet Knights hold a slim 9-8 edge in the all-time series with the Irish after rallying from 15 points back to defeat Notre Dame, 64-61, last year at the Joyce Center.

Rutgers (16-9, 8-5 BIG EAST) has been virtually a mirror image of the Irish this season, performing exceptionally well at home (12-1 record), but finding the road a difficult place (4-8 mark). The Scarlet Knights are led by All-American point guard Cappie Pondexter, who ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (2nd – 17.6 ppg.) and assists (7th – 4.44 apg.). Rutgers had a road game at West Virginia Tuesday night before returning home to entertain Notre Dame this weekend.