Oct. 28, 2004
NEWARK, N.J. – Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Thursday at the BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.
Thursday’s honor was especially unique, in that Batteast is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. It is the latest in an extensive series of preseason awards for Batteast, who has been named a preseason All-American by four different outlets (Basketball News, Lindy’s College Basketball Annual, the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Gballmag.com). Also, Basketball News selected Batteast as its Preseason National Player of the Year, and the South Bend native has been placed on the watch lists for the Wooden Women’s Award and State Farm Wade Trophy, both of which go to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player.
Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.
Entering her final season at Notre Dame, Batteast ranks 11th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,315 points and stands in the top 10 on 11 other Irish career statistical categories, including rebounds (7th – 747), blocks (tie-5th – 124), scoring average (4th – 14.6 ppg.) and double-doubles (tie-3rd – 32). She also has been the picture of consistency for the Irish, having started 64 consecutive games and 86 of a possible 90 contests in her three-year tenure (she missed four games with a knee injury late in her freshman season).
Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team, a consensus top-15 selection in national preseason publications, will hold an open practice and autograph session for the general public at the Joyce Center Saturday from 1-2 p.m. (EST). The Irish will tip off their 2004-05 season next Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. (EST) against Premier Sports, also at the Joyce Center.
2004-05 BIG EAST PRESEASON HONORS
Player of the Year: Jacqueline Batteast, Sr., F, Notre Dame
Freshman of the Year: Charde Houston, Fr., G/F, Connecticut
Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team^
* Jacqueline Batteast, Sr., F, Notre Dame
Jessalyn Deveny, Sr., G, Boston College
Yolanda Paige, Sr., G, West Virginia
Cappie Pondexter, Sr., G, Rutgers
Ann Strother, Jr., G, Connecticut
Liad Suez, Jr., F, Villanova
*Barbara Turner, Jr., F/G, Connecticut
* – unanimous selection
^ – due to a tie in voting, there are seven first-team selections
Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Meg Bulger, So., G, West Virginia
Angela Clark, So., F, St. John’s
Megan Duffy, Jr., G, Notre Dame
Jessica Moore, Sr., C/F, Connecticut
Kathrin Ress, So., F, Boston College
— ND —