April 12, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the fourth consecutive season, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was named the recipient of the Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player Award, picking up the hardware at the 2004-05 Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Banquet, which was held Tuesday evening at the Joyce Center.
More than 400 persons were in attendance to help the Irish celebrate one of their finest seasons ever. Notre Dame went 27-6, tying for the third-most wins in one season in school history, and its .818 winning percentage was the fourth-highest single-season mark in the program’s 28-year history. The Irish also made their 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance (12th in school history) and posted their 12th consecutive 20-win season, all under the guidance of 18-year head coach Muffet McGraw. In addition, Notre Dame was ranked 11th in the final Associated Press poll and 15th in the year-end ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, a product of its outstanding season-long success.
Other honorees on Tuesday night included: sophomore guard Breona Gray (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman HS), who was selected as the winner of both the Defensive Player of the Year Award and Most Improved Player Award; junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS), who was tapped to receive the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award; and freshman guard Amanda Tsipis (Perry, Ohio/Perry HS), who was honored with the Spirit Award. Each of the award winners was selected by a vote of her teammates.
The fourth consecutive MVP award caps off an impressive list of honors for Batteast this season. A member of the prestigious Kodak/WBCA All-America Team, a third-team Associated Press All-America selection and a finalist for the Honda Award, as well as the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year and Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player, Batteast averaged 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game with six double-doubles and 29 double-digit scoring games in her final season at Notre Dame. She departs as one of the most decorated players in school history, having been a four-time all-BIG EAST selection (a first-team pick the past two years) and ranking among the top five in the Irish career record books in 16 categories, including points (4th – 1,874), scoring average (4th – 15.2 ppg.), rebounds (4th – 965), rebounding average (4th – 7.8 rpg.), blocked shots (3rd – 167), blocks average (3rd – 1.36 bpg.), games started (3rd – 119) and double-doubles (2nd – 38). She also set a new school record by starting the final 97 games of her career, breaking Gaither’s old mark of 95 consecutive starts from 1994-97.
Gray improved her statistical production in virtually every category this season. After averaging 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game (no starts) as a freshman, Gray started all 33 games for the Irish this year, averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per night. She also more than tripled her steals from 13 to 41, ranking second on the team in thefts this season (1.24 spg.). In addition, she was charged with guarding some of the top opposing players on Notre Dame’s schedule and came through in fine fashion, shutting down the likes of Ohio State’s Caity Matter (13 points, 0-6 3FG), Purdue’s Katie Gearlds (14 points, 0-5 3FG) and West Virginia’s Kate Bulger (17 points, 7-34 FG in two games).
Duffy was an honorable mention All-America selection by both the Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA, becoming only the second Irish point guard (after Ivey) to receive All-America status. Also a first-team all-BIG EAST choice this season, Duffy ranked second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg.) and led the conference in both steals (2.73 spg.) and free throw percentage (.895), placing fourth in the country with a school-record mark in the latter category. She also was second in the BIG EAST in assists (5.39 apg.) and seventh in assist/turnover ratio (1.73), and earned a spot on the Preseason WNIT and BIG EAST Championship all-tournament teams. Her 90 steals this season are the fifth-most in school history (second among Irish juniors) and her 1,222 minutes played are second in school annals, just five minutes short of Morgan’s record of 1,227 in 1996-97. Duffy did set a new school standard by averaging 37.0 minutes per game, smashing Mary Gavin’s old mark of 35.1 in 1986-87.
Off the court, Duffy was named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V Second Team and is considered a likely choice to make her third consecutive appearance on the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team. She has a 3.454 cumulative grade-point average in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing a double major in psychology and computer applications. During the fall 2004 semester, she earned Dean’s List honors after compiling a 3.833 GPA.
Adding to the legacy of walk-on players at Notre Dame, Tsipis wasted little time in endearing herself to Irish fans with her loyalty, dedication to team success and positive attitude. Joining the team as a walk-on this season after a superb high school career, Tsipis appeared in 12 games for the Irish, scoring six points and grabbing one rebound while making two of her five shots from the floor. In perfect symmetry, she canned a basket in her first college game (a home win over Illinois State) and then closed out the home schedule with another field goal in a Senior Day victory over West Virginia.
Notre Dame will have nine monogram winners and three starters returning next season, complemented by two talented freshmen — guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS), who was the 2005 Illinois Miss Basketball and a consensus All-American this season, and forward Chandrica Smith (Stone Mountain, Ga./Oak Hill Academy (Va.)), who was a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America pick.
— ND —