Dec. 9, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
The most tightly-contested series in Notre Dame women’s basketball history will be renewed on Saturday night as the No. 2 Irish head to Chicago for a matchup with No. 16 DePaul. The game times at 8 p.m. ET and can be seen around the Chicagoland and Michiana areas on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus.
Here are a few things to watch for on Saturday night.
Notre Dame-DePaul History
Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 23-19 although the close total belies a recent run of success by the Irish who have won each of the last eight meetings. Last year’s contest saw a high-scoring affair as the Irish downed the Blue Demons, 95-90, at Purcell Pavilion. Madison Cable scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds to pace Notre Dame’s offense that saw five players hit double figures. The programs also recently met under the bright lights of the 2015 NCAA Championship stage with the Irish claiming a 79-67 win over the Blue Demons during the tournament’s second round. The last trip to Chicago for Notre Dame proved to be a thriller as Notre Dame escaped from McGrath-Phillips Arena with a 94-93 win in overtime. Jewell Loyd tied the school record with 41 points, including the game-winning free throws with 5.3 seconds left in overtime.
This year’s edition of the Blue Demons stands at 6-2 on the season including a 108-84 win over then-No. 11 Syracuse. Both DePaul losses have been to top-five foes, falling to UConn and Baylor. Jessica January leads the team with 16.1 points on the season to accompany 53 assists (6.6 per game). Doug Bruno is in his 31st season as head coach at DePaul and is preparing to face the Irish for the 30th time in that span. Bruno is 12-17 against the Irish — formerly fellow members of the BIG EAST Conference along with DePaul.
On the Road Again and Again
Notre Dame is embarking on the first stop of a six-game road trip which will also take Notre Dame to Toledo (Dec. 18), Michigan State (Dec. 20), Chattanooga (Dec. 27), NC State (Dec. 29) and Georgia Tech (Jan. 2) before the Irish once again play at home. It is the longest true road game string in school history. The previous record was five consecutive road games Dec. 30, 1983, to Jan. 15, 1984, as the Irish traversed the U.S. going to Boston College, East Carolina, Xavier, Louisiana Tech and SMU. Notre Dame has played four straight road games several times in the Muffet McGraw era, most recently a run from Dec. 28, 2008, to Jan. 6, 2009, with the Irish sweeping four straight contests at Charlotte, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall and DePaul.
Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw told members of the media on Friday afternoon that freshman Jackie Young will miss the DePaul game with an ankle injury suffered at the end of Wednesday night’s game against UConn. The Irish hope to have the reigning ACC Rookie of the Week back in time for the first game after exams, Dec. 18 at Toledo.
McGraw Radio Show to Debut Jan. 9
For the first time, Muffet McGraw will have her own local radio show as the Muffet McGraw Show Presented by TireRack.com debuts Jan. 9 at O’Rourke’s Public House, conveniently located in Eddy Street Commons, across the street from Notre Dame’s campus.
The hour-long show, which begins at 6 p.m., will be hosted by Bob Nagle, now in his 12th year as the radio voice of the Irish women’s basketball team. It will be broadcast live locally on 92.1 Pulse FM and also be available over the internet at WatchND.tv. The shows will also be archived as Notre Dame Athletics Podcasts which are presented by Nissan.
Five shows, all on Monday nights, are planned for the 2016-17 season with the dates being Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27.
Irish Bounce Back Well From Rare Losses
Notre Dame does not lose many games but, when the Irish do, they tend to respond well. Notre Dame has not lost consecutive games since Nov. 18-21, 2010, losing to No. 15 UCLA in double overtime and then No. 9 Kentucky.
How to Watch/Listen
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus. CSN+ is available, amongst other places, as channel 201 on Comcast cable in South Bend-Mishawaka. Zach Zaidman and Patricia Babcock McGraw are the announcers.
Bob Nagle is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.