Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Visit New York For Meeting With St. John's

Feb. 16, 2004

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (15-8, 8-3)
vs. St. John’s Red Storm (9-13, 3-8)

The Date and Time: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Site: Alumni Hall (6,008) in Jamaica, N.Y.
The Tickets: Still available by calling the St. John’s Athletics Ticket Office (718-990-6211).
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 (play-by-play). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at
Web Sites: Notre Dame (, St. John’s (

Behind a rock-solid defense and a revitalized offense, Notre Dame will look to solve some of its problems on the road when it pays a visit to St. John’s Tuesday for a 7 p.m. (ET) BIG EAST Conference game at Alumni Hall. The Irish have been untouchable in 11 games at home this season, but they are just 4-8 away from the Joyce Center, although they have won two of their last three road contests.

  • Notre Dame (15-8, 8-3 BIG EAST) returned from a one-week layoff on Saturday and posted an impressive 81-51 victory over Providence at the Joyce Center. After shaking off some rust in the opening 15 minutes, the Irish offense kicked into gear, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor (33 of 61) and putting five players in double figures for the first time this year. Notre Dame also registered a seaon-high 27 assists, the most by an Irish club in more than three years.
  • Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast picked up her eighth double-double of the season for the Irish, logging 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. Senior guard Jeneka Joyce also played a critical role against Providence, matching her career highs with 14 points and four three-point field goals, all of which came in a span of 6:25 at the end of the first half.
  • St. John’s (9-13, 3-8) has enjoyed a similar week-long hiatus since its last game, an 85-74 loss at Miami on Feb. 10. The Red Storm trailed by as many as 24 points in the second half, but rallied to within six with 1:31 left. However, the comeback fell short as UM hit eight key free throws down the stretch.
  • Guard Kim MacMillan led SJU with 20 points against Miami, including four three-pointers. She is the top scorer for the Red Storm this season, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST at 15.8 points per game. She also is tops in the conference and second in the nation with 3.55 three-pointers made per game.
  • Forward Angie Clark also has been a factor for St. John’s this season, ranking 17th in the BIG EAST in scoring (13.0 ppg.) and second in rebounding (8.4 rpg.). She has been named the league’s Freshman of the Week five times in 2003-04.
  • Notre Dame leads the all-timie series with St. John’s, 13-0, including a 6-0 mark at Alumni Hall.

Notre Dame has ridden a true roller coaster of emotions this season. Facing the nation’s fifth-toughest schedule, the Irish have been particularly dominant at home, going 11-0 at the Joyce Center, but have had maddening runs of inconsistency on the road, posting a 4-8 mark. Still, Notre Dame has gained valuable experience against some top-notch opponents this year, going 6-3 against Top 25 teams and firmly planting itself within the Top 20 of all major RPI ladders.

  • Junior forward and preseason All-American Jacqueline Batteast (14.7 ppg., 8.3 rpg., .447 field goal percentage, eight double-doubles) has lived up to her accolades this season, ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots (1.32 bpg.). She was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against 22nd-ranked Auburn. She then piled up back-to-back double-doubles vs. No. 20 Colorado (13p, 10r) and Valparaiso (15p, 10r) before logging team bests of 16 points and seven caroms at No. 3 Tennessee, 19 points at Washington and a game-high 13 points with six assists vs. Dayton. She then chalked up her third double-double vs. USC (20p, 13r) to earn the first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor of her career. In her last outing vs. Providence, Batteast picked up her eighth double-double of the year with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Since BIG EAST play began, she has been red hot, averaging 14.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with a .469 field goal percentage and five double-doubles (along with three other near double-doubles). She now has 64 double-figure scoring games and 27 double-doubles in her three-year Irish career. Batteast also became the 20th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points when she tallied 14 points vs. Virginia Tech on Jan. 10, making her the fourth-fastest ever to reach that milestone (72 games).
  • Junior center Teresa Borton (6.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg., .521 FG%) and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (8.9 ppg., 4.6 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Borton has recovered well from off-season heel surgery and was at her best vs. Colorado State and Marquette, ringing up 14 points on both occasions. Borton then added 11 points and eight rebounds at Georgetown, followed by 14 points and six boards against Virginia Tech, before scoring 10 points (4-4 FG) vs. Georgetown and adding 11 points (4-4 FG) against Providence. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last year, has had an up-and-down second season. She tied Batteast for team-high scoring honors with 12 points at Michigan State before rising up and carding season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds vs. Wisconsin. She once again cracked double figures on Jan. 1 vs. Marquette, tossing in 16 points on six of 11 shooting. LaVere has looked solid in her last nine outings, breaking into double digits six times, including a 12-point, six-rebound effort in her most recent game vs. Providence.
  • Sophomore Megan Duffy (11.0 ppg., team-high 4.57 apg., .429 3FG%, .818 FT%) is in her first season as the everyday point guard for the Irish and she is proving to be a key cog in the Notre Dame offensive arsenal. After averaging only three points and 2.3 assists per game last year, the Dayton, Ohio, native has more than tripled her scoring output, ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in assists and owns a team-best 1.50 assist/turnover ratio (eighth in the BIG EAST). In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 39 three-pointers this season. She also has 13 double-figure scoring games to her credit this year, including a career-high 25 points vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4, and 22 points at Georgetown on Jan. 7. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she also has registered five or more assists in 13 games, including a career-high nine assists on Dec. 7 at Washington. She was superb in her most recent game vs. Providence, scoring 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-3 3FG) and dishing out a game-high six assists with only one turnover.
  • Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (7.4 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 3.1 apg., .482 FG%, .800 FT%) has slid over to the shooting guard position in place of the NCAA’s all-time three-point queen, Alicia Ratay, and Severe has filled the role admirably. While not putting up the three-point numbers Ratay had in her remarkable career, Severe is getting her points as a slasher, driving to the basket and creating havoc for opposing defenses. She also leads the team with 1.5 steals per game and has been a vital piece of Notre Dame’s transition game. She has scored in double digits seven times this year, including a season-high 15 points against Purdue and Boston College, as well as 12 points against Connecticut.

The rebirth of the St. John’s women’s basketball program can be traced directly to the hiring of head coach Kim Barnes Arico in May 2002. Since her arrival, the Red Storm have posted a 17-32 record, which might not seem gaudy on the surface, but it’s a nine-game improvement over SJU’s standing in its previous 49 games.

This season, the Red Storm (9-13, 3-8 BIG EAST) have given their fans additional reason to hope with an influx of fresh talent that includes one of the nation’s top three-point shooters (Kim MacMillan, a high-octane junior college guard (Secrett Stubblefield) and a BIG EAST Freshman of the Year candidate (Angie Clark). Bolstered by this new group of players, St. John’s posted a 6-5 record in non-conference play and was 7-6 after a win at BIG EAST foe Syracuse on Jan. 10.

However, since that time, the Red Storm have stumbled a bit, losing seven of their last nine games, including an 85-74 setback at Miami in their most recent outing on Feb. 10. MacMillan scored 20 points to lead four SJU players in double figures, as the Red Storm rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit to pull within six points with less than two minutes remaining. The Hurricanes then quashed the St. John’s comeback by hitting eight free throws in the closing seconds.

MacMillan ranks among the Top 10 in the BIG EAST in scoring (7th – 15.8 ppg.), three-point percentage (4th – .371) and three-pointers made per game (1st – 3.55), ranking second in the nation in the latter category. Stubblefield is second on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), although she has missed the last seven games with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Clark is 17th in the conference in scoring (13.0 ppg.) and second in rebounding (8.4 rpg.), while being named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week five times this season.

Barnes Arico spent six seasons as a head coach at the Division II (Adelphi) and Division III (Fairleigh Dickinson-Madison and New Jersey Insititute of Technology) levels before coming to St. John’s last year. She has an overall record of 111-104 (.516), but she is 0-2 all-time vs. Notre Dame.

Notre Dame and St. John’s began facing one another when the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96. Since that time, the series has been tipped strongly in favor of Notre Dame, with the Irish going 13-0 all-time against the Red Storm, including a 6-0 mark at the site of Tuesday night’s game, Alumni Hall. In those 13 previous matchups, Notre Dame has won each time by at least 13 points and has scored at least 70 points on 10 occasions.

Among current Irish players, sophomore forward Courtney LaVere has had the most success against St. John’s, averaging 16.0 points and 7.5 rebounds with a .542 field goal percentage vs. the Red Storm. She is one of three active Notre Dame players who have double-figure scoring average against SJU < the=”” others=”” are=”” junior=”” forward=””>Jacqueline Batteast (14.7 ppg.) and junior center Teresa Borton (11.0 ppg.), with Borton posting a .750 field goal percentage. A complete rundown of the statistics active Notre Dame players have compiled against St. John’s can be found on page 19 of this notes package.

Alicia Ratay scored 19 points to lead four Notre Dame players in double figures, as the Irish led from tip to buzzer in a 76-48 BIG EAST Conference win over St. John’s on Feb. 12, 2003, at the Joyce Center. It was the third victory in four games for Notre Dame and marked the 13th consecutive win for the Irish over the Red Storm.

Ratay also collected a game-high seven rebounds and a season-best four steals while passing the 1,600-point mark for her career. Jacqueline Batteast turned in another workmanlike performance, knocking down seven of her nine shots to finish with 16 points, while also pulling down a game-best seven rebounds. Courtney LaVere added 13 points, including her first career three-point basket and Teresa Borton dumped in 12 points, highlighted by a career-best six for six effort at the free throw line.

Shemika Stevens scored a game-high 20 points for St. John’s, which lost for the fifth time in six games. Patrycja Gulak came off the bench to contribute 10 points and a team-high six rebounds for the Red Storm.

Notre Dame wasted little time in moving ahead, as Borton found Batteast for the game’s opening bucket with just 13 seconds gone. St. John’s got as close as 4-3 in the first two minutes, but layups by Borton and Batteast thwarted the Red Storm’s initial surge. A pair of free throws by Borton bumped the Irish lead into double digits for the first time at 18-7 with 9:19 remaining in the first half. SJU cut the lead back to eight, but Notre Dame responded with a 9-2 run late in the period and took a 35-20 lead to the dressing room.

The Irish then scored the first eight points of the second half to move their lead over the 20-point mark. St. John’s got back inside of 20 points only twice in the last 20 minutes, pulling within 17 on two free throws by Stevens at the 16:32 mark. Meanwhile, Notre Dame steadily pulled away, taking its largest lead of the night (28 points) four times in the stanza, including the final margin.

Jacqueline Batteast had 24 points and 11 rebounds as No. 21 Notre Dame beat St. John’s, 71-42 on Jan. 14, 2003, at Alumni Hall in Jamaica, N.Y. With the win, the Irish improve their all-time record against the Red Storm to 12-0 (6-0 on SJU’s home court).

In addition to her fifth double-double of the season, Batteast also had five steals for the Irish. Teresa Borton, who was eight for 11 from field, and Courtney LaVere each had 19 points for Notre Dame, which held a 45-29 rebound advantage and shot 95 percent (19 of 20) from the free throw line. LaVere also grabbed 10 rebounds for the fourth double-double of her rookie campaign.

Shemika Stevens had a career-high 17 points for the Red Storm, who lost their fourth straight.

Creasie Fowler’s free throw with 8:08 left in the first half brought St. John’s within 20-18. Batteast then scored the first six points of Notre Dame’s 22-1 run that gave the Irish a 42-19 halftime lead.

Patrycja Gulak made a free throw for St. John’s lone point in the run before LaVere scored eight of the next 16 points. A three-point play by the Irish forward with 8:02 to play gave Notre Dame its biggest lead of the night at 62-29.


  • St. John’s is one of three BIG EAST Conference opponents against whom Notre Dame has never lost, going 13-0 all-time. The others are Providence (12-0), whom the Irish defeated in their last outing on Feb. 14, and Pittsburgh (13-0), whom Notre Dame will visit Saturday afternoon.
  • St. John’s has never scored more than 60 points in any of its 13 series games against Notre Dame. On the other hand, the Irish have never scored less than 66 points in any previous encounter with the Red Storm.
  • No game in the Notre Dame-St. John’s series has been decided by less than 13 points, with the average margin of victory for the Irish of 28.8 points per game (34.0 ppg. over the last five meetings).
  • The Irish have won all six series games at Alumni Hall by an average spread of 26.3 points per game. Four of those six matchups have resulted in 25-point wins for Notre Dame.
  • Notre Dame is the only visiting team to have a perfect record (6-0) at SJU’s Alumni Hall with more than two visits to the venerable facility.
  • The Irish have shot less than 46.9 percent from the field just twice against the Red Storm, ?bottoming out? with a .393 (22-56) mark in a 66-31 win on Feb. 13, 2002, at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has shot better than 50 percent in eight of 13 games against SJU, including a high-water performance of .571 (36-63) in a 94-51 win at the Joyce Center on Feb. 12, 2000.
  • The 31 points allowed by Notre Dame vs. St. John’s on Feb. 13, 2002 at the Joyce Center represented the fourth-lowest opponent scoring total in school history, the second-lowest by a Division I opponent, and the lowest ever by a conference opponent (in any league < north=”” star,=”” midwestern=”” collegiate=”” or=”” big=”” east).=””>
  • Tuesday’s meeting marks the latest calendar date for a regular-season matchup in the series. The only time Notre Dame and St. John’s played later in the year than Feb. 17 was in 1998, when the teams met on Feb. 28 in the first round of the BIG EAST Conference Championship in Piscataway, N.J.

Notre Dame has traveled to the state of New York 14 times in its history, posting a 13-1 (.929) mark. The only time the Irish lost within the New York state lines was on their first-ever visit to the Empire State < feb.=”” 4,=”” 1989=”” at=”” syracuse=”” (63-56).=””>

Notre Dame is 120-27 (.816) 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 76 of their last 93 regular-season conference games (.817), 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 132-35 (.790) against league opponents < when=”” factoring=”” in=”” these=”” 20=”” postseason=”” tilts,=”” the=”” irish=”” are=”” 67-7=”” (.905)=”” at=”” home,=”” 53-23=”” (.697)=”” on=”” the=”” road=”” and=”” 12-5=”” (.706)=”” at=”” neutral=”” sites=”” all-time=”” vs.=”” big=”” east=”” foes.=””>

The Irish have winning streaks of 10 or more games against three of their 13 BIG EAST Conference opponents. Their longest active conference winning streak is 13 games against St. John’s and Pittsburgh, followed by an 12-game success string against Providence. The longest current Irish winning streak vs. any opponent is 17 games against Valparaiso.

Coming into the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame had a perfect all-time record against six of the opponents on its schedule (Valparaiso, Washington, West Virginia, Providence, St. John’s and Pittsburgh). St. John’s represents the fifth foe in that list, with the Irish holding a 13-0 series record against the Red Storm. In fact, SJU is one of four foes the Irish have defeated at least 10 times without a loss < the=”” others=”” are=”” pittsburgh=”” (13-0),=”” providence=”” (12-0)=”” and=”” valparaiso=”” (17-0).=””>

The Irish have played eight times on Feb. 17 in their history, going 4-4 on this date, with a 3-3 record in the Muffet McGraw era and a 2-3 mark on the road. The last time Notre Dame played on Feb. 17 was in 2001, when the top-ranked Irish suffered the first of only two losses during their national championship season, falling 54-53 at No. 11 Rutgers.


  • Notre Dame will maintain its perfect series record against St.John’s (14-0), extending the longest active unblemished streak against a BIG EAST opponent.
  • The Irish will move to 7-0 all-time at SJU’s Alumni Hall, remaining the only Red Storm opponent to be undefeated in more than two visits to the historic facility.
  • Notre Dame will card its 13th win in the last 17 games since opening the year at 3-4.
  • The Irish will improve to 121-27 (.818) all-time in regular-season games against the BIG EAST Conference, maintaining the best winning percentage in conference history.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 379-146 (.722) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 467-187 (.714) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 543-245 (.689) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

After not topping the 70-point mark in nine consecutive games, Notre Dame snapped out of its offensive doldrums with an 81-51 win over Providence on Feb. 14 before a season-high crowd of 8,760, the seventh-largest in school history at the Joyce Center. The Irish also extended their home winning streak to 16 games, the second longest in school annals, and moved to within one-half game of second-place West Virginia in the BIG EAST Conference standings.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast turned in another productive night, registering her eighth double-double of the year with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in only 22 minutes of court time. Senior guard Jeneka Joyce complemented Batteast from the perimeter, tying her career high with 14 points, all in the first half, and matching her personal best by canning four of eight three-point attempts.

Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere chipped in with 12 points off the bench, while junior center Teresa Borton made all four of her shots from the field and wound up with 11 points. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy mixed an effective floor game with timely offensive production, notching 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-3 3FG) and a game-high six assists with only one turnover.

As a team, Notre Dame shot 54.1 percent from the floor (33 of 61), including 50 percent (7 of 14) from three-point range. The five Irish players in double figures were a season best, as were their 27 assists, the most in a single game by Notre Dame since Nov. 20, 2000 (31 vs. Arizona). In addition, the Irish took very good care of the basketball, committing only 11 turnovers, and they dominated the glass to the tune of a 46-28 margin.

Brooke Freeburg led all scorers with a career-high 18 points for Providence, which saw its losing streak stretched to a school-record 11 games. The Friars’ leading scorer and rebounder, Gayle Nwafili, was held largely in check by the Irish defense, piling up nine points and five rebounds. PC’s 51-point output also marked the seventh consecutive game in which Notre Dame has held an opponent to 52 points or less, extending its school record.

The Irish (15-8, 8-3 BIG EAST) led virtually the entire way, spotting Providence the opening basket before scoring 10 of the next 11 points. The Friars hung tough and trimmed their deficit to a point on two occasions, the last at 16-15 on a jumper in the lane by Jill Furstenburg with 7:13 left in the first half. That’s when Joyce single-handedly tipped the scales in Notre Dame’s favor, scoring all 14 of her points in a 22-11 Irish run to end the half, hitting four three-pointers in the process.

Notre Dame put the game on ice early in the second half, going on a 15-6 run and boosting the lead over 20 points on a three-pointer by Duffy with 15:15 remaining. Providence (4-18, 0-11) would get no closer the rest of the way as the Irish steadily pulled clear, opening up a game-high 32-point lead on a layup by freshman forward Crystal Erwin with 50 seconds to play.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has referred to the aftermath of her team’s 76-73 loss at Georgetown on Jan. 7 as the turning point of the season for the Irish. Upon returning to campus the day after the disheartening setback, the Irish coaches began preparing for practice in their office and then headed for the gym floor, only to find the team already working out on its own.

Since that time, Notre Dame has won eight of 10 games, including five against Top 25 opponents. One of the key reasons for that run of success has been an increased focus on defense < the=”” irish=”” are=”” giving=”” up=”” just=”” 48.0=”” points=”” per=”” game=”” and=”” holding=”” opponents=”” to=”” a=”” .328=”” field=”” goal=”” percentage=”” (.201=”” three-point=”” ratio)=”” over=”” that=”” stretch.=”” notre=”” dame=”” also=”” made=”” a=”” key=”” lineup=”” change=”” after=”” the=”” georgetown=”” contest,=”” going=”” to=”” a=”” more=”” defensive-oriented=”” starting=”” five=”” that=”” included=”” senior=”” guard=””>Monique Hernandez, who had never started a game in her Irish career prior to Jan. 10.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has taken her game to another level against BIG EAST Conference opponents this year. In 11 conference games this year, Batteast is carding 14.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with five double-doubles. She currently is third in the conference in rebounding and ninth in scoring during league play. In addition, she has the fourth-best field goal percentage in the BIG EAST during league play (.469) and just missed double-doubles in three other conference outings (14 points and nine rebounds vs. Villanova; nine points and 10 rebounds at Miami; 20 points and nine rebounds vs. Georgetown).

Notre Dame has stepped up its play thanks in large measure to the added pressure applied by its defense. Through the first six weeks of the BIG EAST season, the Irish rank among the top three in the conference in several major defensive categories, including scoring defense (2nd – 50.5 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (1st – .337), three-point field goal percentage defense (1st – .208), rebounding (3rd – 38.0 rpg.), rebounding margin (2nd – +5.7 rpg.) and blocked shots (2nd – 4.36 bpg.).

However, that’s just the start when it comes to noting Notre Dame’s defense. Here are some other tidbits about the current Irish defensive lockdown:

  • During its last seven games, Notre Dame has given up an average of just 46.4 ppg. In fact, the 325 points allowed by the Irish in that stretch represents the best seven-game defensive run in school history. The previous record was 335 points (47.9 ppg.) from Jan. 21-Feb. 10, 1982, in wins over Valparaiso, Michigan, Ball State, Marquette, Mount St. Joseph and Taylor, as well as a loss to Miami (Ohio).
  • Notre Dame has set a new school record by limiting its last seven opponents to 52 points or less. The old record stood from Dec. 13, 1997 to Jan. 8, 1998, when Notre Dame had a streak of five consecutive games allowing 52 points or less.
  • The Irish held back-to-back opponents (Syracuse and Villanova) to less than 40 points for only the second time in school history (and first in the program’s Division I era, which began in 1980-81. The first time came on Jan. 24 & 31, 1978, when the Irish defeated IPFW (68-39) and Grace College (68-25).
  • In 22 halves of BIG EAST action (11 games), Irish opponents have scored 30-or-more points just four times, with Georgetown accounting for two of those in the BIG EAST opener back on Jan. 7.
  • Notre Dame has limited nine of its last 10 opponents to field goal percentages of less than .400, going 7-2 in those contests. In addition, Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown (second game) all shot less than 30 percent from the floor. For the season, the Irish are 12-3 when they hold their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
  • Notre Dame held Syracuse to 35 points on Jan. 21, setting a school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a BIG EAST road game and the second-fewest yielded in any road game (84-27 at Valparaiso on Jan. 21, 1982).

Notre Dame has fought through a brutal schedule that has included playing nine games against Top 25 opponents. The Irish have handled the challenge very well, going 6-3 in those contests with victories over No. 22/25 Auburn (77-64), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50). Notre Dame narrowly missed a seventh win over a Top 25 foe, as No. 20/20 Colorado rallied to defeat the Irish, 67-63 in overtime in the championship game of the season-opening WBCA Classic in Boulder, Colo.

By comparison, in the previous two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03), Notre Dame had a total of five wins over ranked opponents, with three of those coming in the regular season (Virginia Tech and Boston College in ’01-02, and Villanova in ’02-03).

The rugged Irish schedule has not gone unnoticed by the national media. The Sagarin/Collegiate Basketball News ratings have tabbed Notre Dame’s schedule as the fourth-toughest in the nation, while the WBCA/Summerville RPI and Massey ratings have pegged the Irish schedule as the fifth-hardest in the land, and ranked the ND docket sixth in the country (as of Feb. 16).

For the most part, Notre Dame has done a good job of shutting down the opposition’s top offensive threat since the start of BIG EAST Conference play. Only two of these opposing players (Georgetown’s Rebekkah Brunson and West Virginia’s Kate Bulger) have matched or exceeded their season scoring averages, and just two (Tamara James of Miami and Ashley Bush of Seton Hall) have topped their season shooting percentages.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has played very well in Notre Dame’s nine games against Top 25 opponents this year. She is averaging 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds with three double-doubles (and three near double-doubles) in those matchups against ranked opponents in 2003-04.

Maybe it’s the long plane rides, or the lumpy mattresses in the hotel, or even the quality of the pre-game meal. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame has struggled at times on the road this season, going 4-8 away from the Joyce Center (3-8 in true road games). That’s a far cry from the success the Irish have experienced at home, where they are a perfect 11-0 and own an active 16-game winning streak.

Since the start of the BIG EAST Conference season on Jan. 7, Notre Dame has received critical support from its reserves. The Irish bench has scored 220 points (20.0 ppg.) in 11 conference games this year, outscoring its opponent’s reserves by 110 points (10.0 ppg.) over that time.

Notre Dame’s bench play was especially important in its wins over Syracuse, No. 23/25 Villanova, No. 17/16 Miami and Providence. In those four games, the Irish reserves tallied 114 points (28.5 ppg.), including a season-high 38 points vs. Providence, 35 points at Syracuse and 33 points at Miami.

Senior guard Le’Tania Severe and junior forward Jacqueline Batteast have the longest active streaks of consecutive games started among Irish players. Severe has earned 66 consecutive starting assignments, a streak which began on Feb. 5, 2002 at Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Batteast has been in the starting lineup for 55 straight games, beginning with the first game of the 2002-03 campaign (Nov. 26, 2002 vs. Cleveland State). The South Bend native actually started the first 22 games of her Irish career before suffering a knee injury that relegated her to a supporting role for the remainder of the 2001-02 season.

The school record for consecutive games started is 95, which Katryna Gaither established from 1994-97.

Notre Dame’s 66-51 victory over No. 4/4 Connecticut on Jan. 13 at the Joyce Center was historic for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • Notre Dame’s win over Connecticut snapped the Huskies’ 121-game winning streak against unranked opponents, a string that dated back to Jan. 23, 1999 (a 78-66 loss at Boston College).
  • Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points only three times and each time, those losses have come to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
  • Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation (and the first BIG EAST squad) to defeat Connecticut more than once in the past 11 seasons (1993-94 to present). During that 11-year stretch, Tennessee is the only other program with multiple wins over the Huskies.
  • In the past four seasons (2000-01 to present), half of Connecticut’s six losses have come at the hands of Notre Dame.
  • Over the past five seasons (1999-2000 to present), the Joyce Center is the only arena to see multiple losses by Connecticut.

Saying January was a crazy month for Notre Dame would probably be a bit of an understatement. To begin with, the Irish had 10 games on the schedule last month, its fullest slate since January 1997, when Notre Dame also played 10 times, posting a 9-1 record en route to its first NCAA Final Four appearance. However, that 1997 docket saw the Irish go the entire month without facing a ranked opponent. This year’s Notre Dame squad didn’t have that kind of luck, facing six Top 25 foes during the month.

This January didn’t start out well for Notre Dame, as the Irish lost two of their first three games, including a heartbreaking 76-73 setback at Georgetown in which the Hoyas scored seven points in the final 14 seconds to steal the victory. Unfazed, Notre Dame bounced back with wins in six of its last seven games, highlighted by victories over No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50).

Notre Dame put together one of the best defensive performances in school history on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton, rolling over the Flyers, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. In that game, the Irish held UD to just 11 first-half points, which matches the third-lowest mark in school history and equals the lowest opponent total ever at the Joyce Center (11 in the second half by Grace College on Jan. 31, 1978 < pre-ncaa=”” era).=”” the=”” fewest=”” points=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” ever=”” allowed=”” in=”” one=”” half=”” is=”” seven=”” (first=”” half)=”” at=”” maryland=”” on=”” jan.=”” 9,=”” 1985.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” gave=”” up=”” just=”” 10=”” first-half=”” points=”” to=”” georgetown=”” on=”” march=”” 4,=”” 2001,=”” in=”” a=”” big=”” east=”” conference=”” championship=”” quarterfinal=”” game=”” at=”” storrs,=”” conn.=””>

In addition, Notre Dame limited Dayton to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) in the first half, breaking the old Irish opponent record of .115 (three for 26), which had been set twice < in=”” the=”” first=”” half=”” of=”” the=”” aforementioned=”” maryland=”” game,=”” and=”” by=”” depaul=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” half=”” on=”” dec.=”” 31,=”” 2001=”” at=”” the=”” joyce=”” center.=””>

The Irish have often opened games in strong fashion, but nothing like what they turned out on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton. Notre Dame began the game on a 26-0 run, the largest game-opening surge in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. The previous record for the best start to a game was 17-0 vs. Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional Semifinal in Memphis.

The 26 unanswered points also tied for the second-longest run of consecutive markers by Notre Dame. The school record is 31 straight points, which the Irish achieved on Jan. 18, 1997 vs. Pittsburgh < notre=”” dame=”” trailed=”” 14-2,=”” but=”” went=”” on=”” a=”” 31-0=”” run=”” over=”” the=”” next=”” 13:14=”” to=”” seize=”” control=”” of=”” the=”” game.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” had=”” a=”” 26-point=”” spree=”” on=”” jan.=”” 31,=”” 1998=”” against=”” seton=”” hall,=”” turning=”” a=”” 56-29=”” score=”” into=”” an=”” 82-29=”” margin=”” over=”” a=”” 9:44=”” span=”” in=”” the=”” second=”” half.=””>

Based on her play this season, sophomore point guard Megan Duffy is making a strong case to be named the BIG EAST Conference Most Improved Player. Last season, the Dayton native averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 assists per game while still shaking off the rust caused by off-season knee surgery. She also struggled to find her shooting touch, hitting at a .242 clip from the floor and making only seven of 35 three-point attempts (.200).

Fast forward to this season, where Duffy has been an impact player from the outset. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg., which more than triples her production from last year. However, her biggest improvement has come in her shooting numbers, where she’s connecting at a team-best .429 percentage (39-91) from the three-point line and would be leading the BIG EAST if she had made enough treys to qualify (min. 2.0 per game). She’s also has more than five times as many treys as she sank all of last year and after cracking double digits just twice in 2002-03 (career high was 12 points), she has 13 double-figure games this season, with two topping the 20-point mark. Her best outing to date was a 25-point outburst on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin, where she shattered her career standard from beyond the arc, going six for 10 from downtown.

But lest we forget her primary duties at the point, Duffy is leading the Irish and ranks fifth in the BIG EAST with 4.57 assists per game, more than doubling last year’s output. She also has just 70 turnovers, giving her a healthy 1.50 assist/turnover ratio (eighth in the BIG EAST). She has dished out at least five assists 13 times this year, including a career-high nine dimes on Dec. 7 at Washington.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast scored a game-high 14 points on Jan. 10 against No. 16/15 Virginia Tech, becoming the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She also was the fourth-fastest Irish player ever to reach that milestone, doing so in her 72nd career game.

Batteast also is one of only five Irish players to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, joining Morgan, Matvey, Riley and Ratay. For her career, the South Bend native ranks sixth in school history with a 14.2 ppg. scoring average, and 16th in total points (1,141), needing 54 points to pass Krissi Davis (1,194 from 1987-91) for 15th place all-time.

One of the supposed question marks surrounding this year’s Notre Dame squad was its perimeter shooting. Through the first two-thirds of the season, the Irish have had an emphatic response to that question. Notre Dame is third in the BIG EAST with a .368 three-point percentage, hitting 88 of 239 shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy has been a major contributor from beyond the arc, connecting at a team-best .429 clip (39-91), which also would lead the BIG EAST, but she has not made enough field goals to qualify for statistical ranking (minimum of 2.0 per game). Nevertheless, she stands 12th in the BIG EAST with 1.70 triples made per game.

Another long distance specialist for Notre Dame has been senior guard Jeneka Joyce, which is a pleasant surprise when you consider the Topeka, Kan., native has spent the better part of the past two seasons trying to recover from leg injuries. Joyce has knocked down 26 of 61 treys for a .426 three-point percentage, but she also has not yet made enough field goals to qualify for the rankings. The veteran sharpshooter was at her best in Notre Dame’s last outing vs. Providence on Feb. 14, tying her career high with 14 points and four treys < all=”” of=”” her=”” scoring=”” came=”” in=”” the=”” final=”” 6:25=”” of=”” the=”” first=”” half.=””>

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

S Notre Dame is receiving 30 votes in the Feb. 9 Associated Press poll after spending four weeks in the Top 25 earlier this season. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also is earning 20 votes in the Feb. 10 ESPN/USA Today coaches poll after appearing in the Top 25 for the first three weeks of 2003-04. The Irish were pegged No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll, also the seventh time in eight years that they had shown up in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

This season, Notre Dame has faced or will face no less than eight teams that were ranked in both major polls last week (No. 2/1 Connecticut, No. 3/3 Tennessee, No. 5/5 Purdue, No. 12/12 Colorado, No. 14/18 Auburn, No. 17/15 Michigan State and No. 21/19 Virginia Tech). In addition, Miami was ranked 23rd and Boston College is 25th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Also, four Irish opponents < marquette,=”” usc,=”” villanova=”” and=”” west=”” virginia=””>< were=”” receiving=”” votes=”” in=”” one=”” or=”” both=”” of=”” the=”” polls=”” last=”” week.=””>

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 72-6 (.923) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 10-2 mark this year. The two rare losses this season came on Nov. 15 at Colorado (led 37-33 at half; lost 67-63 in overtime) and at Seton Hall (led 23-17; lost 51-45).

Over the last 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 125-5 (.962) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has added 11 more wins to that ledger this season by holding down Valparaiso (74-57), Dayton (78-41), Colorado State (63-59), Virginia Tech (53-40), Connecticut (66-51), Syracuse (64-35), Villanova (38-36), Miami (59-50), Boston College (52-50), Georgetown (66-52) and Providence (81-51).

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 nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 87-3 (.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 has tacked on two more wins to that tally this year with victories over Wisconsin (82-64) and Providence (81-51).

Notre Dame is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

Notre Dame has won 196 games over the last eight seasons (24.5 victories per year), which stands as the ninth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue continues to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

Notre Dame recently unveiled some new championship banners which now hang in the Joyce Center. The NCAA title flag won by the Irish women in 2001 and the Helms Foundation national championship banners won by the Notre Dame men in 1927 and 1936 now have been converted to gold with blue lettering, reversing the look of the other banners currently on display. In addition, the Irish basketball and volleyball teams have added blue flags for Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

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 109 of their last 118 games (.924) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 16-game winning streak. Notre Dame also has a 67-7 (.905) 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 45 of their last 47 non-BIG EAST contests (.957) 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 259-70 (.787) 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.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in attendance each of the past three years. The Irish are looking to extend that streak to a fourth straight season, averaging 6,702 fans for their 11 home games, including a season-high 8,760 fans on Feb. 14 vs. Providence, the seventh-largest crowd in school history. According to the latest unofficial national attendance rankings compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office (as of Feb. 9), Notre Dame ranks 12th in the country in attendance.

The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for their second consecutive eighth-place finish in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last year also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4, 2003.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 17-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 five seasons.

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season will be no exception. The Irish are slated to play on the small screen no less than nine times in the coming campaign, including four appearances on national television.

Notre Dame made its ’03-04 television debut on Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that was shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish returned to coast-to-coast television on Jan. 4 when they visited Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame has been selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish already have taken on Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home, and will travel to Rutgers (Feb. 28) for games in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games may be seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV (Channel 46) will show the Virginia Tech, Villanova and Rutgers games on a same-day, tape-delayed basis at 7 p.m. (ET).

Furthermore, the Jan. 13 BIG EAST matchup between Notre Dame and two-time defending national champion Connecticut was televised by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) with College Sports Television (CSTV) picking up the broadcast and airing it nationally.

Both Notre Dame-Miami games also will be televised this season. The Jan. 28 matchup in Coral Gables, Fla., was picked up by the Sunshine Network on a tape-delayed basis. Meanwhile, the Feb. 25 rematch at the Joyce Center will be broadcast live to a nationwide audience on CSTV. That contest will tip off at 8 p.m. (ET) < some=”” early=”” schedules=”” initially=”” had=”” this=”” game=”” listed=”” one=”” hour=”” earlier.=””>

In addition, the semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. WHME-TV in South Bend will carry those games live. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (ET).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Full-session ticket books for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available to the general public (one ticket for both Sunday games, one ticket for Tuesday’s only game). Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Notre Dame subregional, contact the Irish athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or visit the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center at Gate 1.

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=”” 1620)=”” and=”” wndv-am=”” (1490)=”” in=”” south=”” bend.=”” veteran=”” broadcaster=”” and=”” amp=”” sports=”” director=”” sean=”” stires=”” is=”” now=”” in=”” his=”” fourth=”” 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=”” (”” by=”” subscribing=”” to=”” fighting=”” irish=”” pass,=”” which=”” gives=”” listeners=”” full=”” access=”” to=”” a=”” variety=”” of=”” irish=”” athletics=”” 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 seventh season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and airs at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturdays through the end of the 2003-04 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will then cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and the Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and freshman forward Crystal Erwin both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is among 30 preseason candidates named to the watch list for 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atanta Tip-Off Club. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

The Naismith Award is the latest in a series of preseason honors for the Batteast. She was named a preseason All-American by both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Street & Smith’s magazine, and she also was selected to the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List. In addition, she was a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 18 that three 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 2004. Charel Allen , a 5-10 guard from Monessen, Pa., Melissa D’Amico, a 6-5 forward/center from Manorville, N.Y., and Tulyah Gaines (pronounced too-LIE-uh) , a 5-8 guard from North Las Vegas, Nev., all committed to the Irish during the early signing period, which lasted from Nov. 12-19.

Allen will arrive at Notre Dame next fall as one of the top college prospects from western Pennsylvania. She is a three-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American who averaged 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game last season at Monessen High School. She also is a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state pick and was named the 2003 AP Class A Player of the Year. In addition, she is a two-time all-Pittsburgh metro area selection and a ’03 AAU 16-and-under All-American. As a freshman in 2001, she was a fifth-team AP all-state choice when she averaged 23.6 points per game. In her first three seasons at MHS, Allen has piled up 2,302 points (26.2 ppg.), 995 rebounds (11.3 rpg.), 600 steals (6.8 spg.), 426 assists (4.8 apg.) and 102 blocks (1.2 bpg.). She was ranked 27th in the nation by Blue Star Index and she will be the fourth Pennsylvania native to play for the Irish (the first in 13 seasons).

At 6-5, D’Amico will be the tallest player on the Irish roster when she sets foot on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 2004. A versatile post player, she averaged 16.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season for William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (located on Long Island). She burst onto the national scene this past summer at the adidas Top Ten Camp in Suwanee, Ga., and is considered by most recruiting services to be one of the top players on the rise in this year’s class. She currently is ranked 47th in the country by All-Star Girls Report and 91st by Blue Star Index , and she follows in the footsteps of another talented New Yorker who came to Notre Dame < two-time=”” honorable=”” mention=”” all-american=”” and=”” mount=”” vernon,=”” n.y.,=”” product,=”” katryna=”” gaither=”” (1993-97).=””>

Gaines is a playmaking guard who will give the Irish solid depth in the backcourt. Last summer, she moved to North Las Vegas and is attending Cheyenne High School, where she will play for the Desert Shields this year. Gaines previously lived in Burbank, Calif., where she was a three-year starter at John Burroughs High School. She averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game last season and was a first-team all-CIF SS (Southern California) Division 2A First Team selection. In addition, she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American and won a bronze medal with the West Team at the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Gaines averaged 6.0 points per game during the five-game tournament, which featured the top prep players from around the country. She is ranked 25th nationally by All-Game Sports, 52nd by Blue Star Index and 61st by All-Star Girls Report , and she is the second Las Vegas area resident in as many years to sign with Notre Dame < current=”” irish=”” freshman=”” guard=””>Breona Gray graduated from Bishop Gorman High School last May.

With the addition of Allen, D’Amico and Gaines, Notre Dame has assembled the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class according to Blue Star Index. This marks the eighth consecutive year in which the Irish have attracted a Top 20 class, making Notre Dame one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have such a consistent run of recruiting success.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native has won 363 games at Notre Dame, has a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success < on=”” and=”” off=”” the=”” court.=”” it=”” provides=”” lessons=”” for=”” those=”” aspiring=”” toward=”” success=”” in=”” basketball,=”” and=”” in=”” life,=”” while=”” illustrating=”” why=””>Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Media members wishing to obtain a copy of Coach McGraw’s book should contact Notre Dame assistant sports information director Chris Masters at (574) 631-8032.

Notre Dame will be back in hostile territory on Saturday when it ventures to Pittsburgh for a 2 p.m. (ET) matchup with the Panthers. Thanks to a special promotion in the Steel City, the game at the Petersen Events Center is an advanced sellout, the second in the short history of Pittsburgh’s new arena.

The Irish are 13-0 all-time against the Panthers after winning twice last season. Notre Dame won 77-69 on Feb. 26 at the Joyce Center, then dispatched Pittsburgh by a 73-65 count less than two weeks later in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship in Piscataway, N.J.

The Panthers (6-16, 2-10) are in their first season under new head coach Agnus Berenato, who came to town after an extended run at Georgia Tech. After opening the year with six wins in 14 games, including a split of its first four BIG EAST contests, Pittsburgh is in the midst of a season-long eight-game losing streak as it prepares to visit Connecticut Tuesday night.