Jacqueline Batteast scored 22 points to lead the way for the Irish (file photo).

No. 11 Irish To Host No. 10 Buckeyes In Preseason WNIT Championship

Nov. 19, 2004


(#11 AP/#10 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0) vs. (#10 AP/#9 ESPN/USA Today) Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

The Date and Time: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.

The Tickets: Still available through the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).

The TV Plans: Internet-based telecast at www.sportsview.tv with Kevin Heilbronner (play-by-play), Martin Clapp (analysis) and Jen Surlas (sideline). The game also will be available on several Comcast SportsNet affiliates nationwide, including Comcast SportsNet Chicago, as well as globally on the American Forces Network.

The Radio Plans: Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) and former Irish standout Sara Liebscher (analysis) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com.

Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, are available for the Ohio State game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics web site.

Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Ohio State (www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com).

Playing for the fourth time in nine days, No. 11/10 Notre Dame will play host to No. 10/9 Ohio State in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT Saturday at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center. It also will be a milestone contest for the Irish, who will be playing the 800th game in the program’s 28-year history.

Notre Dame (3-0) advanced to its first Preseason WNIT title game with a 76-65 victory over No. 6/6 Duke on Wednesday night at the Joyce Center. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 10 consecutive points in a game-changing 12-2 run midway through the second half to help the Irish topple the five-time defending ACC champion. Batteast finished with a game-high 17 points, one of four Irish players to score in double figures in the win.

Ohio State (3-0) booked its place in the championship game with a 78-45 rout of No. 22/21 Arizona on Wednesday night in Columbus. Senior guard Caity Matter scored a game-high 20 points for OSU, which has held its first three opponents to an average of just 38.3 points per game.

OSU head coach Jim Foster is 46-20 in his third season with the Buckeyes. He has a career record of 550-245 in 27 years as a collegiate head coach.

With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.

The Irish, who have just two seniors and four upperclassmen on their 11-player roster, were a consensus top-15 selection in many preseason publications and currently are ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today survey.

Balanced offensive production has been the recurring theme for Notre Dame through its first three games of the season. The Irish have had at least four crack double figures in all three games, including six double-digit scorers in the season opener vs. Illinois State, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1999. In addition, Notre Dame showed good patience in its offensive sets, distributing a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists against Illinois State (the highest total for the Irish since the second game of their national championship season in 2000-01). In fact, Notre Dame has finished on the positive side of the assist/turnover ledger in each of its first three games and has a 1.53 assist/turnover ratio for the season.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has gotten off to a solid start in her final college season, averaging a team-high 18.0 points per game and 5.7 assists per game with a .523 field goal percentage this season. In her last outing, she shrugged off some first-half foul trouble with an explosive second half, scoring 10 consecutive points in a three-minute stretch to help Notre Dame ease past No. 6 Duke, 76-65. Batteast finished with a game-high 17 points and tied her career high with seven assists for the second consecutive game.

Batteast is just one of five Notre Dame players currently scoring in double figures this season. Junior forward Courtney LaVere is second at 14.0 ppg. (along with a team-best .571 field goal percentage), while junior guard Megan Duffy is third at 12.3 ppg. and a team-high 6.0 assists per game. Freshman guard Charel Allen had a superb night against Duke with 16 points off the bench and now is logging 10.7 ppg., while senior center Teresa Borton rounds out the high-octane quintet at 10.3 ppg. and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game.


  • Notre Dame currently owns a 23-game homecourt winning streak entering Wednesday’s game with Duke. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and it’s the sixth-longest active run in the nation.
  • Notre Dame has won 50 of its last 52 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
  • The Irish have won nine of their last 10 regular-season tournament games, with their only loss being a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado in the title game of last year’s WBCA Classic.
  • The Irish have posted 31 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently defeating No. 6 Duke (76-65) on Wednesday night. Notre Dame set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents in 2003-04.
  • The Irish have defeated 19 top-10 opponents in their history, adding to that total with Wednesday’s victory over sixth-ranked Duke.
  • Notre Dame is 9-4 (.692) all-time when it is ranked in the AP poll and playing host to another AP ranked team (as will be the case against No. 10 Ohio State on Saturday).
  • Saturday’s game will mark just the second time ever that Notre Dame has played top-10 opponents in consecutive games. On March 30 and April 1, 2001, the Irish defeated No. 1 Connecticut (90-75) and No. 9 Purdue (68-66) in St. Louis to win the program’s first national championship.
  • The Ohio State game also will represent the 800th game in the 28-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish have an all-time record of 551-248 (.690) in 28 seasons since they began playing at the varsity level in 1977-78.
  • Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been named a preseason All-American by six sources, including Basketball News, which tabbed her as its Preseason National Player of the Year.
  • Batteast and junior guard Megan Duffy both have earned preseason all-conference honors. Batteast is the 2004-05 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year (the first non-Connecticut player to be chosen in 12 years) and was a unanimous first-team all-league choice. Meanwhile, Duffy is a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST pick on the heels of her selection as the conference’s Most Improved Player last year.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw needs seven victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 387-149 (.722) record, which also puts her just 13 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.

In just two seasons as the head coach at Ohio State, Jim Foster has transformed the Buckeyes into a national contender. OSU has won at least 21 games in each of the past two years, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on both occasions. However, last season’s second-round loss to Boston College in Columbus left the Buckeyes with a sour taste in their mouths, one that they are looking to wash away in 2004-05.

Ranked 10th in the latest Associated Press poll and ninth in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ balloting, Ohio State (3-0) has gotten off to a strong start this season, rolling to victory in its first three games at the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. Mixing a suffocating defense with balanced offensive pressure, the Buckeyes easily disposed of Bowling Green (89-41), Saint Joseph’s (76-29) and No. 22/21 Arizona (78-45). Like Notre Dame, Ohio State will be making its first appearance in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Saturday night.

Sophomore center Jessica Davenport is leading OSU in scoring (16.0 ppg.), rebounding (6.0 rpg.) and blocks (2.0 bpg.) through the early part of this season. Meanwhile, senior guard Caity Matter has been a terror on the perimeter, averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 4.3 assists per game with a .533 three-point percentage. Sophomore guard Brandie Hoskins is the third Buckeye scoring in double figures, averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 assists per game with a .571 field goal percentage.

As a team, Ohio State is allowing opponents just 38.3 ppg. with a .308 field goal percentage. The Buckeyes also own a +9.7 rebounding margin and have forced 11.3 steals per game this season. On offense, OSU is averaging 81.0 ppg. and shooting .529 from the floor (.556 from three-point range).

Foster has a 46-20 (.697) record in his third year at Ohio State. However, his storied career spans 27 seasons with an overall record of 550-245 (.692) that includes stops at Saint Joseph’s (13 years) and Vanderbilt (11 years).

Notre Dame and Ohio State have met just once before in the history, with the Buckeyes earning a 74-67 victory on Jan. 4, 1997, at historic St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. That game was notable in Irish women’s basketball lore as it was the first time Notre Dame had ever played in a nationally-televised game on CBS.

Katryna Gaither had game highs of 23 points and 17 rebounds to be named the CBS/Chevrolet Player of the Game. Beth Morgan added 22 points for the Irish, who finished virtually even with OSU in most categories except turnovers – Notre Dame had 25 miscues in the game, compared to only 18 by the Buckeyes. Marcie Alberts led four Ohio State players in double figures with 14 points.

The Irish, who came into the contest ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll and 22nd in the coaches’ poll, looked strong from the opening tip, getting three quick buckets from Morgan to take a 13-6 lead a little more than seven minutes into the contest. However, Ohio State roared back and took its first lead at 17-15 on a post move by Kelly Fergus with 9:29 to go in the first half.

It remained a one-possession game in either direction for the next five minutes before the Buckeyes scored eight of the final 12 points in the period and took a 37-31 lead to the dressing room.

Early in the second half, Notre Dame took its turn coming from behind, going on a 10-4 run and pulling even on Gaither’s layup with 12:31 remaining. Four ties and seven minutes later, not much had been decided, as OSU held a scant 58-57 lead. That’s when the Buckeyes tightened up on defense and put together a 16-5 run down the stretch to finally shake loose from the Irish. Larecha Jones converted both ends of a one-and-one and followed with a layup off a steal to ignite the game-changing spurt.

Alberts made the lead stand up by hitting all six of her free throw attempts in the final 2:11. That was only part of Ohio State’s exceptional second-half foul shooting (17-of-20, .850), which included 14 consecutive made free throws in the last five minutes.

For the sixth time in their illustrious careers, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster will square off on the hardwood, with Foster leading the head-to-head series by a 3-2 count. Foster won the first three meetings, all while he was at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) and McGraw was at Lehigh – twice in 1985 (80-71 at SJU; 81-60 at Lehigh) and once in 1986 (79-37 at SJU).

McGraw has won the past two matchups against her mentor, both coming since she took over the reins at Notre Dame. In 1990, she piloted the Irish to a 72-53 victory over Saint Joseph’s at the Texaco-Hawk Classic in Philadelphia. Then, in 2001, her Notre Dame club defeated Foster’s Vanderbilt crew, 72-64 , at Denver’s Pepsi Center to win the NCAA Midwest Regional and earn the second Final Four appearance in school history.

The relationship between McGraw and Foster dates back to 1980. McGraw had just finished playing for the California Dreams in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), while Foster had completed his second season as the head coach at McGraw’s alma mater, Saint Joseph’s. With a vacant assistant coaching post to fill, Foster turned to McGraw, who had been a standout point guard at SJU from 1973-77 before spending two years as a high school coach and her one-year professional stint. With the pair on staff, Saint Joseph’s posted a 30-23 combined record during the next two seasons, both of which were winning campaigns.

In 1982, McGraw left SJU to take her first collegiate head coaching post at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., but she stayed close to her mentor and friend, Foster. In fact, when McGraw and her husband, Matt, welcomed the birth of their son, Murphy, in 1990, they asked Foster to be the boy’s godfather. The McGraws and Fosters have regularly vacationed together through the years and remain friends to this day.


  • Notre Dame junior guard Megan Duffy will get a chance to square off with one of her best friends, when Ohio State sophomore guard Brandie Hoskins comes to town Saturday. Duffy and Hoskins were teammates at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, helping that team soar to No. 1 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings in 2001-02 before Duffy was sidelined with a knee injury. Although the pair chose to attend different colleges, they still talk regularly by phone.
  • Duffy actually is quite familiar with almost the entire Ohio State squad, having played either with or against virtually every Buckeye player during her high school career. Among her more notable opponents were OSU sophomore center Jessica Davenport (Columbus, Ohio/Independence HS) and freshman guard Marscilla Packer (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington HS).
  • Duffy is not the only native of the Buckeye State on the Notre Dame roster this season. Freshman walk-on guard Amanda Tsipis was a four-year letterwinner at Perry High School in Perry, Ohio, finishing as the second-leading scorer in that school’s history. Notre Dame assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis (Amanda’s uncle) also is an Ohio product, having grown up in Cleveland.
  • Notre Dame senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast played alongside Ohio State senior guard Ashley Allen with the Indianapolis-based AAU program “The Family”, which won the national championship in the summer of 1999 and finished as the national runner-up the following year.
  • Ohio State assistant coach Tamika Williams should be no stranger to Irish fans. Williams was an honorable mention All-America selection at Connecticut from 1998-2002, helping the Huskies win national championships in 2000 and 2002. In addition, she is a graduate of Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, the same school that produced Duffy and Hoskins.

Notre Dame has compiled a 61-16 (.792) lifetime record against opponents from the state of Ohio, including a 29-7 (.806) mark at the Joyce Center. In fact, the Irish have won their last 10 home games against Buckeye State teams, ever since a 78-74 loss to Dayton on March 8, 1993, in the semifinals of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament.

All told, Notre Dame has played 14 Ohio schools in its history and has a winning record against 12 of them – Bowling Green (2-0), Cedarville (1-0), Cincinnati (1-0), Cleveland State (5-0), Dayton (21-6), Kent State (1-0), Mount St. Joseph (2-0), Ohio (1-0), Toledo (3-2), Wright State (2-0) and Xavier (20-3). The only two Ohio teams the Irish have a losing record against are Miami (1-4) and Saturday night’s opponent, Ohio State (0-1).

Notre Dame is 27-42 (.391) all-time against the current alignment of the Big Ten Conference, although the Irish have have a winning record at home (15-14, .517) against Big Ten schools. Notre Dame has played all 11 members of the Big Ten, owning winning records against Indiana (5-3), Wisconsin (4-2), Northwestern (2-1) and Iowa (1-0).

Last season, the Irish played four Big Ten opponents, going 1-3 against the quartet. Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin (82-64) at the Joyce Center, but lost games at Michigan State (92-63) and Purdue (76-63), as well as a neutral-site loss to Penn State (55-49) in the NCAA East Regional semifinals at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center.

Notre Dame has a record of 35-25 (.583) when playing in a regular-season, multi-game tournament. However, more than half of those losses (14) came before head coach Muffet McGraw arrived on the scene in South Bend 18 seasons ago. In fact, the Irish are 23-11 (.676) in such tournament games in the McGraw era, including a 12-4 (.750) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.

What’s more, Notre Dame has won nine of its last 10 in-season tournament games, claiming titles at the 1996 Comfort Inn Downtown Classic and the 2001 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge. The only blemish in that span is a narrow 67-63 overtime decision at 20th-ranked Colorado in the championship game of last year’s WBCA Classic.

Notre Dame is 164-40 (.804) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are 11th in the AP poll entering Saturday’s game with Ohio State). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 76-8 (.905) as a ranked host at the Joyce Center, including wins over Illinois State (92-73), Nebraska (73-57) and No. 6 Duke (76-65) in the first three rounds of this year’s Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT.

Saturday’s game with No. 10 Ohio State also marks the 14th time a ranked Notre Dame team has played host to a ranked opponent. The Irish are 9-4 (.692) at home when both teams are in the AP poll at tip time, although this will mark the first time ever Notre Dame has hosted top-10 opponents in consecutive games. In fact, only once in school history have the Irish played top-10 opponents in back-to-back games at any location – on March 30 and April 1, 2001, Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Connecticut (90-75) and No. 9 Purdue (68-66) in St. Louis to claim the school’s first national championship.

One interesting side note: Notre Dame is 7-0 (1.000) all-time when it is ranked exactly 11th in the Associated Press poll, including Wednesday’s victory over Duke. The last time the Irish were No. 11 in the AP rankings was the week of Dec. 13, 1999 – Notre Dame played just once that week, claiming a 68-62 win at Florida International.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball program will achieve an important milestone on Saturday, playing its 800th game as the Irish take on Ohio State in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. Notre Dame has an overall record 551-248 (.690) in 28 seasons of varsity competition, starting with the 1977-78 campaign

In an ironic twist, when the Irish played their 700th game on March 26, 2001, they defeated Vanderbilt, 72-64 in the NCAA Midwest Regional final. Vanderbilt’s coach that day was Jim Foster, who now serves as the skipper at Ohio State.

For the first time since 1996, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame is taking part in the Sportsview.tv Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

The Irish last played in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT eight years ago, advancing to the semifinals with victories over Kent State (66-41) and No. 6 Iowa (61-50). Following a 72-59 loss to third-ranked Tennessee in the semifinals, Notre Dame bounced back to defeat No. 8 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the consolation game (which no longer exists). Katryna Gaither earned a spot on the all-tournament team after making a tournament-record 42 field goals in the four-game set (a record that still stands). Notre Dame went on to log a 31-7 record in 1996-97, advancing to its first NCAA Final Four.

With their championship game berth this year, the Irish have continued the BIG EAST Conference’s run of success in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have now reached the title game three times in the last four years and four times in the 11-year history of the tournament. Connecticut won Preseason WNIT titles in 1997 and 2001, while Rutgers finished as the runner-up in both 1998 and 2003.

Notre Dame already has set one Preseason WNIT record and could add three more to the list, based upon the outcome of Saturday’s championship game. Here’s a look at where the Irish stack up in the Preseason WNIT record book:

  • 29 assists vs. Illinois State (new record)
  • 69 assists in tournament (record is 87 by Texas Tech in 1994)
  • 15 blocks in tournament (record is 26 by Duke in 2004)
  • Senior center Teresa Borton – 6 blocks in tournament (record is 12 by Duke’s Alison Bales in 2004)

Notre Dame has been very successful in the month of November over the past decade. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 32-8 (.800) in November games, including wins in 14 of their last 19 games in the month.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 17 points, including 10 during a decisive three-minute run in the second half, to lead No. 11 Notre Dame to a 76-65 victory over No. 6 Duke in the semifinals of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT Wednesday night at the Joyce Center.

Batteast, who got into early foul trouble and had just four points in the first half, was 6-of-12 shooting in the second half. With Duke ahead 56-55, Batteast made two free throws, then hit four straight shots and assisted on freshman guard Charel Allen’s basket in a 12-2 run that put the Irish ahead 67-58.

Allen added 16 points, and junior guard Megan Duffy had 15 for the Irish (3-0), who advance to the Preseason WNIT championship game for the first time.

Monique Currie led Duke (2-1) with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but made just 2-of-9 shots for seven points in the second half. Alison Bales had 11 points and seven blocked shots, and Mistie Williams added 10 points.

Duke, which led 28-26 at halftime, opened a 41-33 lead less than five minutes into the second half. But Batteast, Allen and Duffy each hits three-pointers as the Irish went on a 17-9 run to tie the game at 50 when junior forward Courtney LaVere, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds, hit a 10-foot shot from the baseline.

The teams then traded leads four times until Batteast took over. She started the run with a pair of free throws, then made a 10-foot baseline jumper and hit an 18-foot shot from the top of the key. She added a rebound basket and a 15-foot jumper before dishing off to Allen to cap the spurt.


  • The BIG EAST Conference will be represented in the Preseason WNIT championship game for the third time in four years and the fourth time ever (Connecticut won titles in 1997 and 2001; Rutgers was runner-up in 1998 and 2003).
  • The Irish are now 4-1 all-time against Duke, including a 2-0 mark at the Joyce Center.
  • Notre Dame extended its home winning streak to 23 games, the second-longest in school history and sixth-longest active run in the nation.
  • The Irish have won 50 of their last 52 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
  • Notre Dame is now 9-4 (.692) all-time when it is ranked and hosting another ranked team at the Joyce Center.
  • Duke represents the 19th top-10 opponent Notre Dame has defeated in its history and the first since the Irish downed fourth-ranked Connecticut, 66-51 on Jan. 13, 2004, also at the Joyce Center.
  • In the past five-plus seasons (1998-99 to present), Notre Dame has defeated 31 ranked opponents.
  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw now needs just seven victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s) – McGraw has a mark of 387-149 (.722) in 17-plus seasons with the Irish.
  • Notre Dame has won nine of its last 10 in-season tournament games, with the only loss being a 67-63 overtime setback at 20th-ranked Colorado in last year’s WBCA Classic final.
  • The Irish now are 76-8 (.905) all-time when playing at home as a ranked team.
  • For the third time in as many games this year, the Irish had at least four players score in double figures.
  • Junior forward Courtney LaVere chalked up her seventh career double-double (first this season) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
  • With her 17 points, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast now has 1,369 career points, putting her just five markers shy of moving into the top 10 on Notre Dame’s career scoring list (passing Shari Matvey – 1,373 points from 1979-83).
  • Batteast also tied her career high with seven assists for the second consecutive game. In three games this year, she has 17 assists and only three turnovers (with two of those giveaways coming on offensive fouls).
  • The Irish set a school and arena record by making all five of their three-point attempts, breaking the old mark of .857 (6 of 7) set against Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 27, 1993 at the Joyce Center (the record requires a minimum of four shots made).
  • Notre Dame scored 50 points in the second half, its highest scoring output in one period since Feb. 5, 2003, when the Irish scored 52 points in the second half of a 74-49 win over Georgetown at the Joyce Center.
  • The 76 points scored by Notre Dame are the most it has posted against a top-10 opponent since March 30, 2001, when the Irish defeated No. 1 Connecticut, 90-75 in the NCAA Final Four at the Savvis Center in St. Louis.

Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets underway. In fact, no less than seven different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 8 for complete rundown of honors).

The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, also putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.

Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.

In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.

The web-based publication Gballmag.com also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.

Earlier this week, two more honors came Batteast’s way. The Associated Press named her to its exclusive five-player preseason All-America team, while the Naismith Trophy placed her on its 50-player preseason watch list for the award, which goes to the nation’s top player.

However, Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.

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 Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.

Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.

Batteast 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.

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.

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame was ranked in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Irish were tabbed 10th in this year’s first AP poll and 11th in the initial coaches’ poll, marking the sixth consecutive year that Notre Dame was ranked 16th or higher by both polls to start the season. The Irish achieved their highest preseason ranking in 2000-01, when they debuted at No. 5 in the coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll.

In addition to its placement in the two major national polls, Notre Dame also was ranked high in the polls by several preseason media outlets (see chart at right).

According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish second in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 28 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 105 points, including two first-place votes, which placed them behind only three-time defending national champion Connecticut (120 points, 10 first-place votes). Boston College was third, followed by Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. All six of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut and Boston College all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Notre Dame is beginning its 10th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2004-05. The Irish have gone 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .778 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings eight times in its first nine seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.

Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 79-7 (.919) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame added to that count with its wins over Illinois State and Nebraska this year.

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 130-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. That count includes last week’s 73-57 win over Nebraska.

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 10 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 89-3 (.967) 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 tacked another win to that ledger with its opening-night 92-73 win over Illinois State.

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 Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (28), Texas Tech (15), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (11).

Notre Dame has won 205 games over the past nine seasons, which stands as the eighth-most wins of any school in the country during that time. Here’s where the Irish rank in terms of their wins since the start of the 1996-97 campaign (totals through games of Nov. 18): TEAM ’96-’97 ’97-’98 ’98-’99 ’99-’00 ’00-01 ’01-’02 ’02-03 ’03-04 ’04-05 Total 1. Connecticut 33 34 29 36 32 39 37 31 0 271 2. Tennessee 29 39 31 33 31 30 33 31 0 257 3. Louisiana Tech 31 31 30 31 31 25 31 29 0 238 4. Duke 19 24 29 28 30 31 35 30 2 228 5. Old Dominion 34 29 28 29 21 28 21 25 0 215 6. Purdue 17 23 34 23 31 24 29 29 0 211 7. UC Santa Barbara 24 27 26 30 22 26 27 27 0 209 8. NOTRE DAME 31 22 26 27 34 20 21 21 3 205 9. Texas Tech 20 26 30 28 25 20 29 25 0 203

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 116 of their last 125 games (.928) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 23-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and the sixth-longest active run in the nation (as of Nov. 18). Notre Dame also has a 69-7 (.908) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 50 of their last 52 non-BIG EAST contests (.962) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 266-70 (.792) record at the venerable facility. In three of the past 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.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 15 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years. The Irish extended that streak in 2003-04, ranking 12th with an average of 6,650 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 six seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and 53 of the past 54 games with at least 5,000 fans in the house (Wednesday’s crowd of 3,094 fans for the Duke game snapped that streak).

The Irish are scheduled to make at least eight appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date).

Notre Dame makes its TV debut this season on Saturday night when it tangles with Ohio State in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. That contest will be shown globally via broadband Internet connection at www.sportsview.tv, as well either live or delayed on several Comcast SportsNet outlets nationwide. The American Forces Network, which broadcasts to more than one million U.S. service men and women in 176 countries, will also show the game.

The Irish return to the airwaves on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV). That’s the first of three Notre Dame games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which has signed an agreement with the BIG EAST Conference to carry a national women’s basketball Game of the Week eight times in 2004-05. The Irish also will face Connecticut on Jan. 12 at the Joyce Center and visit Boston College on Feb. 15 in front of the CSTV cameras.

In addition, Notre Dame is scheduled to play twice on ESPN2 this season. On Jan. 16, the Irish will battle Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Joyce Center. Two weeks later on Jan. 30, Notre Dame travels to Storrs, Conn., to meet Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.

The BIG EAST also has added two Irish games to its regional television package this season. Notre Dame will visit Villanova on Jan. 9 and will play host to Rutgers on Jan. 23, both on BIG EAST Television. Among those affiliates carrying the BETV package are Comcast SportsNet outlets in Chicago, Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Fox Sports Net outlets in New York, New England and Pittsburgh. Exact clearances will be made available closer to game time.

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.

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.

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.

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 has 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).

Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):

* Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule posters (first 5,000 fans)

* Dec. 2 vs. Michigan State – Notre Dame women’s basketball rally towels (first 1,500 fans)

* Dec. 11 vs. Washington – Notre Dame women’s basketball glow balls (first 2,000 fans)

Notre Dame will cap off a rugged stretch of five games in the first 11 days of the season when it plays to Colorado State Monday at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center. The Irish lead the abbreviated series with the Rams, 2-1, having won the past two matchups, including a 63-59 victory last season in Fort Collins. CSU opened its season at home Friday night against San Francisco.