Nov. 15, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
It may be the Green Bay Packers that provided the Wisconsin hamlet its “Titletown” nickname but the Green Bay women’s basketball team has claimed some substantial hardware of its own over the years. The search for a Preseason WNIT title will bring the team to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on Thursday night and a collision-course with No. 1 Notre Dame.
The Irish are 2-0 on the year after a high-scoring, 107-47, win over Central Michigan and a 67-36 defensive battle against Fordham and prepared for the challenges presented by the Phoenix. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. with ACC Network Extra providing live webstream coverage.
Here are a few things to know about the game.
About the Phoenix
Green Bay has won 18 consecutive regular-season conference championships and made 16 NCAA Championship appearances over that span. The current edition is receiving votes in both the AP and coaches polls this week and 2-0 on the year as the Phoenix flies (or more literally rides a bus) into South Bend for Thursday night’s game.
The Phoenix advanced into this semifinal matchup by defeating Elon, 71-56, and Little Rock, 57-31, last weekend at the Kress Events Center in Green Bay. Junior guard/forward Jessica Lindstrom was named Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday for her contributions to the victories, scoring 27 points with 21 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Green Bay head coach Kevin Borseth is in his fifth year of his second tenure at the school. Between the stints, he spent five years at Michigan where he compiled a 1-1 mark against the Irish, falling at the Joyce Center in 2007 and claiming a 2008 overtime victory in Ann Arbor.
Irish Now Unanimous No. 1
Notre Dame leapt over Connecticut in Tuesday’s release of the coaches poll by a narrow margin of seven points, unifying the top spot in the nation. The Irish were the preseason number one team in the AP poll and held that position into the season’s second week. Monday marked the 205th time Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP top 10, surpassing North Carolina (204) for the 10th-most all-time. The Irish have an active streak of 107 weeks ranked in the AP top 10 dating back to January 24, 2011.
Preseason WNIT Success
With Monday’s win over Fordham, the Irish now stand at 14-3 all-time in Preseason WNIT action and a perfect 12-0 at home. The Irish are participating in the event for the fifth time and have reached the semifinals for the fifth time. Notre Dame is 2-2 in previous semifinal matchups, beating No. 6 Duke in 2004 and Hartford in 2011 while falling to No. 3 Tennessee in 1996 and No. 3 Maryland in 2007. The 2004 Irish went on to beat No. 10 Ohio State in the championship game while the 2011 Irish would fall at No. 1 Baylor in the final.
Defense Clicking Early
Notre Dame’s defense has been strong in its first two outings. Among teams which have played two games through Monday’s NCAA statistical update, Notre Dame’s 41.5 scoring defense mark ranked tied for fourth nationally. Curiously, one of the three teams ahead of the Irish is fellow Preseason WNIT semifinalist No. 25 Missouri. The Tigers play No. 17 Washington Thursday night in Seattle for the right for the right to face the Green Bay-Notre Dame winner on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Additionally, Notre Dame’s 25.2% field goal percentage defense ranks sixth among teams that have played two games through Monday. The Irish are also 14th nationally among two-game teams with their 17.3% 3-point field goal defense.
How to Watch/Listen
The first official steps towards the creation of an ACC Network began this summer in conjunction with ESPN. All non-televised home games which used to be streamed live online through WatchND (including Thursday night’s) will now be streamed under the banner of ACC Network Extra. Games are available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers. Thursday night’s game will feature audio from the Notre Dame radio network as called by Bob Nagle and Ruth Riley.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Thursday night’s game is available here.
Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The direct link to the radio call is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.