November 11, 1998
NOTRE DAME, IND. — The 17th-ranked Notre Dame women’s basketball team, beginning its 22nd year, opens up the 1998-99 campaign on Saturday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. against the Bruins of UCLA. It will be the 12th meeting between the two teams with the Bruins holding an 8-3 advantage in the series. UCLA is making its fifth appearance at the Joyce Center and first since December of 1989. A win over the Bruins would give Notre Dame its 400th victory in the program’s history.
EXHIBITON REVIEW — VISBY-SWEDEN: Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) led six Irish players in double figures as Notre Dame beat Visby-Sweden 111-82 in the first of two exhibition games. McMillen scored all 27 points from three-point range as she canned nine three-pointers in the contest. Three players registered double doubles as Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) netted 17 points and tied Riley for game-high rebounding honors with 13. Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) had a double-double of her own as she scored 18 points and dished off 15 assists. She also grabbed seven rebounds in the contest. Freshman Ericka Haney (Toledo, Ohio) scored 11 points and Diana Braendly (Staten Island, N.Y.) chipped in 10 points.
HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW — Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw begins her 12th season with the Irish and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and five overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Reginal championship. In 1998, McGraw’s squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In her 11 seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 235-105 (.691) and in 16 campaign overall, her teams have registered a 323-145 (.689) ledger.
SERIES RECORD VERSUS UCLA — UCLA leads series 8-3. The two teams met for the first time since the first round of the 1992 NCAA tournament last season at fabled Pauley Pavilion with the Irish leaving with a 93-91 double overtime thriller for their first-ever win in Los Angeles. Sheila McMillen hit for a career-high 29 points canning all five of her three-pointers in leading the Irish to the victory. Kelley Siemon (Edina, Minn.) tied a school record as she was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line as she finished with a career-best 20 points. Danielle Green was one of four Notre Dame players in double figures as she finished with 19 points. Notre Dame is 2-2 against UCLA at the Joyce Center. This will be UCLA’s first visit to the Joyce Center since December 22, 1989 when the Irish beat the Bruins 67-65 in overtime.
NOTRE DAME LOOKS FOR 400TH WIN –– A victory over the Bruins on Saturday would give Notre Dame its 400th win in school history. In the 21 years of the program, Irish teams have compiled a 399-204 mark for a 69.1 winning percentage and have averaged 19.0 victories since the program’s first season in 1977-78..
McMILLEN EYES 1,000TH POINT — Senior guard Sheila McMillen enters the season 37 points shy of becoming the 14th player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history to reach the 1000-point plateau. Heading into Saturday’s game with UCLA, McMillen has played in 100 games during her three-year career and has started 38 of those contests while averaging 9.6 ppg. She has a better than 40 percent shooting percentage from the field and has hit better than 78 percent of her free throw attempts. McMillen was Notre Dame’s leading scorer a year ago, averaging 13.6 ppg. and she owns a 9.6 career scoring average.
THE CAPTAIN — Sheila McMillen is Notre Dame’s captain this season. This is the first time since 1981-82, and the second time in the program’s history, that the Irish have had just one player serve as a captain during the course of the season. The only other lone captain during a basketball season was Missy Conboy, now an associated athletic director at Notre Dame.
LOFTY RANKINGS — Notre Dame begins the 1998-99 with its highest preseason ranking in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN rankings as the Irish are 17th and 19th in each, respectively. This is just the second time in its 22-year history that Notre Dame will start the season ranked. Two years ago, Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad started the season ranked 20th in the AP and 25th in the USA Today/ESPN polls.
OUT OF THE GATES — Notre Dame’s early-season schedule is certainly the toughest in school history and one of the most challenging nationally with four of the first seven teams on the Irish schedule ranked in the preseason. While the schedule is formidable, McGraw and her team can enjoy the luxury of playing all of those games at the Joyce Center. After facing sixth-ranked UCLA at home on Saturday, November 14, the Irish played fourth-ranked Duke the following Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m. McGraw’s squad entertains 25th-ranked Illinois on Tuesday, November 24 at 7:00 p.m. The final ranked opponent to visit the Irish early on is BIG EAST rival Connecticut on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m.
HOME COOKING — Notre Dame starts the season by playing six of its first eight games at home. The two road games Notre Dame faces before concluding a three-game homestand against Villanova on Saturday, December 12 are against Butler (November 18) and San Francisco (November 28).
ELITE COMPANY — Notre Dame was one of just nine schools to advance to the Sweet 16 in both 1997 and 1998. The eight other schools on the short list included: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Old Dominion and Tennessee. The Irish also were one of 29 teams to earn an NCAA tournament bid each of the last three seasons.
SCOUTING THE IRISH THIS SEASON — Notre Dame returns four starters from last season’s 22-10 squad which made its third straight NCAA tournament appearance while advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year. Senior captain Sheila McMillen is the lone returning senior starter. McMillen led the Irish in scoring a year ago averaging 13.6 ppg. She begins the ’98-’99 campaign 37 points shy of becoming the 14th player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history to reach the 1000-point mark. Sophomore Ruth Riley, who became a starter six games into the season and was an all-BIG EAST Rookie team selection, was the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 11.5 ppg. and top rebounder (7.3 rpg.). Another second-year player, forward Kelley Siemon, who started all but two games, netted 8.0 ppg., and was the team’s second-leading rebounder with a 5.2 rebounding average. The fourth returning starter from a year ago is junior Niele Ivey. Ivey, a guard, netted 8.2 ppg. and 3.3 rebounds. She was second on the team in assists with 90 and led the Irish with 77 steals. Senior guard Danielle Green started the first 14 contests of the 1997-98 campaign and finished as the fourth Irish player to average double figures a year ago netting 10.2 ppg. She also was among the squad’s leading rebounders with a 4.8 average. Junior forward Julie Henderson (Ann Arbor, Mich.) will be battling for a starting job. She averaged 4.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in her sophomore season. Senior Diana Braendly should see considerable playing time up front. She averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds while hitting 46.6 percent of her shots from the field. Sophomore guard Imani Dunbar (San Angelo, Tex.) once again will contribute defensively, while sophomore forward Meaghan Leahy (Wilbraham, Mass.) will give the Irish strength on the boards. Freshmen Ericka Haney (Toledo, Ohio) and Sherisha Hills (Tampa, Fla.) will make immediate contributions. Haney is expected to see time at both the guard and forward positions, while Hills will handle the point guard duties. Both were among the nation’s top hgih school seniors a year ago.
IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER — Notre Dame has played all 21 of its seasons in the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 184-64 mark for a .742 winning percentage since the 1997-78 campaign. Last season, Notre Dame won school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 record.
RILEY STARS FOR U.S. SELECT TEAM — Ruth Riley starred for the 1998 USA Women’s Select Team over the summer. The team compiled an eight-game, 15-day tour of Puerto Rico, Poland and Spain and finished 7-1 mark. Riley was the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder with averages of 10.3 ppg. and 7.6 rpg. She registered two double-doubles in the seven games and recorded bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds ina 72-70 victory over Puerto . Riley led the team once and in rebounding on four occasions.
HENDERSON TOURS WITH BIG EAST ALL-STARS — Julie Henderson toured with the 1998 BIG EAST/Nike Women’s Basketball All-Star Team this summer. The squad finished with a 2-3 record against teams from Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Henderson was one of the bright spots onlast summer’s squad averaging 9.0 points and 3.7 rebounds. She had a personal tour high 17 ponts in the final game against Karlov Vary BBC.
PRESEASON HONORS FOR RILEY AND McMILLEN — The names of Ruth Riley and Sheila McMillen appear on preseason All-America teams of several publications. Notre Dame also is ranked in the polls of every preseason publication. Street & Smith’s: Ruth Riley – First Team; Sheila McMillen – High Honorable Mention; Notre Dame – 24th The Sporting News: Notre Dame -17th Dick Vitale’s College Basketball: Notre Dame -14th Athlon College Basketball: Ruth Riley – Third Team; Notre Dame – 18th Basketball News: Notre Dame – 22nd Women’s Basketball Journal: Ruth Riley – Third Team; Notre Dame – 10th Associated Press: Ruth Riley – Honorable Mention
BIG EAST PRESEASON COACHES POLL —
1. CONNECTICUT 141 2. RUTGERS 136 3. NOTRE DAME 120 4. BOSTON COLLEGE 108 5. VILLANOVA 95 6. MIAMI 83 7. GEORGETOWN 68 8. SYRACUSE 63 WEST VIRGINIA 63 10. PROVIDENCE 48 11. ST. JOHN'S 32 12. SETON HALL 30 13. PITTSBURGH 26
ASSOCIATED PRESS (PRESEASON)Final 1997-98 Ranking1. Tennessee (39-0) 12. Louisiana Tech (31-4) 43. Connecticut (34-3) 34. Duke (24-8) 85. Purdue (23-10) 216. UCLA (20-9) 257. Georgia (17-11) NR8. Virginia (19-10) 179. Alabama (24-10) 1110. North Carolina (27-7) 711. Kansas (23-9) NR12. Rutgers (22-10) NR13. George Washington (20-10) NR14. Texas Tech (26-5) 615. Old Dominion (29-3) 216. North Carolina State (25-7) NR17. NOTRE DAME (22-10) NR19. Stanford (21-6) 520. Vanderbilt (20-9) 1821. Arizona (23-7) 922. Florida (23-9) 13 Iowa State (25-8) 2424 UC Santa Barbara (27-6) NR25. Illinois (20-10) 16
USA TODAY/ESPN (PRESEASON)Final 1997-98 Ranking1. Tennessee 12. Louisiana Tech 23. Connecticut 34. Duke T75. Purdue 116. UCLA 207. North Carolina 38. Kansas 22 Texas Tech 1010. Georgia NR11. Rutgers 1612. North Carolina State 413. Alabama 1314 Virginia 2315. Old Dominion 616. George Washington NR17. Stanford 1518. Arkansas T719. NOTRE DAME 1820. Florida 1221. Arizona 922. Vanderbilt 2523. Wisconsin NR24. Illinois 1425. Iowa State 24
bold italics indicates 1998-99 opponentPreseason BIG EAST Player of the Year: Svetlana Abrosimova - ConnecticutPreseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year: Tamika Williams - ConnecticutPreseason All-BIG EAST First Team: Svetlana Abrosimova - Connecticut Cal Bouchard - Boston College Kym Hope - Miami Tasha Pointer - Rutgers Tomora Young - RutgersPreseason All-BIG EAST First Team: Sheila McMillen - Notre Dame Ruth Riley - Notre Dame Paige Sauer - Connecticut Whitney Steele - Boston College Sylita Thomas - Georgetown