Muffet McGraw and the Irish welcome the Hoyas to the Joyce Center on Saturday.

Irish Preparing For Final Tune-Up

Nov. 5, 2004

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Hoosier Lady Stars
The Date and Time: Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004, at Noon ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available through the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).

The Radio Plans: Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Shawn Lewallen (play-by-play) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at

Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available for the Hoosier Lady Stars game, via the Notre Dame ( athletics web site.

For the second time in four days, Notre Dame will be in action when it plays host to the Hoosier Lady Stars Saturday at noon (ET) at the Joyce Center. It’s the second of two exhibition games for the 11th-ranked Irish who are less than a week away from their season opener on Nov. 12 against Illinois State in the opening round of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

After shaking off a bit of the off-season rust, Notre Dame looked sharp in its first exhibition game on Wednesday night, rolling past Premier Sports, 84-52 at the Joyce Center. The Irish went on a 29-12 run that crossed over halftime and they never looked back en route to their 16th consecutive exhibition win and 21st in the past 22 preseason games.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast picked up right where she left off last season, scoring a game-high 23 points on nine-of-14 shooting and adding five rebounds and four steals in 25 minutes. Junior guard Megan Duffy contributed 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, hitting three of her five three-point attempts in the game. A pair of freshmen – guard Charel Allen and center Melissa D’Amico – added 10 points each, with Allen tacking on a game-high nine rebounds for good measure.

The Hoosier Lady Stars are 0-2 on their six-city exhibition tour, following a 73-70 loss at Butler on Thursday night. Former WNBA veteran and Hammond, Ind., native Monica Maxwell scored a game-high 14 points for the Lady Stars, who nearly erased a 21-point second-half deficit before falling.

Made up of players who attended Indiana colleges or are natives of the state, the Hoosier Lady Stars were created by Garry Donna of Hoosier Basketball Magazine. Bob Kirkhoff and Tom O’Brien are sharing the team’s head coaching duties.

With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.

The Irish, who have just two seniors and four upperclassmen on their 11-player roster, were tabbed 11th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll that was released Wednesday. Notre Dame also has been a nearly unanimous top-15 selection by numerous preseason publications, placing as high as 10th by SLAM Magazine and and filtering out no lower than No. 17 (Women’s Basketball News Service) in the polls.

Notre Dame has an abbreviated preseason, playing the second of its two exhibition games Saturday (both in a four-day span this week). The accelerated schedule is due to the second-earliest opener in school history, as the Irish entertain Illinois State on Nov. 12 at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Notre Dame wound up third during its only other appearance in the Preseason WNIT (1996).

• The No. 11 ranking in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll represents the eighth time in the past nine seasons the Irish have appeared in the initial coaches’ poll of the season. Notre Dame also has been ranked 16th or higher in each of the past six preseason ESPN/USA Today polls, debuting as high as No. 5 in 2000-01.

• Notre Dame will take a 20-game homecourt winning streak into the 2004-05 campaign. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and eighth-longest active run in the nation heading into this season.

• The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past five seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 58.5 ppg. mark last year.

• On the flip side, Notre Dame’s offense averaged 64.2 points per game in 2003-04, its lowest output since 1980-81 (the program’s first season at the Division I level).

• The Irish have posted 30 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past six seasons (1998-99 to present), an average of five per year. Notre Dame set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents in 2003-04.

• Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been named a preseason All-American by five sources, including Basketball News, which tabbed her as its Preseason National Player of the Year.

• Batteast and junior guard Megan Duffy both earned preseason all-conference honors recently. Batteast is the 2004-05 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year (the first non-Connecticut player to be chosen in 12 years) and was a unanimous first-team all-league choice. Meanwhile, Duffy is a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST pick on the heels of her selection as the conference’s Most Improved Player last year.

• Head coach Muffet McGraw needs 10 victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 384-149 (.720) record, which also puts her just 16 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.

Saturday’s game is the third on a six-city exhibition tour for the Hoosier Lady Stars, a squad made of players who either attended Indiana colleges or are natives of the state. The team has been coordinated through the efforts of Garry Donna at Hoosier Basketball Magazine.

The Lady Stars are 0-2 in exhibition play this season, having lost at Xavier (87-60) on Wednesday and at Butler (73-70) on Thursday. In the latter game, the Lady Stars trailed by 21 points with 11 minutes remaining, but put together a fierce rally to get within 69-67 in the final minute. They also had a look at a potential game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds, but couldn’t find the mark.

Guard Monica Maxwell, a 1999 graduate of Louisiana Tech and a Hammond, Ind.,native, has led the Lady Stars in scoring thus far, averaging 14.5 points in her first two games (team highs of 15 points at Xavier and 14 points at Butler). Maxwell also spent four seasons with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever from 1999-2002, playing the final two years alongside former Notre Dame guard Niele Ivey and the 2002 campaign with current Irish assistant coach Coquese Washington.

Aside from Maxwell, center Jamie Gray, a 2004 Evansville graduate, scored 13 points against Xavier, while guard Heather Cusick had 11 points and made all three of her three-point attempts at Butler. Cusick graduated from Miami (Ohio) in 2003 and currently serves as the director of basketball operations at Ball State.

Two other familiar faces on the Lady Stars’ roster are center Jill Chapman-Daily and guard Angie Nelp. Chapman-Daily was a standout at Indiana from 1999-2002, was later drafted by the WNBA’s Detroit Shock and eventually was a teammate of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley with the Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL) in 2004. Meanwhile, Nelp (formerly Angie Gorton) was one of the top players ever to come out of Colorado State and scored a team-high 14 points in the Rams’ 72-66 upset of Notre Dame in November 2002.

Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in exhibition games over the past 12 seasons. Since the 1993-94 campaign, the Irish are 21-1 (.955) in these preseason tilts and own an active 16-game exhibition winning streak. During that time, Notre Dame has outscored its preseason opponents by an aggregate score of 1,913-1,366, which is good for an average score of 87-62. The last squad to defeat the Irish in exhibition play was the Lithuanian National Team, which edged Notre Dame, 94-89 in 1996-97. But the Irish were not fazed by that loss – they went on to reach their first NCAA Final Four that year.

In addition to Notre Dame’s team success in exhibition games, several players also have performed well during preseason play. Here’s a brief thumbnail sketch on how some of the current Irish players have done in exhibitions during their careers:

• Jacqueline Batteast – team-high 15.3 ppg. and 9.9 rpg., four double-doubles, two 20-pt games
• Teresa Borton – 14.4 ppg., 7.8 rpg., team-high .667 FG%, two 20-point outings
• Megan Duffy – 9.2 ppg., team-high 4.8 apg., .533 FG%, 13 assists vs. Northwest Sports in 2003
• Crystal Erwin – 5.0 ppg., 4.7 rpg., nine points and 10 rebounds vs. Team Concept in 2003
• Courtney LaVere – 11.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg., scored 21 points vs. Northwest Sports in 2003

For the first time since 1996, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame will take part in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Irish will play host to Illinois State in the opening round of the 16-team event on Friday, Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame is one of nine teams in this year’s Preseason WNIT that qualified for postseason play last year, joining Arizona, Duke, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rice, Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) and South Florida.

The Irish last played in the Preseason WNIT eight years ago, advancing to the semifinals with victories over Kent State (66-41) and No. 6 Iowa (61-50). Following a 72-59 loss to third-ranked Tennessee in the semifinals, Notre Dame bounced back to defeat No. 8 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the consolation game (which no longer exists). Katryna Gaither earned a spot on the all-tournament team after making a tournament-record 42 field goals in the four-game set (a record that still stands). Notre Dame went on to log a 31-7 record in 1996-97, advancing to its first NCAA Final Four.

The Irish will be looking to continue the BIG EAST Conference’s run of success in the Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have reached the semifinals six times in the 10-year history of the tournament, with Connecticut winning titles in 1997 and 2001. Last year, Rutgers made its second trip to the Preseason WNIT championship game before bowing to Texas Tech, 73-45.

Notre Dame will open its season on Nov. 12 against Illinois State in the Preseason WNIT. It will be the earliest debut for the Irish since the program’s second season, when Notre Dame defeated Clark College, 81-51 on Nov. 1, 1978.

Notre Dame’s opening-round game vs. Illinois State in the Preseason WNIT is scheduled for a late tipoff (9 p.m. ET) on Nov. 12 at the Joyce Center, immediately following the traditional football pep rally for the next day’s matchup between the Irish and Pittsburgh at nearby Notre Dame Stadium. It will mark the first time in Notre Dame women’s basketball history that the Irish will play a regular-season game at the Joyce Center immediately after a football pep rally.

Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets closer. In fact, no less than six different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 3 for complete rundown of honors).

The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.

Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.

In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.

The web-based publication also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.

Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.

Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.

Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.

Batteast is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.

Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame is ranked in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, the latest version of which was released Wednesday morning. The Irish are tabbed 11th in this year’s poll, marking the sixth consecutive year that Notre Dame is ranked 16th or higher by the coaches to start the season.

The Irish achieved their highest preseason ranking in 2000-01, when they debuted at No. 5 in the coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll. The first AP poll is scheduled to be released early next week.

In addition to the two major polls, every preseason publication also has the Irish ranked nationally. The chart to the right details those rankings.

According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish second in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 28 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 105 points, including two first-place votes, which placed them behind only three-time defending national champion Connecticut (120 points, 10 first-place votes). Boston College was third, followed by Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. All six of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut and Boston College all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Notre Dame is beginning its 10th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2004-05. The Irish have gone 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .778 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings eight times in its first nine seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.

Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 77-7 (.917) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 14-3 mark last year.

Over the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 129-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added 15 more wins to that ledger last season.

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 past nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 88-3 (.967) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame tacked on three more wins to that tally in 2003-04.

Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (28), Texas Tech (15), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (11).

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 113 of their last 122 games (.926) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 20-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active run in the nation entering this season. Notre Dame also has a 69-7 (.908) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 47 of their last 49 non-BIG EAST contests (.959) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 263-70 (.790) record at the venerable facility. In three of the past five seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 15 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years. The Irish extended that streak in 2003-04, ranking 12th with an average of 6,650 fans per game.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-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 past six seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and an active streak of 51 consecutive games with at least 5,000 fans in the house.

The Irish are scheduled to make at least seven appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date).

Notre Dame makes its TV debut this season on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV). That’s the first of three games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which recently signed an agreement with the BIG EAST Conference to carry a national women’s basketball Game of the Week eight times in 2004-05. The Irish also will face Connecticut on Jan. 12 at the Joyce Center and visit Boston College on Feb. 15 in front of the CSTV cameras.

In addition, Notre Dame is scheduled to play twice on ESPN2 this season. On Jan. 16, the Irish will battle Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Joyce Center. Two weeks later on Jan. 30, Notre Dame travels to Storrs, Conn., to meet Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.

The BIG EAST also has added two Irish games to its regional television package this season. Notre Dame will visit Villanova on Jan. 9 and will play host to Rutgers on Jan. 23, both on BIG EAST Television. Among those affiliates carrying the BETV package are Comcast SportsNet outlets in Chicago, Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Fox Sports Net outlets in New York, New England and Pittsburgh. Exact clearances will be made available closer to game time.

NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fifth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site ( by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.

Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):

• Nov. 6 vs. Hoosier Lady Stars – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule magnets
• Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule posters

The 2004-05 season tips off for real next Friday, Nov. 12, when the 11th-ranked Irish play host to Illinois State in the opening round of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) at the Joyce Center. The Redbirds, who went 16-13 last season and were on the nation’s most improved teams, opened their exhibition season with an 85-65 victory over Odyssey on Oct. 31. ISU will face St. Xavier (Ill.) University in another exhibition game Sunday in Normal, Ill.

Notre Dame and Illinois State have split their previous two meetings. In 1983, the Irish pulled out a 48-47 win in Normal, before the Redbirds returned the favor with a 61-59 victory the following year at the Joyce Center. As a point of reference, only three current Notre Dame players – seniors Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton and junior Courtney LaVere – were even born the last time the Irish faced ISU.