May 10, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the third time in four years, the University of Notre Dame will be represented at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials. Junior point guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) has accepted an invitation from USA Basketball to compete in the trials, which will take place May 19-22 in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Duffy, an Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA honorable mention All-America choice last season and a top candidate for the 2006 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior player in the nation under 5-foot-8), will be making her first appearance at the USA Trials.
A total of 57 players will participate in the USA Basketball Trials, which will be used to select the 12-member teams that will represent the United States at this summer’s World University Games and Under-19 World Championships. Duffy is one of 33 players at the USA Trials who, because of their age, are eligible only for selection to the USA World University Games Team, while another 13 trials participants are eligible to be chosen for either the USA World University Games or USA U-19 World Championship team. Following four days of trials, the finalists for both teams will be announced on May 22.
“To have the chance to represent the United States in the World University Games would be the highest honor for me as a student-athlete,” Duffy said. “I feel extremely privileged to be selected to try out for the team. If anything else, the chance to play against the best college players in the country at the trials will be an invaluable experience that I will carry over at Notre Dame. I will have a chance to measure my own game against the best competition in the country, and possibly even the world.
“I feel that I can bring an intensity and toughness to Team USA from the point guard position,” she continued. “I want to be able to provide leadership, make my other teammates around me play their best basketball possible and achieve our ultimate goal of take home the gold medal.”
“Megan had a spectacular year for us this past season and I’m glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves as one of the nation’s top point guards,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “No matter who we’ve played, she comes out with a fearless attitude, tremendous intensity and an relentless desire to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Her leadership both on and off the court is a big reason why we’ve been so successful the past three years and I have no doubt she will show all of these qualities and more as she tries out for this prestigious national team.”
The World University Games are a multi-sport competition held every two years and open to competitors ages 17 to 28 who are or have been a student at a university within the year prior to competition. The 2005 World University Games will take place Aug. 11-21 in Imzir, Turkey, with the women’s basketball event consisting of 21 teams divided among four pools. The USA women have had tremendous success in the World University Games, earning 12 medals in 13 previous appearances (five golds, six silvers, one bronze), and compiling an overall 75-15 (.833) record. Notre Dame has been represented on two of the past three USA World University Games squads — in 1997, Beth Morgan earned a gold medal as the U.S. went 6-0, and in 1999, Ruth Riley picked up a silver medal following Team USA’s 4-2 record.
The 2005 USA World University Games Team will be coached by Harvard mentor Kathy Delaney-Smith, who was an assistant on the 2003 USA World Championship for Young Women Team that captured the gold medal in Sibenik, Croatia. Delaney-Smith will be joined on the Team USA coaching staff by Boston College skipper Cathy Inglese and LSU head coach Pokey Chatman. Inglese and Chatman will be making their debuts as assistant coaches with USA Basketball.
Duffy will be arguably the top returning point guard in the BIG EAST Conference next season after becoming only the second Irish floor general ever to receive All-America status. Also a first-team all-BIG EAST choice in 2004-05, 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. In addition, she was second in the BIG EAST in assists (5.39 apg.), trailing only West Virginia’s Yolanda Paige (a recent second-round WNBA draft pick), 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 were the fifth-most in school history (second among Irish juniors) and her 1,222 minutes played were 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.
The lone returning captain on the Notre Dame roster for 2005-06, Duffy was at her best during the ’05 postseason, averaging 19.5 points, 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game with a .579 field goal percentage and .611 three-point percentage in four games. She helped lead Notre Dame to a 27-6 record in 2004-05, tying its third-highest win total ever, as well as the 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history (10th in a row) and the program’s 12th consecutive 20-win season. The Irish advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Arizona State, 70-61. Still, Notre Dame was ranked 11th in the final Associated Press poll of the season and 15th in the year-end ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Duffy follows in the footsteps of some of her current and former teammates as USA Basketball Trials participants. Recently-departed All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (now a second-round draft pick with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx) took part in the USA Trials in both 2002 and 2003, while departing senior center Teresa Borton attended in 2002 and junior forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) competed in 2003.
In addition to Duffy, four other current or future BIG EAST players have been selected to compete at the 2005 USA Basketball National Team Trials. Rutgers’ Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter earned nods, as did Jazz Covington of Louisville (the Cardinals join the BIG EAST on July 1) and Renee Montgomery of Connecticut. Pondexter and Covington are only eligible for the USA World University Games, while Carson is eligible for either the U.S. World University Games or U-19 World Championship team. Montgomery, an incoming freshman, is only eligible for the USA U-19 World Championship squad.
— ND —
NOTE: A complete listing of all of the invitees to the 2005 USA Basketball National Team Trials can be found on the official USA Basketball web site.