Dec. 26, 2002
The Date and Time: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002, at 1 p.m. EST.
The Site: Conseco Fieldhouse (18,345) in Indianapolis, Ind.
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, Sean Lewallen will call the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Opponent’s Website: Tennessee (www.utladyvols.com).
NO. 12 NOTRE DAME RETURNS FROM CHRISTMAS BREAK TO FACE NO. 5 TENNESSEE
Two of the nation’s top teams will square off Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST) when No. 12 Notre Dame faces fifth-ranked Tennessee at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It will mark the first regular season meeting between the two sides since 1996, and both teams are coming off close games in their last outings, albeit with differing results.
The Irish improved to 7-1 this season with a slim 46-45 victory over Colorado State Monday afternoon at the Joyce Center. Senior guard Alicia Ratay was the hero for Notre Dame, coolly nailing two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to put the Irish ahead. Notre Dame then had to survive a last-second three-point attempt by the Rams to come away with its 33rd consecutive non-conference win at home.
On a day where the Irish shot a season-low 29.8 percent from the field, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast provided much of the offensive muscle, scoring a team-high 18 points and collecting 10 rebounds to register her second double-double of the season. In fact, she was the only Notre Dame player to crack double figures, marking the first time all season the Irish haven’t had at least three players score 10 points in a game.
Tennessee is 8-2 this season following a last-second 63-62 loss at No. 22 Texas on Dec. 21. Longhorn freshman Nina Norman canned a three-pointer with one second left to give the hosts the upset. Tennessee was led by senior guard Kara Lawson, who scored 24 points, and junior guard Tasha Butts, who logged a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior forward Gwen Jackson leads the Lady Vols in scoring at 15.7 ppg., followed by Lawson at 14.4 ppg. Junior forward Courtney McDaniel is UT’s top rebounder at 7.0 rpg.
Hall of Fame head coach Pat Summitt is in her 29th season at Tennessee with a record of 796-160 (.833) at the school.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
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 349-128 (.732) record (437-169, .721 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 Saturday against fifth-ranked Tennessee.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (13.1 ppg., 3.9 rpg., .517 FG%, .500 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, 1,480 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .481) and free throw percentage (1st, .872). 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 16.9 ppg., team-high 7.9 rpg., 2.5 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 (9.1 ppg., 3.1 rpg., team-high 3.0 apg., 2.5 spg., .490 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 four 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. She is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.3 ppg., team-high 3.0 apg., 1.14 A/TO ratio), 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. Her 1.14 assist/turnover ratio currently is tops among BIG EAST freshmen.
At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (3.8 ppg., 2.8 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 (2.0 ppg., 0.5 spg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.4 ppg., 0.6 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 four games, scoring two points and grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (8.4 ppg., 5.6 rpg., team-high .577 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.5 ppg., 4.8 rpg., .527 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. 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 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) 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 Hoops.com 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 12.3 ppg. in her last four games, including a season-high 20 points vs. IPFW last Saturday.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TENNESSEE
Historically, Notre Dame has struggled against Tennessee, going 0-14 against the Lady Vols since the series began back in 1983. In fact, UT remains the only opponent the Irish have never defeated over a minimum of 10 games played, and the Lady Vols are one of only four teams to have earned at least 10 victories over Notre Dame.
The Irish began playing Tennessee on an annual basis early in the 1983-84 season and continued facing one another at alternating home sites for the next 10 years. Following a one-year break, the teams met twice in 1996-97, with the Lady Vols handing Notre Dame its first and last losses of the season < 72-59=”” in=”” the=”” semifinals=”” of=”” the=”” preseason=”” wnit=”” at=”” ruston,=”” la.,=”” and=”” 80-66=”” at=”” the=”” ncaa=”” final=”” four=”” in=”” cincinnati.=”” those=”” two=”” games=”” remain=”” the=”” only=”” notre=”” dame-tennessee=”” matchups=”” to=”” take=”” place=”” on=”” neutral=”” floors.=””>
The Irish and Lady Vols would not meet again until the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament in Knoxville, when UT roughed up Notre Dame, 89-50. Tennessee has won all 14 games in the series by an average margin of 22 points, topping the 70-point mark in all but one contest. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has cracked the 70-point barrier four times against the Lady Vols, and has come within 10 points of UT three times. The closest margin in the series came on Jan. 12, 1992 at the Joyce Center, when the Lady Vols edged the Irish, 85-82.
Expectations are high in Knoxville this season, as Tennessee believes it has the personnel and system in place to make a run at its seventh national championship. The Lady Vols are off to an 8-2 start this season, a mark that includes four victories in six games against ranked opponents. UT is in the midst of a rugged stretch in its schedule, with five consecutive games against former NCAA champions, and the last four away from home. In fact, the Lady Vols have not seen much of Thompson-Boling Arena this season, with 10 of their first 13 games on the road, including a current stretch that features nine out of 10 games in hostile territory.
Tennessee has not taken the floor since last Saturday, when 22nd-ranked Texas dealt the Lady Vols a last-second 63-62 loss in Austin. Senior All-America guard Kara Lawson pumped in a game-high 24 points, including six three-point field goals, for Tennessee, and junior guard Tasha Butts contributed a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. However, the Lady Vols were undone by poor shooting from the field (35.7 percent) and a tenacious Texas defense that won the rebounding battle, 41-40, and forced 16 turnovers.
Senior forward Gwen Jackson leads Tennessee in scoring at 15.7 points per game, to go along with 6.5 rebounds per game and a team-best .620 field goal percentage (.542 from the three-point arc). Lawson is the Lady Vols’ second-leading scorer at 14.4 ppg., doing much of her damage from the perimeter, where she is connecting at a 45.5 percent rate from the three-point line. All told, seven Tennessee players are averaging at least seven points per game. Junior forward/center Courtney McDaniel is the team’s top rebounder at 7.0 caroms per outing.
The Lady Vols are scoring 80.3 ppg., while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 44.2 percent from three-point range. Tennessee’s defense has been particularly stout, limiting opponents to 50.8 ppg., and forcing more than 22 turnovers per contest.
Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt is in her 29th season at UT, posting a 796-160 (.833) record with the Lady Vols. She is 14-0 all-time against Notre Dame.
NOTRE DAME-TENNESSEE CONNECTIONS
- Irish sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and Tennessee sophomore forward Shyra Ely were AAU teammates on “The Family”, an Indianapolis-based squad which won the national title in the summer of 1999 and finished as the national runner-up in 2000. In addition, both Batteast and Ely were finalists for Indiana Miss Basketball honors in 2000, an award ultimately won by Ely.
- Two of the top players ever to come out of northern Indiana will be on display Saturday when Notre Dame sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and Tennessee freshman guard Shanna Zolman take the floor. Batteast, a South Bend native, was a three-time first-team all-state selection and earned first-team Parade All-America honors while playing at Washington High School. Zolman set the Indiana career scoring record with 3,085 points and also was a Parade All-America selection during her career at Wawasee High School in Syracuse, Ind. In an odd twist, Saturday’s game will mark the first time Batteast and Zolman have faced one another in a meaningful game (excluding all-star competition).
- The Irish and Lady Vols will be playing at Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Both Notre Dame and Tennessee have two players on the current Fever roster. Guards Coquese Washington (’92) and Niele Ivey (’01) represent the Irish, while forwards Nikki McCray (’95) and Tamika Catchings (’01) are former Lady Vol letterwinners. Led by this quartet, Indiana reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this past summer. Ivey and Catchings will hold a “Meet and Greet” with fans immediately following Saturday’s game.
- Only one Tennessee native has played for Notre Dame during the 26-year history of the program. Tricia McManus, a product of Oak Ridge, Tenn., was a three-year monogram winner for the Irish from 1979-81, helping Notre Dame to a berth in the round of 16 at the 1980 AIAW Division III national tournament.
NOTRE DAME AGAINST THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
The Irish are 5-24 (.172) all-time against the Southeastern Conference, although they have won two of their last three meetings vs. SEC schools. Most recently, Notre Dame defeated both Georgia and Vanderbilt during the 2000-01 season, before falling to Tennessee in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. In fact, UT has been responsible for 14 of those 24 SEC losses by the Irish over the years. Besides the Lady Vols, Notre Dame has faced just five other Southeastern Conference teams < alabama=”” (1-3),=”” georgia=”” (1-2),=”” lsu=”” (1-2),=”” south=”” carolina=”” (0-2)=”” and=”” vanderbilt=”” (2-1).=””>
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will defeat a top-five opponent for the first time since downing No. 1 Connecticut, 90-75, in the 2001 NCAA Final Four.
- Irish head coach Muffet McGraw will earn her 350th victory at Notre Dame, joining Digger Phelps as the only Notre Dame basketball coaches ever to record 350 wins at the school. McGraw’s career ledger will stand at 350-128 (.732) in 16 seasons with the Irish, and 438-169 (.722) in 21 years overall.
- Notre Dame will improve to 8-1 this season, marking the fourth 8-1 start in school history, and the third in the last five seasons.
- The Irish will collect their first-ever win over Tennessee in 15 career meetings, and post their sixth all-time victory over a Southeastern Conference school.
- Notre Dame will move to 3-0 all-time when playing in NBA arenas (2-0 at Denver’s Pepsi Center).
- The Irish will raise their lifetime record at neutral sites to 73-42 (.635), including a 29-11 (.725) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
- Notre Dame will even its record against former NCAA champions at 3-3 since the Irish became a member of that elite sorority in 2001. It also will mark the second time this season Notre Dame has toppled a former national champion< the=”” irish=”” downed=”” usc,=”” 69-57,=”” back=”” on=”” nov.=”” 29=”” in=”” los=”” angeles.=””>
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Dec. 27)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce – leg injuries, out indefinitely
WE LOVE THIS GAME
Notre Dame will play in an NBA arena for just the third time in school history Saturday when it faces Tennessee at Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and WNBA’s Indiana Fever. The Irish are 2-0 in NBA facilities, having defeated Utah (69-54) and Vanderbilt (72-64) in the 2001 NCAA Midwest Regional at Denver’s Pepsi Center, home of the NBA’s Nuggets.
DIGGER AND ME
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 349-128 (.732) 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.
CASHING THAT CHRISTMAS BONUS
Notre Dame has posted an all-time record of 15-10 (.600) in its first game after Christmas, including a 9-6 mark in the Muffet McGraw era. The Irish also are 5-2 in their first post-Christmas contest since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
ON THIS DATE…
Notre Dame is 4-3 (.571) all-time when playing on December 28th. This is the third consecutive season the Irish will play on that date < they=”” won=”” at=”” usc=”” (70-61)=”” two=”” years=”” ago,=”” and=”” lost=”” at=”” rice=”” (72-61)=”” last=”” season.=””>
Perhaps the most memorable Notre Dame game played on this date came in 1990, when the Irish knocked off No. 11 Louisiana Tech, 71-66, in the opening round of the Texaco-Hawk Classic in Philadelphia. At the time, it was the highest-ranked opponent Notre Dame had ever defeated, and when coupled with a 72-53 win over Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) the next night, it propelled the Irish into the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in school history.
Notre Dame will face its first ranked opponent of the season when it takes on No. 5 Tennessee Saturday in Indianapolis. Ranked foes are nothing new for the Irish – they faced six Top 25 clubs last season and posted a 2-4 record. Over the years, Notre Dame has had most of its success against ranked opponents when it is ranked itself < the=”” irish=”” are=”” 23-21=”” (.523)=”” in=”” games=”” where=”” both=”” teams=”” are=”” ranked.=”” notre=”” dame=”” also=”” is=”” 155-31=”” (.833)=”” all-time=”” when=”” it=”” takes=”” the=”” floor=”” as=”” a=”” ranked=”” team=””>< the=”” irish=”” stand=”” 12th=”” in=”” both=”” major=”” polls=”” entering=”” saturday’s=”” game=”” with=”” tennessee.=”” see=”” pages=”” 152-154=”” in=”” the=”” notre=”” dame=”” women’s=”” basketball=”” media=”” guide=”” for=”” more=”” information=”” on=”” the=”” irish=”” against=”” ranked=”” opponents.=””>
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
Including Tennessee, the Irish have faced 10 other NCAA champions over the years, compiling a career record of 16-50 (.242) against these title-winning teams. Notre Dame has a .500 or better series mark against three former national champions < north=”” carolina=”” (2-0),=”” texas=”” (1-1)=”” and=”” usc=”” (4-1),=”” whom=”” the=”” irish=”” defeated,=”” 69-57=”” on=”” nov.=”” 29=”” in=”” los=”” angeles.=””>
Notre Dame has had better luck since it hoisted the hardware for the first time in 2001, owning a 2-3 record against other NCAA champions. The Irish have defeated USC in each of the last two seasons, while falling to Purdue, Connecticut and Tennessee.
NEUTRAL LIKE SWITZERLAND
Notre Dame has been quite successful at neutral sites over the years. The Irish hold an all-time record of 72-42 (.632) in neutral territory, including a 47-22 (.681) mark in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-present), and a 28-11 (.718) ledger since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
The Irish pulled out a narrow 46-45 victory over Colorado State on Monday, 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, Monday’s 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.
COOL AS ICE
Senior guard Alicia Ratay added another chapter to her ever-growing legend at Notre Dame on Monday 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.
IRISH OFF TO A FAST START
Notre Dame will be looking to post the fourth 8-1 start in school history, and its third in the last five years, when it faces Tennessee on Saturday. In their three previous 8-1 debuts, the Irish have finished with a winning record each time, including a pair of 25-win campaigns, two trips to the NCAA Tournament and the 2001 national championship.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will be seeking her third 8-1 start with the Irish on Saturday < she=”” also=”” pulled=”” off=”” that=”” feat=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” (9-1)=”” and=”” 2000-01=”” (10-0).=”” the=”” other=”” hot=”” start=”” came=”” in=”” the=”” second=”” varsity=”” season=”” of=”” irish=”” basketball=”” (1978-79),=”” which=”” was=”” played=”” at=”” the=”” ncaa=”” division=”” iii=”” level=”” under=”” head=”” coach=”” sharon=”” petro.=””>
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.
BATTEAST RACING TO 500
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast has scored 493 points in only 34 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).
A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Notre Dame has raced out to a 7-1 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 16.9 ppg. (sixth in the BIG EAST Conference), followed by fellow Naismith nominee, senior guard Alicia Ratay at 13.1 ppg. (20th in the BIG EAST) Sophomore forward Katy Flecky is third at 10.5 ppg. (more than double last year’s scoring average), and freshman forward Courtney LaVere has come on of late, moving up to 10.0 ppg. this year. Two others < junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe and sophomore center Teresa Borton < are=”” lurking=”” just=”” out=”” of=”” double=”” figures=”” at=”” 9.1=”” and=”” 8.4=”” ppg.,=”” respectively.=””>
LaVERE IS THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made good use of her time on the floor this season. Although she is averaging just 16.5 minutes per game, the Ventura, Calif., product is collecting 10.0 points per game (fourth on the team) and 4.9 rebounds per game (third on the team). If LaVere were to average 40 minutes played, she would be logging 24.2 ppg. and 11.8 rpg., both tops on the squad. By comparison, Notre Dame’s leading scorer and rebounder, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast, would be registering 22.6 ppg. and 10.5 rpg. if she averaged a full 40 minutes.
Proof of LaVere’s effectiveness on the floor was shown in last Saturday’s win over IPFW. She scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting in just 19 minutes of action!
WINNING BY THE MONTH
Another indication of Notre Dame’s continued rise to national prominence has been its consistent run of success. With its victory over IPFW last Saturday, 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.
START ME UP
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 105 of 106 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 105 starts put her in a tie with Mary Gavin (1984-88) for sixth place on Notre Dame’s career games started list, and 19 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.
RATAY’S MILESTONE WATCH
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 1,480 points, 540 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 1,480 points, but she needs only 109 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 106 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 19 starts and 26 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.872) and three-point field goal (.481) 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 is ranked 12th in the most recent 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 most recent 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.=””>
DRIBBLING TO THE DOME
Notre Dame is one of only three schools in the country to have both of its basketball teams ranked in the top 15 in the latest Associated Press poll, with the Irish men checking at No. 8. The other schools in this elite group are Duke and Connecticut. In addition, Notre Dame is the only school in the nation to have both basketball teams in the AP top 15 and its football team ranked in the top 10 in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings. The Irish gridders were ranked ninth in the final BCS survey and are preparing to face North Carolina State on New Year’s Day at the Toyota Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
NOTRE DAME HAS REASON TO BE THANKFUL AFTER FALL SEASONS
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).
RATAY, BATTEAST NAMED TO 2002-03 NAISMITH PRESEASON WATCH LIST
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.
HALF AND HALF
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.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
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.
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the 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 with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State, Temple and IPFW.
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
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.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
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).
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
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.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
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.
NOTRE DAME PICKED FOR SHARE OF BIG EAST TITLE IN PRESEASON POLL
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.
RATAY NAMED CANDIDATE FOR SENIOR C.L.A.S.S. 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 1,480 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .481 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 87.2 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.
LaVERE NAMED ONE OF NATION’S “TOP 21 FRESHMEN OF IMPACT”
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 Hoops.com 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.
NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 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=”” ’98-99.=”” 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.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
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. 15).
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.
NOTRE DAME FACING ONE TOUGH SLATE
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.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
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.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
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 (www.und.com) 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.
THE MUFFET McGRAW SHOW
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).
NOTRE DAME INKS PAIR OF TOP 20 PREP STANDOUTS IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
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.
McGRAW INDUCTED INTO SAINT JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
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 349-128 (.732) record (437-169, .721 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.
IRISH ASSISTANT COACH FEATURED ON WNBA.COM
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, WNBA.com 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.
IRISH ENJOY SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE
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.
UP NEXT: MARQUETTE
It will be a quick turnaround for the Irish, as they head to Milwaukee Tuesday for a 2 p.m. (CST) matchup with Marquette. The Golden Eagles will be well-rested by the time they take on Notre Dame, having had 10 days off since a 76-49 ouster of Sacred Heart on Dec. 21 at U.S. Cellular Arena.
Marquette is 6-2 this season and has won its last five games, including a double-overtime thriller over NCAA qualifer Georgia State on Dec. 7 in the championship game of the Atlanta Invitational.
Tuesday’s game will mark the 28th time the Irish and Golden Eagles have met, continuing the most frequent rivalry in school history. Notre Dame owns a 23-4 edge in the all-time series, including a current six-game winning streak that was extended with a 60-33 victory at the Joyce Center last year.