May 22, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame rising senior point guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) has been selected as one of 16 finalists for the 2005 United States World University Games Team, USA Basketball announced Sunday afternoon. The finalists were chosen following four days of trials (May 19-22) involving 49 of the nation’s top college players at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The 16 finalists will return to Colorado Springs on July 28 for training camp, which will last until the team departs on Aug. 5 for the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey. Following the training camp, which will be used to determine the final 12-member U.S. squad. the Americans will practice in Turkey from Aug. 5-10 prior to the start of the World University Games. The women’s basketball competition lasts from Aug. 10-19 and features 21 teams from around the world — the U.S. has been placed in Pool B with China, Czech Republic, Poland and South Africa.
“Any time you hear your name on a list of the best players in the country, it’s definitely an honor,” Duffy said. “I’m excited to hopefully go to Turkey and help contribute to the team.
“I was just excited to see who made the team,” she continued. “We had four days of basketball where everyone worked really hard, so whatever happened, I was just thrilled to be here. It’s an honor for me. I think I did okay (at the trials). I stuck to what my strengths are, played as hard as I could and showed good leadership, and it turned out well.”
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), was making her first appearance at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials. She is the second Notre Dame player in the past four years to be named a finalist for a USA Basketball squad — in 2002, Jacqueline Batteast was a finalist for the U.S. World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Squad and ultimately was tapped as an alternate on that team, which won the gold medal in Brazil. In addition, prior to signing her National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame last November, incoming Irish freshman Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS) was a finalist for the 2004 USA Junior World Championship Qualifying Team, which won the gold this past summer in Puerto Rico.
“I am so happy for Megan to be named a finalist for Team USA,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She has worked so hard and done so much for us the past three years and I’m glad to see that she is being rewarded for her efforts. I absolutely believe she is one of the nation’s top point guards, not only because of her talent, intensity and desire to win on the floor, but her leadership and enthusiasm off the court as well. I couldn’t be more excited for her.”
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 by the Indiana Fever), 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.
Megan Duffy is seeking to become the third Notre Dame player to compete on a U.S. World University Games Team, following in the footsteps of Beth Morgan (gold medal in 1997) and Ruth Riley (silver medal in 1999). (photo by Steven Maikoski/USA Basketball)
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.
Besides Duffy, the only other BIG EAST Conference player to be named a finalist for the 2005 USA World University Games Team is Rutgers guard Cappie Pondexter. In addition, Duffy is one of three Dayton, Ohio, natives to make the list of finalists for the squad, joining Duke center Alison Bales and Ohio State guard/forward Brandie Hoskins (who also was Duffy’s teammate at Chaminade-Julienne High School).
The remainder of the U.S. World University Games finalists are: Seimone Augustus (LSU), Monique Currie (Duke), Jessica Davenport (Ohio State), Candice Dupree (Temple), Sylvia Fowles (LSU), Erin Grant (Texas Tech), Ivory Latta (North Carolina), Shawntinice Polk (Arizona), Leah Rush (Oklahoma), Liz Shimek (Michigan State), Brooke Smith (Stanford) and Lisa Willis (UCLA).
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 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.
“It was a difficult process which is a statement about what an exciting team this is to coach,” Delaney-Smith said. “I saw great things in the selection process that really have gotten me pumped up to get my hands on the players and get started. There’s been some great basketball. There were a bunch of All-Americans on the floor playing unselfishly, which is an indication of this team’s potential and how exciting they will be to coach.”
— ND —