March 20, 2005
2005 NCAA Tempe Region — Second Round
(#11 AP/#13 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (27-5)
vs. (#24 ESPN/USA Today) Arizona State Sun Devils (23-9)
The Date and Time: Monday, March 21, 2005, at 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET in South
The Site: Save Mart Center (15,621) in Fresno, Calif.
The Tickets: Single-session tickets remain available through the Fresno State
athletics ticket office (559-278-3647).
The TV Plans: ESPN2 national broadcast with Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Kara
Lawson (analysis), Heather Cox (sideline), Kim Belton (producer) and Doug
Holmes (director). The game also is available through the ESPN FullCourt
The Radio Plans: Monday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio
1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) calling
the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame
athletics web site at www.und.com.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Arizona State (www.thesundevils.com).
As is so often the case in postseason play, the minute a team has defeated a high-quality opponent, yet another one lurks around the corner. That will be the case Monday at 6 p.m. (PT) when No. 11/13 Notre Dame takes on 24th-ranked Arizona State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The fourth-seeded Irish will be seeking their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and seventh in the past nine seasons.
Notre Dame (27-5) opened NCAA play with a 61-51 victory over UC Santa Barbara Saturday afternoon. The Irish used a 24-9 run that crossed between halves to take a double-digit lead and then held off a late Gaucho rally to seal the win. Junior guard Megan Duffy shared game-high scoring honors with 18 points, one of three Irish players to reach double figures in the contest.
No. 5 seed Arizona State (23-9) had little trouble in its NCAA lidlifter on Saturday, rolling past Eastern Kentucky, 87-65. The Sun Devils raced out to a 33-12 lead midway through the first half and EKU couldn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way. Sophomore forward Emily Westerberg had a game-high 20 points for ASU, which shot 59.3 percent from the floor.
Westerberg, a first-team all-Pac-10 Conference pick, is averaging a team-best 11.4 points per game, followed closely by junior forward Kristin Kovesdy at 11.2 ppg, along with a .617 field goal percentage.
Charli Turner Thorne is 146-121 (.547) in nine years at ASU. She is 0-1 all-time vs. Notre Dame.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIGHTING IRISH
One of the primary goals for Notre Dame this season has been to put itself in position to contend for a national championship. As they compete in the NCAA Tournament, the Irish certainly have done just that, compiling a 27-5 record (13-3 in the BIG EAST) with seven victories over ranked opponents, including four against top-10 foes. Notre Dame also won the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT in mid-November, claiming its first regular-season tournament title since 2000-01.
Below the surface, it’s apparent the Irish have been strong in nearly all facets of their game. They are 13-3 on the road, making big strides from last year’s struggles away from home. Notre Dame also has shown excellent resiliency, losing back-to-back games just once all season and rebounding from those two losses with a season-long 10-game winning streak (the program’s longest since the ’00-01 campaign). And, the Irish have displayed an ability to win games in numerous different ways — last-second buzzer beaters (Marquette), thrilling second half comebacks (Duke, Ohio State, Rutgers, Boston College), gritty road victories (Connecticut, USC, UC Santa Barbara), defensive battles (twice vs. Seton Hall) and high-scoring shootouts (Purdue, Illinois State).
Despite the added focus shown to her by opposing teams, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was a major catalyst for the Irish this season, averaging 16.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. The newly-crowned BIG EAST Player of the Year and a leading candidate for the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Women’s Award and Senior CLASS Award, Batteast has scored in double digits 28 times this season, has earned game-high scoring honors on 16 occasions and has six double-doubles. She also moved into the top five on Notre Dame’s career lists for points (1,854), rebounds (957), blocks (164) and double-doubles (38). In addition, with 15 points vs. West Virginia Feb. 26, she became the third Irish player to amass 1,800 points and 900 rebounds in her career, joining All-Americans Katryna Gaither and Ruth Riley. Batteast also just broke Gaither’s school record for consecutive starts, making her 96th consecutive appearance in the starting lineup this past Saturday vs. UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Junior guard Megan Duffy also has stepped up her play this season, registering 12.0 points per game with a team-high 5.44 assists (second in the BIG EAST and 27th in the nation as of March 14) and 2.69 steals per game (first in the BIG EAST). Duffy also leads the league and is third nationally with a .895 free throw percentage (128-140) this season, sparking the Irish to a BIG EAST-best .738 free throw ratio, which also ranks 34th in the nation.
In the post, senior center Teresa Borton is showing capable leadership by example. A veteran post and tri-captain, Borton has not missed a game (126 and counting), nor a practice in her entire four-year career at Notre Dame. For the season, she has posted career-best numbers in almost every statistical category, ranking third on the team in scoring (8.3 ppg.), second in rebounding (5.7 rpg.) and first in both blocked shots (1.72 bpg.) and field goal percentage (.571).
SOME POTENT NOTABLES ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH
- Notre Dame won its first seven games this season, the second-best debut in the program’s history. The 2000-01 squad opened with a 23-game win streak en route to school’s first national championship. The Irish also reached the double-digit win mark Dec. 19 at Marquette, getting their 10th win faster than any team in school history (the ’00-01 team did it two days later on Dec. 21, 2000).
- Notre Dame’s 10-game winning streak from Jan. 16-Feb. 15 was its longest since a school-record 23-game run to open the 2000-01 season. It also was the ninth double-digit winning streak in school history and the seventh in Muffet McGraw’s 18 seasons as head coach.
- The Irish are 13-3 away from home this year, and won their first five road games this season for the second time in school history. The 2000-01 club opened with a 10-game road winning streak to set the school standard. Ironically, Notre Dame struggled in true road games last year, losing its first four and six of its first seven on the opposition’s floor.
- Notre Dame picked up its 20th win of the season Feb. 5 at Pittsburgh. The Irish have now posted 12 consecutive 20-win seasons (one of only six schools in the nation that can make that claim) and 16 in the 18-year Muffet McGraw era. In addition, Notre Dame reached the 20-win mark in its 23rd game this season, marking the fourth-fastest run to 20 victories in school history. The 2000-01 club opened with 23 consecutive wins, while the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 squads each did it in 22 games. However, in terms of calendar dates, the Irish logged their 20th win faster than any Notre Dame team except the 2000-01 unit, which reached the mark on Jan. 31.
- The Irish were a fixture near the top of the RPI charts this year. Through the end of the conference tournament season, Notre Dame was fifth in the WBCA/Summerville RPI rankings, with the nation’s 22nd-toughest schedule.
- Notre Dame appeared in the top 10 of the AP balloting 16 times in the 19 polls this year before winding up 11th in the final poll that came out on March 14. On two other occasions in school history have the Irish spent as long in the AP top 10 during one season — 1998-99 (16 weeks) and 2000-01 (18 weeks). All told, Notre Dame has now spent 72 weeks in the AP top 10 in the program’s 28-year history and has a 110-20 (.846) all-time record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
- The Irish have posted 37 wins over AP Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), including seven this year (No. 6 Duke, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 20 Purdue, No. 6 Rutgers, No. 9 Connecticut, No. 16 Boston College and No. 25 Boston College). Notre Dame is tied for the fifth-most Top 25 wins in the nation this season. During the past two years, the Irish have 14 wins over ranked opponents.
- Notre Dame has defeated 23 top-10 opponents in its history, adding to that total with four victories this season. The four top-10 wins represent the second-highest total in school history (and tie Penn State and North Carolina for the second-most by any team in the nation this season behind Rutgers’ five wins) — the 2000-01 squad holds the Irish record with seven top-10 victories.
- Head coach Muffet McGraw has a 411-154 (.727) record in 18 seasons with the Irish, having logged the milestone 400th victory Jan. 23 against Rutgers. She also has a 499-195 (.719) overall record in 23 seasons, leaving her only one victory shy of the 500-win plateau for her career.
IRISH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Notre Dame is in the midst of its 12th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this week and has compiled a 22-10 (.688) record in its history. The Irish have reached the Sweet Sixteen (regional semifinals) on six occasions, all in the past eight years, along with two Final Four berths and the 2001 NCAA championship. This year marks only the second time Notre Dame has played an NCAA Tournament game in California (lost 93-72 at UCLA in 1992). A complete listing of Notre Dame’s appearances in NCAA Tournament may be found in the sidebar on page 5 of this notes package.
THE NOTRE DAME-ARIZONA STATE SERIES
Monday’s game will be only the third in the series between Notre Dame and Arizona State. The teams have split their first two encounters, both of which came in Tempe, but were nearly 20 years apart. On Jan. 27, 1983, the 14th-ranked Sun Devils handed the Irish an 82-57 loss at the ASU Activity Center. Laura Dougherty scored 17 points and Trena Keys logged 10 points for Notre Dame, which shot 39.7 percent from the field and was outscored 26-11 at the free throw line. Cassandra Lander (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Kym Hampton (20 points, 12 rebounds) both notched double-doubles for Arizona State.
Almost two decades later on Dec. 7, 2002, No. 9 Notre Dame defeated ASU, 81-52 at Wells Fargo Arena in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II. The game was part of a doubleheader (Purdue vs. Vanderbilt was the other game) promotion designed to help raise money in the fight against breast cancer. A full recap of that game appears in the following note.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND ARIZONA STATE MET
Notre Dame had a familiar game plan — get the ball in Jacqueline Batteast’s hands.
Batteast scored 20 of her 24 points in the first half, leading the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish past Arizona State 81-52 on Dec. 7, 2002 at Wells Fargo Arena. The game was the opener in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II, a one-day benefit for breast-cancer research.
Batteast, the 2002 BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Year, tied her (then) career high for field goals on 10-of-15 shooting, and came up three points shy of a (then) career-best scoring performance.
Teresa Borton had 14 points, Le’Tania Severe 11 and Katy Flecky 10 for the Fighting Irish (4-0), who won for the first time ever in the state of Arizona. Notre Dame lost to Arizona State in 1983 and to Arizona last season.
Arizona State freshman Jill Noe had 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Kristen Kovesdy added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Sun Devils (5-1), who were coming off their best game — a four-point upset of No. 14 Georgia in which Noe scored 20.
Notre Dame made only one of its first 10 shots, but then made five straight to start a 25-2 run that sent the Irish to a 27-5 lead with 7:29 remaining in the first half. Batteast capped the surge with a driving layup, a layup off an inbounds pass and a three-pointer in a 62-second span.
The Sun Devils had just four field goals and committed nine turnovers in the first half, falling behind 46-17. Noe scored 16 points in the second half.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-ARIZONA STATE SERIES NOTES
- Monday’s game will mark the second time in the past three NCAA Tournaments that Notre Dame has faced a team from Arizona. In 2003, the Irish defeated Arizona, 59-47 in an East Region first-round matchup at Manhattan, Kan.
- Notre Dame and Arizona State have four common opponents this season — USC, Washington, Seton Hall and Connecticut. The Irish went 5-2 against this group, defeating Seton Hall twice, USC, Washington and UConn once, and losing twice to Connecticut. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils had a 4-2 record against the common opponents, splitting season series with USC and Washington, while also defeating Seton Hall and UConn.
- In their last meeting in 2002 at the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II in Tempe, Notre Dame and Arizona State had set a Wells Fargo Arena attendance record (7,274) before that standard was broken earlier this season on Dec. 21 when the Sun Devils upset three-time defending national champion Connecticut before a crowd of 8,927 fans.
- Notre Dame director of athletics Kevin White held the same post at Arizona State from 1996-2000. While in Tempe, White oversaw an ASU athletics program that won three NCAA titles and posted NCAA runner-up finishes twice. The Sun Devils also rose to 11th in the 1999-2000 Sears Directors’ Cup rankings under White’s guidance.
- Former Arizona State director of athletics Gene Smith, who recently left ASU to take the same post at Ohio State, is a 1977 graduate of Notre Dame, where he was a three-year monogram winner as a defensive end in football. He also was a member of the Irish squad that won the 1973 national championship. Upon graduation, Smith remained at Notre Dame from 1977-81, serving as an assistant football coach and helping guide the Irish to the ’77 national title.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE
The Irish have a limited history against the Pacific-10 Conference, posting a 16-14 (.533) record against that league all-time, including a 7-1 mark in the past eight games. All told, Notre Dame has played six of the 10 Pac-10 member schools, holding series records of .500 or better against Arizona (3-1), Arizona State (1-1), USC (6-1) and Washington (2-1). The Irish have never faced California, Oregon, Oregon State or Washington State.
Monday’s game vs. ASU will be the third this season for Notre Dame against a Pac-10 opponent. On Nov. 26, the Irish registered a 60-56 win at USC, and on Dec. 11, Notre Dame ousted Washington, 72-58 at the Joyce Center.
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
The Irish have done a good job of starting their NCAA Tournament experience in the right way, winning their first round game in each of the past 10 seasons. That corresponds exactly with Notre Dame’s membership in the BIG EAST Conference, which began with the 1995-96 campaign. During that time, the Irish have advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times, moving on to the Final Four twice and winning the 2001 NCAA title.
IRISH OPPONENTS QUALIFY FOR THE SECOND SEASON
Notre Dame played a difficult 2004-05 schedule, one which was ranked in the top 25 in the country all year long. Highlighting that fact, a total of 14 Irish opponents qualified for postseason play — nine in the NCAA Tournament (Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Illinois State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers and USC) and five in the WNIT (Marquette, Nebraska, St. John’s, Villanova and West Virginia). Notre Dame went 9-4 against the NCAA qualifiers (wins over all but Michigan State, including two wins over BC), and posted a 5-1 mark vs. the WNIT group (defeated all but Villanova and beat WVU twice).
SOWING THE SEEDS
Notre Dame is seeded fourth in the Tempe Region of this year’s NCAA Tournament, representing the third-best seed in school history. It’s also Notre Dame’s highest seed since 2001, when the Irish carried the top seed in the Midwest Region all the way to the program’s first national championship. This year marks the first time Notre Dame is the No. 4 seed. Overall, Notre Dame has played 25 NCAA Tournament games as a single-digit seed, posting a 19-7 (.731) record. The Irish also are 9-1 (.900) all-time as a top-four seed, with their only loss coming to Texas Tech, 69-65 in the 2000 Mideast Regional semifinals at The Pyramid in Memphis.
BEEN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw ranks fifth among active Division I coaches in terms of NCAA Tournament winning percentage, owning a .688 mark (22-10) in her 12 appearances in the event. The remainder of the top five is: Tennessee’s Pat Summitt (.833, 85-17), Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (.828, 53-11), Duke’s Gail Goestenkors (.722, 26-10) and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (.696, 39-17). All records require a minimum of 20 NCAA Tournament games played and records are through March 19.
THE BEAST OF THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 137-31 (.815) in regular-season competition against the rest of BIG EAST Conference, owning the best conference winning percentage of any current member of the BIG EAST since joining the circuit for the 1995-96 campaign. The Irish also have finished either first or second in the BIG EAST nine times in their 10-year membership, and claimed a share of their first-ever regular-season conference championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 151-41 (.786) against league opponents — when factoring in these 24 postseason tilts, the Irish are 76-8 (.905) at home, 61-26 (.701) on the road and 14-7 (.667) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.
Notre Dame is 188-45 (.807) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish were 11th in the final AP poll released March 14). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 87-10 (.897) as a ranked host after posting a 14-2 record at the Joyce Center this season. Conversely, the Irish are 75-26 (.743) on the road and 26-9 (.743) at neutral sites all-time as a ranked team.
Notre Dame was ranked in all 19 AP polls this season and spent 16 weeks in the top 10, with the latter mark tying for the second-most top-10 appearances for a season in school history (16 in 1998-99; 18 in 2000-01). This year’s final No. 11 ranking is the first time the Irish have appeared in the year-end AP poll since 2000-01, when they were second following a 78-76 loss to Connecticut in the BIG EAST Championship title game. However, Notre Dame bounced back nicely that year to win its first-ever national championship.
McGRAW AMONG ACTIVE COACHING LEADERS IN AP POLL APPEARANCES
With Notre Dame’s No. 11 ranking in this year’s final Associated Press poll, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw has moved into 18th place among active Division I coaches, having piloted her team to 128 AP poll appearances. That’s one more than Old Dominion’s Wendy Larry (127), with retiring Colorado head coach Ceal Barry (142) and Texas A&M mentor Gary Blair (146) just ahead of McGraw.
SOLID AS A ROCK
The Irish have fielded just two different starting lineups this season, a testament to the team’s consistency throughout the campaign. In fact, four players — senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton, junior guard Megan Duffy and sophomore guard Breona Gray — have started every game for Notre Dame this season. The fifth starting spot has been split between junior forward Courtney LaVere and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin, due in part to LaVere’s knee surgery and subsequent recovery period earlier this season.
Batteast’s regularity in the starting lineup is especially notable. When she started Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game vs. UC Santa Barbara, she broke Katryna Gaither’s school record with her 96th consecutive start, dating back to the opening game of the 2002-03 season against Cleveland State (Gaither started 95 in a row from 1994-97).
Junior guard Megan Duffy is on pace to shatter the Notre Dame single-season records for total minutes and minutes per game this year. Duffy presently has amassed 1,185 minutes played and is averaging 37.0 minutes per night, with nine 40-minute games to her credit (including a career-long 45-minute ironman performance vs. Michigan State on Dec. 2). The school record for total minutes is held by Beth Morgan (1,227 in 1996-97), while Mary Gavin owns the Irish minutes-per-game record (35.1 in 1986-87).
For her career, Duffy is averaging 31.2 minutes per game, which would rank fourth in school history just behind her current teammate, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (31.7).
BALANCE IS KEY
Notre Dame has had nine of the 11 players on its roster score in double figures at least once this season, with seven of them earning a share of team-high scoring honors in a game. The Irish also have had eight different players claim team-high rebounding honors in a game, while five separate players have led the squad in assists.
In addition, four of Notre Dame’s five current starters have at least two double-doubles to their credit this season. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast leads the way with six double-doubles, followed by two each for senior center Teresa Borton, junior guard Megan Duffy and junior forward Courtney LaVere.
THE SEASON FOR SHARING
One of the key elements in Notre Dame’s success this season has been its penchant for distributing the ball well. In fact, the Irish have 505 assists (15.78 apg.; third in the BIG EAST and 36th in the nation as of March 14) on 769 field goals made (24.0 per game), including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State.
Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way at 5.44 assists per game (second in the BIG EAST and 27th in the nation), with at least five dimes in 19 contests this year, four double-digit assist games (most by an Irish player since Niele Ivey’s five in 2000-01), and a career-high 11 assists vs. Rutgers on Jan. 23. Duffy also was second in the BIG EAST with 6.19 apg. in conference play.
GETTING IT ON THE PLUS SIDE
The Irish currently are just shy of the break-even point with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.98 this season (505 assists, 513 turnovers). If that figure moves back into the black, it would mark the second time since turnovers became an official statistic in 1987-88 that Notre Dame has finished with more assists than turnovers in a season. The Irish also pulled off that feat in 2000-01, winding up with a 1.15 assist-to-turnover ratio (650 assists, 567 turnovers) during their run to the national championship.
The Irish are 13-3 away from home this season and have 11 true road wins, tying for the third-highest total in school history (13 in 1996-97; 12 in 1998-99; 11 on three other occasions — most recently in 2000-01). In fact, Notre Dame won its first five road games this year, marking only the second time ever the Irish opened with five or more road victories (they won 10 in a row to begin the 2000-01 campaign).
Accenting Notre Dame’s play on the road has been its defensive prowess. The Irish are holding opponents to 53.2 ppg., a .346 field goal percentage (305-for-881) and a .245 three-point percentage (66-for-269) away from home and have allowed more than 60 points only twice in their 16 games away from home this year (61 by Syracuse on Jan. 19; 67 by Connecticut on March 7 in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals).
PINE TIME PLAYERS
Notre Dame is 18-0 this year (9-0 vs. BIG EAST Conference opponents) when its bench outscores the opposition’s reserves. For the season, the Irish understudies are averaging 16.6 ppg., compared to 14.1 ppg. for Notre Dame opponents. Freshman guard Charel Allen has been the top Irish reserve this season, logging 7.9 ppg.
Notre Dame’s bench play has been especially important during the past 16 games (14-2 record). The Irish are getting an average of 18.8 ppg. (301 total points) from their reserves in that stretch, compared to 14.4 ppg. (231 total points) from the opposition’s bench. Allen (9.2 ppg., 147 total) has been the key bench contributor in that stretch with six double-figure games — 17 points at Syracuse (Jan. 19), 16 points at Pittsburgh (Feb. 5), 14 points vs. Georgetown (Feb. 12) and at Seton Hall (March 1), and 11 points at No. 9/10 Connecticut (Jan. 30) and vs. West Virginia (March 6).
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame ranks second in the BIG EAST Conference in steals this season, averaging 9.28 thefts per game (297 total). The Irish have come up with at least 10 steals in 13 games and had a season-best 20 thefts on Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State, the most by a BIG EAST team this season.
Individually, junior guard Megan Duffy is tops in the conference in steals (2.69 spg.), while her 86 total steals rank as the fifth-highest single-season mark in school history (Niele Ivey holds the record with 95 swipes in 1999-2000). Duffy’s backcourt mate, sophomore Breona Gray is second on the team with 1.25 steals per game (40 total), while senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (38) and freshman guard Charel Allen (37) also have at least 35 steals this year.
LOTS OF FREE STUFF
When given the opportunity, Notre Dame has taken advantage of its trips to the free throw line this season. The Irish lead the BIG EAST Conference and rank 34th in the nation (as of March 14), shooting 73.8 percent from the charity stripe. In fact, they set a school record by going a perfect 18-for-18 on Nov. 30 at Valparaiso, which also matches the best mark by any team in the country this season.
Notre Dame has been led at the gift line by junior guard Megan Duffy (.895, 128-143), freshman guard Charel Allen (.847, 72-85) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (.778, 123-158). Duffy currently ranks first in the BIG EAST and third in the nation in free throw percentage, while Batteast is second in the conference and has shown the greatest improvement among all Irish players this season with a 15-percent jump from last year’s career low .627 mark.
One side note about Duffy’s free throw prowess — the Irish junior struggled at the line early in her freshman season, shooting just 59.3 percent (16-27) during her first 15 collegiate games. However, in the 81 games since then (Jan. 20, 2003 to present), Duffy is connecting at an .868 clip (243-280) on her foul shots.
STILL MORE FREE STUFF
Notre Dame has made more free throws (515) than its opponents have attempted (505) this season. That margin was even wider in BIG EAST Conference action, where the Irish converted 247 foul shots, while their opponents have tried only 222 free throws.
Entering this season, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw had the opportunity to reach three career coaching milestones. Here’s a look at her progress toward each landmark:
- Winningest basketball coach at Notre Dame — picked up 394th victory with the Irish on Dec. 19 at Marquette, passing longtime men’s coach Digger Phelps (393 wins from 1971-91).
- 400th victory at Notre Dame — registered 400th win at Notre Dame on Jan. 23 vs. Rutgers (current record: 411-154, .727)
- 500th victory overall — needs one win (current record: 499-195, .719)
BATTEAST, DUFFY NAMED FINALISTS FOR KODAK/WBCA ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Two Notre Dame women’s basketball standouts — senior forward Jacqueline Batteast and junior guard Megan Duffy — have been chosen as finalists for the 2005 Kodak/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America Team, it was announced by the WBCA on March 13. The pair are among a group of 48 players now in the running for selection to the 10-member Kodak/WBCA All-America Team, with the final squad set to be announced April 2 in a press conference at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four. It marks the third time in school history the Irish have had two finalists in the same season — Beth Morgan and Katryna Gaither made the final 48-player cut in both 1996 and 1997.
Notre Dame is one of only six schools in the nation to have two players tapped as finalists for this year’s Kodak/WBCA All-America Team, joining Arizona, Baylor, LSU, Penn State and Utah in that elite company. Batteast and Duffy are two of the six players who were voted as finalists by the member coaches in the WBCA’s Region 1, along with West Virginia’s Meg Bulger, George Washington’s Anna Montanana, Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter and Connecticut’s Ann Strother.
It marks the third time in Batteast’s stellar four-year career she has been named a finalist for the Kodak/WBCA All-America Team, having also received the honor in 2002 and 2004. Ruth Riley is the only other Notre Dame player to have achieved this recognition three times, doing so from 1999-2001 and going on to garner a spot on the prestigious team in 2001. The 2005 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year and the Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player, Batteast ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (2nd), rebounding (10th), free throw percentage (2nd), blocked shots (8th), double-doubles (7th) and 20-point games (2nd).
Meanwhile, Duffy is a first-time selection and the first Irish point guard ever to be named a Kodak/WBCA All-America Team finalist, adding another plaudit for the Notre Dame floor general, who has risen from a reserve role as a freshman all the way to first-team all-BIG EAST status this season. She leads the conference in both steals and free throw percentage, placing third in the country in the latter category. She also is second in the BIG EAST in assists and sixth in assist/turnover ratio, and earned a spot on the Preseason WNIT and BIG EAST Championship all-tournament teams, averaging 18.0 points and 6.0 assists per game while leading the Irish to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
BATTEAST NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR; DUFFY, ALLEN ALSO HONORED
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. Batteast joined junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) and freshman guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen HS) as the three Irish players who were honored at the BIG EAST Championship Awards Banquet held March 4 at the Hartford (Conn.) Hilton.
Batteast is the second Notre Dame player ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, following the path blazed in 2001 by consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley. Batteast also garnered first-team all-BIG EAST laurels for the second consecutive year following consecutive second-team picks her first two seasons. Thus, she becomes the first player in school history to earn all-BIG EAST honors in four consecutive seasons (Riley,Niele Ivey and Alicia Ratay all were three-time all-league choices). Batteast also is only the second Notre Dame player to be a four-time all-conference pick in any league, joining Sandy Botham, who was a four-time all-North Star Conference choice from 1985-88. Batteast and Riley also are the only players from a school other than Connecticut to be named BIG EAST Player of the Year in the past 12 years.
Not to be outdone, Duffy was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection this season, one year after earning the league’s Most Improved Player Award. She and Batteast give Notre Dame two first-team all-conference selections for the first time since 2001, when Riley and Ivey received top honors.
Allen was tapped for the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team, the fifth Irish player to be selected to the unit and the first since Courtney LaVere earned a spot on the squad in 2002-03.
BATTEAST NAMED TO NAISMITH TROPHY/WOODEN AWARD MIDSEASON LISTS
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast took another step in her quest to be named the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player on Feb. 22 when she was one of 30 players selected as midseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless. It’s the second time in the past month Batteast has been tapped as a leading midseason contender for a major national player of the year award — in January, she was named to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Midseason Top 20 List.
The Naismith Trophy is presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, with the Naismith midseason top 30 list being chosen by the group’s Board of Selectors, a cross-section of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from across the country. Those 30 players, and others who may distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final Naismith Trophy ballot in March, when four finalists are announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors.
Like the Naismith Trophy, the John R. Wooden Women’s Award goes to the nation’s top college women’s basketball player. In March, 17 finalists for the Wooden Women’s Award were placed on the voting ballot by the award’s National Advisory Board, which is comprised of some of the country’s leading sportswriters and sportscasters who cover women’s basketball on a regular basis. Those ballots were then be mailed to more than 250 voters across the nation, with the top five vote-getters earning Wooden Award All-America honors, as well as a trip to the Wooden Award trophy presentation ceremony April 9 at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles.
McGRAW NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has been selected as one of 20 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, it was announced March 3 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. It’s the fourth time McGraw has been named a finalist for the Naismith Award, adding to her selections in 1998, 1999 and 2001. She was accorded the honor in ’01 when Notre Dame won its first national championship.
This season, McGraw has piloted the Irish to a 27-5 record, a No. 11 national ranking (final AP poll) and a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST Conference. In addition, she led Notre Dame to the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship, a run that included back-to-back victories over No. 6 Duke (the eventual Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (this year’s Big Ten Conference regular season co-champion) in the semifinal and title games. All told, Notre Dame has posted a 7-4 record against ranked opponents this season, including four top-10 victories, a mark that ties Penn State and North Carolina for the second-most in the nation this season.
McGraw has a record of 411-154 (.727) in 18 seasons at Notre Dame, having picked up her milestone 400th victory at the school on Jan. 23 with a 63-47 win over No. 6/7 Rutgers (the eventual BIG EAST champion). Including a five-year run at Lehigh from 1983-87, McGraw has a career record of 499-195 (.719) in 23 years on the sidelines, putting her just one win away from becoming the 27th coach in NCAA Division I history to amass 500 career victories.
Joining McGraw on this year’s list of Naismith Award finalists were three other BIG EAST coaches — Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Boston College’s Cathy Inglese and Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer. The 20 finalists currently are on the ballot from which the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will choose this year’s honoree. The winner — LSU’s Pokey Chatman — will be honored at the Naismith Awards Banquet on April 8 in Atlanta.
DUFFY SELECTED TO ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT SECOND TEAM
Junior guard Megan Duffy was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team, it was announced Feb. 17. Duffy continues a long line of successful student-athletes in the Irish women’s basketball program, with her selection marking the sixth time in the past seven seasons a Notre Dame female cager has received academic all-district honors. Ruth Riley was a three-time all-district pick, going on to earn Academic All-AmericaÂ® recognition in 2000 and 2001 (being named the ’01 Academic All-AmericaÂ® Team Member of the Year), and Alicia Ratay was a two-time academic all-district choice in 2002 and 2003.
Duffy currently holds 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.
OWENS ACCEPTS HEAD COACHING POST AT NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Notre Dame will lose a longtime member of its coaching staff following the NCAA Tournament, when 10-year associate coach Carol Owens departs to take over as the head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. Owens, a two-time Kodak/WBCA All-America pick for the Huskies from 1986-90 and the school’s initial 2,000-point/1,000-rebound standout, came to Notre Dame in 1995 following a two-year stint as an assistant at Michigan.
In her decade of service to the Irish, Owens has helped Notre Dame attract nine consecutive top-20 recruiting classes (according to Blue Star Index) and compile an overall record of 252-74 (.773), including 10 NCAA Tournament berths, six Sweet Sixteen appearances, two trips to the Final Four and the 2001 national championship. Owens also has been responsible for the development of Notre Dame’s noted post game, grooming such future WNBA stars and All-Americans as Ruth Riley (also a 2004 Olympic gold medalist) and Katryna Gaither.
DETHRONING THE CHAMPS
Notre Dame achieved a historic basketball feat on Jan. 30, becoming the first school ever to defeat both the reigning men’s and women’s NCAA champions in the same season on two occasions. On that Sunday night, the Irish women ousted Connecticut, 65-59 in Storrs, a mere three hours after the Notre Dame men also toppled the Huskies, 78-74 in South Bend.
Last season, Notre Dame became just the fourth school since the inception of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1982 to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams beat the defending national champions in the same season. The Irish women did their part by ousting Connecticut (66-51) on Jan. 13, 2004, while the Notre Dame men completed the double with an 84-72 win at Syracuse on Feb. 16, 2004.
The only other schools that can lay claim to this accomplishment are Duke (1998-99), Tennessee (1999-2000), Michigan State (1999-2000) and North Carolina (2004-05), with Notre Dame, Michigan State and UNC being the only institutions to turn the trick in the regular season (Duke’s women beat Tennessee in the ’99 NCAAs, while Tennessee’s men downed Connecticut in the ’00 NCAAs).
THE UC SANTA BARBARA RECAP Notre Dame has long preferred the physical, scrappy style of basketball necessary to survive in the BIG EAST Conference, and UC Santa Barbara played right along.
Junior guard Megan Duffy scored 18 points, including seven free throws in the final minute and the fourth-seeded Fighting Irish bounced back from a semifinal loss to Connecticut in their conference tournament by beating the feisty Gauchos, 61-51 in the first round of the NCAA Tempe Region on Saturday.
In a matchup of two NCAA tournament-tested programs, Notre Dame used a big second half to advance to the second round Monday night against No. 5 Arizona State, an 87-65 winner over Eastern Kentucky earlier Saturday.
Sophomore guard Breona Gray and junior forward Courtney LaVere added 10 points apiece for Notre Dame (27-5), which began the school’s 10th straight NCAA Tournament by winning for the 14th time in 16 games.
Mia Fisher scored 18 points for No. 13 seed UCSB (21-9), which didn’t get any other players in double figures in the school’s ninth straight NCAA Tournament. The loss snapped the Gauchos’ winning streak at 10 games.
The teams, with a combined 11 players standing 6-foot-1 or taller, banged under the basket all afternoon — neither ready to make a first-round exit after both reached the round of 16 last season.
And, fittingly, outside the Save Mart Center a tornado warning was issued for the Fresno area.
Notre Dame began the second half with 6-1 spurt and didn’t allow the Gauchos a field goal until Jessica Wilson’s basket at 15:38, but UCSB rallied. Brandy Richardson scored with 3:10 left to pull the Gauchos within 50-46. However, Gray stemmed the tide with a steal and layup moments later to rebuild a six-point Irish lead.
Santa Barbara forward Kristen Mann, ranked 12th nationally with a 19.9 scoring average, swished a shot on a one-handed fling at 1:52 but was called for traveling. On the ensuing Notre Dame possession, Duffy hit a difficult baseline jumper with her off hand as the shot clock expired, and the Irish went on to close out the game at the foul line.
Mann struggled against Notre Dame’s stingy zone defense and rarely took an uncontested shot. She finished with seven points on 2-for-14 shooting, eight rebounds and seven turnovers. Notre Dame’s leading scorer, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast also had problems, getting eight points on 4-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds.
The recruit who got away from UCSB helped eliminate the Gauchos, who had won 16 of their last 17. LaVere grew up near the UCSB campus in Ventura, Calif., and chose South Bend over staying close to home. She also contributed seven rebounds and two assists.
Moments after 6-foot-6 Kate Bauman capped a 10-2 first-half UCSB run with a three-point play that put the Gauchos on top 26-23, she was hit with a technical foul for throwing an elbow at sophomore forward Crystal Erwin. That sparked a 24-9 Notre Dame run that carried over into the first few minutes of the second half and put the Irish ahead for good.
NOTING THE UC SANTA BARBARA WIN
- Notre Dame advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive year, corresponding exactly with its membership in the BIG EAST Conference.
- The Irish also log their 27th victory of the season, matching the 1999-2000 club (27-5) for the third-highest single-season win total in school history (31 in 1996-97; 34 in 2000-01).
- The Irish are 9-1 all-time as a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament and 19-7 (.731) as a single-digit seed.
- Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time vs. UC Santa Barbara, with both victories coming in California (the 86-75 Irish win in 1997 came at UCSB’s Thunderdome).
- The Irish have held six of their last nine NCAA Tournament opponents to less than 60 points (57.3 ppg.), with one of those other three contests being a 69-65 overtime win for Notre Dame vs. Southwest Missouri State in last year’s opener.
- Notre Dame is 20-0 this season when leading at halftime.
- The Irish also are 24-1 when they outshoot their opponents.
- Notre Dame is 15-2 this season when it has at least three players scoring in double figures (fourth time in the past five games the Irish have had three double-digit scorers).
- Sophomore guard Breona Gray scored in double figures for the sixth time this year and second time in the past three games.
- Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast made her 96th consecutive start Saturday, breaking Katryna Gaither’s school record which was set from 1994-97.
- With eight points vs. UCSB, Batteast now has 539 points this season, moving her past Karen Robinson (538 in 1990-91) into eighth place on the Irish single-season scoring list.
- In addition, Batteast plucked the 950th rebound of her career in the UCSB game.
- Junior guard Megan Duffy is averaging 18.0 ppg. in the postseason and 14.1 ppg. over the past eight games.
- Duffy also canned the 100th three-point field goal of her career, becoming the seventh Notre Dame player to eclipse that milestone.
- Irish head coach Muffet McGraw recorded her 499th career victory on Saturday, improving to 499-195 (.719) in 23 seasons as a college coach — 18 at Notre Dame, five at Lehigh.
SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT REWIND
Punctuated by emotional second-half rallies in the semifinal and final, Notre Dame won four consecutive games to claim the 2004 Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship. The Irish capped off their season-opening charge with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the title game, scoring the final 12 points of the contest to erase an eight-point Buckeye lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. That win came on the heels of a 76-65 semifinal conquest of No. 6 Duke, a victory that also saw Notre Dame come back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half.
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a .507 field goal percentage in the four-game series. Batteast was at her best in the final two games, scoring a game-high 17 points vs. Duke (including a personal 10-0 run that put the Irish ahead for good) and then rolling up a career-best 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In that latter contest, she had another 10-point run in the first half and later scored seven of her team’s last 12 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:45 to play. However, her biggest contribution came with two seconds remaining, when she raced from beyond the top of the key all the way to the deep corner, blocking OSU’s potential game-tying three-pointer to cement Notre Dame’s title.
Not to be overlooked, junior guard Megan Duffy earned a place on the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after recording 15.0 points and 6.0 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage (.600 from beyond the arc). She was the catalyst for an Irish offense that averaged nearly 77 points per game and dished out better than 20 assists per night in the tournament, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists in the first round vs. Illinois State.
HALF AND HALF
Over the past five seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 97-7 (.933) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame is 20-0 in such games this season, including a 9-0 record against BIG EAST Conference teams.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
During the past decade, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 150-9 (.943) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game, including a 21-2 mark this season (12-2 vs. BIG EAST opponents). In addition, Notre Dame has held 11 of its last 12 opponents to less than 60 points, going 10-1 in those games (only loss was a 59-48 setback at No. 10 Rutgers on Feb. 19).
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has tacked three more wins onto that ledger with its victories this season over Illinois State, Purdue and West Virginia.
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 229 games over the past nine seasons, which ranks as the seventh-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).
THE GOLD STANDARD
Having clinched their 12th consecutive 20-win season with a 75-47 victory at Pittsburgh on Feb. 5, the Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of at least 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12), all of whom kept their streaks alive this season.
NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 127 of their last 138 games (.920), including 34 of their last 36 (.944), at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) home record in BIG EAST play.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 54 of their last 57 non-BIG EAST contests (.947) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came against Big Ten Conference teams — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 in OT).
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 277-72 (.794) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous five seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years, and current returns indicate this season may be no different. According to the March 14 unofficial national attendance rankings (as compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office), Notre Dame is 16th in the nation with an average of 5,830 fans per game.
All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the past five seasons (2000-01 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and 65 of the past 67 home games with at least 5,000 fans filing into the Joyce Center.
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
The Irish already have made 16 appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season, with all of their postseason games also to be televised nationally via ESPN or ESPN2. Notre Dame currently is 12-4 in televised games this year, including a 3-0 mark on ESPN2, the network that will broadcast Monday’s NCAA Tempe Region second-round game vs. Arizona State in Fresno.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) airs on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network — WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fifth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com) by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.
IRISH ADD TWO PLAYERS DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has announced that Lindsay Schrader, a 6-0 guard from Bartlett, Ill., and Chandrica Smith, a 6-1 forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing National Letters of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2005.
With the additions of Schrader and Smith, Notre Dame’s newest recruiting class is ranked 16th in the nation by Blue Star Index. That marks the ninth consecutive year the Irish have had a top-20 class, according to that publication, which makes Notre Dame one of only three schools in the nation that can claim that distinction (Connecticut and Tennessee are the others).
Schrader has been widely regarded as one of the top all-around players in the state of Illinois while attending Bartlett High School the past three seasons. She is a three-time all-state selection, a two-time Illinois Miss Basketball finalist, and a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America selection who has averaged 20.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in her prep career. Her finest all-around season came as a junior in 2003-04, when she averaged 20.8 ppg., 10.8 rpg. and 2.0 bpg. while earning first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette. She also was a sixth-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a finalist for Illinois Miss Basketball honors, an award she will likely contend for once again this season.
On the summer camp circuit, Schrader was an Underclass All-Star at the 2002 adidas Top Ten Camp, before attending the Nike All-America Camp in both 2003 and 2004. She is ranked among the top 30 high school seniors in the nation by three separate recruiting services — Blue Star Index (14th), All-Game Sports (21st) and All-Star Girls Report (26th overall — eighth among shooting guards).
In addition, Schrader made a significant impact at the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the North Team that won the silver medal, she ranked third at the Festival in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and rebounding (8.6 rpg.), as well as second in field goal percentage (.542). All three figures were team highs, as were her 2.2 steals per game. For her efforts, Schrader was invited to attend the 2004 USA Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team Trials, where she was one of 17 finalists for the 12-player team that won the gold medal this past August.
Smith currently attends Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where she transferred prior to her senior season. Previously, she was a standout at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she averaged 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game with a .620 field goal percentage. She also was a key component in the Jaguars’ run to a 32-1 record and the Georgia 5A state championship last year. In fact, during her first three prep seasons, her teams posted a combined 89-7 (.927) record with three trips to the Georgia state championship and one state title.
Smith herself has received numerous accolades during her high school career. She is a two-time honorable mention All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a Student Sports All-American in 2004. In addition, she attended the adidas Top Ten Camp three consecutive years and was named to its prestigious all-star team all three years (Underclass All-Star in 2002 & 2003; Upperclass All-Star in 2004). Last season, she was an honorable mention 5A all-state selection and a first-team all-county choice. She is ranked as high as 29th in the nation among high school seniors by All-Star Girls Report.
Like Schrader, Smith also attended the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the South Team, she averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, scoring a personal-best 13 points in the bronze-medal game victory over the East squad.
Muffet McGraw SIGNS CONTRACT EXTENSION THROUGH 2010-11 SEASON
On Nov. 6, Notre Dame announced that Muffet McGraw has signed a two-year extension to continue as head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program through the 2010-11 season.
McGraw, who is now in her 18th season with the Irish, most recently signed a four-year contract extension in July 2002 that took her through the 2008-09 season. Her first 17 seasons at Notre Dame have been highlighted by 15 20-win campaigns (including a current string of 11 straight), 11 NCAA tournament appearances (including a current streak of nine straight) and the 2001 NCAA title. Entering the 2004-05 season, she had a 384-149 (.720) record at Notre Dame.
In 2003-04, McGraw skillfully guided her team to a 21-11 record and a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (the fourth for the Irish in five years). McGraw’s charges placed second in the BIG EAST Conference, their eighth top-two finish since joining the league nine years ago. In addition, the Irish went 15-0 at home, their third perfect record at the Joyce Center in the past five seasons, and extended their overall home win streak to 20 games, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active string in the nation heading into the 2004-05 campaign.
McGraw has continued to enhance her reputation as one of the nation’s outstanding big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to a school-record seven wins over top 25 teams during the 2003-04 regular season. During her 17-year tenure with the Irish, McGraw has compiled 40 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 30 in the past six seasons (an average of five per year).
Under McGraw’s guidance, the past nine years have been the most successful in Notre Dame’s history as the Irish have compiled an impressive 225-69 (.765) record, including a sparkling 124-28 (.816) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play, the best winning percentage in league history. Notre Dame also has averaged 25 victories per campaign during that span, with two 30-win seasons to its credit. The Irish have won at least one NCAA tournament game every season over that time, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen six times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and the Final Four twice (1997 and 2001).
NEXT GAME: NCAA REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Should the Irish win their NCAA second-round game vs. Arizona State on Monday, they would advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (regional semifinals) for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. Notre Dame would move on to the Tempe Regional on Sunday, March 27, against an opponent coming from a group of four teams — No. 1 seed North Carolina, No. 8 Mississippi, No. 9 George Washington or No. 16 Coppin State. Those teams will open NCAA Tournament play Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C., with the winners playing Tuesday night with a ticket to Tempe at stake.
Notre Dame has won both of its previous encounters with North Carolina, most recently claiming a 78-55 victory on Dec. 3, 2000, at the Honda Elite 4 Classic in at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Irish and Tarheels were poised to face one another in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament at the Joyce Center, but UNC was upset by Middle Tennessee, 67-62 in its opening-round contest.
Notre Dame also is 2-0 all-time against George Washington, with both prior contests coming in NCAA Tournament play. In 1997, the Irish ousted the Colonials, 62-52 in the East Regional final to secure Notre Dame’s first Final Four berth, and in 2000, the Irish downed GW, 95-60 at the Joyce Center in what remains the largest margin of victory in a postseason game in school history.
Notre Dame has never faced Mississippi or Coppin State on the hardwood.