Nov. 25, 2010

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2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: WBCA Classic
#18/16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-2 / 0-0 BIG EAST)

DATE: Nov. 26-28, 2010
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (9,149)
TWITTER: @ndwbbsid/@UND_com
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)

WBCA Tournament Schedule
Friday, Nov. 26
2:00 (ET) – Notre Dame vs. IUPUI
4:00 (ET) – Butler vs. Wake Forest
Saturday, Nov. 27
2:00 (ET) – Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest
4:00 (ET) – Butler vs. IUPUI
Sunday, Nov. 29
Noon (ET) – IUPUI vs. Wake Forest
2:00 (ET) – Notre Dame vs. Butler


  • The Fighting Irish return home to host their first regular-season scheduled tournament in 27 years when Purcell Pavilion serves as the locale for the 2010 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Classic. Wake Forest and Butler will play the day’s first game at noon (ET), with all four teams competing in a round-robin format through Sunday afternoon.
  • Notre Dame is looking to continue its success in regular season tournament play, with the Fighting Irish having won 21 of their last 24 in-season tournament games, including last year’s Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Notre Dame hits the court on the heels of a pair of losses to nationally ranked teams after suffering defeats to #15/15 UCLA and #12/12 Kentucky.


  • Notre Dame is No. 18 in the latest Associated Press poll and No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
  • Butler, Wake Forest and IUPUI are not ranked.

Quick Hitters

  • With its No. 18 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 61 consecutive weeks, breaking the previous record first set from preseason 1998-Dec. 3, 2001.
  • The Irish also have been voted into the preseason AP poll in 11 of the past 12 seasons (since 1999-2000), something only seven other schools in the country can match.
  • Notre Dame has a rugged 2010-11 schedule lined up, with games against at least one team from each of the top six RPI conferences (BIG EAST, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC), and five matchups against four other teams that advanced to last year’s NCAA Sweet 16 (Connecticut twice, Baylor, Gonzaga and Kentucky).
  • The Irish will play a school-record 17 regular-season home games this year, including their first regular-season tournament (outside of the Preseason WNIT) since the 1983 Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic. The three-day, round-robin WBCA Classic (also featuring IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler) comes to Purcell Pavilion Nov. 26-28.
  • There will be lots of new faces on the Irish schedule this season, with Notre Dame playing seven first-time opponents as part of its 14-game non-conference slate. Those new opponents include: New Hampshire (Nov. 12 – W, 99-48), Morehead State (Nov. 15 – W, 91-28), Kentucky (Nov. 21 – L, 76-81), Wake Forest (Nov. 27), Baylor (Dec. 1), Gonzaga (Dec. 29) and Southeast Missouri (Jan. 2).
  • Notre Dame is closing in on the 1,000th game in the program’s 34-year history, with that milestone contest set for Dec. 5 when the Irish play host to in-state rival Purdue at Purcell Pavilion in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2. Notre Dame currently has an all-time record of 691-303 (.695).
  • The Irish have only one true senior on this year’s roster – forward Becca Bruszewski. Guard Brittany Mallory and forward Devereaux Peters both are listed as seniors on the roster based on their academic standing, but each player has the option to petition for a fifth year of eligibility after both suffered season-ending knee injuries (torn ACL) within the first seven games of the 2008-09 campaign.
  • Notre Dame welcomes a three-player freshman class that includes the program’s first-ever international player (Canadian National Team forward Natalie Achonwa), a 2010 McDonald’s All-American (Erie, Pa., native Kayla McBride) and a two-time Michigan Player of the Year (Ariel Braker from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.). Collectively, this group has been ranked as high as eighth in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
  • The Irish made a shift on their coaching staff during the offseason, as former longtime assistant and post coach guru Carol Owens (who previously served as Notre Dame from 1995-2005) returns to the program as associate coach following a successful five-year run as the head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. In addition, Angie Potthoff has moved into the newly-created role of associate director of operations & technology, a position that has seen her help direct Notre Dame’s emergence as one of the nation’s leaders in social media development among women’s college basketball programs.

Other Notre Dame Notables

  • Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 345 victories.
  • Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. Last year, the program finished fourth in the final NCAA attendance rankings with 8,377 fans per game, both setting new school records in the process. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 144 of their last 146 home games, logging 12 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (including a school-record six last year, including four of the final five home games, most recently on March 1, 2010 vs. top-ranked Connecticut).
  • The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past decade. Charel Allen was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Ruth Riley (San Antonio) was active in the league during the ’10 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Three of Notre Dame’s eight WNBA alums have won a total of four league championships – Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the ’06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • For the fifth year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2010. What’s more, since Muffet McGraw became the Fighting Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has earned her bachelor’s degree (a 62-for-62 success rate), with all three members of this year’s senior class on target to earn their diplomas.

Series Notes – IUPUI
For the third time in five seasons, Notre Dame will tangle with IUPUI as the Irish seek to stay perfect in the abbreviated series with the Jaguars …the contest will also open the WBCA Classic for the Irish, as IUPUI presents the first foe over a three-game, 72-hour stretch for Notre Dame … it will be the second time in as many seasons that Notre Dame will play three games in three days in late November, also doing so at the 2009 Paradise Jam (Nov. 26-27) in the U.S. Virgin Islands …the Irish enjoy a 2-0 cushion in the series history with back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008, defeating the Jaguars by an average of 21.5 points over that stretch … when the programs last met Dec. 21, 2007, Charel Allen had 12 points and five steals as No. 17 Notre Dame defeated the Jaguars, 67-44, for its eighth straight win of the season …with the output, Allen moved into 16th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,203 points, passing both Krissi Davis (1,194 points from 1987-91) and Heidi Bunek (1985-89) … Devereaux Peters had 11 points and four blocks in the contest …Notre Dame forced 28 turnovers in IUPUI’s second-ever home game against a ranked opponent …the Irish held the Jaguars to 24 percent shooting in the second half …that game was especially memorable for former Irish guard Ashley Barlow, who was playing in her hometown for the first time as a college player …Barlow scored her first points on a bucket with 16:33 to play, sparking a loud cheer …a section of about 200 fans held up light green signs that read ³Go Ashley² …Barlow’s brother, Davis, played for the IUPUI men’s team …the 2007 win gave Notre Dame a 10-1 start to the season for the third time in school history, matching its 11-game record in 2004-05 and one game back of its 11-0 debut in the 2000-01 national championship season … the Irish reach the 10-win mark faster than any team in school history except the Oe04-05 club, which got its 10th victory two days earlier on Dec. 19 (the Oe00-01 squad also earned win #10 on Dec. 21) … the Irish also limited IUPUI to 17 points in the second half.

Series Notes – Wake Forest
Never before has Notre Dame played Wake Forest, but that will change on day two of the WBCA Classic …Notre Dame is 12-2 (.846) all-time against teams from the state of North Carolina ­ including a 4-0 record at Purcell Pavilion ­ following a 2009 home win over Charlotte …that may be a good indications of things to come, as the 90-31 romp over the 49’ers was the fourth-largest margin of victory in Irish history (59 points) and their largest since Nov, 24, 1989, when Notre Dame set a school record in that category by defeating Liberty, 113-35, in the first round of the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando, Fla. …before the win over Charlotte, the last time the Irish played host to a team from the Tar Heel State was on Nov. 17, 2004, when Notre Dame downed sixth-ranked Duke, 76-65 in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT …Wake Forest was picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, coming an 18-14 campaign that saw them finish tied for fifth in the ACC …the Deacons and seventh-year head coach Mike Petersen return four starters, ten letterwinners and 90 percent of its scoring …only two Irish players have hailed from North Carolina state: Mary Joan Forbes (1980-81) of Raleigh and Erica Williamson (2006-10) of Charlotte …Williamson graduated from South Mecklenburg High School in 2006, and in her one year at the school, she helped the Lady Sabres post a 27-3 record and win the North Carolina Class 4A title (the school’s first crown in 20 years) …Williamson scored 13 points in the championship game and was named the Western Regional Most Valuable Player.

Series Notes – Butler
One of most frequented non-conference opponents in the Irish annals, Butler will present Notre Dame’s final challenge of the WBCA Classic to cap off a three-game marathon within a 72-hour span …excluding the current contingency of BIG EAST programs, Notre Dame has only played Dayton (28) more times than Butler (25) and any other non-conference foe … Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 19-6 …10 of those wins have come at home for the Irish with a 7-3 record on the road and a pair of wins ­ without a loss ­ at neutral sites …Butler won the first two meetings (1980 and 1981) before Notre Dame rattled off 13 straight victories …the Bulldogs then notched four wins in the next five meetings, with Notre Dame coming up roses in each of the last five affairs …as members of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, Notre Dame and Butler twice met in the league’s postseason tournament …Notre Dame won the 1990 meeting (67-66) and did so again in 1991 (62-52) to send the Bulldogs home from the tournament which was held both years in Dayton, Ohio …senior guard Alyssa Pittman hails from nearby Elkhart, Ind., prepping at Elkhart Central … Butler head coach Beth Couture, now in her ninth year with the program, is 128-133 (.531) with the Bulldogs with five straight winning seasons (including three straight 20-win seasons) and a pair of WNIT appearances (2009 and 2010) …she mentored the Bulldogs to a 23-10 record (14-4 Horizon League) in 2009-10, the team’s most wins in 12 years …Butler’s second straight WNIT appearance also marked the first time the program has had consecutive postseason berths since becoming a Division I team.

November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 16 years has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 63-13 (.831) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season.

Notre Dame also just had a 16-game November winning streak ended with Thursday’s double-overtime loss to No. 15 UCLA. That streak started on Nov. 20, 2007 with a 94-41 victory at Central Michigan and came four days after a 75-59 loss at third-ranked Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals.

Game #4 Recap: Kentucky
Muffet McGraw glanced at the stat sheet at halftime, saw No. 9 Kentucky was struggling from 3-point range and told her team to let the Wildcats keep shooting.

But Kentucky guard Keyla Snowden got hot, redshirt freshman Bernisha Pinkett did, too, and Victoria Dunlap did the rest, as Kentucky held off the 12th-ranked Irish 81-76 on Sunday.

For a couple of spectacular minutes, Snowden was everywhere, knocking down a series of deep jumpers in the second half to blunt a Notre Dame comeback. The junior finished with 17 points as Kentucky (3-0) won its 20th straight game at Memorial Coliseum.

The Wildcats needed it after Notre Dame (2-2) cut a 12-point deficit to 59-58 on a tip-in by Natalie Novosel. Snowden drilled a 3-pointer from several feet behind the line to push the lead back to four.

The Irish pulled within 66-65 a minute later on a conventional three-point play by Becca Bruszewski when Pinkett one-upped her teammate, banking in a 3-pointer from the corner to put Kentucky up 69-65 with 5:16 left. The Irish would get no closer the rest of the way.

Dunlap made sure it was enough. The defending Southeastern Conference Player of the Year had 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals in 38 grueling minutes.

Novosel led Notre Dame with 21 points and Skylar Diggins had 18 points, but the Irish came undone in the first half after forward Devereaux Peters went to the bench with foul trouble. The Wildcats ripped off a 19-2 run to take a lead they would never surrender.

Notre Dame gave it away 17 times and made just 2 of 15 3-pointers, allowing the undersized Wildcats to overcome a distinct size disadvantage. The Irish dominated the glass, outrebounding Kentucky 51-35 and scoring 52 points in the paint.

Yet Kentucky’s aggressiveness attacking Notre Dame’s zone allowed the Wildcats to get to the free throw line with regularity. The Wildcats outscored the Irish 21-10 at the line despite an uncharacteristically sloppy day from sophomore star A’Dia Mathies, who had just six points and four rebounds, including a 2-for-8 performance at the line.

Still, Mathies made a couple of huge defensive plays, none bigger than a strip of Diggins with 15 seconds remaining and the Wildcats nursing a four-point lead. She made one of two to preserve the win and perhaps send a message that the Wildcats are for real.

Kentucky won 28 games and reached the NCAA regional finals a year ago and earned the highest preseason ranking in team history. The Wildcats backed it up with their first win over a ranked non-conference opponent at home since beating Western Kentucky in 1997.

The loss spoiled a homecoming for Novosel, who starred at Lexington Catholic. She didn’t appear nervous, scoring Notre Dame’s first seven points.

Noting The Kentucky Game

  • Notre Dame was facing back-to-back opponents ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press poll during the regular season for the first time since the 2004 Preseason WNIT, when the Fighting Irish defeated #6 Duke (76-65 on Nov. 17) and #10/9 Ohio State (66-62 on Nov. 20).
  • Notre Dame saw its 18-game winning streak against first-time opponents snapped, falling to a new foe for the first time since Nov. 21, 2001, when Colorado State shaded the Fighting Irish, 72-66, in Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Notre Dame is 23-2 against first-time opponents since the start of the 2000-01 season and 43-6 against new teams since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
  • Kentucky was the third of seven first-time opponents on this year’s Fighting Irish schedule, and third in four games following home wins over New Hampshire (99-48) and Morehead State (91-28) during the opening weekend of the season.
  • Notre Dame basketball teams fell to 0-5 all-time at Memorial Coliseum, with Sunday’s game being the first time a Fighting Irish hoops squad played in the historic venue since 1961, when the UK men’s team defeated its Notre Dame counterpart, 100-53 … Notre Dame also had its four-game winning streak against Southeastern Conference opponents come to an end, falling to an SEC school for the first time since March 30, 2008, when Tennessee rallied past the Fighting Irish, 74-64 in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinals at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • For the second time this season, Notre Dame posted a rebound margin of +16 or better, having notched a season-high +18 margin on the backboards (47-29) against Morehead State on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion … Notre Dame grabbed a season-high 51 rebounds, its best total on the glass since Dec. 31, 2009, when the Fighting Irish nabbed 56 caroms in a 74-69 win over #18/16 Vanderbilt, also at Purcell Pavilion.
  • In her homecoming game, Lexington, Ky., native (and junior guard) Natalie Novosel scored a career-high 21 points, two more than her previous best set twice before (most recently this past Thursday in the double-overtime loss to #15 UCLA at Purcell Pavilion) … Novosel also tied her career high with eight rebounds, having reached that mark twice before (most recently on Dec. 2, 2009, against Eastern Michigan), and she set new personal bests with eight field goals (previous: seven, three times, including Thursday vs. UCLA), 24 attempts (previous was 12 against UCLA), seven three-point attempts (previous was four against UCLA), and two blocks (previous: one on 10 occasions, the last against Oklahoma on March 28, 2010 in the NCAA regional semifinals).
  • Freshman forward Natalie Achonwa grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds, also tying senior forward Becca Bruszewski for the most boards by a Fighting Irish player this season (Bruszewski had a baker’s dozen against UCLA).

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked 12th in this week’s Associated Press poll. That marks the 60th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, setting a new program record and surpassing the old standard set from 1998 (preseason poll) to Dec. 3, 2001.

This year’s No. 12 preseason ranking also represented the 11th time in the past 12 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only eight schools in the nation have done – Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 12 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Irish with 11 preseason AP poll berths.

Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 199 weeks during the program’s 34-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also is 22nd all-time in that category.

In addition, the Fighting Irish are ranked 12th in the latest ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ survey for 60 of the past 61 weeks, falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 191 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).

More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 28 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Besides her 199 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks rise to No. 3 in the nation.

Of the 28 people on this list, 15 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), including former Fighting Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington (’92), who helped Notre Dame to its first-ever AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her fourth season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions into the AP poll at No. 23 on Jan. 25, 2010.

Six of the 16 active coaches in this group – including McGraw – led their teams to this year’s NCAA Championship, while McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and also coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).

Notre Dame Picked Fourth In 2010-11 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll
Notre Dame was selected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference in 2010-11, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released on Oct. 21 during the annual BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.

The Irish picked up 177 points in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only two-time defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points, West Virginia (207 points, one first-place vote) and Georgetown (186 points) – St. John’s rounded out the top five with 173 points.

Diggins Earns 2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors
Along with picking Notre Dame to finish fourth in the conference this year in their preseason poll, the BIG EAST coaches unanimously voted sophomore guard Skylar Diggins to the 10-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

A preseason candidate for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award, as well as a consensus preseason All-American by most major media outlets, Diggins is coming off one of the finest rookie seasons in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history as the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first rookie in 16 years to top 100 assists in her debut season. What’s more, she finished as just the third player in program history (and the first freshman) to log 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season, joining a pair of All-Americans and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior in the nation 5-foot-8 and under) recipients – current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (2000-01) and Megan Duffy (2004-05) – in achieving that distinction.

A 2009-10 honorable mention All-America selection by both the Associated Press and WBCA, Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring (13.8 ppg.), steals (2.6 spg.) and assists (tied – 3.2 apg.) last season, while ranking third on the squad in three-point percentage (.350) and free throw percentage (.782). She also chalked up a team-high 24 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings, capped by a season-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. That scoring effort was the highest ever recorded by a Fighting Irish rookie in NCAA postseason play, while her 13 field goals made tied the program record for an NCAA tournament game.

In 2009-10, Diggins set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028), while ranking among the top five on the Irish rookie charts for points (3rd – 484), scoring average (tied/4th – 13.8 ppg.), field goals made (3rd – 169), field goals attempted (3rd – 385), three-point field goals made (4th – 35), three-point attempts (5th – 100), three-point percentage (5th – .350), assists (3rd – 112), steals per game (2nd – 2.6 spg.), games started (tied/2nd – 30), games played (2nd – 35) and minutes per game (5th – 29.4).

McGraw Is Simply Legendary
The announcement on July 10, 2010, may have made it official, but it really only confirmed what Notre Dame fans have known for a very long time – head coach Muffet McGraw is a Hall of Famer.

McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of more than 600 games in her illustrious career, was one of six people – and the lone coach – named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class, as announced in Uncasville, Conn., during the “WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game” that was televised live nationally on ESPN from Mohegan Sun Arena.

The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist).

The ’11 class offically was introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., before the Connecticut-Baylor game (McGraw was not able to attend due to NCAA regulations). The group will be enshrined June 10-12, 2011, during the 13th annual Induction Weekend at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

McGraw becomes the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Irish skipper also is the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. First-year Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion.

McGraw also will be the ninth active college head coach to enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this notable list are: Pat Summitt (1999 – Tennessee), Van Chancellor (2001 – LSU), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina), Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia) and Debbie Ryan (2008 – Virginia).

Riley’s Double Zero Goes To The Rafters
Ruth Riley, a three-time All-America center at Notre Dame during her storied career from 1997-2001, and the 2001 consensus national player of the year, was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor on Nov. 12 during a pre-game ceremony before the Fighting Irish opened their 2010-11 season against New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion.

A banner honoring Riley’s number 00 was unveiled and now permanently hangs in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion, making her the first women’s basketball player added to the Ring of Honor, and the second player overall following last spring’s induction of men’s basketball All-America forward Luke Harangody.

Beginning in 2010-11, the Notre Dame Athletics Department plans to honor annually additional former and present men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their career while student-athletes at the University. A committee that will consist of Fighting Irish coaches and administrators will be formed to determine future inductees.

The only player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds, Riley ranks as the program’s all-time leader in seven categories, including rebounds (1,007), blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history). What’s more, the Macy, Ind., native ranks third in school history with 2,072 points, and holds the Fighting Irish single-game scoring record with 41 points in a January 1998 win over Providence. Riley also played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s run to the 2001 NCAA national championship, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the title game victory over Purdue, capped by her gamewinning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.

A 10-year WNBA veteran (the past four with the San Antonio Silver Stars), two-time WNBA champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Riley was back on campus with the other members of the 2001 championship team for ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of that milestone achievement in Notre Dame athletics history.

Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 190-17 (.918) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 118 of their last 129 such contests.

Notre Dame has led at the break in its first two games this year, after doing the same in 25 games last season (earning victories each time).

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense
During the past 16 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 Fighting Irish have an amazing 210-15 (.933) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in each of their first two contests this season.

But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 16 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 142-5 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.

Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in all three games this year (2-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points, including four games when it topped the 90-point mark.

Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 191 of their last 217 games (.880) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 106-18 (.855) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.

The Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 87 of their last 95 non-BIG EAST contests (.916) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the eight losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) – with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), and to UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT). The Purdue loss also 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 former Joyce Center, posting a 341-87 (.797) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Fighting Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, which was the school record for home victories in a season prior to last year, when Notre Dame went 16-1, capped by an 84-66 triumph over Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The 2009-10 season saw an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth), highest average attendance (8,377 fans per game) and most sellouts (six) in a single season. And, as the old saying goes “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

For the second consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans have all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that will have the Fighting Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.

Notre Dame has wasted little time in getting started with that challenge, averaging 8,067 fans for its first three home games this season.

Part of the appeal of Notre Dame women’s basketball can be traced to the renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, which has yet another new feature this season with the addition of a four-sided LED video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LED auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps and at the scorer’s table.

Irish On Your Radio Dial
Beginning with the 2008-09 athletics year, the Notre Dame athletics department announced it had partnered with the LeSEA Broadcasting Network, making Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) the new radio home of Notre Dame women’s basketball in the South Bend market.

LeSEA originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 91 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame’s women’s basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.

Women’s basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame’s official athletics web site ( through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.

Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women’s basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program’s first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns for his third season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 21 regular season games televised during the 2010-11 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are seven nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women’s basketball contests, including the program’s fourth-ever appearance on network television (Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut on CBS), two showings on the ESPN family of networks, and three others on CBS College Sports.

In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site,, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.

This year’s TV slate continues a trend that has seen the Fighting Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through Thursday’s UCLA contest, Notre Dame has played in 170 televised games, including 116 that were broadcast nationally.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory will serve as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2010-11 season. Both players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.