Feb. 28, 2003
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-9, 8-6) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (13-11, 7-7)
The Date and Time: Saturday, March 1, 2003, at 4 p.m. EST.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires handling the play-by-play. For the Seton Hall game, Shawn Lewallen will fill in behind the microphone. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Seton Hall game via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics website.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Seton Hall (www.shupirates.com).
Notre Dame fans will get one final opportunity to pay tribute to a pair of extraordinary seniors when the Irish play their last home game of the 2002-03 season Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) against Seton Hall at the Joyce Center. In a pregame ceremony, the Irish faithful will honor senior guard Alicia Ratay, who ranks as the greatest three-point shooter in NCAA history and needs one trey to break the school record for career triples. The crowd also will laud senior guard Karen Swanson, who came to Notre Dame as a walk-on in 1999 and has become one of the most popular players ever to don an Irish uniform.
Notre Dame picked up its fifth win in the last seven games Wednesday night with a 77-69 victory over Pittsburgh at the Joyce Center. The Irish led from tip to buzzer, but could never quite shake the Panthers, despite opening up a handful of double-digit leads. Freshman forward Courtney LaVere led five Notre Dame players in double figures with 14 points, 10 of those coming in a three-minute stretch midway through the second half.
Seton Hall (13-11, 7-7) notched a critical BIG EAST victory at home Wednesday night, ousting Miami, 78-71 in overtime. Senior forward Leslie Ardon registered game highs of 21 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates, who erased an eight-point halftime deficit to force the extra session. In overtime, SHU made four of five shots and nine of 10 free throws to preserve the win.
Junior forward Charlene Thomas leads the Pirates in scoring (11.1 ppg.) and ranks second in field goal percentage (.445) and rebounding (6.1 rpg.). Sophomore forward Ashley Bush is SHU’s top rebounder (7.9 rpg.) and field goal shooter (.468).
SHU head coach Phyllis Mangina is in her 18th season at her alma mater, sporting a 258-252 (.506) career record. She is 2-11 all-time vs. Notre Dame.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.
McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 358-136 (.725) record (446-177, .716 in 21 years overall) that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently are coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball. McGraw coached the 600th game of her career on Nov. 29, a 69-57 win at USC, and she earned her 350th victory at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve at Marquette, joining Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to win 350 games at Notre Dame.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (11.6 ppg., 4.6 rpg., .487 3FG%, .874 FT%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (4th, 1,665 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .481) and free throw percentage (1st, .869). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA annals. She has led the Irish in scoring seven times this year, including a season-high 30-point effort (including a career-high seven three-pointers) on Feb. 16 at Providence. She also logged her first double-double of the year (and fifth of her career) with 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds on Feb. 26 vs. Pittsburgh. In addition, Ratay tallied the 1,500th point of her career Jan. 8 at WVU, becoming the sixth player in school history to reach that milestone.
This season, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 15.0 ppg., team-high 8.0 rpg., 2.5 apg., 1.5 bpg., 2.2 spg, six double-doubles) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast has scored in double figures in 22 games this season, including five 20-point efforts. She also nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC. Batteast also contributed a season-best 24 points (10-15 FG) at Arizona State and added her second double-double (18 points, game-high 10 rebounds) vs. Colorado State. She tacked on her third double-double at Marquette, posting a game-high 23 points (career-best 11-17 FG) and 11 rebounds, and notched her fourth double-dip vs. Miami (12 points, 11 rebounds). Batteast tallied her fifth double-double at St. John’s with 24 points and 11 rebounds. She then compiled her sixth double-double at Boston College with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Batteast also had a career-high 18 rebounds in Notre Dame’s rematch at Connecticut on Feb. 23, the most caroms by an Irish player since Nov. 1998, when Ruth Riley had 18 boards vs. Duke.
Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (7.9 ppg., 3.7 rpg., team-high 3.6 apg., 2.2 spg., .455 FG%, .824 FT%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in 10 games after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe chalked up 20 points (5-5 FG, 10-11 FT) and a season-high six assists at Marquette, before adding 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists vs. Purdue. However, her best all-around performance may have come at West Virginia, when she tallied a career-high 21 points (6-9 FG, 8-9 FT) along with six rebounds, five assists and five steals. She also added a season-high seven rebounds in the rematch with WVU on Feb. 1, and had a career-high eight steals vs. Georgetown, the highest single-game total by an Irish player since 1991.
Severe is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.6 ppg., 2.4 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy has started five times this year, dishing out a game-high seven assists at Arizona State, the most by an Irish rookie since Ratay’s seven handouts against Butler on Dec. 1, 1999. She also hit the first two three-pointers of her career at Marquette and added a game-high six assists at St. John’s. In addition, she poured in a season-high 12 points, making 9-of-10 free throws against Pittsburgh. Duffy has been especially solid of late at the foul line, making 18 of her last 20 charities.
Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (0.7 ppg., 0.1 rpg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.4 ppg., 0.2 rpg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State, while Krause has seen action in 17 games, grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW and canning her first career three-pointer vs. Tennessee. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad of leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (8.8 ppg., 4.8 rpg., 1.4 bpg., team-high .595 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (7.7 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also set new career highs with 11 rebounds and four assists vs. IPFW, and later added 14 points and four blocked shots against Tennessee. She then piled up a team-high 13 points vs. Miami and tossed in 19 points (8-11 FG) at St. John’s. On Feb. 1 vs. West Virginia, Borton knocked down all seven of her shots, tying her own mark for the second-best shooting performance in Joyce Center history. She then carded 11 points and a career-high five blocks vs. Georgetown, followed by a 12-point night (6-6 FT) vs. St. John’s. Borton also has been solid in BIG EAST games, posting a sparkling .620 field goal percentage (49-79), and she collected a career-high 21 points (7-11 FG, 7-7 FT) at Connecticut. She then rolled up 13 points (7-7 FT) vs. Pittsburgh, extending her free throw streak to 15 in a row (and 21 of her last 22).
At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She displayed her improvement in the season opener, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State. Her eight double-figure games this season have nearly tripled her total (three) from all of last year. Flecky saw limited action during the month of January due to a lingering back injury, but appears to have recovered nicely of late. She recorded her first double-double of the year (and second of her career) vs. Georgetown with 12 points and a career-best 12 rebounds, then added 11 points and five rebounds at Virginia Tech. She returned to the starting lineup vs. St. John’s, rolling up career bests of five assists and four steals, and she logged 10 points and five rebounds at Connecticut.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (12.1 ppg., 6.0 rpg., .500 FG%, five double-doubles) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College Hoops.com named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists vs. Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999.
LaVere has been at her best against top competition, compiling three of her five double-doubles against ranked opponents (No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Purdue and No. 20 Villanova). She also has scored in double figures 15 times with four 20-point outings this season. Twice, she has scored a season-high 23 points (vs. Purdue and Rutgers), and she pulled down a personal-best 12 rebounds at Villanova.
THE NOTRE DAME-SETON HALL SERIES
Notre Dame holds a 11-2 series advantage over Seton Hall, having won all 11 meetings with the Pirates since joining the BIG EAST Conference for the 1995-96 season. The Irish also are 5-1 against SHU at the Joyce Center, having rebounded from an 62-55 loss in their first-ever meeting (Dec. 11, 1993) with five consecutive victories by an average margin of 32 points per game.
Notre Dame and Seton Hall played one another twice last season. In the first encounter at the Joyce Center (Jan. 9, 2002), the Irish shot 58 percent from the field and received 47 points from their bench in a 79-45 victory. Guard Alicia Ratay was one of three Notre Dame players to score in double figures, piling up 18 points, while center Teresa Borton tied a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-for-7 from the field en route to a 15-point night. The Irish also held a commanding +20 rebounding edge (46-26) and went on a 20-7 run over the final nine minutes of the first half to seize control of the contest.
Last year’s second matchup (Feb. 2, 2002) at Walsh Gymnasium was much tighter, as Notre Dame rallied from a pair of 10-point deficits to ease past the Pirates, 65-60. Forward Jacqueline Batteast posted the ninth double-double of her rookie season with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Ratay added 10 points for the Irish, who shot a (then) season-low 32.1 percent from the floor. However, they made up for it at the free throw line, going 26-of-34 (.765) on their charity tosses. Notre Dame also owned the glass once again, claiming the battle of the boards by a 46-29 count.
SCOUTING SETON HALL
A thin line between victory and defeat exists in college basketball, and Seton Hall has toed that line precariously throughout the 2002-03 season. The Pirates have played 13 games that were decided by 10 points or less, going 6-7 in those contests. That included a stretch of seven consecutive nail-biters from Jan. 15 to Feb. 4 and was highlighted by a near-upset of (then) No. 3/2 Connecticut, 53-48 at Walsh Gymnasium. That game almost ended UConn’s winning streak one game shy of tying the NCAA record of 54, held by Louisiana Tech.
The Pirates come into Saturday’s game with a record of 13-11 (7-7 in the BIG EAST) following another tension-filled victory, 78-71 in overtime over Miami on Wednesday night at Walsh Gym. Forward Leslie Ardon scored a game-high 21 points to lead four SHU players in double figures as the Pirates rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to force overtime. In the extra session, Seton Hall canned four of its five shots and nine out of 10 free throws to severely cripple the Hurricanes’ NCAA Tournament hopes. The Pirates wound up shooting 43.1 percent for the game and forced 24 Miami turnovers, while winning the rebounding battle by a narrow 40-39 tally < ardon=”” added=”” a=”” game-high=”” nine=”” boards=”” for=”” seton=”” hall.=””>
Defense has been the staple for the Pirates this season, as they are allowing only 56.3 points per game (fourth in the BIG EAST) and holding opponents to a meager .382 field goal percentage (third in the conference). However, Seton Hall has had its troubles on the offensive end, piling up only 58.8 points per contest (13th in the BIG EAST) and shooting a league-low .375 from the field.
Junior forward Charlene Thomas is the only Pirate scoring in double figures this season, averaging 11.1 points per game. She also is second on the squad in field goal percentage (.445) and rebounding (6.1 rpg.), ranking 16th in the conference in the latter category. Ardon is second on the team in scoring (7.9 ppg.) after recovering from a knee injury that forced her to miss the second half of last season. Sophomore forward Ashley Bush has lent a solid presence on the blocks, averaging a team-best 7.9 rebounds per game (sixth in the BIG EAST) and amassing four double-doubles.
Head coach Phyllis Mangina has been a fixture at Seton Hall for the past 18 seasons, compiling a 258-252 (.506) record at her alma mater. She is 2-11 in her career against Notre Dame, including a 1-5 mark at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame and Seton Hall faced one common non-conference opponent this season (Temple), and both have played every BIG EAST opponent except Syracuse < with=”” the=”” irish=”” going=”” 9-6=”” and=”” the=”” pirates=”” going=”” 6-8=”” against=”” this=”” common=”” group.=””>
OTHER NOTRE DAME-SETON HALL SERIES TIDBITS
- After winning two of its first three games against Notre Dame and averaging 67 points per game, Seton Hall has lost its last 10 contests with the Irish and has averaged only 50.1 points in those games.
- The first three games in the series all were decided by nine points or less, with two contests going to overtime. Since then, only one Notre Dame-Seton Hall game has been decided by less than 11 points (a 65-60 Irish win on Feb. 2, 2002), with the Irish winning the last 10 games by an average margin of 28.1 points per contest.
- Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, Notre Dame has never scored less than 65 points in a game against Seton Hall. Conversely, the Pirates have topped the mark just once, falling 88-79 in overtime to the Irish in their first conference matchup on Jan. 2, 1996 in South Orange. Seton Hall comes into Saturday?s game averaging 58.8 ppg. (54.9 ppg. in conference games).
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will extend its series winning streak against Seton Hall to 12 games, making the Pirates one of seven opponents on this year’s schedule against whom the Irish currently have a double-digit winning streak (others are Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s, Valparaiso and West Virginia). The 12-game winning streak also will tie the third-longest active skein for Notre Dame against a BIG EAST opponent < the=”” irish=”” have=”” won=”” 15=”” in=”” a=”” row=”” vs.=”” georgetown,=”” 13=”” straight=”” vs.=”” st.=”” john’s=”” and=”” 12=”” in=”” a=”” row=”” vs.=”” pittsburgh.=””>
- The Irish will raise their all-time regular-season BIG EAST Conference record to 111-24 (.822), the best mark in league history.
- Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 359-136 (.725) in 16 seasons, and her overall ledger will jump to 447-177 (.716) in 21 years.
- The Irish will raise their all-time record to 523-235 (.690) in 26 seasons of varsity competition.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Feb. 28)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce leg injuries, out indefinitely
With less than a week remaining before the start of the BIG EAST Conference Championship, many of the tournament seeds have yet to be decided. However, Notre Dame is in the enviable position of being able to determine its own postseason fate in the final two games of the regular season. Here are some of the potential seeding scenarios facing the Irish in the last week of conference play:
- If Notre Dame goes 2-0 … the Irish could finish fifth (if Virginia Tech loses to either West Virginia or St. John’s) or sixth (if Virginia Tech wins twice). Notre Dame can clinch at least the sixth seed with a win over Seton Hall on Saturday, coupled with a Miami loss at Boston College.
- If Notre Dame goes 1-1 … the Irish could finish anywhere from fifth to eighth, depending on the results of other games.
- If Notre Dame goes 0-2 … the Irish could finish seventh (if Miami loses to both BC and Georgetown) or eighth (if Miami wins once).
249 DOWN … ONE TO GO
Senior guard Alicia Ratay needs just one three-point field goal to break Sheila McMillen’s school record for career treys (249 from 1995-99). Ratay tied McMillen’s mark on Wednesday night with two three-pointers in a 77-69 Irish victory over Pittsburgh. Ratay already holds the Notre Dame record for career three-point percentage (.481), a mark which also would qualify as the best ratio in NCAA history.
STREAKING ACROSS THE BIG EAST
The Irish have winning streaks of 10-or-more games against six of their 13 BIG EAST Conference opponents. Their longest active conference winning streak is 15 games (vs. Georgetown), followed by a 13-game run against St. John?s and a 12-game stretch vs. Pittsburgh. Notre Dame also has active 11-game success strings against Providence, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The longest current Irish winning streak vs. any opponent is 16 games against both Detroit and Valparaiso.
Despite its earlier struggles this season, Notre Dame remains firmly in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth. According to the Feb. 28 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings compiled by Richie Summerville and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), the Irish are 28th in the nation, while their schedule strength also is rated No. 21 in the land. In addition, Notre Dame is one of six BIG EAST Conference schools ranked in the top 30 of the WBCA/Summerville RPI (#2 Connecticut, #5 Villanova, #11 Rutgers, #17 Boston College and #27 Virginia Tech are the others). The Irish already have a road win to their credit over Villanova (58-56 on Jan. 25).
As a league, the BIG EAST ranks fifth in the country, trailing only the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-10, and leading the Big 12. In addition, the BIG EAST posted a 114-38 (.750) record against non-conference opponents this season, the best mark in league history. That includes an 8-2 record against the Pac-10 and a 7-3 record against the ACC.
TAKING THE IRISH TO BLOCK
Notre Dame leads the BIG EAST Conference and ranks 14th nationally with 5.16 blocked shots per game this season. The Irish are led by a trio of players who are averaging at least one block per game < sophomore=”” forward=””>Jacqueline Batteast at 1.52 bpg. (third in the BIG EAST), sophomore center Teresa Borton at 1.36 bpg. (fourth in the BIG EAST) and freshman forward Courtney LaVere at 1.0 bpg. (11th in the BIG EAST). Batteast also is the BIG EAST’s second-best shot blocker in conference games, averaging 1.79 rejections per league contest.
WE DO WINDOWS
Rebounding has been a key to Notre Dame’s success this season. The Irish are 13-2 when they outrebound their opponent, with their only losses coming on the road at Virginia Tech and Connecticut. The latter contest was significant because, even in defeat, Notre Dame became just the third time all season to beat the Huskies on the boards (the others are Tennessee and Virginia Tech). For the season, the Irish are averaging 38.1 rebounds per game, good for fifth in the BIG EAST Conference, and own a +2.7 rpg. margin, sixth-best in the league.
Individually, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast ranks fifth in the BIG EAST with 8.0 rebounds per game. She pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds on Feb. 23 at No. 1 Connecticut, logging the most boards by an Irish player since Ruth Riley had 18 vs. Duke on Nov. 21, 1998. It also is the highest rebounding total by any individual in a BIG EAST game this season. Freshman forward Courtney LaVere is the other Notre Dame player currently ranked among the top 20 in the BIG EAST in rebounding < she=”” is=”” 19th=”” with=”” 6.0=”” caroms=”” per=”” contest.=””>
A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Notre Dame has benefited this season from a well-balanced offense, one that has seen at least three players score in double figures in 19 of 25 games (and 14 of 16 wins). In addition, the Irish have had four players reach double digits in 10 games this season (Cleveland State, USC, Valparaiso, Arizona State, Temple, Miami, Georgetown, St. John’s, Connecticut and Pittsburgh) and had five double-figure scorers on six occasions (Cleveland State, USC, Temple, Miami, Georgetown and Pittsburgh). The last time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers six times in the same season was 1998-99, when the Irish turned the trick seven times (vs. UCLA, San Francisco, Toledo, South Florida, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Syracuse).
As you might expect, Notre Dame has three players averaging in double figures for the season. Sophomore forward and Naismith Award candidate Jacqueline Batteast has been the pacesetter at 15.0 ppg., followed by freshman forward Courtney LaVere, who averages 12.1 points per game. Last year’s leading scorer, senior guard Alicia Ratay is third at 11.6 ppg. this season.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Taking their offensive balance to another level, the Irish have had six different players score at least 20 points in a game this season <>Jacqueline Batteast (five times), Courtney LaVere (four times), Alicia Ratay (three times), Le’Tania Severe (twice), Teresa Borton (once) and Katy Flecky (once). No other team in the BIG EAST Conference can make that claim, and only one other school in the nation has done so this year < no.=”” 22=”” wisconsin-green=”” bay.=””>
The free throw line has been a very friendly place for Notre Dame this season. The Irish rank third in the BIG EAST Conference and 45th in the nation with a .744 free throw percentage, a far cry from their .673 mark last season (ND’s lowest in 15 years). Notre Dame has shot 75 percent or better at the charity stripe 10 times this season, highlighted by its 95-percent efficiency rate (19-20) Jan. 14 at St. John’s. That was the highest free throw percentage by an Irish squad since Dec. 1, 1993, when Notre Dame connected at a school-record .960 clip (24-25) in a win over Marquette.
Leading the Irish assault from the line has been senior guard Alicia Ratay, who leads the BIG EAST and ranks 16th in the nation with an .874 free throw percentage. That should come as no surprise, because Ratay ranks sixth in NCAA history with an .869 career free throw ratio (358-412). However, Ratay is only one of five Notre Dame players who are shooting 70 percent or better at the stripe this year < junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe is second at .824 (5th in the BIG EAST), followed by sophomore center Teresa Borton (.731), sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (.726) and freshman guard Megan Duffy (.723).
The free throw percentages for Borton and Severe have been among the most pleasant developments for the Irish. Borton has improved her free throw efficiency by more than 25 percent over last year’s mark (.474), and has been especially strong of late, making 21 of her last 22 charity tosses including her last 15 in a row dating back to the Providence game (Feb. 16). Meanwhile, Severe came into this season with a .651 career free throw ratio and has raised that mark by 17 percent this year. Duffy has been a study in contrasts at the line, starting the year below 60 percent (16-27), but she has lifted that mark considerably in the last month by connecting at a 90-percent clip (18-20) from the stripe.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere added to Notre Dame’s free throw resurgence on Jan. 25 with her 12-for-16 performance from the foul line at Villanova. Her 12 made free throws were an Irish freshman record and tied for the fifth-highest total in school history. In addition, her 16 free throw attempts matched the fourth-highest single-game mark in the Notre Dame record book.
In a surprising reversal of fortune this season, Notre Dame has had nearly as much success on the road as it has at home. The Irish are 8-5 this year on hostile ground (8-4 road, 0-1 neutral), compared to an 8-4 record at the Joyce Center. That’s a far cry from last season’s road woes when Notre Dame lost its first five games outside the Joyce Center and finished with a 7-9 record in road/neutral site games. Conversely, the Irish went 13-1 at home last year, winning their first 13 games at the Joyce Center before a season-ending three-point loss to Villanova.
The Irish have won 14 of their last 21 regular-season games outside the Joyce Center, including 12 of their last 17. Of those last 17 games in hostile territory, the only blemishes on that record came earlier this season against teams that currently are ranked or receiving votes in one or both of the major national polls < depaul,=”” no.=”” 3/3=”” tennessee=”” (neutral=”” site),=”” no.=”” 23/21=”” boston=”” college,=”” virginia=”” tech=”” and=”” no.=”” 1/1=”” connecticut.=””>
THE BEASTS OF THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 110-24 (.821) 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 65 of their last 79 regular-season conference games, and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 122-31 (.797) against league opponents < when=”” factoring=”” in=”” these=”” 19=”” postseason=”” tilts,=”” the=”” irish=”” are=”” 60-7=”” (.896)=”” at=”” home,=”” 50-20=”” (.714)=”” on=”” the=”” road=”” and=”” 12-7=”” (.632)=”” at=”” neutral=”” sites=”” all-time=”” against=”” big=”” east=”” foes.=””>
TAKING THAT FIRST STEP
With its win at Providence on Feb. 16, Notre Dame clinched a winning record for the 2002-03 season, marking the 23rd time in the 26-year history of the program that the Irish have finished at or above .500 for the season. The success has been even more impressive under current head coach Muffet McGraw < notre=”” dame=”” has=”” had=”” just=”” one=”” losing=”” season=”” during=”” her=”” 16-year=”” tenure=”” (14-17=”” in=”” 1991-92),=”” and=”” still=”” advanced=”” to=”” the=”” ncaa=”” tournament=”” that=”” season=”” after=”” winning=”” the=”” midwestern=”” collegiate=”” conference=”” tournament.=””>
THE BATTEAST 500
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast scored the 500th point of her career on Dec. 31 at Marquette. She now has 734 points in only 51 career games (14.4 ppg.), making her the fourth-fastest player to reach the 500-point mark in school history. A total of 13 players have scored their 500th point in less than two seasons at Notre Dame, although only five have done so in less than 40 career games (including Batteast and senior guard Alicia Ratay, who did it in 35 games).
RETURN OF THE RALLY MONKEY
Twice this season, Notre Dame has rallied from a double-digit deficit to record a victory. The Irish posted their largest comeback in more than a year when they rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to knock off previously unbeaten West Virginia, 66-59, on Jan. 8 in Morgantown. Notre Dame trailed 33-22 at the half and fell into a deeper hole when Mountaineer guard Kate Bulger nailed a three-point field goal on her team’s first possession of the second half. However, the Irish answered with a 16-2 run over the next 3:43 to tie the game and eventually take the victory. The WVU win was the biggest comeback for Notre Dame since it set a NCAA Final Four record by erasing a 16-point deficit in a 90-75 win over Connecticut on March 30, 2001 in St. Louis.
The Irish then pulled another rabbit out of their collective hat on Feb. 16 at Providence, wiping out a 10-point first-half blemish to notch a 67-61 victory over the Friars. The victory over Providence also marked the fifth time in the last three years the Irish have won after trailing by double digits. In addition to the aforementioned games, Notre Dame rallied from 12 points down to defeat Purdue in the 2001 NCAA championship game, and came back from a pair of 10-point deficits to win at Seton Hall on Feb. 2, 2002.
THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILLENNIUM
Notre Dame played the 750th game in the program’s history on Jan. 29 at Boston College. The Irish have an all-time record of 522-235 (.690) in 26 seasons of varsity competition. Included in that record are 17 20-win seasons (13 under current head coach Muffet McGraw), nine NCAA Tournament appearances, four trips to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 NCAA championship. However, what may be most impressive about Notre Dame’s women’s basketball program is the fact that the Irish have had exactly three losing seasons (1980-81, 1986-87 and 1991-92) in their 26 years of existence!
DIGGER AND ME
With a 75-68 Irish win at Marquette on New Year’s Eve, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw joined Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to collect 350 victories at the school. McGraw is 358-136 (.725) in 16 seasons at Notre Dame, while Phelps posted a 393-197 (.666) mark in 20 years at the helm of the Irish men’s basketball program.
In addition, McGraw has the third-highest winning percentage of any basketball coach at Notre Dame (men’s or women’s) with at least five years of service, and her .725 ratio is the best by any coach in the last 60 years. Only men’s coaches Bertram G. Maris (.794 from 1907-12) and George Keogan (.771 from 1923-43) have had more success at Notre Dame over an extended period than McGraw.
Five times this season, Notre Dame has been involved in some hair-raising finishes. The Irish pulled out narrow victories over Colorado State (46-45), Villanova (58-56) and West Virginia (69-64), but came up just short against Rutgers (64-61) and Virginia Tech (53-50). However, a close game shouldn’t come as any surprise to Notre Dame fans. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have played 16 games that were decided by five points or less, evenly splitting those contests. The Colorado State nail-biter was the first one-point win for Notre Dame since a 63-62 squeaker over Villanova on Dec. 12, 1998 at the Joyce Center.
During the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw, the Irish have posted a 34-40 (.459) record in games decided by five points or less, including a 16-14 (.533) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
CATCH HER IF YOU CAN
Junior guard Le’Tania Severe has evolved into a major contributor at both ends of the floor for Notre Dame this season. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., product leads the Irish and ranks among the leaders in the BIG EAST Conference in assists (13th, 3.64 apg.), steals (7th, 2.16 spg.) and free throw percentage (5th, .824). However, she also has displayed a nose for the basket, ranking fifth on the team with 7.9 points per game, easily exceeding her career scoring average of 4.6 ppg. entering this season. In addition, Severe has scored in double figures 10 times this year (including a career-high 21 points at West Virginia), after reaching double digits seven times in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.
At the same time, Severe’s prowess on the defensive end of the court was evident against Georgetown, as she racked up a career-high eight steals. That tied for the second-most thefts ever by an Irish player in a single game, and it was the most since current Notre Dame assistant coach Coquese Washington also had eight steals against Stanford on Nov. 24, 1991.
WISH THEY ALL COULD BE CALIFORNIA GIRLS
Despite having to adjust to the faster college game, not to mention the unfamiliar winter weather of South Bend, freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made a significant impact in her first season at Notre Dame. The Ventura, Calif., native ranks second on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg.), field goal percentage (.500) and rebounding (6.0 rpg.), ranking 19th in the BIG EAST Conference in the latter category. In addition, she has five double-doubles to her credit, with three of her double-dips coming against ranked opponents (No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Purdue and No. 20 Villanova).
LaVere began the season in fine fashion, coming off the bench to score 18 points in Notre Dame’s 107-65 rout of Cleveland State. That was the highest-scoring debut for an Irish freshman since current senior guard Alicia Ratay tallied 18 points at Toledo in 1999. As it turned out, that would be just the beginning for LaVere, who has scored in double figures 15 times and earned game-high scoring honors four times this season. She tallied a season-high 23 points twice this year (vs. Purdue and Rutgers) and chalked up a season-best 12 rebounds at Villanova.
RATAY ERUPTS FROM THE LAND OF PLENTY
Senior guard Alicia Ratay was virtually unstoppable from the perimeter on Feb. 16 at Providence, connecting on 7-of-9 three-point tries and finishing with a season-high 30 points in a 67-61 Irish victory. Ratay was 9-of-12 overall from the field, and her seven treys marked the fourth time in her career she rolled a lucky seven from beyond the arc. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native had a chance to break Sheila McMillen’s school record of eight triples (vs. St. John’s, 2/28/98), but one three-pointer was wiped out by a three-second violation and she had a toe on the line when she nailed another. The BIG EAST Conference record for three-pointers in a game is nine, held by Christine Lambert of West Virginia.
COOL AS ICE
Twice this season, senior guard Alicia Ratay has added chapters to her ever-growing legend at Notre Dame. On Dec. 23, she buried two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to defeat Colorado State, 46-45. It wasn’t the first time the Lake Zurich, Ill., product had stepped up in the clutch. Then, just over a month later on Jan. 25 at No. 20 Villanova, she canned a jumper in the lane with 48 seconds remaining to break a 53-53 tie and propel the Irish to the victory.
Late-game heroics have been nothing new for Ratay, who has been tough in the clutch ever since her freshman season. As a rookie playing at No. 8 Rutgers in 2000, Ratay set a BIG EAST Conference record by going 7-for-7 from three-point range, including two treys in the final 16 seconds of the contest with the Irish trailing by six. She went on to finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame pulled out a 78-74 overtime win.
Last season, Ratay nearly topped herself in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals vs. Syracuse. With the Irish trailing by 16 points and only 3:52 left, Ratay scored 17 of the next 19 Notre Dame points, including nine in a span of 18 seconds, to single-handedly spark a 19-5 run that pulled her team within 81-79 with 18 seconds remaining. However, Syracuse finally forced a Ratay miss and hit three free throws to save the victory.
START ME UP
Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached a milestone at Valparaiso, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native now ranks second in school annals, having started 122 of 123 games for Notre Dame (including the last 64 in a row), while yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay is presently two starts away from the school record of 124, currently held by Ruth Riley. At her current pace, Ratay would tie Riley’s mark in Notre Dame’s regular-season finale at Syracuse next Tuesday, and would break it in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship on March 8.
RATAY’S MILESTONE WATCH
Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several other career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark at Valparaiso, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to attain that feat, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,665 points, 624 rebounds and 233 assists, becoming the sixth Irish player to score 1,500 points with 14 points at West Virginia Jan. 8.
Ratay also has tied the Notre Dame career record for three-point field goals with 249, a mark currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay moved into a tie with McMillen when she buried a pair of treys Wednesday night vs. Pittsburgh.
Some other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks fourth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,665 points, passing Karen Robinson (1987-91) for the No. 4 spot with four points at Virginia Tech. In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 123 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with another three starts and 10 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.869) and three-point field goal (.481) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In fact, if her career ended today, Ratay’s three-point percentage would stand as the best in women’s college basketball history, and her free throw ratio would be sixth in NCAA annals. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame and national record books, please see the charts in the page 9 sidebar.
RATAY SELECTED TO VERIZON ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT SECOND TEAM
For the second consecutive season, senior guard Alicia Ratay has been selected to the Verizon Academic All-District V University Division Second Team, it was announced Feb. 20. She holds a 3.483 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) with a double major in psychology and education.
With Ratay?s back-to-back selections, the Irish now have had three women?s basketball student-athletes earn district academic recognition in the last three seasons. Ruth Riley was a first-team all-district choice in 2001, paving the way for her eventual selection as the Verizon Academic All-America? Women?s Basketball Team Member of the Year, as well as the overall Verizon Academic All-America? Team Member of the Year.
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 176 games over the last seven seasons, which stands as the sixth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
NOTRE DAME HAD REASON TO BE THANKFUL AFTER FALL SEASONS
Irish teams turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships, an NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team, and a Gator Bowl berth and No. 9 BCS ranking for the football team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.
Thanks to its successful finishes in the fall, Notre Dame moved into third place in the latest NACDA Directors’ Cup standings (see sidebar on page 16).
HALF AND HALF
Over the last three seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 59-4 (.937) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign (12-3 this season) when they go into the dressing room with the lead.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the last eight 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 111-3 (.974) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn?t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45) and Feb. 9, 2003 (Virginia Tech 53-50). Notre Dame has added nine wins to that count this season with victories over USC, Arizona State, IPFW, Colorado State, West Virginia, St. John’s (twice), Villanova and Georgetown.
… 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. Over the last eight seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 85-3 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has added four wins to that total this year with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State, Temple and IPFW.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
The 11 players on this year?s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois, Kansas and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana and Washington. The all-time Notre Dame roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster < michigan=”” (14)=””>< is=”” not=”” represented=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86).
In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.
NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 84 of their last 91 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 60-7 (.896) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.
Notre Dame also owned a 33-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center (dating back more than six years) before No. 7 Purdue broke it on Jan. 4, 2003. That streak included victories over a trio of sixth-ranked teams (UCLA and Duke in 1998-99 and Purdue in 2000-01), as well as No. 19 Illinois in ?98-99. Prior to the Purdue loss, Notre Dame?s last non-conference defeat at home came way back on Dec. 9, 1996, when 19th-ranked Wisconsin toppled the Irish, 81-69.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 247-70 (.779) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 97-9 (.915) at the Joyce Center.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame is ranked among the top 10 in the nation in attendance, according to the latest unofficial rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office. The Irish have averaged 7,116 fans for 12 home games this season, placing them eighth in the country (through games of Feb. 23). Notre Dame also drew the fifth-largest crowd in school history on Jan. 4 for its nationally-televised game with Purdue, attracting 9,483 fans to the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. The 2001-02 season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for a 60-44 win over 16th-ranked Boston College.
Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last four seasons.
NOTRE DAME FACING ONE TOUGH SLATE
Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. This year’s Irish docket is ranked as the 21st-hardest slate in the country, according to the Feb. 28 edition of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) RPI rankings, produced by Richie Summerville.
Upon closer examination, six Notre Dame opponents currently are ranked in one or both of the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls (No. 1/1 Connecticut, No. 3/3 Tennessee, No. 11/12 Purdue, No. 18/17 Villanova, No. 20/23 Rutgers and No. 23/21 Boston College). Three others < arizona=”” state,=”” depaul=”” and=”” virginia=”” tech=””>< are=”” receiving=”” votes=”” in=”” one=”” or=”” both=”” of=”” the=”” major=”” polls=”” this=”” week.=””>
Furthermore, of Notre Dame’s 27 regular-season games, 16 are against teams that appear in the top 100 of the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI rankings, including nine in the top 50.
Looking back, the Irish are playing no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play in 2001-02, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conferences last season. What’s more, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least eight times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2, Feb. 23 on College Sports TV). In addition, Notre Dame appeared three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games were telecast locally in South Bend on WHME-TV as part of the league?s TV deal. WHME-TV also broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago.
Besides the regular-season conference television deal, the BIG EAST semifinals on March 10 also will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference title game on March 11 will air live on ESPN2.
The Irish are 2-6 on TV this year, defeating Arizona State and Villanova, but falling to DePaul, Purdue, Miami, Connecticut (twice) and Virginia Tech.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a variety of Irish 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 fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays through the completion of the 2002-03 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).
ANNE WEESE ADDED TO NOTRE DAME ROSTER
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw announced Jan. 7 the addition of 5-10 junior non-scholarship guard Anne Weese (first name pronounced Annie) to the 2002-03 Irish roster.
Weese spent the last two seasons at Seward County (Kan.) Community College, helping the Saints to a combined record of 71-1 and the 2002 NJCAA national championship. She averaged 4.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game during her two-year junior college career. Weese also was a starter on the Saints’ 38-0 national championship squad.
KELSEY WICKS LEAVES IRISH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw announced Feb. 3 that sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks (Gillette, Wyo./Campbell County H.S.) elected to leave the Irish women?s basketball program for personal reasons. Wicks had played in 16 games this season, starting once, while averaging 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. She scored a season-high 12 points on Dec. 14 against Temple.
Wicks appeared in 45 games during her Notre Dame career, starting twice. She averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds while logging 14.8 minutes per game in her tenure with the Irish. In addition, Wicks had three double-digit scoring games to her credit, including a career-best 16 points at Connecticut on Jan. 21, 2002.
NOTRE DAME INKS PAIR OF TOP 20 PREP STANDOUTS IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation?s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.
Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.
Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player < she=”” played=”” with=”” sophomore=”” forward=””>Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships.
With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.
McGRAW INDUCTED INTO SAINT JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph?s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph?s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph?s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.
McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor?s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women?s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since.
Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 358-136 (.725) record (446-177, .716 overall in 21 years), guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women?s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
IRISH ASSISTANT COACH FEATURED ON WNBA.COM
When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women?s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.
During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, WNBA.com will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR 2003 NOTRE DAME WOMEN?S BASKETBALL BANQUET
Tickets are now on sale for the 2003 Notre Dame Women?s Basketball Awards Banquet, which will be held Sunday, April 13 at the Joyce Center. The festivities will get underway at 12:15 p.m. (EST) with a player autograph session on the concourse at the Joyce Center. The banquet will begin at 1:30 p.m. (EST) on the arena floor, and will include award presentations, video highlights from the 2002-03 season and remarks by Notre Dame President Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., director of athletics Kevin White, head coach Muffet McGraw and senior honorees.
Tickets are $25 each and tables of eight are available. Proceeds from ticket sales go to benefit the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made payable to the University of Notre Dame and may be mailed to the Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone reservations will not be accepted.
Reservation forms are available at the Joyce Center second-floor ticket windows. The deadline for reservations is Friday, April 4. For more information, call (574) 631-5420.
IRISH ENJOY SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE
Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night.
All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.
UP NEXT: SYRACUSE
The Irish will wrap up the regular season Tuesday at 7 p.m. (EST) when they venture to Syracuse for a BIG EAST Conference matchup with the Orangewomen at Manley Field House. Notre Dame will be seeking a measure of revenge in the contest < syracuse=”” stunned=”” the=”” irish,=”” 84-79=”” in=”” the=”” quarterfinals=”” of=”” last=”” year’s=”” big=”” east=”” championship,=”” marking=”” the=”” first=”” time=”” ever=”” that=”” notre=”” dame=”” had=”” not=”” reached=”” the=”” semifinal=”” round=”” in=”” its=”” seven-year=”” affiliation=”” with=”” the=”” league.=””>
Coming off their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1988 last season, the Orangewomen have struggled at times this year, posting a 9-16 record and 4-10 BIG EAST mark heading into Saturday night’s tussle with Pittsburgh. In an unusual twist, Syracuse has had most of its trouble at home, going 3-8 in front at Manley Field House, while logging a respectable 6-8 mark on the road. That ledger has been even more stark in conference play, where the Orangewomen are 1-5 at home.
Syracuse enters this weekend’s action having lost five of its last six games, including a narrow 77-74 overtime setback on Wednesday night at West Virginia. Julie McBride and Rochelle Coleman scored 19 points each for the Orangewomen, but it wasn’t enough to counter the hot shooting of WVU’s Kate Bulger, who erupted for a career-best 36 points and nailed the game-winning three-pointer with two seconds remaining in overtime.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with the Orangewomen, 13-2, with a 5-1 record at Manley Field House. The Irish have won five straight at Syracuse, including a 75-61 victory in their last visit on Feb. 14, 2001.