Jan. 20, 2006
2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 17
#24/22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5 / 2-3 BIG EAST) vs.
Georgetown Hoyas (8-8 / 1-4 BIG EAST)
|DATE:||January 21, 2006|
|TIME:||4:00 p.m. ET|
|McDonough Arena (2,200)|
|SERIES:||Notre Dame leads 19-2|
|1ST MTG:||1/6/83 (ND 78-68)|
|LAST MTG:||2/12/05 (ND 72-58)|
|RADIO:||ESPN Radio 1580 AM|
|Sean Stires, p-b-p|
- Notre Dame looks to win back-to-back BIG EAST Conference games for the first time this year and even its league record at 3-3.
- The Irish return to Washington, D.C., for the first time since a 76-73 loss at Georgetown on Jan. 7, 2004.
Winners in two of its last three games following a three-game losing streak, the No. 24/22 Notre Dame women’s basketball team will play three of its next four games on the road, starting Saturday with a 4 p.m. (ET) contest at Georgetown. The Irish (11-5, 2-3 BIG EAST) picked up their third win over a ranked opponent in five tries this season with a 78-75 victory over No. 10 DePaul on Tuesday night at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, following an 18-0 Blue Demon run, but topped that with a 20-1 charge of its own, and then converted 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:37 to secure the win. Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy almost recorded the second triple-double in school history (and the first in almost 16 years), finishing with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Junior forward Crystal Erwin and junior guard Breona Gray each added 10 points, while freshman guard Lindsay Schrader tallied nine points and nine rebounds for the Irish.
- Notre Dame is ranked 24th in this week’s Associated Press poll and is 22nd in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
- Georgetown is not ranked.
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments (including the past 10 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 586-259 (.693).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
- 19th season at Notre Dame
- 422-160 (.725) at Notre Dame.
- 510-201 (.717) in 24 years as head coach.
- 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
- Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
- Four-time conference Coach of the Year
- BIG EAST Conference (2001)
- Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
- North Star Conference (1988)
- East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
The 2005-06 season was expected to be a unique one for Notre Dame and it has lived up to that assessment thus far. Despite losing two of their top three scorers and their two primary rebounders from a year ago, the Irish bolted to a 9-1 record, highlighted by two wins over Top 25 teams (USC and Utah) as well as the championship at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas.
However, Notre Dame then saw its fortunes reversed, as the Irish dropped four of their next five, including their first three-game losing streak in eight years. Then, as quickly as the misfortune arrived, it disappeared – at least for one night – as Notre Dame knocked off its third ranked opponent of the season with a 78-75 victory over No. 10 DePaul on Tuesday night.
One of the keys for the Irish this season has been their offensive balance. On 12 occasions, Notre Dame has had at least three players scoring in double figures, and eight separate players have cracked double digits at least twice this year. Additionally, five different players have led the team in scoring at some point.
The Irish also have the benefit of strong leadership in senior All-America point guard and two-year team captain Megan Duffy. The 5-foot-7 Dayton, Ohio, native spent last summer as a co-captain and starter on the United States World University Games Team that rolled to the gold medal with a 7-0 record. Duffy herself directed an American offense that averaged 97.4 points per game and set a USA World University Games record with a scoring margin of +43.1 ppg.
Back stateside, Duffy continues to make improvements in her game each night out and has been a strong all-around contributor and leader for Notre Dame once again this year. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 15.9 points, 4.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game, with a 1.70 assist/turnover ratio, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in all four categories. In addition, she leads the league and is 13th in the nation in foul shooting (.919). She also has led the team in scoring nine times and in assists 11 times this year. Duffy has been tapped for the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll three times this season, and she earned a spot on the Duel in the Desert All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 assists in piloting the Irish to the tourney title. Her last two home outings have been especially impressive, as she logged a career-high 32 points and the game-winning layup at the horn in overtime vs. Marquette, followed by a near triple-double (23 points, nine assists, eight rebounds) against 10th-ranked DePaul.
Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico has proven to be a solid complement in the post to Duffy’s perimeter presence. A prime candidate for the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award, D’Amico is tied for second on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and third in rebounding (5.2 rpg.), while setting the pace in both blocked shots (1.31 bpg., tied-fifth in the BIG EAST) and field goal percentage (.519). Those figures are a far cry from her rookie season, when she logged 1.9 ppg. and 1.4 rpg. with a .438 field goal percentage in 26 games. The pre-Christmas Duel in the Desert was D’Amico’s best showing to date, as she averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with an .824 field goal percentage (14-of-17) en route to tournament Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week honors.
Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader also has shown tremendous promise in her first season with the Irish. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also averaged 13.5 points per game and shot 80 percent from the field (12-of-15) in wins over Iona and Wisconsin, going 6-of-6 in the latter contest. Those marks earned Schrader a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. She also tacked on her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame’s win over No. 22/21 Utah at the Duel in the Desert, before leading all players with 13 points and seven rebounds against Valparaiso. Schrader is tied with D’Amico for second on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and leads in rebounding (6.1 rpg.).
Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish
- Notre Dame’s No. 24 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 29th consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 138 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
- With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). Notre Dame has spent a total of 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
- The Irish have won 57 of their last 61 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004), with the other coming back on Dec. 31 vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
- The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score 61.9 ppg.
- The Irish are 3-2 against ranked teams this season and have posted 40 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 10/10 DePaul, 78-75 on Jan. 17 at the Joyce Center. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 12-3 (.800) at home against Top 25 competition (2-1 this year).
- Drawing 5,311 fans to its Jan. 17 game vs. DePaul, the Irish now have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 73 of their last 75 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
- The capacity crowd of 11,418 for the Dec. 31 home game vs. top-ranked Tennessee was the third sellout in program history and the 19-day advance sellout was the quickest in the 29-year history of Irish women’s basketball. As of Jan. 16, it also was the 21st-largest crowd in the nation. For the season, Notre Dame ranks ninth in the country in average home attendance with 6,566 fans per game.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by ESPN.com. Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
- With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach.
A Quick Look At Georgetown
Following a solid non-conference season that was capped by a win over ACC member Clemson, Georgetown (8-8, 1-4 BIG EAST) has dropped four of its first five games in BIG EAST Conference play, most recently falling at Louisville, 89-68 on Wednesday evening.
The Hoyas had four double-digit scorers in their loss to the Cardinals, led by freshman forward Katrina Wheeler, who collected 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Bethany LeSueur added 17 points, sophomore forward Kieraah Marlow tossed in 12 points and sophomore guard Kristin Heidloff tallied 10 points for Georgetown.
Four Hoyas are scoring in double figures for the season, led by Marlow at 16.5 ppg., and LeSueur at 12.4 ppg. Junior guard/forward Kate Carlin is third at 10.3 ppg., and Wheeler rounds out the quartet at 10.1 ppg. Wheeler also leads Georgetown in rebounding (8.7 rpg.), while Marlow is second (7.1 rpg.) in that category and tops in field goal percentage (.471).
Head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is in her second season at GU, having put together a 20-24 (.455) record at the school. She is 0-1 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Georgetown Series
Notre Dame’s series with Georgetown dates back nearly a quarter of a century to the 1982-83 season and is one of the program’s longest-running rivalries with a current BIG EAST member. The Irish hold a 19-2 edge over the Hoyas, including a 7-1 advantage at McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C.
The two schools played one another five times prior to Notre Dame’s arrival in the BIG EAST for the 1995-96 season. Twice, they faced off in home-and-home series, with the Irish winning all four contests, including a 78-72 overtime decision at the Joyce Center on Dec. 30, 1992 over a GU squad that would eventual reach the NCAA Sweet 16. The other pre-BIG EAST game in the series took place on Dec. 2, 1988 in Richmond, Va., at the Investors Women’s Classic, with Georgetown registering a 70-60 victory.
Once the Irish and Hoyas began playing annually in the BIG EAST, Notre Dame won the first 13 conference matchups in the series, two of those in the BIG EAST Championship (1997 and 2001). Ironically, those turned out to be two seasons that the Irish advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
Georgetown snapped a 15-game series losing streak to Notre Dame in dramatic fashion by a 76-73 count on Jan. 7, 2004 at McDonough Arena. In that game, the Irish led by six points and were at the foul line looking to ice the game with 43 seconds to play before the Hoyas went on an 11-2 run to pull out the victory.
Notre Dame has won the past two games in the series, both at the Joyce Center, by scores of 66-52 (Feb. 4, 2004) and 72-58 (Feb. 12, 2005). Saturday’s game will mark the first Irish game in Washington since its most recent loss to Georgetown.
Other Notre Dame-Georgetown Series Tidbits
- Among the “old guard” of the BIG EAST Conference (aside from this year’s five new members), the 21 series games vs. Georgetown are tied for the most in program history. The Irish also have played 21 times vs. Rutgers and Connecticut, as well as 20 times against Syracuse and Villanova. Notre Dame has faced new BIG EAST foes Marquette (31) and DePaul (24) more often than Georgetown, due in part to their regional proximity and former ties in the North Star Conference and/or Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
- Notre Dame is 15-1 against Georgetown since the teams began playing under the BIG EAST Conference umbrella. In that time, there have been two single-digit margins in the series (the 76-73 GU win on Jan. 7, 2004 at McDonough Arena, and a 67-63 ND win on Jan. 25, 1997 at the Joyce Center).
- Notre Dame has scored 70 or more points in 16 of its 21 series meetings against Georgetown, while the Hoyas have hit that mark three times (once in 16 BIG EAST games – their 76-73 victory on Jan. 7, 2004 in Washington).
- Georgetown senior guard Leslie Tyburski is a native of Hammond, Ind., and graduated from Gavit High School in 2002 as that school’s all-time leading scorer.
- Notre Dame freshman guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS) and Georgetown sophomore guard Kristin Heidloff (Chicago/Fenwick HS) are two of the many talented players to have emerged from the Chicagoland area in the past couple of years. Schrader is the reigning Illinois Miss Basketball and was a four-time all-state pick (as well as a 2005 consensus prep All-American), while Heidloff was a two-time all-state selection (2002 and 2003).
- Schrader and Georgetown freshman forward Katrina Wheeler both were named to the 2005 McDonald’s High School All-America Team and played against one another in the McDonald’s High School All-America Game that was contested at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center on March 30, 2005. Schrader scored nine points (4-7 FG) and grabbed three rebounds for the West squad, while Wheeler started for the East team, piling up five rebounds and two steals. The West came out victorious, 80-64.
- First-year Georgetown athletics director Bernard Muir formerly served as deputy athletics director at Notre Dame from 2000-05. His wife, Liz, also spent time in the Irish athletics department, most recently as assistant athletics director for rules education, before the Muir family moved to Washington last summer.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Georgetown Met Jacqueline Batteast had 20 points and eight rebounds as No. 6/7 Notre Dame recovered from nearly squandering a 17-point lead, beating Georgetown 72-58 on Feb. 12, 2005 at the Joyce Center.
Georgetown (9-13, 4-7 BIG EAST), which trailed 31-14 with five minutes to go in the first half, cut the Irish lead to 35-30 early in the second half on a basket by Varda Tamoulianis. Later in the half, the Hoyas closed to 42-39 when Mary Lisicky hit a three-pointer. Lisicky trimmed the gap to 43-41 when she made a pair of free throws with 12:41 left.
But Batteast dribbled around a crowd in the lane and drove the baseline to spark a 17-4 run by the Irish (22-3, 10-2). Batteast and Charel Allen scored six points each during the spurt. Megan Duffy, who had 17 points and seven assists, capped the run with a pair of free throws to give the Irish a 60-45 lead with 6:34 left.
Teresa Borton added 14 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds for her fourth career double-double as the Irish outrebounded Georgetown 42-21. The Irish dominated inside, outscoring the Hoyas 30-22. Allen added 14 points for Notre Dame.
Lisicky led Georgetown with 16 points. Kate Carlin added 11 points and Bethany LeSueur had 10. Kieraah Marlow, Georgetown’s leading scorer at 13.2 points a game, was held to six points.
Notre Dame outshot the Hoyas 47 percent to 41 percent.
The Irish used an 18-6 run to open a 31-14 lead when Batteast scored on a running 10-foot jumper down the lane. But the Hoyas, who made just five of their first 20 shots, made their last five of the first half during a 12-4 run.
A three-pointer by Kristin Heidloff from a step across halfcourt just before the buzzer cut Notre Dame’s lead to 35-26 at the break.
Beasts Of The BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 139-34 (.803) 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 95 of their last 119 regular-season conference games, have finished among the top three in the BIG EAST nine times in their 10-year membership, and claimed a share of their first-ever regular-season conference championship in 2001.
When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 153-44 (.777) vs. league opponents – factoring in 23 postseason tilts, the Irish are 78-9 (.897) at home, 61-28 (.685) on the road and 14-7 (.667) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.
Finding A Way
Notre Dame is 4-1 this season in games decided by five points or less, following Tuesday night’s 78-75 victory over No. 10 DePaul at the Joyce Center. The only time this year that the Irish didn’t win a close game was Jan. 4 at St. John’s, when the Red Storm edged Notre Dame, 66-63 in Jamaica, N.Y.
When The Game Is On The Line …
The Irish have posted a .687 free throw percentage (57-of-83) in the final two minutes and overtime of games this season, including a 9-of-12 effort in Tuesday’s win over No. 10 DePaul. Leading the way is senior guard Megan Duffy, who has made 28 of her 30 foul shots (.933) in crunch time.
In eight of their 11 victories this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to either take control or battle their way back into the contest. Six times, the Irish trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, rallied to take the win.
Nearly A Lil’ Bit Of History
Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy – known to some of her teammates as “Lil’ Bit” – came close to putting another of her stamps on Irish women’s basketball history Tuesday night vs. No. 10 DePaul. The Dayton, Ohio, native amassed 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, just missing out on becoming the second player in the program’s 29 seasons to compile a triple-double (and the first in almost 16 years).
Sara Liebscher remains the lone Notre Dame women’s basketball player ever to pull off that rare feat, registering 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 99-58 win over Detroit on Feb. 15, 1990 at the Joyce Center.
Game #16 Recap: DePaul
Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy did a bit of everything to help No. 24/22 Notre Dame avoid another loss.
After Suzanne Morrison scored on a layup to cap an 18-0 run for No. 10 DePaul and give the Blue Demons a 12-point lead, Duffy had two assists, a defensive rebound and a steal in the span of 51 seconds to get the Irish going again, sparking their own 18-0 run.
Duffy finished with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to lead Notre Dame to a 78-75 home victory Tuesday night over the Blue Demons, who cracked the Top 10 for the first time the previous day.
DePaul (16-2, 3-2 BIG EAST), which saw its nine-game winning streak end, had a chance to tie it at the end, but a half-court shot by Allie Quigley bounced hard off the back of the rim. Television replays later showed the shot came after the final horn and likely would not have counted.
It was just the second win in six games for the Irish (11-5, 2-3). Early in the second half it appeared the Irish, who led 37-33 at the half, wouldn’t have a chance to win.
Jenna Rubino, who had a career-high 25 points, started DePaul’s 18-0 spurt with three straight three-pointers and Rachel Carney, who had 12 points, added another trey. Quigley had 19 points for the Blue Demons, who made a season-high 13 three-pointers while shooting a season-best 45 percent from beyond the arc.
But the Irish finally found DePaul’s scorers, holding them without a field goal for 8:29. The Blue Demons went 0-for-12 during the stretch, which saw Notre Dame outscored DePaul, 20-1, before Khara Smith hit a layup at the 5:01 mark to end the drought.
DePaul closed to 65-64 on a 3-pointer by Carney, but Duffy answered with a basket. The Irish then made 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:37 (including four each by Duffy and sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines) to hold on.
Noting The DePaul Win
- Notre Dame picks up its third win over a ranked opponent in five tries this season; it’s also the first Irish win over a Top 10 opponent since Jan. 30, 2005, when No. 6/7 Notre Dame defeated No. 9/10 Connecticut, 65-59 in Storrs, Conn.
- Tuesday’s win is the first for the Irish vs. a higher-ranked opponent since Jan. 23, 2005, when No. 11/10 Notre Dame downed No. 6/7 Rutgers, 63-47 at the Joyce Center.
- The Irish are 12-3 in their last 15 home games against ranked opponents, dating back to the start of the 2003-04 season.
- Notre Dame continues its remarkable resiliency after a double-digit loss, improving to 40-6 (.870) in so-called “bounce back” games during the past 11 seasons, including a 25-1 (.962) mark at home and a 3-1 record this season.
- The Irish rallied from a double-digit deficit to win for the second time in as many home games; the 12-point comeback vs. DePaul was the largest for Notre Dame since Feb. 15, 2005 at Boston College, when the Irish used a pair of 15-point rallies in a 54-47 win over the Eagles.
- Notre Dame improves to 10-14 all-time against DePaul, including a 6-5 mark at the Joyce Center, where the Irish have won their last three matchups with the Blue Demons; Tuesday’s game was the closest in the series since Feb. 28, 1988, when DePaul edged Notre Dame, 69-68 in Chicago.
- The Irish set season highs for points scored (previous: 77 at Wisconsin on Dec. 4 and vs. Arkansas State on Dec. 17) and points allowed (previous: 74 by Seton Hall on Jan. 7).
- Following a minus-26 (29-55) rebound margin three days earlier at Louisville, Notre Dame won the battle on the boards with the BIG EAST Conference’s top rebounding club, DePaul, by a 37-35 count; the Blue Demons came into the contest averaging 44.7 rebounds per night; the Irish are 9-1 this season when they outrebound their opponent.
- After allowing 26 points off turnovers at Louisville last Saturday, Notre Dame scored 24 points off DePaul turnovers Tuesday night.
- The Blue Demons tied an Irish opponent record with 13 three-point field goals, matching the standard set by Connecticut on Jan. 15, 2001 at the Joyce Center.
- The Irish had three double-figure scorers for the 12 time in 16 games this season.
- Duffy’s 9-of-9 performance at the free throw line was the best foul shooting night for an Irish player since Jan. 24, 2004, when Jacqueline Batteast went 10-for-10 against Villanova at the Joyce Center.
Duffy Joins Irish 1,000-Point Club …
Senior co-captain and All-America guard Megan Duffy became the 21st member of Notre Dame’s 1,000-Point Club with her 13-point night at St. John’s on Jan. 4. Duffy eclipsed the milestone on an old-fashioned three-point play with 14:01 left in the game.
Duffy now has 1,076 career points, 30 shy of Danielle Green (1995-2000) for 17th on the Irish career scoring chart.
… And LaVere Follows Suit 10 Days Later
Senior co-captain and forward Courtney LaVere joined Duffy as a 1,000-point scorer at Notre Dame on Jan. 14 at Louisville, hitting a hook shot in the lane 2:27 into the contest. LaVere now has 1,010 career points, putting her 24 markers behind Mollie Peirick (1994-98) for 20th on the Irish all-time scoring list.
The Duffy-LaVere 1,000-point tandem marks just the fifth time in school history have teammates reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same season, with Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon the last to do so in 2000-01.
Duffy and LaVere also have recorded the shortest span between hitting the mark (three games). The previous school record was eight games, the term between Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates scoring their 1,000th points in the 1984-85 season.
Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 510-201 (.717) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (422-160, .725).
Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
- She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
- McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
- She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.
Join The Club
The Irish women’s basketball team became the sixth Notre Dame squad this year to be ranked in the top 10 in its respective sport at some point during the season when it earned the No. 10 spot in the Dec. 5 AP poll. The other top-10 Irish teams include (highest rank listed): women’s cross country (3rd), football (5th AP), men’s cross country (5th), women’s soccer (5th) and volleyball (7th).
In addition, all six of Notre Dame’s fall sports teams advanced at least as far as the round of 16 (or its equivalent) in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish cross country teams both finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships (men – 3rd; women – 7th), while the women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals (lost at eventual champion Portland), and the men’s soccer squad made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 before bowing by a 1-0 count at College Cup participant Clemson.
The Irish volleyball team reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1997, falling to Wisconsin in five games down in College Station, Texas.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame football team advanced to its first Bowl Championship Series game since 2000, dropping a 34-20 decision to No. 4 Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
On the strength of their success to date, the Irish were first in the final fall standings for the NACDA/USSA Directors’ Cup (released Jan. 10) with 412 points, outpacing Penn State (308.5) and Stanford (282).
This marks the second consecutive year that Notre Dame has ranked atop the final fall standings, and its 412 points are its highest-ever fall total.
Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 106-10 (.914) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 34 of their last 38 such contests. Notre Dame has won eight games this season when it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their win over No. 24/21 USC).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense …
During the past 11 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 155-9 (.945) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame had added five more tallies to this ledger with wins over Michigan (55-45), Iona (74-55), Arkansas State (77-54), Utah (68-55) and Valparaiso (58-50).
… But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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 is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).
The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).
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 133 of their last 146 games (.911) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 78-9 (.897) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 57 of their last 61 non-BIG EAST contests (.934) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). 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 283-74 (.793) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six 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.
Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 6,566 fans in its eight home games this season, and is ninth in the latest unofficial national attendance rankings, released each Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office.
What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 73 of their last 75 home games, including 13 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first three sellouts in the program’s history.
The most recent sellout in Notre Dame women’s basketball history took place on Dec 31, when 11,418 fans packed the Joyce Center for the Irish matchup with No. 1 Tennessee, the 17th-largest crowd in the nation this season (as of Jan. 9). The game sold out 19 days in advance, making its the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of the program.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – are serving as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
They’ve Got The Know-How
Notre Dame is one of only two schools in the country that have two or more WNBA veterans on their coaching staffs. Associate head coach Coquese Washington played six seasons (1998-2003) in the league with three different clubs, and also served as the first-ever president of the WNBA Players Association. Meanwhile, assistant coach Angie Potthoff spent the 2000 season as a starter with the Minnesota Lynx after two years in the now-defunct American Basketball League (ABL) with the two-time league champion Columbus Quest.
Besides Notre Dame, Virginia Commonwealth is the other school with multiple WNBA veterans on its staff. VCU assistant coach Wendy Palmer-Daniel currently plays for the San Antonio Silver Stars, while the Rams’ head coach is a familiar name to Irish women’s basketball fans – Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who played for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2000 after an All-America career at Notre Dame from 1993-97.
Special thanks to Virginia Commonwealth women’s basketball SID Chris Kowalczyk for compiling this information.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 (and including games to date this year), Notre Dame has played in 64 televised games, including 39 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.
Notre Dame is 3-1 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit). Notre Dame’s last two TV games both were aired nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV), with the Irish falling to top-ranked Tennessee, 62-51 on Dec. 31, but defeating No. 10 DePaul, 78-75 on Jan. 17.
Four of the remaining five televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule also are slated for national broadcasts. The last of three Irish appearances on CSTV will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package, as Notre Dame visits Rutgers on Jan. 24 for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) tip. CSTV has aired 10 Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past four seasons (2002-03 to present), with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).
The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4:40 p.m. CT (5:40 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.
Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.
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 sixth 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 (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
Check Out The New Digs
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program recently relocated its first-floor offices at the Joyce Center to the west wing of the facility, adjacent to Gate 1. Renovations are being completed on the suites, which will include plasma televisions in each coach’s individual office (as well as one in the main conference room), a stand-alone video editing facility and tape library (complete with the latest in video editing technology and software), and spacious meeting facilities. The centerpiece of the offices is the main reception area, which features a hardwood floor comprised entirely of the exact court upon which the Irish won the 2001 NCAA Championship at the Saavis Center in St. Louis.
The new women’s basketball offices are part of a series of relocations and renovations of office space within the Joyce Center. The Irish men’s basketball program – which previously filled the space where the women now reside – has moved to the opposite corner of the first-floor west wing offices, taking over the Gate 2 area formerly occupied by the Notre Dame football program (which now operates out of the 95,840-square foot Guglielmino Athletics Complex that opened last summer and is located northeast of the Joyce Center).
Riley Named One Of ESPN.com’s Top 25 Players Of The Past 25 Years
Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley has been selected as one of the top 25 women’s college basketball players of the past 25 years, according to ESPN.com. The list of all-time greats was released Jan. 10 in conjunction with the silver anniversary celebration of the inaugural NCAA women’s basketball season in 1981-82.
A native of Macy, Ind., Riley was tapped as one of the legends of the sport in part because of her contributions in the NCAA Tournament, where she led Notre Dame to three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and the 2001 national championship. In the ’01 NCAA title game vs. Purdue, Riley tallied 28 points (on 9-of-13 shooting), 13 rebounds and seven blocks, not to mention the two game-winning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining which snapped a 66-66 tie. It was an effort that ESPN.com termed as “the third-best all-time championship game performance in NCAA history.” That outing capped a six-game NCAA tourney stretch in which the 6-foot-5 post averaged 23.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting at a .632 clip (48-of-76).
Riley was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-America selection and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America choice, earning Academic All-America Team Member of the Year honors in 2001. In addition, she was a three-time first team all-BIG EAST selection, earning the league’s Player of the Year award in 2001 and the conference Defensive Player of the Year hardware three consecutive years. The only player in school history to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career (2,072 points/1,007 rebounds), Riley also is the Irish all-time leader in seven statistical categories, including blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history).
Next Game: Rutgers
The Irish have a quick turnaround as they head to Piscataway, N.J., Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) game against No. 9 Rutgers at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. The contest will be broadcast nationally by CSTV as part of that network’s BIG EAST Game of the Week package.
Rutgers (12-3, 4-0 BIG EAST) is coming off a 48-47 home loss to No. 21/20 Temple Thursday night, snapping the Scarlet Knights’ 20-game winning streak in the building also known as “The RAC”. RU gets back into BIG EAST play on Saturday, playing host to conference newcomer Louisville before the Irish come to town to end the Knights’ four-game homestand.
Rutgers leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 12-9, including a 7-3 edge in Piscataway, where the Irish will be playing the Scarlet Knights for the fifth time in six seasons. RU has won four of the past five against Notre Dame, although the teams split their two matchups last year, with each side winning on its home floor.