Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

No. 12 Irish Close Out December With Visit To Marquette

Dec. 30, 2002

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(#12 AP/#12 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (6-2)

The Date and Time: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002, at 2 p.m. CST (3 p.m. EST in South Bend).

The Site: U.S. Cellular Arena (11,358) in Milwaukee, Wis.

The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires handling the play-by-play. For the Marquette game, Shawn Lewallen will call the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at

Websites: Notre Dame (, Marquette (

The most frequent rivalry in Notre Dame women’s basketball history will be renewed on Tuesday when the 12th-ranked Irish visit Marquette for a 2 p.m. (CST) game at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee. Notre Dame has 23 victories in 27 series games with the Golden Eagles, the highest totals against one opponent in the 26-year history of Irish women’s basketball.

Notre Dame will be seeking to rebound from only its second loss of the season, a 77-61 setback on Saturday against No. 5 Tennessee. The Irish defense held the Lady Vols in check for much of the contest, limiting UT to just 35.3 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers. However, Notre Dame struggled on the offensive end of the floor for the second consecutive game, connecting on only 30.6 percent of its shots.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere paced a solid Irish post attack, coming off the bench to notch her first career double-double with game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore center Teresa Borton added 14 points, six rebounds and a career-high four blocks, and junior guard Le’Tania Severe chipped in with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for Notre Dame.

The Irish actually led Tennessee, 13-11, eight minutes into the contest. Then, the Lady Vols went on a 19-3 run to take the lead for good. Notre Dame clawed back to within 14 points three times in the second half, but could get no closer.

Marquette (6-2) enters Tuesday’s matchup with the Irish having not played in 10 days. The Golden Eagles enjoyed an extended Christmas holiday after an easy 76-49 win over Sacred Heart on Dec. 21 in Milwaukee. Sophomore guard Katie Alsdurf hit five of six shots, including a trio of three-pointers, and wound up with a team-high 13 points for Marquette.

Senior forward Rachel Klug has been the top all-around threat for the Golden Eagles, averaging team highs of 15.8 ppg., 7.0 rpg. and a .588 field goal percentage. Alsdurf and freshman guard Carolyn Kieger are second at 10.6 ppg., with Kieger also carding 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest.

Head coach Terri Mitchell is in her seventh year at Marquette with a career record of 119-63 (.654).

Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.

McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 349-129 (.730) record (437-170, .720 in 21 years overall) that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently are coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball. McGraw recently coached the 600th game of her career on Nov. 29, a 69-57 win at USC, and she will go after her 350th victory at Notre Dame Tuesday against Marquette.

Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (12.2 ppg., 3.6 rpg., .471 FG%, .458 3FG%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (6th, 1,485 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .479) and free throw percentage (1st, .871). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA history. She has led the Irish in scoring four times this season, including a game-high 20-point effort (6-8 FG, season-high 5-6 3FG) vs. IPFW. Ratay also showed leadership and poise in crunch time against Colorado State, coolly knocking down two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to give the Irish a narrow victory.

In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 15.2 ppg., team-high 7.7 rpg., 2.4 apg., two double-doubles) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast has scored in double figures in all seven Irish games this season. She also nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC. Batteast also contributed a season-best 24 points (career-high 10-15 FG) at Arizona State and added her second double-double (18 points, game-high 10 rebounds) vs. Colorado State.

Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (9.3 ppg., 3.4 rpg., team-high 3.2 apg., 2.2 spg., .464 FG%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in five games this season after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored a season-high 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe also tied her career high with five steals against Temple and carded 11 points and five assists vs. Tennessee. She is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.2 ppg., 2.7 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy dished out a game-high seven assists at Arizona State, the most by an Irish rookie since Ratay’s seven handouts against Butler on Dec. 1, 1999. She also scored a season-high five points vs. Temple and collected a season-best four steals vs. IPFW.

At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (3.3 ppg., 2.7 rpg.) offers a unique mix of outside shooting ability and toughness in the paint. The 6-2 native of Gillette, Wyo., connected at a 33-percent clip from the three-point line as a freshman, and she showed no fear in playing some of the nation’s elite teams, scoring in double figures on the road at Connecticut and Tennessee. She scored a season-high 12 points against Temple, her third career double-digit game and best-ever outing at home.

Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (1.6 ppg., 0.4 spg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.6 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State, while Krause has seen action in five games, grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW and canning her first career three-pointer vs. Tennessee. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.

Sophomore center Teresa Borton (9.0 ppg., 5.7 rpg., team-high .597 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.1 ppg., 4.8 rpg., .500 FG%) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also set new career highs with 11 rebounds and four assists vs. IPFW, and later added 14 points and a career-best four blocked shots against Tennessee. At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She already has displayed her improvement this season, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State. Her five double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (10.8 ppg., 5.6 rpg., .500 FG%) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists vs. Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999. LaVere has been playing extremely well of late, averaging 13.2 ppg. and 6.2 rpg. in her last five games, including a season-high 20 points vs. IPFW and her first career double-double with game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds against Tennessee.

Notre Dame and Marquette will be playing for the 28th time on the hardwood in what has been one of the most frequent series in school history. Beginning with the formation of the Irish program in 1977-78, the two teams met in 18 of the next 19 seasons before going on a three-year hiatus from 1996-98. The series restarted in 1999 and has continued ever since.

Notre Dame holds a 23-4 edge in the all-time series and an 8-3 advantage in Milwaukee. Marquette actually won three of the first four games in the series, but the Irish have since claimed 22 of the last 23 meetings between the two teams, including seven of the last eight matchups at Marquette. In fact, the Golden Eagles have not defeated Notre Dame since a 66-62 win in Milwaukee to open the 1992-93 season, downing an Irish team captained by current Notre Dame assistant Coquese Washington.

The Irish extended their current winning streak over Marquette to six games with a 60-33 victory on Dec. 22, 2001 at the Joyce Center. Forward Jacqueline Batteast notched the second of five consecutive double-doubles last season with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Notre Dame. The Irish used a vise-like defense to keep the Golden Eagles off balance, holding the visitors without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game while bolting to a 22-4 lead. Notre Dame held a commanding +21 advantage (54-33) in the rebounding column and held Marquette to an opponent season-low 18.5 percent shooting. The 33 points scored by the Golden Eagles also marked the fifth-best defensive performance in Irish history.

The two squads last met at U.S. Cellular Arena on Dec. 21, 2000, with Notre Dame walking out a 75-56 winner. Guard/forward Ericka Haney, the lone senior on this year?s club, poured in a career-high 21 points, connecting on her first 10 shots as the Irish jumped out to an early double-digit lead and made it stand up the rest of the way.

It’s been a smooth transition for Marquette this season, as the Golden Eagles are in the midst of replacing five seniors who led last year’s club to a 14-14 record and a seventh-place finish in Conference USA. Five freshmen have come on the scene for Marquette this season, blending with seven returning letterwinners (including three starters) to give the Golden Eagles an intriguing mix of youthful enthusiasm and veteran experience.

Marquette is off to a 6-2 start this season, a record which is made all the more impressive when considering the fact that the Golden Eagles have played only three home games thus far. A tournament championship at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Invitational has been the highlight of Marquette’s season, along with road wins over La Salle and Virginia Commonwealth.

The Golden Eagles will be well-rested by the time they meet Notre Dame, not having played since Dec. 21, when they easily handled Sacred Heart, 76-49, in Milwaukee. Sophomore guard Katie Alsdurf scored a team-high 13 points, hitting five of six shots and three three-point field goals. Senior forward Rachel Klug narrowly missed a double-double for Marquette, finishing with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds. The Golden Eagles shot 52 percent from the floor, while holding Sacred Heart to a dismal .281 field goal percentage.

Klug has been Marquette’s top all-around player this season, leading a trio of Golden Eagles scoring in double figures at 15.8 points per game. She also sets the pace at 7.0 rebounds per game and is shooting a team-best .588 from the field. Alsdurf is tied for second in scoring (10.6 ppg.), joining freshman guard Carolyn Kieger, who also is carding 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, and she is connecting at a team-high .467 clip from three-point range. Kieger was the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Invitational MVP after averaging 15.5 ppg. in wins over Chicago State and Georgia State (the latter in double overtime).

Terri Mitchell is in her seventh season as the head coach at Marquette, compiling a record of 119-63 (.654). She is 0-3 in her head coaching career against Notre Dame.


  • The 23 victories by Notre Dame and the 27 series games are both school records. Detroit is second on the Irish opponent victory list (22), while Notre Dame has played Dayton 26 times, second-most in school annals.
  • Marquette has topped the 70-point mark just twice against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 19 times, all in the last 21 series meetings.
  • Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell was an assistant with the Golden Eagles the last time they defeated Notre Dame on Dec. 1, 1992.
  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is 14-1 (.933) in her career against Marquette.

Notre Dame is 44-21 (.677) against the current members of Conference USA, playing more games (65) against C-USA opponents than any other league outside of the BIG EAST Conference (138). The Irish have won nine of their last 10 games against C-USA competition, although they lost their first game against that league this season with a 75-59 setback at DePaul on Dec. 11. It was Notre Dame’s first loss to a C-USA foe since joining the BIG EAST for the 1995-96 season.


  • Irish head coach Muffet McGraw will earn her 350th victory at Notre Dame, joining Digger Phelps as the only basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) ever to log 350 wins at the school. McGraw’s career ledger will stand at 350-129 (.731) in 16 seasons with the Irish, and 438-170 (.720) in 21 years overall.
  • Notre Dame will improve to 8-2 this season, matching the third-best 10-game start in school history and marking the fourth time in the last five years the Irish have opened with eight wins in 10 games.
  • The Irish will earn their seventh consecutive win and 23rd win in the last 24 meetings with Marquette.
  • Notre Dame will chalk up their 10th win in the last 11 games against Conference USA opponents.

Junior G Jeneka Joyce – leg injuries, out indefinitely

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw needs just one win to join Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to collect 350 victories at the school. McGraw is 349-129 (.730) in 16 seasons at Notre Dame, while Phelps posted a 393-197 (.666) mark in 20 years at the helm of the Irish men’s basketball program.

In addition, McGraw has the third-highest winning percentage of any basketball coach at Notre Dame (men’s or women’s) with at least five years of service, and her ratio is the best by any coach in the last 60 years. Only men’s coaches Bertram G. Maris (.794 from 1907-12) and George Keogan (.771 from 1923-43) have had more success at Notre Dame over an extended period than McGraw.

Marquette is one of 10 former North Star Conference schools Notre Dame has played since it left the NSC to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League) in 1988. The Irish have a 103-23 (.817) record in the last 13 seasons against former North Star members, including a 2-1 mark this year with wins over Cleveland State and Valparaiso and a loss to DePaul.

Much of that post-NSC record was compiled when several North Star teams resurfaced alongside the Irish in the MCC. In fact, eight of Notre Dame?s 10 former North Star foes also squared off with the Irish in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

The Irish have won 15 of their last 16 games against former North Star members, a streak which pre-dates Notre Dame?s current membership in the BIG EAST Conference. The only NSC alum to defeat the Irish in that time was DePaul, which knocked off Notre Dame, 75-59, back on Dec. 11.

Notre Dame will be playing on New Year?s Eve for the sixth time in its 26-year history when it visits Marquette Tuesday afternoon. The Irish are 4-1 on the last day of the year, defeating Syracuse (81-60) in 1991, Pittsburgh (66-46) in 1997, Rice (80-40) in 2000, and DePaul (79-50) in 2001, while losing to Montana (50-48) in 1986.

Notre Dame is 28-8 (.778) all-time against teams from the state of Wisconsin, with the majority of those games coming against Tuesday?s opponent, Marquette (23-4). The Irish also hold series leads against the state?s flagship school, Wisconsin (3-2), as well as Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-0) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-0). Interestingly, Wisconsin-La Crosse, a Division III institution, is the only school from the Badger State to hold a series lead on Notre Dame, having defeated the Irish in their only meeting, 80-57, on March 15, 1980 at the AIAW Division III National Tournament in La Crosse, Wis.

The Irish pulled out a narrow 46-45 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 23, but a close game shouldn’t come as any surprise to Notre Dame fans. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have played 12 games that were decided by five points or less, splitting those dozen contests. However, the Colorado State nail-biter was the first one-point win for Notre Dame since a 63-62 squeaker over Villanova on Dec. 12, 1998 at the Joyce Center.

During the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw, the Irish have posted a 32-38 (.457) record in games decided by five points or less, including a 14-12 (.538) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay added another chapter to her ever-growing legend at Notre Dame on Dec. 23 when she buried two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to defeat Colorado State, 46-45. It wasn’t the first time the Lake Zurich, Ill., product had stepped up in the clutch. Playing as a freshman at No. 8 Rutgers in 2000, Ratay set a BIG EAST Conference record by going 7-for-7 from three-point range, including two treys in the final 16 seconds of the contest with the Irish trailing by six. She went on to finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame pulled out a 78-74 overtime win.

Last season, Ratay nearly topped herself in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals vs. Syracuse. With the Irish trailing by 16 points and only 3:52 left, Ratay scored 17 of the next 19 Notre Dame points, including nine in a span of 18 seconds, to single-handedly spark a 19-5 run that pulled her team within 81-79 with 18 seconds remaining. However, Syracuse finally forced a Ratay miss and hit three free throws to save the victory.

With a win over Marquette on Tuesday, Notre Dame would move to 8-2 this season, matching the third-best 10-game start in school history. The Irish went 10-0 to open the 2000-01 campaign, and started off 9-1 in 1998-99. If Notre Dame improves to 8-2 on Tuesday, it would mark the fourth time in the last five seasons the Irish have won eight of their first 10 games.

Last season, Notre Dame struggled early on to find the winning formula on the road, dropping its first five games away from the Joyce Center before defeating Miami on Jan. 2. It took the Irish a lot less time to earn a road win this season, as Notre Dame claimed its road opener, 69-57 at USC. The Irish then added wins at Valparaiso and Arizona State < notre=”” dame=”” didn’t=”” pick=”” up=”” its=”” third=”” road=”” win=”” last=”” season=”” until=”” the=”” 10th=”” contest=”” away=”” from=”” home=”” on=”” feb.=”” 2,=”” 2002.=””>

The Irish have won nine of their last 12 regular-season road games, including seven of their last eight. Besides a loss at DePaul on Dec. 11, the only other blemishes on that record came last January with a last-second loss at Villanova and a setback at eventual national champion Connecticut.

Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast has scored 495 points in only 35 career games, putting her in position to be one of the fastest players to reach the 500-point mark in school history. A total of 12 players have scored their 500th point in less than two seasons at Notre Dame, although only four have done so in less than 40 career games (including senior guard Alicia Ratay, who did it in 35 games).

Notre Dame has raced out to a 7-2 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least four players score in double figures in five of those seven wins. In addition, the Irish have had five players reach double digits in three games this season (Cleveland State, USC, Temple). The last time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers three times in the same year was the 2000-01 season, when the Irish turned the trick against Connecticut (twice) and Alcorn State.

As you might expect, Notre Dame also has four players averaging in double figures for the season as well. Sophomore forward and Naismith Award candidate Jacqueline Batteast has been the pacesetter at 15.2 ppg., followed by fellow Naismith nominee, senior guard Alicia Ratay (12.2 ppg.). Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has come on of late, moving up to 10.8 ppg., and sophomore forward Katy Flecky is fourth at 10.1 ppg. (more than double last year’s scoring average of 4.9 ppg.). Two others < junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe and sophomore center Teresa Borton < are=”” lurking=”” just=”” out=”” of=”” double=”” figures=”” at=”” 9.3=”” and=”” 9.0=”” ppg.,=”” respectively.=””>

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made good use of her time on the floor this season. Although she is averaging just 17.7 minutes per game, the Ventura, Calif., product is collecting 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, both third on the team. If LaVere were to average 40 minutes played, she would be logging 24.4 ppg. and 12.6 rpg., both tops on the squad. By comparison, Notre Dame’s leading scorer and rebounder, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast, would be registering 21.3 ppg. and 10.7 rpg. if she averaged a full 40 minutes.

LaVere continued her rapid development last Saturday against No. 5 Tennessee, piling up her first career double-double with game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds (the latter also was a season high).

Another indication of Notre Dame?s continued rise to national prominence has been its consistent run of success. With its victory over IPFW on Dec. 21, the Irish are assured of finishing with no worse than a .500 mark in December. Notre Dame now has posted a record of .500 or better in 40 of their last 41 months of action, dating back to December 1994. The only blemish on that record came in March 2002, when Notre Dame went 1-2 during the BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached a milestone at Valparaiso, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native now has started 106 of 107 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). With her start vs. Tennessee last weekend, Ratay moved past Mary Gavin (1984-88) into sixth place on Notre Dame’s career games started list < she=”” is=”” now=”” 18=”” starts=”” away=”” from=”” the=”” school=”” record.=””>Ruth Riley set the school standard with 124 career starting assignments, a mark Ratay could reach by the time the BIG EAST Championship rolls around in early March.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several other career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark at Valparaiso, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to attain that feat, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,485 points, 541 rebounds and 207 assists.

Ratay also is 26 three-point field goals away from tying the Notre Dame career record of 249, currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay averaged more than 70 treys per season during her first three years at Notre Dame.

Two other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks sixth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,485 points, but she needs only 104 counters to move into the top five on that chart, catching Keys (1,589 from 1982-86). In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 107 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with another 18 starts and 25 games played this season.

Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.871) and three-point field goal (.479) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, her three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history if her career ended today. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame record books, please see the charts on page 9 of these notes.

Notre Dame was ranked 12th in the Dec. 23 Associated Press poll, marking the seventh consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the AP poll this season. Notre Dame was among the top 10 for the first five weeks of the season, and the Irish have spent 56 weeks in the top 10 in the 26-year history of the program (two weeks in 1996-97, 16 in 1998-99, 15 in 1999-2000, 18 in 2000-01 and five in 2002-03).

Notre Dame has been extremely successful at home when playing as a ranked team. The Irish are 71-4 (.947) all-time at the Joyce Center when they appear in the AP poll at tipoff, including 45 wins in their last 47 games and a 4-0 mark this season.

The Irish also are ranked 12th in the Dec. 24 ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their seventh consecutive week in that survey. Notre Dame spent two weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today poll earlier this season, marking its first foray into the top 10 since finishing No. 1 after winning the 2001 NCAA championship. That top ranking also capped a string of 52 consecutive weeks in the coaches’ top 10 for the Irish, who appeared in the poll’s upper division continuously from Nov. 22, 1998-April 2, 2001.

Notre Dame is slated to face four teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 3/2 Connecticut, No. 5/5 Tennessee, No. 7/6 Purdue and No. 20/19 Boston College). In addition, DePaul is ranked 25th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, and five other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” villanova,=”” virginia=”” tech=”” and=”” west=”” virginia.=””>

Irish teams have turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships, an NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team, and a Gator Bowl berth and No. 9 BCS ranking for the football team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.

Thanks to its successful finishes in the fall, Notre Dame has moved into fourth place in the latest NACDA Directors’ Cup standings, which were released Dec. 19 (see note on page 11).

Senior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.

The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks sixth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,480 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.481) and free throw percentage (.872), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 26 treys to match Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.

Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 105 of a possible 106 contests to date.

Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.

Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group.

Notre Dame has won 167 games over the last seven seasons, which stands as the sixth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

Over the last three seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 53-1 (.981) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. The only time Notre Dame didn’t win with a halftime lead was Jan. 12, 2002 at Villanova, when the Irish took a 31-25 advantage at the intermission, only to see the Wildcats claim a last-second 60-59 victory.

Over the last seven seasons, 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 106-2 (.981) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn?t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), and Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45). Notre Dame has added four wins to that count this season with victories over USC, Arizona State, IPFW and Colorado State.

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 last seven seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 85-3 (.966) 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 added four wins to that total this year with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State, Temple and IPFW.

Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).

The 11 players on this year?s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster < michigan=”” (14)=””>< is=”” not=”” represented=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.

This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86).

In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.


Head coach Muffet McGraw needs just one win to join Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches to collect 350 victories at the school.



For the first time in its eight-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame was picked to finish first in the league’s preseason coaches poll that was released Oct. 24 at BIG EAST Media Day. The Irish shared top billing with defending national champion Connecticut, with each team earning seven first-place votes and 161 total points in the balloting. Boston College (143 points), Villanova (128 points) and Virginia Tech (110 points) round out the top five.

Individually, Notre Dame was the only school to place two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Senior guard Alicia Ratay earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors for the second time in her career last season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. She is the top returning scorer for the Irish, averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in ’01-02. She also led the BIG EAST and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record .882 from the charity stripe. Ratay also was named one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award, her third selection in as many seasons.

Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast also was recognized by the conference coaches after being named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year. The South Bend native averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She also registered 11 double-doubles (second in the conference) and was a second-team all-league selection, the only freshman to make an all-BIG EAST squad in ’01-02. In addition, Batteast was a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection last year and like Ratay, she was chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay was selected as one of 30 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation?s senior Player of the Year by the Senior CLASS Organizing Committee. Ratay is one of three BIG EAST Conference student-athletes on the list of Senior CLASS Award ?Players to Watch,? joining Villanova?s Trish Juhline and Brianne Stepherson of Boston College. Connecticut guard Sue Bird received the inaugural award last year.

Ratay is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection last season. She ranks sixth in school history with 1,485 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .479 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 87.1 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history.

Ratay also is an exemplary student, owning a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average while pursuing a double major in psychology and education. She has been named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three years, and she has garnered Dean?s List honors three times.

The Senior CLASS Award < the=”” acronym=”” stands=”” for=”” celebrating=”” loyalty=”” and=”” achievement=”” for=”” staying=”” in=”” school=””>< is=”” based=”” on=”” a=”” number=”” of=”” factors,=”” the=”” most=”” important=”” being=”” that=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” have=”” exhausted=”” their=”” four=”” years=”” of=”” eligibility=”” and=”” have=”” fulfilled=”” their=”” commitment=”” to=”” their=”” respective=”” university.=”” in=”” addition,=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” be=”” working=”” toward=”” their=”” degree,=”” be=”” in=”” good=”” academic=”” standing=”” and=”” be=”” of=”” sound=”” moral=”” character.=”” the=”” award=”” was=”” developed=”” last=”” season=”” in=”” response=”” to=”” the=”” recent=”” trend=”” of=”” college=”” basketball=”” players=”” leaving=”” early=”” to=”” turn=”” professional.=””>

The performances of the 30 ?Players to Watch? will be tracked during the season, and from that pool of players, a group of 10 finalists will be selected by a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters that cover Division I college basketball. The finalists then will appear on the official ballot which will be voted upon in March by the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the Women?s Final Four April 6-8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Courtney LaVere was a consensus All-America selection and one of the top 25 prep players in the country following her senior season at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. One media outlet believes LaVere will continue that success in her initial campaign at Notre Dame. Women’s College chose the 6-3 freshman forward as one its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact” for the 2002-03 season.

LaVere joins the Irish after averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during her senior season. She finished her high school career with 1,897 points (second in school history), 1,029 rebounds (third in school history) and 303 blocks (first in school history). She also holds school single-game records for points (45) and blocks (9), as well as BHS single-season marks for points (741), scoring average (26.5) and blocks (99). LaVere was named the 1999 California Freshman of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports, and she helped lead Buena to the top spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings for much of the 2000-01 season.

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 80 of their last 83 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 56-4 (.933) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale. Besides the Wildcats, Connecticut (three times) is the only other BIG EAST school to successfully conquer the Irish on their home floor.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame still owns a 33-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center that dates back more than six years < a=”” stretch=”” that=”” includes=”” victories=”” over=”” a=”” trio=”” of=”” sixth-ranked=”” teams=”” (ucla=”” and=”” duke=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” purdue=”” in=”” 2000-01),=”” as=”” well=”” as=”” no.=”” 19=”” illinois=”” in=”” 8-99.=”” notre=”” dame?s=”” last=”” non-conference=”” loss=”” at=”” home=”” came=”” back=”” on=”” dec.=”” 9,=”” 1996,=”” when=”” 19th-ranked=”” wisconsin=”” toppled=”” the=”” irish,=”” 81-69.=””>

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 243-66 (.786) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 93-5 (.949) at the Joyce Center.

For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame is ranked among the top 10 in the nation in attendance, according to the latest unofficial rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office. The Irish have averaged 6,432 fans for four home games this season, placing them eighth in the country (through games of Dec. 22).

Notre Dame averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. The 2001-02 season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for a 60-44 win over 16th-ranked Boston College.

Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-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 last four seasons.

Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. The Irish will play no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.

Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least seven times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2). In addition, Notre Dame appears three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games will be telecast in South Bend on WHME-TV on a tape-delayed basis as part of the league?s TV deal. WHME-TV also broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago. In addition to the regular-season package, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a wide variety of Irish events on radio for only $6.95 per month.

Muffet McGraw?s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays through the completion of the 2002-03 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation?s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.

Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.

Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player — she played with sophomore forward Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships.

With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.

University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph?s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph?s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph?s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.

McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor?s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women?s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since.

Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 349-129 (.730) record (437-170, .720 overall in 21 years), guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women?s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.

When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women?s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.

During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.

Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish.

Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.

Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night.

All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.

The Irish will close out the non-conference portion of their 2002-03 schedule, and welcome in the New Year at the same time when they play host to in-state rival Purdue Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) at the Joyce Center. The game will be televised live to a nationwide audience on CBS as part of the network’s annual women’s college basketball tripleheader, following the LSU-Penn State and Connecticut-Tennessee games. It will mark just the second time Notre Dame has played on CBS, following a 1997 loss at Ohio State.

Purdue is 9-1 this season and currently stands seventh in the Associated Press poll (sixth in the coaches’ survey). The Boilermakers already have two victories over ranked opponents this season, ousting No. 8 Vanderbilt and No. 19 Boston College. Their only loss to date was a one-point overtime verdict at UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 17. Purdue will play host to Tulane on Thursday night before venturing north to take on the Irish.

The Boilermakers lead the all-time series with Notre Dame, 10-4, although the margin is just 3-2 in Purdue’s favor at the Joyce Center, and the Irish have won the last two times they faced the Boilermakers at home (77-71 in 1997 and 72-61 in 2000). All told, the teams have split their last eight meetings, dating back to the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Purdue won last year’s encounter, 70-57, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.