Dec. 20, 2002
(#12 AP/#11 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1) vs. IPFW Mastodons (2-7)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002, at 2 p.m. EST.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, 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 IPFW, Colorado State and Marquette games, Sean Lewallen will call the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the IPFW game via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics website.
Websites: IPFW (www.ipfw.edu/athletics).
For the first time since Jimmy Carter was president, Notre Dame and IPFW will meet on the basketball court, when the 12th-ranked Irish play host to the Mastodons at 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame and IPFW have played another twice before, although those two meetings came back in 1978 and 1979, the first two seasons of varsity competition for the Irish.
Thanks to final exams, Notre Dame has had the last week off after a sharp 84-61 victory over defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Temple last Saturday at the Joyce Center. Leading by seven early in the second half, the Irish used a 26-5 run to blow the game open and collect their 31st consecutive non-conference win at home, a streak that now dates back more than six years.
For the third time in six games this season, Notre Dame had five players scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Alicia Ratay, who tallied 17 points. Freshman forward Courtney LaVere continued to provide strong support off the bench in the early going this season, scoring 16 points and plucking a game-high nine rebounds against Temple.
Notre Dame shot 44.4 percent against the Owls, and collected 17 steals, its second-highest total of the season. The Irish also protected the ball well, logging only 13 turnovers, their second-lowest mark of the year.
IPFW (2-7) is in its second season at the Division I level, playing as an independent. The Mastodons come into Saturday’s game having lost four in a row, including a 104-56 setback in their last game at Louisville on Dec. 13. Verea Bibbs led IPFW with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Amy Gearlds, who missed the Louisville game with an injury, is the Mastodons’ top scorer at 14.1 ppg. IPFW is coached by Bruce Patterson, who is 6-30 (.167) in his second season 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 347-128 (.731) record (435-169, .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 is only three wins away from her 350th victory at Notre Dame.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (12.8 ppg., 3.8 rpg., .523 FG%, .429 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 (7th, 1,452 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .478) and free throw percentage (1st, .869). 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 three times this season, most recently tossing in a game-high 17 points in last Saturday’s win over Temple.
In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 16.8 ppg., team-high 7.8 rpg., 2.7 spg., one double-double) 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 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, added a team-best 17 points and nine rebounds at DePaul and registered a career-high five steals vs. Temple.
Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (10.3 ppg., 3.3 rpg., team-high 3.3 apg., 2.7 spg., .564 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 (2.2 ppg., 3.2 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 last Saturday vs. Temple.
At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (4.2 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 last weekend against Temple, her first career double-figure game at home.
Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (1.7 ppg., 0.3 rpg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.0 ppg., 0.3 spg.) 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. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (10.0 ppg., 5.2 rpg., .600 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (12.2 ppg., 4.8 rpg., team-high .605 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 collected a season-high nine rebounds at Arizona State. 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. She is shooting 70 percent (14-20) from the floor in her last four games, and her five double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (9.7 ppg., 5.3 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 also contribued 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds in 26 minutes against Temple.
SERIES HISTORY VS. IPFW
After lying dormant for nearly 24 years (the longest hiatus between games in school history), the series between Notre Dame and IPFW resumes Saturday with the Irish holding a 2-0 edge over the Mastodons. The two teams have not faced one another on the hardwood since Jan. 24, 1979, when Notre Dame registered a 49-41 victory at the Joyce Center. Carol Lally had 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while Trish McManus added nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Irish. Notre Dame struggled mightily from both the field (.283) and the foul line (.417), but managed to hold off IPFW to claim the win.
Saturday’s game also will mark the first time Notre Dame and IPFW have played one another at the NCAA Division I level. Their previous two meetings in 1978 and 1979 both took place when the teams competed as Division III entities. The Irish moved up to Division I for the 1980-81 season, while the Mastodons are in their second year as a Division I institution.
The growing pains for IPFW have been particularly evident in a number of ways this season. The Mastodons are in just their second year at the Division I level and are playing as an independent institution, after posting a 4-23 record in their inaugural campaign at that classification. In addition, IPFW features an extremely young team, one that boasts eight freshmen and 11 underclassmen among the 14 players in its ranks this season.
In an effort to quickly expose his players to the rigors of Division I basketball, Mastodons head coach Bruce Patterson compiled an ambitious 2002-03 schedule that includes 16 road games and two against nationally-ranked opposition. IPFW has been away from home for much of the first month of the season, although Saturday’s game at Notre Dame certainly should qualify as its shortest road trip of the year.
The Mastodons are 2-7 this season with victories over Savannah State (96-46) and Arkansas-Little Rock (76-62) on their resume. However, IPFW comes into Saturday’s game on a four-game losing streak, the most recent setback being a 104-56 verdict at Louisville on Dec. 13. Playing without their leading scorer, junior forward Amy Gearlds, the Mastodons had difficulty finding their shooting eye, connecting on just 30 percent of their shots against the Cardinals. Sophomore center Verea Bibbs rolled up a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, leading her team in scoring for the third consecutive contest. Freshman forward Lindy Carey added 11 points for IPFW.
Gearlds, who has been hampered recently by a separated shoulder, is averaging 14.1 points and 3.6 assists per game, and her 13 three-point field goals are second on the team. Freshman guard Hilary O’Connell has been the Mastodons’ top scoring option from the outside, collecting 8.8 ppg. and shooting a team-best 36.7 percent (18-49) from behind the three-point line. Bibbs comes next at 8.2 ppg., along with a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game and a team-best .519 field goal percentage.
Patterson is in his second year at IPFW, owning a 6-30 (.167) record with the Mastodons and a 248-108 (.697) overall ledger in his 12th season as a collegiate head coach. Saturday will mark his first-ever game against Notre Dame.
OTHER TIDBITS ABOUT THE NOTRE DAME-IPFW SERIES
- Saturday’s game is the first between Notre Dame and IPFW in 23 years, 10 months and 27 days, making it the longest hiatus between series games in school history. The Irish and Mastodons last played on Jan. 24, 1979 at the Joyce Center (a 49-41 ND win).
- Current Notre Dame associate athletics director Missy Conboy was a freshman guard for the Irish when they last played IPFW in 1979. She scored two points and grabbed four rebounds that day.
- IPFW has 10 players from Indiana on its roster, including two with local ties. Freshman guard Jessica Ramey is a native of Kimmell, Ind., and played at West Noble High School. Also, freshman guard Hilary O’Connell resides in Warsaw, Ind., and graduated from Warsaw High School.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will improve to 6-1 this season, marking their fourth 6-1 start in the last seven years.
- The Irish will win its 32nd consecutive non-conference home game, dating back to Dec. 9, 1996.
- Notre Dame will move to 70-4 (.946) all-time when playing at the Joyce Center as a ranked team.
- The Irish will card their 79th win in the last 82 home games, and their 54th in the last 55 home outings.
- Notre Dame will register its 99th all-time victory against other Indiana schools, raising its career record to 99-29 (.773) against the Hoosier State.
- Irish head coach Muffet McGraw will earn her 348th victory at Notre Dame, lifting her career ledger to 348-128 (.731) with the Irish and 436-169 (.721) overall.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Dec. 20)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce – leg injuries, out indefinitely
Notre Dame has been extremely successful against its fellow Indiana schools over the years, compiling a 98-29 (.772) record vs. the rest of the Hoosier State. Among current Division I members, the Irish have a winning record against all the other Indiana institutions except Ball State (1-2) and Purdue (4-10). Historically, Notre Dame has had the most in-state success against Butler (19-6), followed by Evansville (18-1) and Valparaiso (16-0).
The game with IPFW is the second of three for the Irish this season against Indiana schools. Notre Dame won at Valparaiso, 74-68, earlier this month, and the Irish will battle sixth-ranked Purdue in a nationally-televised matchup on Jan. 4 at the Joyce Center.
GOING INTO THE TIME MACHINE
It has been nearly 24 years since Notre Dame and IPFW last faced one another on the hardwood (Jan. 24, 1979). To understand the length of time between games in this series, here’s a look at the world back in ’79:
- Jimmy Carter was midway through his term as U.S. president.
- Personal computers were not regular household purchases.
- VCRs, DVD players and CD players had not been invented yet.
- One of the hit songs of that day was “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.
- Former president George Bush < father=”” of=”” current=”” chief=”” executive=”” george=”” w.=”” bush=””>< was=”” still=”” almost=”” two=”” years=”” away=”” from=”” his=”” inauguration=”” as=”” vice=”” president=”” under=”” ronald=”” reagan.=””>
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw was just 18 months removed from her playing days at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) University and was in her second season as head coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor, Pa. She also was preparing to start at point guard for the California Dreams in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) later that year.
- Not one member of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team had been born. In fact, the oldest player on this year’s team (senior guard Alicia Ratay) would not be born for another two years, two months and 24 days!
WINNING BY THE MONTH
Another indication of Notre Dame?s continued rise to national prominence has been its consistent run of success. Case in point < the=”” irish=”” have=”” posted=”” a=”” record=”” of=”” .500=”” or=”” better=”” in=”” 39=”” of=”” their=”” last=”” 40=”” 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.=”” a=”” victory=”” over=”” ipfw=”” on=”” saturday=”” would=”” assure=”” the=”” irish=”” of=”” finishing=”” with=”” no=”” worse=”” than=”” a=”” .500=”” mark=”” in=”” december,=”” thereby=”” adding=”” to=”” this=”” impressive=”” resume.=””>
IRISH OFF TO A FAST START
Notre Dame will be looking to post the seventh 6-1 start in school history, and its fourth in the last seven years, when it faces IPFW on Saturday. In their six previous 6-1 debuts, the Irish have finished with a winning record each time, including four 20-win seasons, three 25-win campaigns, two 30-win years, two trips to the NCAA Final Four and the 2001 national championship.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will be seeking her fifth 6-1 start with the Irish on Saturday < she=”” also=”” pulled=”” off=”” that=”” feat=”” in=”” 1987-88=”” (her=”” first=”” year=”” at=”” notre=”” dame),=”” 1996-97,=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” 2000-01.=”” the=”” other=”” two=”” hot=”” starts=”” came=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” two=”” varsity=”” seasons=”” of=”” irish=”” basketball=”” (1977-78=”” and=”” 1978-79),=”” which=”” were=”” played=”” at=”” the=”” ncaa=”” division=”” iii=”” level=”” under=”” head=”” coach=”” sharon=”” petro.=””>
NOTRE DAME FEASTING AT HOME
Notre Dame’s top two performances this season have come in its only two home games against Cleveland State and Temple. The Irish rolled up 107 points against CSU, their highest output in nearly four years, and shot 60 percent from the field, their best shooting performance since Feb. 27, 2001 at Pittsburgh. The Notre Dame defense also sparkled, coming up with a season-high 20 steals while forcing 31 Cleveland State turnovers.
The Irish then tallied 84 points against Temple, canning 25-of-32 free throws and rolling up 17 steals against the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Owls. Notre Dame also owned a sizeable 44-33 rebounding edge over Temple.
In their two home games this season, the Irish are averaging 95.5 ppg., while allowing only 63 ppg. Notre Dame also is shooting 52.6 percent (70-133), registered 18.5 steals per game, and forcing 27.5 turnovers per game at the Joyce Center this season.
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,=””>
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.
NOTRE DAME’S FAB FIVE
The Irish have posted four impressive early-season wins, thanks in large measure to the play of their starters. All five members of Notre Dame’s current lineup < three=”” of=”” whom=”” are=”” sophomores=””>< are=”” averaging=”” in=”” double=”” figures,=”” led=”” by=”” sophomore=”” forward=””>Jacqueline Batteast, who is logging 16.8 points per game, good for sixth in the BIG EAST Conference. Last year’s scoring leader, senior guard Alicia Ratay is second at 12.8 ppg., followed by sophomore forward Katy Flecky at 12.2 ppg. (more than double her scoring average from last season). Junior guard Le’Tania Severe (10.3 ppg.) and sophomore center Teresa Borton (10.0 ppg.) and round out this stellar starting cast. As if that weren’t enough, four of the five Irish starters are shooting at least 50 percent from the field, paced by Flecky’s superb .605 ratio (26-43) < in=”” her=”” last=”” four=”” games,=”” the=”” lone=”” tree,=”” colo.,=”” native=”” has=”” been=”” especially=”” sharp,=”” shooting=”” an=”” even=”” 70=”” percent=”” from=”” the=”” field=”” (14-20).=””>
A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Notre Dame has raced out to a 5-1 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least four players score in double figures in all five 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.
SCORCHING THE NETS
Another reason for Notre Dame’s early-season success has been its hot shooting from the field. The Irish are eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.509), according to the latest NCAA statistical report released on Monday. Notre Dame has shot better than 50 percent in four of its five victories this year, including a season-high 60 percent (42-70) in the opener against Cleveland State. The CSU game marked the first time the Irish shot 60 percent from the floor in a game since Feb. 27, 2001, when they connected at a 63.5-percent clip (33-52) in an 82-63 win at Pittsburgh (the victory clinched a share of Notre Dame’s first BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship).
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 16.7 minutes per game, the Ventura, Calif., product is collecting 9.7 points per game (sixth on the team) and 5.3 rebounds per game (second on the team). If LaVere were to average 40 minutes played, she would be logging 23.2 ppg. and 12.8 rpg., both tops on the squad. By comparison, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast would be registering 22.8 ppg. and 10.6 rpg. if she averaged a full 40 minutes.
BATTEAST RACING TO 500
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast has scored 459 points in only 32 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.
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 103 of 104 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 103 starts put her in seventh place on Notre Dame’s career games started list, two behind Mary Gavin (105 from 1984-88) for sixth place and 21 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 1,452 points, 532 rebounds and 205 assists.
Ratay also is 32 three-point field goals away from breaking 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 seventh on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,452 points, but she needs only 137 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 104 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 21 starts and 28 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.869) and three-point field goal (.478) 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 latest Associated Press poll, marking the sixth 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 69-4 (.945) all-time at the Joyce Center when they appear in the AP poll at tipoff, including 43 wins in their last 45 games and a 2-0 mark this season.
The Irish are ranked 11th in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their sixth 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 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. 4/4 Tennessee, No. 6/6 Purdue and No. 19/18 Boston College). In addition, eight other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” depaul,=”” pittsburgh,=”” rutgers,=”” temple,=”” villanova=”” and=”” west=”” virginia.=””>
Alicia Ratay has led the Irish in scoring three times this season, most recently tossing in a game-high 17 points in last Saturday’s win over Temple.
DRIBBLING TO THE DOME
Notre Dame is one of only four 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. 9 this week. The other schools in this elite group are Duke, Connecticut and Oklahoma. In addition, Notre Dame is one of only two schools 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 (Oklahoma is the other).
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 12).
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 seventh on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,452 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.478) and free throw percentage (.869), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 32 treys to eclipse 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 102 of a possible 103 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.
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 104-2 (.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 two wins to that count this season with victories at USC and Arizona 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 84-3 (.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 three wins to that total with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State and Temple.
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 AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 165 games over the last seven seasons, which stands as the sixth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
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 seventh in school history with 1,452 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .478 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 86.9 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=””>
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 78 of their last 81 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 31-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,=””>
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 241-66 (.785) 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 91-5 (.948) 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 6,363 fans for two 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 346-128 (.730) record (434-169, .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.
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.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR NOTRE DAME-TENNESSEE GAME AT CONSECO FIELDHOUSE
A matchup of former national championship teams is on the horizon when Notre Dame and Tennessee tangle Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. (EST) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tickets still remain for this battle of college basketball powers — $14 for lower level seats, and $10 for club level seats. Fans can also register to attend a post-game “Meet ‘N Greet” with Indiana Fever standouts Tamika Catchings (Tennessee ’01) and Niele Ivey (Notre Dame ’01), as well as purchase discounted tickets for the NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets which will follow at 7 p.m. (EST).
For more information on this game, or to buy tickets, call the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office at (317) 917-2500, or visit the Conseco Fieldhouse website at www.ConsecoFieldhouse.com.
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: COLORADO STATE
It’s a quick turnaround for Notre Dame, as the Irish return to the Joyce Center hardwood Monday at 2 p.m. (EST) to take on Colorado State in the finale of a three-game homestand. The Rams are 5-2 heading into their game at Michigan Saturday morning. CSU’s visit to Notre Dame will be the first-ever for the Rams, who are playing eight of 10 games away from home over the next month (Dec. 12-Jan. 18). Colorado State won its only previous meeting with the Irish, logging a 72-66 victory last season in Fort Collins.